Friday, October 17, 2014

Exploring Richmond

On Tuesday, Darin took the GRE. Shae and I weren't about to let the opportunity to explore Richmond pass us by so we dropped him off and got to exploring. I had a few things in mind that I wanted to see. However, once we actually got into the city (Darin's test was in a little suburb area outside of Richmond) I really had to push myself to not just give up and take Shae to a mall with a play yard and wait for Darin there. Cities intimidate me. Skinny streets, big buildings, traffic, sketchy people, smelly. I don't mind walking in a city, but driving is not fun. 

Shae fell asleep right as we were getting in to the city. All I needed was a McDonald's or Walmart parking lot to chill in for a bit while I let him sleep. You just don't find parking lots like that in the city. So I just drove around Richmond, looking for a parking lot, trying not to frustrate any drivers behind me. 

Driving around was nice because I got to see (and feel) a few of the old railroad tracks that were so prominent back in the day, and one of the main reasons that Richmond was chosen as the Confederate capital back in the 1860s. A lot of the tracks would end up falling under buildings that had been constructed on top of them, clearly not in use anymore. I later learned that throughout the 20th century, Richmond hosted 6 major railroad lines and that Richmond is home to the only triple railroad crossing (on different levels!) in North America. Here's what it looked like back in 1919. Um, please tell me that I'm not the only one who thinks that is ridiculously awesome.

Picture Credit
I'm kind of wishing that I had made it to the Railway Museum, but I honestly didn't know how noteworthy the railroad was here in Richmond until I was there that day. 

Instead, we went to the VA Holocaust Museum. Which, I was very satisfied with, so I am not too distressed about missing out on the Railway Museum. 

(And look, signs telling me where I was and where to park! Thank you thank you THANK YOU for making this trip possible!...and free).

As soon as I walked into the building I saw a sign that said "No Children Under 11." I continued to push the stroller forward as if I hadn't seen it. I was handed a self guide tour book and we all pretended that Shae was a midget 11 year old. (Probably helped that the museum was practically empty besides us).

I walked through the museum a bit faster than I would have liked because my tiny 11 year old didn't like being strapped down for too long. I gave him my phone to play with and let him watch old videos of himself over and over again which let me look at things in peace for a few minutes. Then he took a handful of pictures of like this:

And another 20 or so like this:

He clearly missed the "No Photo" sign. 

Even with a squirmy toddler I was very glad that we made time to go to this museum. It is such a tragic topic to learn about, but so meaningful and impactful nonetheless. The museum was set up in such a way that as you went from room to room, the displays and pictures told a general story of the Holocaust, but also a personal story of a man named Jay M. Ispson, a holocaust survivor who made his way to Richmond and eventually co-founded this museum. His whole purpose in creating the museum was to help people be more aware of the Holocaust and other genocide's in hopes that awareness will prevent future tragedies from occurring. 

What a great museum. I highly recommend it. 

The museum was located right in front of the River Canal Walk which was perfect since Shae was at his wits end by the time we left the museum.

Seriously, the railroad, so cool.


Apparently I turned the wrong way down the Canal Walk because after 10 minutes of walking we ended up at the beginning with a big map showing us where all the historic buildings and cross-overs with the Slave Trail were (in the opposite direction of course). So instead of backtracking we just walked around downtown Richmond for a bit and took in the tiny alleyways, creepy groups of people loitering beside graffitied buildings and liberal amounts of young PDA. So much of what we saw...and smelled...took me back to my first area of my mission. I was only there for 6 weeks, but it was in a pretty big city. (Love how our powerful senses help us with time travel).

We then made our way back to pick up Darin. He kicked the GRE's butt. I'm so proud of him for working so hard these past few months to prepare to take this test and apply to PhD programs. He has been such a good example to me of determination and discipline. These schools would just be CRAZY to not want a dashing, ridiculously smart dude like him in their Political Science program.

We take full advantage of any excuse to celebrate around here and celebrate we did by eating the most amazing Pupusas and Tortas that could possibly be found in our neck of the woods. Thank you El Sabroson.

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