Our DC trip:
— Day 1: The Udvar-Hazy Air and Space Museum
— Day 2: Smithsonians and Friends
— Day 3: A Monumental Walking Tour
Ahhhh, you poor people. You thought I’d finally thrown in the towel on my DC posts. Sorry to disappoint. Summer just got in the way over the past week. Here’s the good news: this will be the last DC post. Here’s the bad news: I have a couple more trip posts planned. Here’s more good news: this post here contains a pretty awesome, moment-of-a-lifetime story, so just bear with me a bit longer!
On Tuesday, my mystery stomachache disappeared. I credit the mussels at one of my DC favorites, Bistro du Coin in Dupont Circle, from the night before with the recovery. French food cures all ailments. DadJovi had woken up earlier than me and gone for a run through Rock Creek and told me I HAD to go, too. The weather was perfect and did I mention how close we were to the park at our hotel? Here was the view from our room:
Not bad, huh? We even saw three deer run by our window at one point. When he’d gone out, DadJovi had headed toward the left, under the bridge, eventually ending up running through the zoo before it was really open. But he reported that route had a lot of hills. No thanks. I headed right, and instead was treated with glorious views around every corner.
Thanks to perfect weather, I went a little further than I intended, and yes, there were some hills. My poor used-to-running-on-flat-roads Florida butt was sore for a few days.
As I was running, DadJovi and E got a head start on me at the National Zoo, which was just a couple blocks from our hotel. When I arrived, I knew I didn’t even need to call them to find them.
This is one of about, oh, 73 pictures E. took of the elephants. They also headed to the elephants’ outdoor area to catch a look. And in a series of about 13 photos, this is as close as E. got to snapping a pic of the pachyderm’s face.
Clearly we need to have some photography lessons this summer.
After I caught up with them, we spent a couple hours wandering around the beautiful zoo. Did I mention it’s completely FREE? So great, even if it is hillier than I would have liked. My legs were burning! (wuss, I know)
Some of our favorites were the gorillas, the lemurs, cheetahs, the invertebrates room (which has a really cool octopus, crazy cool urchins and anemone and my favorites — leaf-cutter ants) and of course, the King.
How beautiful is he? Since the lion at Animal Kingdom is always either hidden or far away, I forgot how amazing it is to see a lion up close. Such beautiful creatures. I’ve posted about it before so I’ll save you from my “I feel so conflicted at zoos” speech.
At least there were some animals I could enjoy guilt-free.
The fact that the elephant was available was a sheer miracle.
It was just the first of several miracles that day. The next occurred in the Butterfly House (which was free, unlike the one at the Natural History Museum). After two solid years of desperately trying at the butterfly houses in Key West and at EPCOT during Flower and Garden, E’s butterfly dreams FINALLY came true when one fluttered over to her and landed on her finger.
I’m sure this will totally satisfy her insatiable need to hold a butterfly (no it won’t).
And, of course, no trip to the National Zoo would be complete without visiting its most famous residents. One of them (don’t ask me which) wasn’t feeling very photo-ready that day.
Thankfully, the other was more willing to pose for us. Dammit, pandas are cute, huh?
Sadly, they were both inside. I was looking forward to seeing them outdoors in their gorgeous outside space. Oh well. Next time. At least someone else enjoyed the bamboo everywhere.
Why yes, her spy glasses were essentially glued to her face the whole week.
And breaking zoo news! On the day I’m writing this post, Rusty the red panda escaped from the zoo and was eventually recaptured in nearby Adams Morgan! We looked and looked for Rusty in his exhibit just outside the pandas’ indoor area but he was nowhere to be found. Perhaps this disappearing act is nothing new. Sneaky little bugger.
After we’d spent a couple hours at the zoo, we were ready to get some lunch. We walked down Connecticut Avenue and headed to another one of my old favorites: Lebanese Taverna.
I can’t remember everything on the platter but it was all AMAZING. Even our picky eater tried all of the dips and in addition to her usual favorite hummus (far right), she gobbled up a ton of the yogurt with lemon and honey (far left). It was all sooooo good.
After lunch, we headed back to the hotel to relax for a bit. E and DadJovi hit the pool for awhile and I checked some emails and enjoyed having the remote to myself for a change. Around 5 or so, we hit the Metro to head to another new-to-us area: the Navy Yard and Nationals Park!
One of my very best DC friends Matt and his wife Susie (who has a GREAT book reviews blog, by the way. Check her out!) have season tickets and they were kind enough to share with us for the night. We first met them for some pre-gaming just outside of the park. It’s a really cool area with musicians performing on a stage and tons of beer and food stands in a square formed by shipping containers. It was equal parts Dexter/equal parts a food truck bazaar. And with short beer lines!
Just before the first pitch, we headed inside so we could get our first glimpse of Nationals Park.
Their seats are GREAT!
Soon we were settled in with drinks and snacks and ready to catch a (hopefully) good game.
And, for the record, I’m not sure why E’s face photographed that red that night. In person, it didn’t seem red at all, but in all the pictures it looks like she was horribly sunburned. I promise — she wasn’t! Perhaps just a smidge pink but certainly not red.
Just as we’d settled in, something happened that has never happened to me in the 50+ MLB games I’ve been to in my life. In the second inning, we’re all sitting there watching the game. E. was enjoying her Dippin Dots and I was enjoying my first beer. When suddenly, we heard the smack of the bat connecting really well on a ball.
Then, in what felt simultaneously slow-motion and hypersonic speed at the same time, the ball was zooming toward the stands. And it wasn’t just heading toward our section — it seemed to be making a beeline right for E.
As it quickly became apparent that it was actually heading right for her, all I remember is throwing myself over her as DadJovi stepped in front of both of us. To my left, Matt did the same thing to Susie. Who says chivalry is dead.
Next thing I knew, DadJovi was falling backwards into us, crushing E and me both and there was a ruckus of the ball bouncing from DadJovi’s hands, to Matt’s hands to the guy next to us.
Once I was assured E. wasn’t seriously injured, I started laughing so hysterically. It was, hands down, one of the funniest experiences of my life. The whole thing was just so clumsy, crazy and comedic. Don’t believe me? Check out the video. For reference, DadJovi is in the brown shirt and I’m in the orange shirt (oh yeah, or look above in this post to see our outfits). The whole thing is very fast; keep watching for the replay toward the end. Sadly, it’s not as good as the video they showed — repeatedly — in the stadium. But here’s the money shot from the video.
Do you see what good parents we are?? As everyone is in shock over the ball, and the lucky catcher next to us is celebrating, we’re tending to our traumatized child. Almost immediately, she was in tears. No, she wasn’t crying over not getting the homerun ball. “Daddy smooshed me and made me bang my head … AND HE SPILLED ALL MY DIPPIN DOTS!!”
And here’s your feel-good moment of the day. The guy who caught the ball immediately handed it over to a crying E. We tried — repeatedly throughout the game — to give it back but he insisted. What a guy.
Yup, she lives a charmed life.
I can’t believe we caught a homerun ball … at our very first Nats game!
Sadly, the ball may not what she remembers most from the game. It just might be the GIANT cotton candy Uncle Matt bought her … in the 8th inning. Clearly he wanted to torture her mother.
And as if that wasn’t enough excitement for one night, the Nats rallied at the bottom of the 9th to come back and win.
What a night.
But wait! There’s more!
When we got back from DC, DadJovi went to his poker night and told the guys the story. Well, as fate would have it, one of the regulars, who is a sportswriter, brought a friend of his for that one night only. That friend is also a sportswriter and is friends with Ian Desmond’s business manager. Who’s Ian Desmond? THE GUY WHO HIT THE HOMERUN!
After a series of texts from the poker night, the manager told DadJovi to send the ball up and he’d get it signed. And look what arrived back this week.
Yup, she lives a charmed life. I’m just glad we get to come along for the ride.
Have you ever caught a ball — fair or foul — at a Major League Baseball game? What’s your most memorable moment at a sporting event? Zoos: love ’em or hate ’em?
Jen Cook says
So excited to finally read this chapter of your story!!! I LOVE how fate works – the signed ball is just the best thing ever.
It took me long enough, huh? Well, I’d like to say that I was waiting to get the ball back to put the final cherry on the story but that’s probably not true. But that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!!
Yeah, getting it signed is pretty much the craziest/best thing ever. Walt is right: it’s a small world after all. 🙂
Susie Levine says
OMG!!! I cannot believe that Ian Desmond signed it! That is so amazing! LMAO!!!
Best. Ending. Ever!
I KNOW! J. kept harassing me to tell you guys but I said I wasn’t going to until we got it back because then losing the ball would be the worst ending ever! 🙂
Such a crazy night. So glad we got to experience that together. I know it’s one we’ll never forget … especially now that I finally blogged about it. Otherwise, knowing my memory, I would forget by, oh, next week. 🙂
Susie Levine says
I just watched the video again, and it looks like Jim had it, but it bounced off out of his hands. It was so close to being his catch.
Anyway, as you wrote, E lives a charmed life, and as Matt tweeted, that is the all-time best story ever.
Krystal Wade (@KrystalWade) says
What a great story! I don’t think there’s one bad seat in Nats park, but where Susie and Matt sit is definitely nice. I sat two sections over (107) last Friday and LOVED the game from that angle. My family and I sat in section 128 last summer (behind the Nats’ dugout). For the life of me, I can’t remember who hit the foul, but it landed on the stairs RIGHT NEXT to me. I had my 2 year old in my lap and STILL jumped for the ball. Unfortunately, I was too clumsy to get to it fast enough, but the man who did gave it to my 13 year old son. An hour later, a WHOPPER of a storm hit and everyone rushed into the stadium to avoid being whisked away by a TORNADO! We decided to wait out the storm, and quite a few hours later, my kids were hanging out by the dugout and ballkids and players threw candy and game balls at them. Once the game started again, the Nats broke a tied game in the 10th inning. Best. Game. Ever.
OMG THE BASEBALL STORY IS AMAZING!! and the signed ball! AWESOME!!!