Saturday, June 2, 2012

Where the Devil are My (Ruby) Slippers!

This is a long story....be sure you use the restroom before reading...
It all started because we did Art Appreciation this year.
All three of the boys did a lot of reading and learning about art and artists, and John spent the last half of the school year reading about the great masters and writing a short essay about each one of them.
We needed to go on a field trip to finish up. Since I am most comfortable driving around DC, as opposed to Philly or New York, and since the museums are free, we decided to make that our destination.
We invited John's friend, Hannah, to come along and decided that we would go on First Friday, which was yesterday, in hopes that we would be able to go to mass at the Basilica first.
Well, no. The daily Masses are at 8:30 and 12:00pm so if we wanted to see the museums, we were going to have to just go to the Basilica when we got there, have a look around, and then go downtown.
That was the plan.
I wanted to take lots of pictures, especially in the upper church.
We got on the road, and I realized that my GPS wasn't working. This was not good.
I can drive anywhere as long as the lady in my phone is giving me directions from her perch in the sky.
She was AWOL and we were stuck with the driving directions, which work fine if there is no traffic, no construction and no distractions.
We got to the Basilica with no trouble, as I have been there lots of times and it's an easy drive.

The first indication that maybe things were going to be complicated was that the parking lot was packed.

The parking lot is huge, and I haven't even seen it packed like that for a March for Life Mass.
We found out that there was a graduation service going on in the upper church. So, we weren't going to be able to spend any time up there unless we waited for everyone to leave. We decided to spend our time down in the Crypt Church, which is really beautiful.
Statue of Blessed Theresa of Calcutta

I got some pictures and then we headed out to the car so that we could go downtown.
It should have been about a 15 minute trip, but without GPS I was blind, so I called Tim for help with navigation.
After we got back on track, we got downtown pretty quick, and found a parking garage. It was a bit further away than I'd have liked, but the weather was warm and it was a nice walk.
We stopped on the way so that Hannah could eat lunch.The boys had eaten in the car.
So Much Enthusiasm!
We entered the West Building of the National Gallery, which holds most of the classical art.

I started snapping pictures as soon as we got inside. Hannah and John took off to tour on their own,
and I had Brendan and Paul with me. They were really good sports. They don't care for the classical stuff as much. I love it. Here are some of my faves!
The Baptism of Jesus


Four Seasons in One Head

Charles V

Such a Beauty!

Such a Little Cutie! Love his Expression.

Girl Reading

You know who...

Could be a Cooke

I had told the older kids to meet us at the other end of the building, and then we headed through the underground tunnel to the East building, which holds the modern art. The kids like that a lot more.
We saw some amazing stuff there as well.
I figured that we should try to head out of town at around 3:00 to beat the worst of the traffic. I have driven out of DC many times, and even on Friday it is usually no more than a 2 1/2 hour trip.
Did I mention that Hannah had to be back in Bel Air no later than 5:30?
Traffic was fairly heavy getting out of town, but not bad, and after we got onto 895 it started to smooth out. Just as we came out of the tunnel, Nina called and said that there was a car fire on 95 and not to get on. We were just passing the exit onto rt 40, so I jumped over and we got off the interstate. We came up onto 40 and...oh no....
It was taillights as far as the eye could see. Traffic was moving at a consistent 20 mph. I wasn't even sure where we were for awhile there.
Two of the kids needed the bathroom and they all needed to eat, so we pulled off at a Burger King, and solved those problems.
We got back on the road and just plugged along. I was feeling worse and worse about how late Hannah was going to be.
The radio was on and we were hearing some kind of nonsense about tornado watches in the southern counties, and maybe around BWI, but heck, we were miles from there...
We were watching the skies, at that point, and it was raining like crazy.
This was around 6:00.
I called Tim, and he said that things were OK in Havre de Grace, but that it was raining and stormy.
He also told me that 95 had cleared and we could get back on, so when we got to 152, that's just what we did. Ah...Traffic was flowing, no brake lights, it seemed like we might get Hannah to her performance at least in time for it to start. John was still watching the skies and we were hearing on the radio that there was a definite tornado warning in Harford county. The lightning was picking up, and then the color of the light kind of changed to that kind of luminescent green that you see behind polarized sunglasses, only none of us were wearing sunglasses.
We were feeling extremely vulnerable on the interstate, with no shelter, and a lot of trucks and buses to share a twister with, so we got off at the next exit.
Fortunately my guardian angel took over the navigation, and I was able to get Hannah to her performance with 15 minutes to spare!!
Yes, there was a tornado touchdown a few miles from where we saw that eerie green light.
We watched the Mime performance and then we drove home in the pouring rain.
I was SO very glad to get home.
I went to bed, but every time I closed my eyes, all I could see was a line of traffic in front of me, for as far as I could see.
I did sleep and woke up in my own bed to a beautiful morning.

Maybe I found those ruby slippers after all....


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