Whether you have visited our nations capital in person or via pictures; we all can appreciate how much there is to see and do. When we heard about the new Smithsonian African American Museum’s projected opening in late 2016, we began to plan a DC RV trip. Little did we know that it would take us a year, although it was well worth the wait!
Wait a minute…. I know you’re asking yourself, how could it have taken them more than a year to visit a museum in DC? Well, the NAAMHC has been so popular; there is a 90-day wait for timed entry passes. They do offer a limited number of same days pass, but if we were making a ten hour drive from Atlanta, I wanted to know that we would get into the museum.
Ok, all that sounds great, but why in the world did it take us a year to get there? Great question and I will share the answer. We first set out sights on arriving in DC late March. We thought if we timed it right, we could hit the museum and catch the cherry blossoms blooming. Do you remember that freak March snowstorm that hit DC this year? Yes, the exact time we were scheduled to be in DC. We decided it was wiser to reschedule rather than drive the RV 10 hours into an ice/snow storm. Next I secured tickets for late May. It would be warm in DC but hopefully not too hot. This time we faced the death of a dear family friend. Again we choose to reschedule. Finally we secured our tickets for Monday September 25th, one day after the anniversary of the grand opening.
We had our tickets, now it was time to make our plans. We know our kids, taking them to a serious place such as the NAAMHC; we would need to reward them with some fun. We planned a visit to one of their favorite places, a science center. Lastly we would reward them with a day at the campground, more importantly the pool.
We have enjoyed visiting the African American historical sites and museums over the past few years and we always tend to try to make them part of most of our RV trips. The excitement of finally stepping foot inside this new museum eclipses all previous experiences. Maybe it was the long wait! Maybe it was the fact that there was a 90-day lead-time to get tickets or maybe the fact that it’s located in a historic location, just off the National Mall, only steps away from the Washington Monument? Or it’s all those things…
Day one: I’ve never had butterflies fill my stomach as I did when we entered this museum. I literally had to take deep breaths and just soak in the reality that we were really there.
Of course we had some previous research on the exhibits at the museum. We had chosen to start at the bottom and work our way up. I loved how the museum was set up. As we rode the freight type elevator down, we literally went back in time. Of course the museum was packed and we struggled in our attempt to read each and every sign, so we decided to divide and conquer, so to speak. I took our 8 year old and Tia kept the younger two boys.
The younger boys really struggled with the darkness of those times as some of the depictions really scared them.
I’m sure the thought crossed your mind, are they too young for something that intense? We asked ourselves that same question before we decided to go. Our answer to that question was no. We have made it a huge part of our mission, or quest in RVing to teach our boys the truth about America.
Be it good, bad, regretful, or shameful; slavery was a real part of this country. Our boys need to understand just how truly horrific it really was for our ancestors. We know seeing it and touching it will entrench the time and the experience in their hearts and minds, so that they can be part of the long-term solution to the injustices that still occur in this country.
After spending a few hours, we broke for lunch. All of us were pretty emotionally spent. We decided to not rush through the other half the museum we had left to explore, but instead we vowed to make a return trip and spend a few more days really soaking in this amazing museum.
Time to turn it down a few levels….
Day Two: Our boys tend to be science lovers, so the next day we headed to the Maryland Science Center, located at the Baltimore Harbor.
The boys sat in a science demonstration about liquid nitrogen. Of course, they now want to get some to do experiments at home.
Rather than deal with rush hour traffic, we decided to have dinner and spend some time enjoying the harbor.
Day Three: For whatever reason, the temps were reaching record highs, so day 3 we chilled at the campground and the boys enjoyed the pool for 5 hours!
It was a really fun museum and I got chance to live out my James Bond fantasy.
After grabbing a pizza, we enjoyed viewing the monuments lit up in the night sky.
But it might be even more important for non African Americans to visit. Heck, this museum needs to be a must visit for all Americans. Washington D.C. we will be back…very soon…
“Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it”– George Santayana
Soulful RV Family