Our evening in Old Town Alexandria ended with Jesse and I walking with Jeff back to the Metro. We said good-bye knowing that we were leaving the next day – Veteran’s Day. We also knew we only had the morning to cram in a few more sights before catching our plane home. We wanted to see Arlington National Cemetery and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Jesse and I woke up early (as we had the other days in DC) to catch the metro to Arlington Cemetery. Once there, we picked up a map and headed into the Cemetery to see all that we could see. Our first hint that something was up was all of the young soldiers in full uniform beginning to line the streets of the cemetery. We saw big canons being unloaded and the place was filling up with all sorts of people. By the time we got to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, there was a huge amount of people. The area was roped off and had different checkpoints where men in black were searching people and bags as they entered. Jesse and I got in line with other tourist, military, veterans, and important folks. Getting in was not too much of a problem. We watched the Guard at the Tomb, which was awesome. Then we needed to move on if we were going to see the Iwo Jima Monument and other sights before heading back to gather our stuff and check out of the hotel. Getting out of the circle of guards around the area was much more difficult. At each checkpoint the men in black would send us to a different checkpoint. The uniformed soldiers (Old Guard) were no help either. They had a plan for checking people into the area, but not one for letting people out. Who would want to leave? After all, the President was due there any minute to give a speech. That would have been interesting, but we were afraid we would never get out of the area once the President and his security arrived.
Jesse finally asked one serious soldier if he would handcuff us and escort us off the premise. He actually laughed and got us out one of the checkpoints. We hurried off to see the other sights which was quite a walk, but well worth our time. It was really a beautiful fall morning, and we got lots of great pictures of the Old Guard doing their job. Knowing we were only minutes away from seeing the President made the morning even more exciting.
We eventually made our way back to the hotel to check out and then head to the airport. It had been a whirlwind five days of grand adventures - getting up early, staying up late, seeing the sights, eating at different and exciting places, visiting with new and interesting people, being with the Barker Clan. Sitting there at the airport waiting on our plane, I asked Jesse if she had had a good time. Tears started streaming down her face. She felt silly for crying, but I knew the feeling well. It was the same sort of feeling that I used to get as a young girl when I had to leave the mountains at the end of the summer. It is a feeling that you had such a great time that you do not want to leave - not knowing if you will pass this way again. Part of her tears was probably due to exhaustion, but it was also knowing that the adventure was over and it was time to go back to reality. I know that Jesse also fears that she will not get to have lots of grand adventures and interesting travels (I think we get the travel bug from our grandmother, Lou Ella). But who knows what her future holds. In fact, she has had a few adventures since the DC trip. Knowing Jesse, life will always be an adventure.