Category Archives: Travel

Hyun Family goes to Washington (DC)

We took a family trip out to Washington DC with the kids, Tenille’s parents, and my mom.  There is so much to see in DC that you have to prioritize and choose what to see.  Since this is the first trip for the kids and my mom, we decided to hit the highlights. 

The itinerary was probably a bit ambitious.  We came home with sore feet almost every night.  Our minor discomfort was probably a good reminder of what the soldiers of the Revolutionary War and Civil War must have endured as they marched for miles in the summer heat, sometimes in bare feet.

Tenille found a house for rent on AirBnB.  It was inexpensive, but the lights kept going out.  Her dad risked his life several times every evening flipping the sizzling fuse switches.  At the end of the day, no one got hurt and we saved a few bucks.

Here’s a quick photo tour of what we saw.

Arlington:

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National Cathedral:

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A moon rock was embedded in this stained glass window.  This is the science and technology stained glass window.

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Andrew and Grandpa fighting over who gets to ride in the stroller.  (j/k – just goofing around in the cathedral garden.)

Washington DC LDS Temple:

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Smithsonian:

Museum of Natural History:

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Both Air and Space Museums:

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American History Museum:

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Greensboro Lunch Counter (Civil Rights Protest) and the Gunship Philadelphia

National Mall (Tour):

White House:

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FDR Memorial:

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MLK Memorial:

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Korean War Memorial:

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World War II Memorial:

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Lincoln Memorial:

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Washington Memorial:

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Thomas Jefferson Memorial:

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U.S. Capitol Building:

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(Statue of Whitman from Washington State)

Bureau of Printing and Engraving:  (The Money tour)

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Supreme Court:

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Library of Congress:

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Probably the most beautiful building in DC if not the world.

Adam Smith’s Office (our district representative):

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(He wasn’t there…. so we had to let ourselves in…)

Gettysburg:

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The boys earned their Junior Ranger badges.

Mt. Vernon:

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On the last night, we met up with our good friends Dave, the foremost authority on West Africa, and Diana Evans and crashed their Friday movie and pizza party. 

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Andrew’s the only one who got to sleep while touring… but this is pretty much how we all felt.

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Vacations of 2007

We have had some fun vacations this year.  
 
10-Day Panama Canal Cruise, April 2007
Don’s mom took our family, Don’s sister, Paris, and her boyfriend, Alex, on a 10-Day Panama Canal Cruise.  We did a partial transit through the Gatun Locks of the Panama Canal.  We visited Panama, Costa Rica, Jamaica, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel.  We had such a great time!  Jamaica was my favorite port.  Paris, Alex, and I went on a canopy zipline tour.  It was awesome!  We zipped along a course of 9 ropes through a forrest.  The shortest rope dropped you straight down while the longest was over 600 feet long!  After the tour, we asked the driver to take us to Dunns River Falls.  We didn’t have time to run to the boat to change into our swimsuits and sandals, so we hiked the falls fully-clothed in our tennis shoes.  We had a riot!  If you ever go to Ocho Rios, I definitely recommend hiking the falls.  Don, his mom, andCaleb went on a jerk country tour where they learned about jerk seasoning and saw some pottery making.  You can view pictures of our trip here.
 
Bahamas Trip, June 2007
We were fortunate to go to a credit union conference at the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island, Bahamas in June for a week.  We made a family vacation of it and invited Don’s mom along.  The Atlantis is an amazing and gigantic resort!  There are so many aquariums and sea life to look at.  Caleb loved looking at all of the aquariums!  And, the swimming was so much fun!  There are tons of slides and tube rides, two lazy rivers, lots of kids pools.  It was a nice, relaxing vacation.  Mom and I did some shopping at the straw market, which was fun!  Don’s mom is quite the bargaining queen!  Don had some meetings to go to, but was still able to spend a lot of time with us at the pool and exploring the resort.  I highly recommend the place, but be prepared for some VERY pricey food!  You can view pictures here.
 
Glacier National Park, July 2007
We drove to Glacier National Park to meet my family.  We camped in tent trailers for three nights.  We went on hikes every day and saw the most beautiful scenery!  Fortunately, the Going to the Sun Road opened while we were there, so we were able to drive the entire road.  We saw so many breathtaking waterfalls, glaciers, and mountains!  We also saw one black bear, one deer, one moose, some wild rabbits, and a bunch of mountain goats.  Caleb had a great time playing with his cousins.  He’s finally to the age where he can communicate with them and play together.  He and Josh especially hit it off.  It was so cute to see Caleb running around with all of his cousins.  They all adore him since they don’t get to see him very often.  It was great to be with family and catch up.  You can view pictures here.
 
Our next adventure isn’t until Labor Day in September when Caleb and I will fly down to Utah for the annual Roberts Lake Powell trip.  I’m looking forward to it, but bummed that I won’t be able to ski or wakeboard.  Such are the sacrifices of being pregnant.  I’ve got Caleb enrolled in swimming lessons, so I’m sure he’ll love playing in the water with his cousins.  Unfortunately, Don doesn’t have enough vacation days, so he won’t be joining us again.  But, we will all be heading down to Utah again for Thanksgiving since we won’t be able to go down for Christmas.  Fun stuff!

A few days in Washington DC

Tenille and I had an opportunity to go to Washington DC on behalf of BECU (our beloved Credit Union).  On day 1, Tenille had a chance to tour the Ford Theater where Lincoln was assassinated, the air and space museum, FDR memorial, and the national cathedral.  In the evening, we held a reception for the staff of Congressman from Washington state, and those on the banking committee.  I was astonished by how young the staffers were.  They were mostly right out of their college.  I don’t think I met anyone over 30 and most were under 25 years old.  These were the people that met with lobbyists and analyzed issues for congressman.  They were incredibly influential and most were very passionate about what they do, as they put in extremely long hours for almost negligible pay.  Many live in dormitory type housing, and typically do not own cars.  They often are at work past 9pm after all the receptions and parties, then on their weekend/spare time, they would help out with campaigns, which they are not supposed to do while they are working.  It seemed like one big party in a way as they were young, energized, and passionate about what they’re doing.  These were the gatekeepers to the congressman.  It was slightly concerning that a group of young people wielded so much legislative power.  I am certain they are all very bright, but wonder if industry experience may help the legislative process in sifting through all the information that is thrown at them. 
The following day, we met with the staff in official capacity at the offices of Larsen, Inslee, Dicks, and Castle (Delaware).  Some of the staff were quite knowledgeable about the banking and credit union industry and asked insightful questions.  Others seemed like they were recently assigned to the topic.  We found out that often the congressman and staff depend on people that are willing to help out with information in gathering their facts.  Our law firm pioneered this industry by providing free legal advice.  In return, they typically have fairly free access into congressman’s offices.  We also noticed that our law firm employs quite a few ex-staffers.  This is the benefit of working the crazy hours for several years.  With all your contacts with other staff members, you’re in high demand by lobbying firms that need people who can make a few phone calls and arrange meetings.  It was obvious that access was a valuable commodity in DC.  However, I did gain a genuine respect and appreciation for the work that our congressman were doing.  We had an opportunity to meet with Senator Cantwell, Congressman Inslee, Congressman Larsen, and Former Congressman Davies at an evening reception.  They were hard working people
and I got an impression that they cared about the work they were doing and a general sense of integrity.  Often, we are deluged my media stories that make all congressman out to be in the pockets of special interests and lobbyist groups.  After meeting some of these people and having gone through the process, I think that Congressman with low ethics (as portrayed by the media) are probably in the minority.  However, I would not understate the influence that the lobbyists have on these congressman.  I got the impression that the lobbyists have become very sophisticated in presenting their case and convincing the congressman of their cause.  The congressman are just too busy to sift through it all.  I was impressed as each of the Congressman that we met worked through the room meeting with each one of us and making small talk.  Our reception was likely one of four or five that evening.  One of the staffers told us that this is pretty much what every evening looks like.  They live off of hors’ douevres.  I got pretty tired after talking with three or four people. 
 
Some highlights of the evening included a quick conversation with senator Cantwell.  She asked us if this was our first time in DC.  We told her we’ve been here before, but this is the first time we got to meet a real-life senator.  She then cordially invited us to take a picture with her.  It probably didn’t hurt that pictures from the evening would be published in 400,000 newsletters that will go out to BECU members in her state, but it was nice of her to offer, and Tenille and I enjoyed the photo opportunity.  We also spent considerable time with Trudi Inslee
(wife of Jay.)  She was a wonderful lady from Bainbridge island.  I really had sympathy for the Congressmen’s families.  There was clearly much sacrifice for a noble cause as their husband/father commuted to DC on Monday and returning late Friday or sometimes on the weekend.  In the evening, we got a private tour of the Capitol Building by a member of the US historical society.  He was a
great speaker and inspiring.  He emphasized the symbolic importance of the Capitol building as the center piece of our democracy.  That we are ruled by elected officials.  Aside from our feet aching from standing all day in marble halls, it was quite an exciting day.

Europe: Day 16: Paris – Rue Cler Walk, Attempt to make it home from Paris

On the train from Paris to the airport, Tenille and I reflected on our successful trip.  We had just turned down an offer by our taxi driver to take us to the airport for 20 more Euros.  We thought we were being frugal by taking the train, but ended up paying 17 Euros for the train.  Ends up we were just being dumb to be taking a hot, non-A/C train dragging all of our luggage around for the same price as we could have had for an air conditioned taxi ride right to our gate.  Furthermore, we were running a bit late because we had just spent the morning walking around in the rue Cler neighborhood buying gifts.  We got some olive oil and balsamic vinegar as a thank you gift for our parents for watching Caleb. 

Thinking about our poor choice in transportation, Tenille consoled, “At least nothing has gone majorly wrong with our trip.  I’ve heard that some people missed their train and/or flights and their trip gets screwed up for days.”  I reminded Tenille that you’re not really supposed to say things like that until we’re safely home eating dinner.  “What could possibly happen at this point?”

We arrived at the airport with about 45 minutes to spare.  We were not accustomed to the level of service at the French airport which was magnified by the fact that we were running late.  On several occasions, we had to interrupt customer service agent’s valuable flirting time so that we could check in.  Tenille made an interesting note that in Europe, there are posters that list the rights of the employees of the airport.  In the US, there are posters of the rights of the traveler. 

We managed to fumble through the airport and get on our plane.  We got to London an hour and a half late.  The whole flight is only an hour and a half, so I’m not quite sure what  happened to make the flight double in duration.  Needless to say, many passengers were in a panic about their connecting flight.  The British Airway stewardesses were feelingless.  They were cold statues that have likely experienced this on a daily basis, and had run out of any sympathy.  They coldly told passengers that this happens all the time, and someone from BA will take care of them.  We were feeling ok, because we still had an hour to our flight.  Little did we know, that we had to check in through Passport control, Baggage claim, then customs, before we could check in to our next flight.  At the Passport control, we told one of the service agents our dilemma.  He asked why we didn’t check our bags in so they went straight through?  “We didn’t know you could do that” we replied.  It was tough enough just get our bags checked.  He chuckled and sympathized, making a comment about the lack of helpfulness often experienced in France.  By the time we made it to check in, we had 41 minutes to the flight.  A customer service agent asked us which flight we were on.  We told her, and she took us out of line and to her special terminal.  She started typing away, then told us that we missed the cut off.  We had to check in 45 minutes before the flight.  She pointed us to a customer service agent, and we unhappily resigned to our fate and prepared to find another flight home.  As we were explaining our situation, we noticed that there were many others in the same predicament as us.  Most of them very angry.  We were fortunate enough to have a helpful agent find us flight to Vancouver Canada, otherwise we would have to go on standby the next day.  We opted for Canada.  Worst case, we could take a bus down to Seattle.  At least we’d be in the right continent and within driving distance.  When we got to the gate an hour later, the direct flight to Seattle (that we apparently missed) was still at the gate next to our gate.  The passengers to the Seattle flight did not take off for another hour after we got there.  We asked the gate attendant if we could get on that flight.  One would think that would be a reasonable request.  One would be wrong.  We had to painfully watch the passengers board the plane that was supposed to take us directly home while we waited for a plane to Canada.

Our flight to Canada was uneventful, but again late.  We ran to the gate of our connecting flight this time, thinking we’re not going to miss another flight.  But, we were not even close.  The plane had taken off long ago.  It was now quite late.  We sulked back to the main terminal to find a British Airways agent to find another way back down to Seattle.  After a few laps around the terminal, we were not able to find a BA agent.  We looked quite thoroughly.  In fact, we found several other people who needed to make the same Seattle connection, but also missed the flight.  After about half an hour of walking back and forth and asking several people, we found the BA lady.  She gave us a choice of either taking a flight the next day, or going home by limo.  I was 100% for finishing this trip today and opted for the limo.  The other 3 passengers also opted for the limo.  The BA Lady cut us some vouchers and asked us to go stand outside at the limo stand.  When a limo pulls up, we give our voucher, and they’ll take us to Sea Tac.  All of us were relieved that there was a solid plan for getting home.  We all made our respective calls to our family members and let them know that this horrible day of traveling was soon about to come to a close.  After about 15 minutes of waiting, a lady came up to us, and asked, “You guys aren’t waiting for a limo are you? They’re all on strike!”…   Some of us laughed in true disbelief.  Honestly, we thought it was a joke… but the lady messenger of doom did not laugh, and our countenance also shifted.  It was indeed a cosmic joke.  We sent a messenger back to the BA lady to tell her that we need an alternate plan.  The BA Lady gave us vouchers for a nearby hotel, and cut us tickets on the commuter plane the following morning.  That evening, we went to the hotel.  One of the ladies that was waiting with us, gave us her food voucher.  We went to town on the room service.  We figured, we might as well make the best of it.  We got just about every other appetizer they had, order several entrees.  Tenille ordered a cheesecake and nachos to top it all off… When the food arrived, we were a bit embarrassed that we had ordered so much food.  But, the embarrassment didn’t last long, and we gorged, courtesy of BA.

Europe: Day 15: Paris – Eiffel Tower, Sacre-Couer, Gospel Choir

We woke up to our last full day in Paris and opted to skip the hotel breakfast since we had found out the night before that the 14 Euros per person charge was not included in our lodging.  The breakfast definitely outdid our free Rome breakfast of orange juice, crispy toast w/jelly, and croissants, but not enough to pay $35 for the two of us.  We made our way towards the Eiffel Tower and found a pastry shop and grocery store along the way.  Don bought a croissant, while I opted for donuts, a yogurt, and a banana.  We ate our breakfast on the way to the Tower and while we were standing in line.

There were two lines to buy elevator tickets, so we opted for the line that was in the shade.  We waited there for two hours!!!  Just as it was about our turn to take the elevator up, it appeared that the elevator was no longer running up that leg of the tower, so we were escorted to the opposite leg of the tower which was pretty far away.  Standing in line for two hours does not bring out the best in people, and by this time people were shoving and trying to get ahead of each other.  It was really ridiculous!  We ended up at the end of an even longer line that wasn’t moving.  Don and I were so tired of waiting at this point, that we began contemplating returning later since we already had our tickets.  After realizing that we probably wouldn’t have time to make it back, we decided rather to see if we could climb to the first floor and take the elevator to the second.  Thankfully the guy at the stairs leg let us go ahead.  It really wasn’t that far up, and we wished that we would have done that in the first place. 

I had bought a postcard to send to Caleb because there is a post office on the first floor of the Tower, and I thought it would be cool to have a postcard of the Eiffel Tower sent directly from the Tower.  Don thought it was a bit ridiculous, but was fine with it since we didn’t have to wait in a line.  We had no problems taking the elevator up to the second floor.  After taking in the views, we took the elevator back down.  I think Don would agree that considering the time and effort (and shoving of impatient people), the Eiffel Tower was the biggest disappointment of our trip.  We would both be fine never going up it again.

We found the nearest metro station and made our way to the Sacre-Couer (Sacred Heart Church).  While riding in the train, two punk kids turned up their radio and started rapping and dancing.  It was a bit awkward because these teenage kids would lift up their shirt and start shaking their belly in front of an old man’s face who clearly had no interest in admiring their dance or rap.  There was another couple who were filming the whole disturbance, and we figured that they must have been making a music video of sorts.  They actually did a pretty good job, and later Don said that he was tempted to throw some money in their tin.

After emerging from the station, we grabbed lunch at a gyro joint near the bottom of the hill that leads to the white church.  There was a tram that took people to the top, but we opted to make the climb rather than wait in another line.  It was quite a climb!  Once we got to the base of the church, we saw the same two rappers with an even more extensive camera crew.  They weren’t rapping, but rather it looked like they were taking a break.  Who knows, we may have stumbled upon some famous French rappers.  We’ll never know.

We went inside the church and started making our way around the walls.   

We hustled back to the river to hit the gospel choir concert.  We were there a few hours early because we were not sure how the ticketing worked.  While Don was looking around, a man walked out of the American cathedral and let me know that we can just buy tickets here when the show starts.  He assured us that the entry fee would be nominal.  We grabbed a nice dinner and spent some time walking up and down the river.  When we got back to the cathedral, there was a long line.  Don was able to get to the ticketing line and buy tickets.  Obviously, nominal in France does not mean cheap… It was $50 for the both of us.  We were ushered into the magnificent cathedral, and a choir of about 8 men and women came out.  It was a bit of a strange experience.  It seemed like a black French choir singing American Gospel music to mostly French people.  Their English often had French and a slight British accent, which is a bit weird in the context of gospel.  Also, it seemed like the choir was trying to get the audience to “get in the spirit” by hollering, but it seemed that was a bit beyond the sensibilities of this mostly French audience.  About halfway through, the choir was joined by another choir of about 20 men and women.  It suddenly became quite powerful.  They sang a song named “Joy!” and the audience was suddenly compelled to stand.  Some seemed overtaken by the music, and you could hear “Hallelujah” being shouted out from the back.  It was definitely an odd out of place experience, but a welcome spiritual lift.

When the choir was done singing, we took the subway back to our hotel.  We were pooped for the evening and konked out quickly. 

Europe: Day 14: Paris – Versailles, Orsay Museum, Napolean’s Tomb

We originally thought that we would head out early, but decided to sleep in a little this morning since we were so tired yesterday.  We left our hotel around 9:30 after eating breakfast and made our way to the RER station, Pont D’ Alma.  We used a regular metro ticket, and grabbed the train to Versailles.  It was about a 30 minute trek.  When we arrived, we couldn’t get past the turnstiles to get out of the station.  We found out later that we were supposed to buy a special ticket to Versailles.  There were a bunch of us, in fact, that apparently made the same mistake.  We eventually found a way around the turnstiles and were on our way to Versailles.  We had to walk about a mile to get there.  It was quite a sight to see!  The palace is enormous!  Unfortunately they are in the middle of reconstructing the palace, so there was a lot of construction equipment all over the grounds, but it was still impressive.  Fortunately we were able to bypass the long line to buy tickets since we had our Museum Pass.  We had originally planned to do a live guided tour, but after finding out that we would have to walk a ways to the ticket office, we opted for the audioguides instead.  The audioguides led us through the different parts of the palace and gave interesting facts about each room.  It was pretty good.  After the tour, we headed out to the gardens.  It was extremely hot, so we decided to be lazy and take the tram out to the gardens.  We thought that the tram took us through the gardens, but we were mistaken.  Instead, we went along a dirt road passing by cattle and horses in fields with no views of the garden.  The roundtrip took 45 minutes.  We (more I, Tenille) were so disappointed!  We walked out to the top of the garden and found out that it wasn’t that far of a walk, and we could have skipped the tram ride altogether.  Oh well.  We took in our last views of Versailles and made our way back to the train station. We had lunch at a Spanish Tapas restaurant and grabbed a blizzard at McDonalds before boarding the train.  This time we figured out getting the right ticket.

I wanted to get the most out of our Museum Pass, so Don agreed grudgingly to go with me to the Orsay Museum and Napolean’s Tomb.  We had to hurry because of their closing times.  The RER train stopped one stop short of the Orsay Musem stop (because of construction we guessed), so we finally found a lady who told us to go outside and follow the signs to a bus.  We made it to the museum and went straight to the Impressionist floor.  I wanted to see the Monet paintings.  They were so beautiful!  I took pictures of all the artworks I liked so that I could get prints of them.  I really enjoyed our short stay!  We had to leave earlier than I would have liked in order to make it to Napolean’s Tomb before closing.  We decided to walk rather than chance a bus.  It started raining on the way, so we arrived a bit wet.  The rain felt good at first, but it didn’t really cool the heat of the air, so rather than being hot and sweaty, we were hot and soaked.  Oh well. 

We arrived at Napolean’s Tomb to find that it closed 45 minutes later than we thought, so we could have stayed at the Orsay longer.  Darn.  Anyway, we saw Napolean’s gigantic tomb made of red marble.  It is quite a sight to see.  It is placed under the dome of the Invalides Building surrounded by wall carvings of his battles.  The actual tomb that you see holds multiple other tombs stacked inside one another until you reach Napolean’s corpse.  Crazy!  I have never seen a “casket’ like it before in my life!

It had stopped raining by the time we left the building.  Don wanted to go check out the jazz scene, so we headed that way.  We found a couple of clubs, but we had a hard time figuring out who was playing and what time.  And, there wasn’t really anyone to ask.  I had to go to the bathroom, so we spent about 30 minutes trying to find one.  Finally I went inside a restaurant and helped myself.  They were all pay toilets except for one, so I opened the door and found not a toilet, but a floor bin that you squat over.  I recalled discovering these same “toilets” in Korea where I opted to hold it.  Unfortunately holding it was not an option this time, so I went for it.  As I was “going” the light turned off on me, so I had to finish in the dark.  It was quite an experience….one I will undoubtedly never forget.

Don and I walked back to the jazz scene along the same streets we had walked up and down looking for a bathroom.  We stopped in to get a gelato because my blood sugar was low.  Finally we found a club that was playing jazz music, but when we peered in we saw that it was standing room only.  We decided to pass on the jazz and head home early.  We were both very tired and ready for some sleep.