I recently went on vacation. Although most people this time of year think of Florida or southern California when it comes to going on a trip, my mom and I decided to go to the Washington D.C. area to see my brother and his wife.
The drive to Maryland was long and rainy. We tried to beat a cold front that was plowing through the Southeast that was causing rain to change to snow. Temperatures were warmer that particular evening in Washington D.C. than back home in Alabama.
After arriving on Friday night, the whole family spent Saturday and Sunday hanging around my brother’s house. I did have the chance to try Korean Fried Chicken for the very first time at a Korean Restaurant called Bonchon. I enjoyed the huge pieces of chicken that were covered in soy and garlic sauce along with a spicy flavored sauce.
On Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the whole family went to IKEA. For those that have never been to IKEA, it is a chain of Swedish furniture stores. Unlike a typical furniture store, IKEAs are so large that people drive for hundreds of miles at their locations. Be prepared to spend at least the whole afternoon as the layout of the store is designed in a maze format on multiple floors so that everyone passes through all the displays before reaching the checkout.
Although the trip to IKEA started out well, I got sensory overload due to the crowds and bright lights. I wish the company would create a social story that includes pictures to prepare those on the spectrum on what to expect at their locations. However, I did see some cool furniture, and I enjoyed the Swedish Meatballs in their cafeteria. The Swedish oatmeal cookies I bought from there was a hit with my co-workers back home.
On Tuesday, the whole family rode the subway, which is known as the Metro in Washington D.C., to the Museum of the Bible, which opened this past November. The attraction is enormous with six floors and 430,000 square feet of displays. Although admission to the Museum of the Bible is free, they do encourage donations.
Overall, I liked the museum. It does not push the Christian religion on those who do not follow the faith but instead offers the visitor a historical background of how the Bible has shaped different civilizations throughout the world since the beginning of time. My favorite exhibit was an interactive map of the United States that displays locations that named after places mentioned in the Bible. The Mediterranean Restaurant at the Museum of the Bible is not to miss as the food is based on food from Israel.
I handled the chaos of Washington D.C. well. However, I caution anyone on the spectrum who may visit the city that L’Enfant Plaza, where I got off the metro to go to the museum, can be overstimulating due to the location being a combination of offices, a subway stop and a food court. It may be best to eat at L’Enfant outside of peak meal times.
The final day of the visit my family went to the National Cryptology Museum, which is just outside the grounds of the National Security Administration between Baltimore and Washington D.C. I was amazed at the number of displays involving the history of cryptology and secret code used by the United States military during different periods of time ranging from the Revolutionary War to the War on Terror.
There are scavenger hunts for the kids in which they can win prizes. Unlike the Spy Museum in Washington D.C., the National Cryptology Museum is free. It was a nice attraction for a cold and snowy day.
The drive home was uneventful since the weather was beautiful. My mom and I were worried about ice on the roads, but they were clear when we drove down Interstate 81. To keep us both awake until we safely arrived home about 1 AM Central Time, we listened to Garrison Keillor CDs and the best of A Prairie Home Companion. I forgot how funny that man was since he no longer hosts the program on National Public Radio.
Despite the change in routine, I had a great time. It was nice not having a set schedule. The important time was spending quality time with my brother and his wife along with visiting attractions in the area.
I miss having my brother close to home. He stood up for me when I was bullied in middle school because of my disability. I am very proud of him for finding a job doing what he loves to do and living in an area where he and his wife have access to many social activities. For example, there is an active Ultimate Frisbee League in the Baltimore/Washington D.C. area where participants travel to different locations that are within an easy drive of where they live.
The night before leaving I could not sleep. I pulled out my journal and wrote positive things related to the trip. If my brother never moved to Maryland, I would have no reason to travel to that part of the country, which means I would have never gone to museums like the Museum of the Bible or the Smithsonian. I also would have never discovered great food along the interstate leading to Maryland, such as a chain in the western part of Virginia called Country Cookin’, which has a buffet featuring all the country vegetables one can eat, and a gas station called Sheetz, which has coffee that might be better than Dunkin’ Donuts and a top-notch food service chain that rivals a traditional sit-down restaurant. Writing those positive thoughts helped calm my mind down.
The following were highlights of my trip to see my brother. Have you ever been to Washington D.C. or Baltimore and if so, what places do you recommend visiting? Comment in the section below.
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