Thursday, June 30, 2011

Five Years Later.

I spent far too long analyzing these two photos to decide if we looked any older. I think I look older - in a good way. And I think my friend Tyler doesn't look older, also in a good way. My hair is darker and not because I dyed it. It has a mind of its own, and I'd rather buy nice clothes than dye it back to the shade of my youth. I would like to point out (even though you can't see much of my outfit in this photo), that my taste in clothes has vastly improved. I'm wearing a t-shirt from the SMITHSONIAN in the first photo. It has a picture of the Star Spangled Banner on it.

I think I thought it was funny. I still do, a little bit, and have the t-shirt in my drawer. I just know now not to wear it in public.

Tyler looks swell for all the hard work he's been doing at, you know, Oxford and NYU law. I am humbled by the things he knows and the places he goes. He's in town for a summer externship at the World Bank. We had dinner tonight, and I invited myself to the cafeteria at the bank next week. I love that place. We are Truman friends and were very close the summer we lived in DC. It was fantastic to see him tonight in the city and catch up. We also met up with another Truman from our class, and I love to hear what they're doing.

It's funny because yesterday at grad school we were writing about the communities we are a part of in the world. And I listed the Truman one. Because even though it is often months (and years) in between visits with these friends, they are fantastic people I love to see. They inspire me and push my thinking. I like that.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Let's Discuss A Few Things.

Rachel and my mom are on vacation, so I'm going to write down all the things I would have told them and tell you instead. Let's begin!
  • I made these sandwiches for Wine Tour. Inspired by a couple of things I found 'round the internet, they were ciabatta with homemade pesto, turkey, a little salami, thinly sliced provolone cheese, basil from the garden, roasted red peppers and those little greek peppers. Then I smashed them overnight under cases of diet coke. I always have those lying around the house. Sliced them up in bite size and filling snacks, yum. I think I might make them for tailgates this fall!
  • There was something wrong with commenting for a bit on the blog. I think it's fixed now - let me know if something doesn't work for you. Sometimes you have to enable third party cookies when you download a new browser.
  • I got an iPad. Did I tell you that? Yes, my friends and family got together and helped me get one for graduation.
  • So because I have an iPad, I started watching things I should have already seen. I spent one week immersed in Downton Abbey (heaven) and am now totally buried in The Wire (hell). I've also fallen in love with podcasts, magazines, and Words with Friends on the iPad too! It really is worth they hype. And I'm lucky to have such great friends and family.
  • Last week of grad school this week! One day down, four more to go!
  • I'm trying to eat food before the move. That's how I justified making a huge thing of brownies tonight. I'm bringing them to grad school.
  • While blog business has slowed down, Rach and I are still rocking in it in the etsy world. Check it out over here. And bonus, to celebrate our 300th sale, we're giving the next 10 orders 20% off. Use the code 20OFF at checkout to save.
  • I wrote all of this while watching Season 2 of The Wire. Can't stop.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Wine Tour.

We decided to celebrate the end of the school year with a tour to three area wineries - in a limo!

Eight school teachers on a mission - try some wines, see a little bit of pretty Loudon County, and enjoy our first full day of summer. After our first tasting, we pulled out our huge picnic and ate a great lunch. Everybody brought something - and it was delicious!

I think Jill might have been counting down the days till wine tour for weeks. Me too, Jill, me too.

Our second stop was under construction, but we still squeezed in a tasting. The big silo reminded me of home! It looks like it was going to rain, but it never did. We had a pretty day for hoping from winery to winery. Thank goodness for mild June days!

The third winery was inside a beautiful old barn restored by an Amish family from Pennsylvania. It was incredible! There was live music and more good wine. I could have bought a lot of wine everywhere, probably.

There were eight of us in the limo, but I've been surrounded by lots of great teachers all year. We were missing a few of the other ladies who have been part of the breakfast group or supper club - the limo could have been stuffed full of all the ladies who made my school year so fantastic.

Oh and guess what? I love wine. Surprise!

Friday, June 24, 2011

The New Job: The Details.

One of my students wore this shirt to school this year. I have no idea why. It's not a new "vintage" shirt that they sell at Urban Outfitters. In fact, it was pretty beat up. So I took a picture of it. Another student in the same class wrote "KANSAS" on his shirt in pencil, just in case I wanted to take his picture too. Those were good days in the classroom.

But beyond the hard impossible task of bidding this place farewell, I'm totally excited about this new job. I'm headed back to the same district I worked in before I moved to Virginia but to a new school and a new role.

I applied to be a teacher leader, which takes me out of the classroom and into a position where hopefully I can be helpful in planning instruction, looking at data, and focusing on teaching and learning for all students. When I won the Truman and started graduate school, I always pictured myself eventually doing this type of job - it's called an instructional coach in a lot of districts. I love the planning aspects of teaching, and I am excited to plan professional development and work elbow-to-elbow with teachers on this very important work.

I think I'm about 85% ready to be out of the classroom. It's a little like graduating from high school. I was ready to go to college, but I knew I would miss the comfortable routines. I love working in the classroom, and even when the kids were really bad, I kept going back. Weird things like checking homework with my students made me want to cry at the end of the year. This student named Chris insisted on waving to me every time he sees me in the hall. Many times a day. This also made me want to cry. I love middle schoolers.

I think my school assignment is finally finalized, and I'm elated. It will be a different challenge from my previous school, but I will get to work with many of my old friends who moved to this school. It truly is a dream job, and I pray that I'll be ready in late July when I start learning how to do a new job. I start on July 25th - so summer is short and sweet this year!

And also, just wanted to say thanks. Your comments and excitement about my job is keeping my chin up and helping me moving forward. As I said in my interview for the job, I think the work in our schools is really important, and I'm blessed to get to keep working with teachers and students.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Summer in the Cul-de-Sac.

Technically, I still have to check out of my classroom today, so I'm not totally home free yet. But we said goodbye to the students on Tuesday, so that really marks the beginning of summer to a teacher.

Last night, the people that are ALWAYS constructing things on the Beltway in our backyard, provided a barbeque for our cul-de-sac and corner of the neighborhood.

It was a thank you, of sorts. We put up with a lot of craziness because of the "hot lanes" that they are adding to the Beltway. And it was also sort of a trick. They're going to close our entrance to northbound on the Beltway for five weeks. This is a little annoying but not the end of the world. Especially as I will move two weeks later...

Finn got dirty, sticky and sweaty in the way only a two-year-old can. He also got a toy construction cone from the hosts. Prop-a-ganda. My camera fogged up with the humidity that dropped in Virginia today like a wet blanket. Hot. Muggy.

So I totally went to the pool and didn't mess with my hair afterwards. I've got some special layers these days, but operation grow hair out is still in full swing. Also, why would I do my hair when it is just going to get hot and sweaty six hours later. This is how summer works.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Read in 2015.

A student took this photo of us Monday. I wanted to leave it just as he took it, from his point of view.

I would like to talk to my students in four more years when they are graduating from high school. I just want to know so many things about them and what happens to them after they leave us and the eighth grade. Here are some of the things I'd want to ask them...

Did you get taller? Did you dance at your quinceanera? I hope everyone came and brought you lovely presents. I bet you looked so pretty. Did you ever learn how to drive a car? I don't really understand the Virginia driving laws, so I am just assuming that you learn by the time you graduate.

Are you still wearing hijab? And transition lenses? I hope you still get to be yourself in high school. I was always glad you were true to yourself in my class. Plus, I understand the plight of the middle schooler (glasses, braces, tall). And I came out just fine. You will too.

Did you remember the three branches when your government teacher started their lectures about the Constitution? Did you sing the Preamble song from Schoolhouse Rock? We listened to it ten times. You should have it pretty memorized. Did you take another economics class? What about history? You always said that you liked it better than civics, even though you said you liked my class.

Are you getting ready for college? Did you think about choosing K-State? I talked about it so much, maybe it crossed your mind. You thought the photo of Anderson Hall on my desk looked like a castle. It kind of is on the top of the hill. But there are lots of great schools. I hope you are going to one where professors will push your brains and you will share your gifts.

Did you read any good books lately? Ones that inspire you or explain something new? I loved seeing what you are reading, and then reading the same things. Except for that very long book about the history of Afghanistan. It was a little bit long. But I was still interested in all the things you told me.

What about the things you carried? Those little tech decks? Did you stop when you got to high school? Do you want back the five I confiscated over the year? They were just so noisy. Did you do the Dougie at homecoming? I really wish someone would have taught me how to Dougie. It might come in handy at my next school.

If you aren't graduating, tell me why. Was there something else your teachers could do to help you? Were your classes tougher? We tried, we really did. But sometimes we were not enough. I hope you find success. And I hope you are superbly happy with all you do.

You were really loved. Even when we yelled and kicked you to the hallway to talk. We wanted you to get it right. I wanted you to learn something more than the standards and something about life. I really hope you did and are proud of yourself.

Miss Luhrs

Monday, June 20, 2011

Fun Times at the Eighth Grade Dance.

Last week was so busy at school. Like super, over-the-top, activities every day, staying after school until 4:30 pm and staying up way too late trying to get everything done busy. Bullying presentation, Yearbook Party, Battle of the Books, the Talent Show and Career Day. It was a pretty great week, with the culmination the 8th grade dance on Friday night.

My good pal Jill planned last year's dance and taught me everything I know about planning 8th grade dances. Student Council had a successful fundraising year, and we were able to provide food, dj and decorations for students. Students paid only $1 for their tickets!

It is one of our favorite events of the year. 200 students coming to the school dressed in their best and ready to party. They really do dance all night with very few students lingering outside the circle. Thankfully no one cried this year - last year a few kids were super sad their middle school days were over.

Rachel came up to see some of her students at the school. I missed planning the dance with her - we had so much fun with our other Student Council events this year. She also wore a matching dress - black with cap sleeves. We TOTALLY didn't plan it, I promise.

Monday is our last full day and the students start dismissal for summer Tuesday morning at 10:40 am. We have some staff responsibilities Tuesday and Wednesday, but thanks to students and their service hours, my room is almost all packed up already. I am going to miss this place and this group of kiddos.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Pretty Exciting Stuff.

Look carefully at this list.
  • Research paper with team (46 terrific pages) Submitted May 5
  • Research presentation Given May 14
  • Graduate (May 21) And with one killer party too!
  • Curriculum Project Paper #1 3-5 pages (June 15) Submitted April 18
  • Curriculum Project Paper #2 3-5 pages (June 15) Submitted April 21
  • Portfolio Chapter #1 4-8 pages (June 26) Submitted April 30
  • Portfolio Chapter #2 4-8 pages (June 26) Submitted May 15
  • Portfolio Chapter #3 4-8 pages (June 26) Submitted June 12 - the day after the reunion!
  • Portfolio Chapter #4 4-8 pages (June 26) Submitted June 18
  • Portfolio Chapter #5 4-8 pages (June 26) Submitted June 19
  • Metaphor 1 page (July 1)
  • Curriculum Project Paper #3 3-5 pages (July 1)
That's right friends, just two things left to do. And I can't start them until we go to class June 27th. So I get a week off! Couldn't be better timing either - Rachel has a list for us five pages long of fun stuff to do after I finished my papers! It starts tonight with an episode of Firefly. I'll let you know how it is.

Happy Dad's Day!

My dad is a busy guy. On his father's day, he's taking two of my brothers to camp and then something that involves Cincinnati, San Antonio, people from another country and CO2. Yep, that's work. Luckily Lauren and I sent him some licorice for the road. Or air, rather.

But see all that? It's dedication to the stuff in his life. And that's a good trait in a dad.

Happy Father's Day Daddy!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Oklahoma Joe's in KC.

My first trip to Oklahoma Joe's was as a youth intern with Village Church way back in 2003. It was popular back then, but just moderately so. I mean, it's in a gas station. That's kind of a funny beginning.

So I was a little surprised when we arrived on Saturday and the line was out the door and down the sidewalk. Apparently, it's gotten increasingly popular while I've lived in Virginia. But since I love food where you have to wait in line, I was just more excited. Why YES, I will wait an hour for my lunch! Who-hoo!

Jennie's boyfriend is Joe, so choosing Oklahoma Joe's was an easy choice. Also, it's my favorite "casual" barbeque in Kansas City. I love everything about it. If I'm trying to impress someone with barbeque and want a sit down meal, I would usually choose Jack Stack.

I literally inhaled my pulled pork sandwich and the great beans. Jennie had the Z man - brisket with a slice of provolone and onion rings. Joe had burnt ends and smoked chicken gumbo. And we all had really cheap glasses of Boulevard Wheat. Who-hoo! It was worth the wait for some fantastic KC barbeque.

Oklahoma Joe's was recently featured as one of Anthony Bourdain's 13 meals to eat before you die. To rank as the best barbeque in Kansas City, home of the best barbeque in the world, is a really big deal. Come visit when I'm back in Kansas, and I'll totally wait in line with you!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Teacher Appreciation.

There isn't much better than teacher appreciation week. Early in May, it was a full week of surprises and thank yous. Here are some of the notes from my students this year - the spelling and grammar is theirs! (I wanted to share especially as the year winds down!)

Ms Luhrs you are the nicest teacher I have every met! Im just hear to say that you very nice (AT TIMES) (from a student in my sixth period - it's been a long year!)

Dear Ms. Luhrs, Than you very much for being my advisory teacher. I really liked that you sent me to the library so much.

Thank you.
You make Civics so interesting and fun to learn each day! Always having unexpected surprises every class!

Thank you for everything that you have done for us when we needed help in Civics.
Thank you for making class so easy.

Thank you for letting me turn in my homework late. (From a chronically absent honors student.)

Thank you Mrs. Lurhs For making civics fun not boreing, and your class is awesome it's a relief walkin into your class cause its so fun

Monday, June 13, 2011

Ten Year Reunion.

Planning your high school reunion seems like a good idea when you are 16-years-old and running for Senior Class President. It turns out that ten years later it is a lot of work. If you asked me a week ago, I would have said I never want to plan another reunion. It also turns out that high school reunions are a lot of fun, and I want to have another one.

I picked the venue (The Cashew) because I liked it, the prices seemed about right, and the view of the KC skyline through the open garage windows can't be beat when it is 76 degrees in Kansas City. We were on the third floor in a wide open space with high and low tables and a really pretty bar. Jennie kept us on track with reunion planning from the very beginning, and I'm pretty sure there would have been no reunion without her.

RSVPs came in very slowly, and Jennie and I were nervous pretty much until last week that we might lose money on this adventure. Then I started to get excited. A whole weekend in Kansas City with Jennie and Joe, and the opportunity to catch up with many people I hadn't seen in a couple years or ten years. We had 107 people come to the party - and about 75 of those were classmates. Not tons of plus ones in attendance.

Saturday night was a total success. Jennie and I are extremely proud of how the event turned out. There were so many little things that made the event go well, and the energy in the room was fantastic. People lingered, talking on the third floor way after the bar closed even though they could have wandered down to the other two bars to continue talking and buy more drinks.

Besides checking people in and circulating, I took a lot of photos. Over sixty great shots of people around the room - ones that will be fun to look at the next time we have a reunion and now on facebook.

We also had the time capsule that Jennie's parents lovingly moved all over the country. Jennie carried it from Chicago to KC for the reunion, and people loved looking at it all evening. We also had our class photo and a tribute to our three classmates who have passed away. We didn't need a whole lot else to decorate the space, but we threw in some purple and black balloons for good measure.

Turns out that even with facebook you still need to get people together in the same room. There was an article recently that said facebook is replacing the need for these events - it's actually wrong. You should go to your reunion. Because somewhere there is a class president and her historian best friend working their rear ends off to put together a great party. You will be supporting them, and I promise, you will have a good time.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Abe - Then and Now.

Apparently, when I came to DC on the mission trip in 2009, I was obsessed with Abe Lincoln. Here are four pictures of me with Abe around town.

Just less than two years later, I feel so much older, wiser and a little bit funnier. But I still love Abe Lincoln.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Four Books of May.

I read four books in May, but you might not want to read any of them. Unless of course you are interested in juvenile literature, immigration or want to pretend you're 15 again and in love for the first time.

The Summer I Turned Pretty is the first of a series of books that the literacy coaches talked me into reading at school. It was like all those teenage mushy love stories you read back in the day. So obviously I loved it. Rachel and Erica both read the whole series in three days - so they won't take you long, and you won't regret it.

The other three books were related to school and my classes...

Illegal is one of five books my honors students are reading related to immigration. I LOVE this unit that I'm teaching now - pushing my students to think about immigration in new ways. It relates to civics because we studied citizenship and because, oh yes, it is real life! Illegal is the story of a teenager and her mom as they leave their dying farm in rural Mexico and come to the United States looking for her dad who has disappeared. I liked it, and my girls are enjoying it too because the protagonist is about their age.

Lawn Boy I have actually read several times, but again this month. My non-honors classes are reading it, and it is ALWAYS a crowd favorite. It's funny, there is a hippie and the teenager makes a lot of money. However, it also does an excellent job connecting economics to literature. Maybe the best connections ever, actually. We've been listening to the book together, and it's like sort of a vacation because the kids are so in to it. It would take you 40 minutes to read.

The Day of the Pelican is also part of the immigration unit, but I also read it because I want to go to Serbia next summer to visit my friend Vicki. The teenage protagonist is a Albanian refugee from Kosovo who is escaping persecution in Serbia but eventually ends up in the United States right before September 11th. I have many Muslim students so they are fairly interested in her story because of her experience.

All these immigration stories (they're also reading The Circuit, American Born Chinese, and Crossing the Wire) reinforce the idea of push-pull migration. That there are always reasons people leave a place and things pulling them into a new one. We are talking a lot about the language around immigration - undocumented, illegal, unauthorized - and doing it very carefully because many of my students are the children of fairly recent immigrants. I want to teach this unit for months - and the fact we have two weeks left is making me a little anxious.

We're also watching this FABULOUS documentary from PBS called "The New Americans." I have never seen students get so excited about a documentary. We're following all these families and individuals as they come to the United States - migrant workers from Mexico to Kansas, Dominican Republican baseball players, a Palestinian bride, Nigerian refugees, and Indian immigrants to Silicon Valley. I watch it with them and then watch ahead when they're not in the room to find out what happens. It connects so perfectly to the issues about immigration and is so similar to their own experiences (or their classmates) that we all watch intently. I would highly recommend it to anyone, actually.

Read on.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

What's In a Name?

While Lindsay was here this past weekend, Rach, Linds and I brainstormed potential blog names for a long time. I could just leave it as victoriaINvirginia but that seems geographically illogical. A couple names I threw out - Fair Enough (a saying I overuse), and Kansas City Girl - are already claimed by somebody else.

I use "claimed" loosely. These domains belong to someone and both have only one post. I want to share them with you because they're awesome.

Fair Enough from Tuesday, February 26, 2002
It's not that I don't have anything to post, it's just that I'm waiting to learn more about the system. The big question is, how do I find out if anyone's listening out there? How many hits? in other words. And if there aren't any, how do I get some? The whole idea of blogging is to communicate, after all. I'm offering some poetry, some opinions, stories and whatever else I think will interest viewers. My only rule is not to bore you if I can help it.

I haven't any doubt that my problems above will strike computer aces as elementary ones which I should be able to handle on my own without bothering other people. Sorry about that, but I can't help it if I'm still an amateur with gaps in my knowledge . Willing to learn, though, if anyone has the answers I'm looking for. I mean, half my kingdom, anything, just ask. Don't miss this opportunity.

Kansas City Girl from Tuesday, December 20, 2005
I sent a personal check in the amount of 325.99 on December 2nd and it cleared my bank on the 8th. I emailed Alisher to ask when I could expect my iPod and he acted like he didn't know what "cleared the bank" meant. I actually spoke to his "partner" last Tuesday (I called Alisher's phone) and this guy sounded Vietnamese. He said that he deals with the money and Alisher ships the products. He did say that he would email me back or call me to let me know when my iPod was shipped. He did email the next day saying that it shipped within 48 hours of my payment, well it is now the 20th of December and I have not seen it! I emailed asking for the tracking number and of course, no response. I will contact Detective Kotokis and hopefully these guys will be caught. I do not understand how they can go from a great feedback score to an absolutely horrible one. What are these guys thinking? Let me know what is going on with this situation. I think I will contact a few news stations in Kansas City!

Thanks, bloggers, for taking these domains and not writing after 2002 and 2005. I hope it worked out with Detective Kotokis and your poetry, Fair Enough.

So I'm still taking name suggestions. I want it to be catchy or very Victoria or Kansas City + catch + Victoria. That should be simple, right?

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Mecca of DC Brunch: Tabard Inn.

Literally described on some blogs as the "Mecca of DC Brunch," I was pretty thrilled to get a reservation at a normal time on Saturday. Lindsay was visiting from Dallas, and we both like breakfast food much so it was a perfect fit for us.

The patio is first come, first serve, but we were really pleased with our table inside too. All the windows were open and with the color scheme I kept thinking we were in Havana. Yes, I got my geography a bit confused, but it was lovely regardless. Reservations can only be made a month in advance, they fill up fast, and don't try to go at "prime" brunch time without a reservation.

Famous for their donuts, Linds and I both enjoyed them before our main courses. They weren't greasy and had a fresh, unique flavor. I had a tart stuffed with crab, asparagus, leeks, and cheese. They didn't skimp on the crab, and it was lovely for brunch.

I don't know at one point I started preferring savory brunch dishes instead of sweet french toast and pancakes. But I'm learning about the awesomeness of things that aren't doused in syrup too.

That being said, Lindsay's french toast was very good too. It was definitely carefully prepared.

It was fantastic to have Lindsay visit. While I've known Lindsay since high school, we didn't become close friends until we both worked as summer interns at a KC church. We've been to Colorado, DC and Chicago together with youth and spent countless hours hanging out at church and around KC before our paths headed out of town . Linds lives in Dallas now - I can't wait to visit - and it was good to see my friend and catch up. We laughed a lot. Ate probably just as much too.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Shake Shack, Five Guys and In-N-Out.

The last thing that Dereck and I did before he flew home was eat a burger and drink a shake. Surprised? I didn't figure you would be. Shake Shack recently opened in DC, and it appears to be a big deal. After reading about it on several blogs, I decided I should probably see what the hype was all about. I even emailed Jon and Dereck about it before they came to visit.

We made quick trips to the National Cathedral and the Portrait Gallery before we went to Shake Shack. I was nervous about how long it would take, but because it was a holiday the lines were pretty short. Dereck got a double hamburger, and I got the burger with the Shake Shack sauce. We split an order of fries, and both ordered the black & white milkshake made with custard because that's what we both wanted. I know, kind of lame.

Here's what we thought: it was good. A tiny bit overpriced when you compare to Five Guys and there's only one in DC, so it might not be worth the wait on a week day. Fries were solid, but the milkshake ranked third on Dereck's list after Ted's and then Good Stuff. I'm still not sure what the Shake sauce was about, but I think a regular burger would have probably done the trick.

This great article compares burgers from Shake Shack, Five Guys and In-N-Out. Jill didn't tell me about Alton Brown's website comparison of the three burgers until after we went or we might have thought more carefully through the options while we were there. So far Dereck and I are the only people I know that have had all three, but I'm hoping maybe my sister can add her feedback after her time in NYC. We found good things about each of the locations, knowing also that all we can get is Five Guys in Kansas City.

Bottom line: burgers are good. And I like to do trendy things, so I'm glad I can say I've been to the Shake Shack. And I have GOT to stop writing about milkshakes. It makes me want them all the time, which is weird because I'm more of a Pinkberry kind of a girl.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

DC at Night.

To effectively shoot the monuments and Capitol at nighttime, you really should use a tripod. But I made do with my legs and got a few halfway decent shots around town late Sunday night. Like really late - all of these photos were taken after 10:15 pm or so. And then I photoshopped them a little because I can. It jazzes them up in a 1970s sort of a way.

United States Capitol

Abe Lincoln is my homeboy. And I really love this photo. It might be my favorite.

Sunday night was my first time walking up to the Washington Monument. I know, right? I don't know what I was doing before. It's really big! We made plans to go up in July before I leave DC.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Arlington National Cemetery.

Emily and Ryan, local favorites and friends, came down on Saturday afternoon to join us for dinner and a little dancing in the city. We had a great time complete with a trip to Ben's Chili Bowl - everyone needs chili half smokes and chili fries at the end of the night, correct?

Sunday morning we walked down to Del Ray for brunch at Evening Star. It was my first time. And I'm a little sad because people at school have talked about this place for two years, and I'm just getting there now. That french toast was something else. In a really good way.

For their last afternoon in the city, Erica, Jon, Dereck and I went up to Arlington National Cemetery to honor our troops for Memorial Day. The problem was that a lot of people had the same idea.

Enter: The Rolling Thunder.

We watched the motorcycles around town all weekend, but the actual rally was Sunday afternoon on the Mall. All the bikers rode up from the Pentagon past Arlington Cemetery to the west side of the Mall. They went in a constant stream past us as we watched, and it was pretty neat. Kind of like Harley Day at K-State but with a patriotic twist instead of a purple one.

Eventually we found a way to cross and made our way to a very hot Arlington Cemetery. We decided it was worth the $8.50 to ride the tram and listen to the tour guide explain the history. Memorial Day is a great time to go because there they put flags on the 250,000 markers in the cemetery.

It amazes me and humbles me how active this place still is. A constant tribute, but also very much still a cemetery for today. There are funerals there every single day. Between touring Arlington and walking the war memorials, I spent a lot of time being grateful that I know an extraordinary amount of freedom living in the United States.