Saturday, February 11, 2006

Home Again...Ahead of the Storm

Hi! I have just arrived back in Iowa.

Very early this morning Kristin woke me up and told me we had to rush to get ready for the airport. Kristin said a major snowstorm was going to blow into Washington today. I didn’t know about the storm but Kristin said the weatherman had been talking about it for a few days. So on Friday, she changed our plane tickets for an earlier flight.

Although I am very tired from getting up so early, I think it was the right thing to do. It was raining when we left the airport this morning. See how dark the sky is in this picture Kristin took of me in the airport business lounge?

I really like spending time in the lounge watching the planes. It is very interesting to watch the workers load suitcases into the bottom of the plane. They use a portable ramp that can be moved from plane to plane. I think it would be fun to drive one of the little carts that pull the ramps and the suitcase storage bins. They are similar to golf carts but they have bigger wheels and no top.

Our plane trip to Chicago was very quiet. I was tired from getting up so early so I took a nap. We spent a few hours in the business lounge at O’Hare airport in Chicago and then we took another plane to Moline.

The luggage arrived with no problems. Whew! I was worried about my new stuffed bear. I hope he didn’t get too cold in Kristin’s suitcase. Here you can see me helping Kristin unpack him.

Once again I want to thank my friends Keith and Kristin for taking me to Washington, DC. I really enjoyed the visit. And, I think Washington is one place I want to visit again.

Until my next trip…..

Crossing the Potomac

Hi everyone!

I have had another exciting day here in Washington. Today, Keith and Kristin attended a conference in nearby Virginia. I am so excited because now I can cross Virginia off the list of states I have not visited!

To get to Virginia, we had to cross over the Potomac River. The river is not as wide as the Mississippi River is in Muscatine but it was still neat to see it from the bridge. Before crossing the river, I was able to see the US Capital (the real one...not the photo). Just after crossing the river we drove by the Pentagon. This is where the US Department of Defense is located. Do you know why the building is called the Pentagon? Kristin says a pentagon is a shape just like a square or a circle. A square has four sides and a pentagon has five sides. The Pentagon is a HUGE office building and it is built in the shape of a pentagon. Very cool! Keith says at one time it was the largest office building in the world. I had no idea!

Kristin was worried I would be bored at the conference so she bought me a cool teddy bear, a coloring book, and a map of Washington DC to keep me busy. The bear has an American flag and the White House stitched on it. The coloring book includes pictures and stories about many of the famous landmarks in Washington. It is very neat. I read the entire book but I decided to wait until I was back home with Michael before coloring in it. Here I am at the meeting reading my new book.

After the meeting, we returned to the hotel and then we went out for dinner. Guess what? I got to ride the Metro again. I love the Metro. It goes SO fast through the tunnels.

Tonight we actually went back to Virginia to a place where Keith and Kristin like to eat. One of the Metro stops is at the Pentagon! I haven't been inside of the Pentagon but I have been UNDER it! Also, there are parts of the Metro that are above ground. So I was able to see the edge of Arlington National Cemetery.

I fell asleep on the way back to the hotel so Kristin tucked me into bed with my new bear. I have not named him yet so maybe you can help me come up with a name when I get home.

Until next time....

Thursday, February 09, 2006

The Real White House and More

Hi everyone.

I’m sorry it has taken me so long to write. I am having so much fun that I don’t have time to sit at the computer.

Keith and Kristin were very busy with meetings all day on Thursday. Kristin told me I would need my walking shoes before we left the hotel. She was right. We walked a TON today around parts of Washington. Kristin says sometimes it is faster to walk than to take a cab.

Our first stop of the day was Al Jazeera’s Washington DC office. It is an office of the same station I visited in Qatar. Remember the photo of me with Kristin near the TV? That was taken at Al Jazeera’s headquarters in Doha. The office here is much smaller but Keith tells me it is growing fast. Al Jazeera is starting a news channel that will broadcast in English and one of the main offices for the new channel is here in Washington.

The Al Jazeera office is located on K Street. Yes, the street name is just the letter “K.” I noticed many streets today that were only named by letter. How simple! Anyway, Kristin tells me that K Street is very well known in Washington. Many people and organizations that work with the government have offices on K Street.

I wasn’t all that interested in hearing more about K Street but Kristin told me that it was very close to a famous location. Guess what? The Al Jazeera office is near the White House! That’s where the President of the United States lives. The White House has a very famous address. Do you know what it is? See if you can look it up.

It is a REALLY BIG house. Bigger than any house I have ever seen. Kristin says people can tour the White House but we didn’t have time. It's OK. Keith says the president wasn't at home today. But, Keith did was able to take a photo of me with Kristin in front of the White House.

Can you tell it is cold and VERY windy here? I am very glad Aunt Lynn bought me a new coat for Christmas. It keeps me dry and warm.

This afternoon, Keith and Kristin visited their friend Simon Marks. Simon owns a company called Feature Story News. He is a journalist like Keith and Kristin. He even has a TV studio in his office! He is helping Keith and Kristin work on their radio program. So while Keith and Kristin were talking with Simon, I pretended I was a journalist like Keith and Kristin. Here you can see me sitting in the chair Simon and his staff use when they are talking to stations around the world. The picture in the background is of the Capital Building here in Washington.

Keith says I am a "natural." I don't know what that means but I think I look pretty cool; don't you?

Just when I thought my exciting day was over, Keith and Kristin had one more surprise for me. We took a cab to our first meeting of the day but tonight we took something called the Metro back to the hotel. Guess what? The Metro is an underground train! It is really cool. Kristin says there are many stops and there are several different routes that help people get from one place to another. There is a major stop at Dupont Circle near our hotel. It is on the “Red Line.” All of the routes are named for colors; again, very simple and easy to understand.

I can tell that Keith and Kristin have been on the Metro many times. You have to buy a special ticket and put it through a ticket machine before you can enter the system. BUT….first you have to get to the ticket machine. Remember, the special trains are underground....WAY underground! To reach the train stop…or “platform” as Kristin calls it, you have to take a VERY long escalator. The one at Dupont Circle is very, very steep. I was worried that Kristin was going to fall over because the escalator is so steep that it makes it seem like you are falling forward. I was very scared but Kristin held on tight and didn’t fall. She told me later that it was OK to be afraid. She says the escalator scares her too.

The train itself runs on a schedule. It is very clean and fast. It runs through a tunnel dug deep under the city. Sometimes it goes so fast that my ears pop. Kristin told me that is a normal reaction and not to worry. I was scared the first time we took the Metro but now I can’t wait to ride it again. Kristin told me that if I was really, really good I might get to ride the train again.

I wanted Kristin to take my picture on the train but she told me it is not allowed. She says it is a security measure. I noticed there is a lot of security in Washington. Kristin says that is because this is America's capital and the president and other important people live and work here.

Whew! I am tired from my big adventures today. I am going to head to bed now.

Until next time.....

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Greetings from Washington DC!

Greetings from Washington DC!

I am so excited. Kristin has found a spot in her purse for me so I am now able to go with her everywhere she goes on this trip. I am very glad because I like to see new things. It is much better than being stored away in a suitcase.

We arrived safely earlier this evening but we were delayed a bit along the way. It was snowing in Chicago and we had to wait for a special truck to spray pink liquid on the wings of the plane. Keith said the liquid is anti-freeze and the truck was “deicing” the plane. He says it is bad if there is ice on the wings of a plane when it takes off. It was very interesting to watch out the plane window.

The trip was uneventful after we left Chicago. Keith and Kristin’s luggage arrived OK and we took a cab to our hotel. Keith tells me there are two airports near Washington, DC. We arrived at the Ronald Reagan National Airport. Did you know it was renamed several years ago to honor President Reagan?

In the cab we drove by several large, white stone buildings and towers. Kristin told me they are monuments and memorials. The tall white tower is the Washington Monument. It honors America’s first president, George Washington. I also saw the Jefferson Memorial, which honors our third president, Thomas Jefferson. And the road is so close to the Lincoln Memorial that I could almost touch it from the cab window. That building honors President Abraham Lincoln. I could also see the Kennedy Center across the river. It honors President John Kennedy.

I was beginning to sense a pattern so I asked Kristin if every president has a special memorial here in Washington. She said no. So, I have decided that these presidents must be extra special.

We are staying at Jury’s on Dupont Circle. Keith and Kristin have stayed here several times. Kristin’s room is nice but much smaller than the rooms she had in the Middle East. It actually overlooks Dupont Circle and even has a small refrigerator full of drinks and food. Kristin says she has to pay for anything she drinks or eats and I guess it is VERY expensive. Kristin says this room is much closer to the type of room she normally stays in on her trips in the United States.

Tonight Keith and Kristin met one of their very good friends at a Chinese restaurant near the hotel. Her name is Liz Shropshire and they met her several years ago in Kosovo. Do you know where Kosovo is? See if you can find it on a map. Liz teaches music programs to children in Kosovo and some of her students have visited Muscatine. Kristin and Keith (and his entire family) were part of a Muscatine group that visited Liz in Kosovo last summer. Liz was speaking at a nearby college so she decided to have dinner with Keith and Kristin. Here you can see me with Kristin and Liz.

Well that’s about it for now. I need to get to sleep. Kristin says we have a full day of meetings tomorrow.

Until next time….

Greetings from Moline

Hi everyone!

I am sitting with Keith and Kristin at the airport in Moline waiting for our first flight. Guess what? I got to go through the x-ray machine again! This time I was in Kristin's purse. I asked Kristin why her bags go through an x-ray machine at the airport. She told me all passenger luggage is checked to make sure nothing bad is in someone's bag. She says this is hopefully making it safer for us to travel.

I had forgotten that traveling requires a great deal of patience. So I am using my time to help Keith check his e-mail. He has a really cool machine called a BlackBerry. It looks like a GameBoy but his has more than games. It also includes a phone AND he can see all of his e-mail. It is very neat. It makes a small noise when new e-mail arrives.

Keith didn't take this on our last trip. He says that's because it doesn't work overseas. Kristin says I will see the BlackBerry a lot on this trip.

That's all for now. Our plane is about to arrive. I'll check in once I get to Washington.

Until next time.....

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

I'm Off to See The President

OK...I may not actually SEE the President of the United States but I am headed to Washington, DC for my next adventure!

My good friends Keith and Kristin are headed there to continue work on the radio program they started during our last trip. Since I traveled with them to the Middle East, they asked if I wanted to tag along on this trip. I said YES right away!

I am very excited. I have never been to Washington, DC. Did you know that it is the capital of the United States? Did you also know the president lives there in a big white house? (I had no idea. Kristin told me).

Kristin tells me it will be a very short trip. We leave tomorrow from Moline and return on Saturday. Tonight I have been helping Kristin pack her computer.

I am sure this will be an exciting trip. I'll keep you posted when I can. Bye for now...

Say Hello to Oasis

Hi everyone!

Since my return from the Middle East, I have had several people ask me if I have a name for my stuffed camel.

I am glad that you asked. After talking with Michael, I have decided to name him Oasis. Do you know what oasis means? See if you can look it up. I think it is a great name for a camel from Dubai.

Until next time....