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Day 19, Thursday, July 5, 2012: Today was yet another great day in D.C.. The day began with work at iCivics–and it was a very fun day filled with new and exciting assignments.

After dinner, Alaina and I hurried back to the dorm to change and head to meet Karon for dinner in Chinatown, D.C.. We ate at a really good place called Clyde’s–I HIGHLY recommend this place to anyone. It was wonderful. After dinner we ventured to Barnes and Noble where I purchased the second of the Marie Antionette (the first one was absolutely FANTASTIC!). The second one, thus far is so great also. Anyone who is interested in historical fiction about her will absolutely love it. Post Barnes and Noble, we headed to Georgetown to get ice cream for dessert. We went to Thomas Sweets, at my request, to get birthday ice cream for me! It was delicious. I got mint chocolate chip yogurt in a cone that was dipped in rainbow sprinkles–it was heavenly.

Day 20, Friday, July 6, 2012: Today was just a great day because 1) it was my birthday and 2) I got to go back to Texas (God’s Country for those of you who have not been graced by its beauty yet) for the weekend. I was a little late getting up and going that following morning due to the fact that I had been up late the night before packing and preparing my itinerary for my trip in the fall to Europe. Alaina and I had a great time at work (I was only there for a bit before my flight, but we still had a grand time). We worked on a few different assignments and both laughed at the irony that we work for iCivics, a video game website that teaches civic education, and the Internet at our work was not working well that day.

I headed to the airport (and I must say that DCA is one of the most poorly signed airports in the history of any airport! There were signs saying that Delta was to the left and everything else was to the right [Delta was to the right…it was a lie]. So, thinking that I am heading toward the correct gate for American to go through security, I got into the line for Delta and had to ask before being told I was on the wrong side of the terminal). Thankfully, I still made my flight and had time to grab a quick bite to eat prior to boarding the plane.

I was picked up by my cousins, sister and two friends at the airport, and we promptly headed to the Ballpark in Arlington for a Texas Rangers game. I cannot tell you how welcoming it was to venture home (even though it was over 104 degrees Fahrenheit). The Rangers, sadly lost to the Minnesota Twins, but almost (key word right there) came back in the 8th and 9th innings. Post-game, there was a fantastic display of fireworks paired with great music. It was nothing compared to the 4th of July fireworks show in D.C., but they were on my birthday (and therefore in honor of me being born, right?). After the game, we managed to race through the crowd to the car (with a bizarre manner, of course) and were able to navigate our way through the crowds with peals of laughter. One of my sisters’ friends who accompanied us, dubbed this walk, (which is head down, eyes forward, leaning forward and racing while not moving your body [arms especially] with any exuberant movements, while still maintaining top speed) the Rachel. My sister definitely almost got taken out by three boys who were somewhat imitating us, and was met with our resounding giggles echoing down the ramp.

And then we arrived home (which was the first time I’d ever been to my parent’s temporary housing in their apartment…we sold our house and had to be out in a week or so post the closing date…darn, I was already here…). And, sitting on my bed waiting for me was my brand new Canon 7D. It was a wonderful birthday present to myself, and a wonderful end to a perfect and fun-filled day.

Day 21, Saturday, July 7, 2012: This was the day that my cousins and I made our way to Waco, Texas (home of the Baylor Bears…and most of my family’s alma matter) for our cousins’ wedding. It was a hysterical ride on the way down I-35 toward Waco, where we had one of our group attempt to decide what our weddings would be like. With her vivid imagination, it was some of the most creative and out-there descriptions of what she thought would suit us, that many of us were crying we were laughing so hard at the ridiculousness of it all.

The ceremony was absolutely stunning, and the reception was a blast. And, all of our huge family being goof-balls made it all the better.

Day 22, Sunday, July 8, 2012: Today was just a long day to put it plainly. I woke up and ate dinner with my parents at the hotel at 8 a.m., prior to leaving Waco to catch my flight going out of DFW. My flight was supposed to board in Dallas at 12:25, we didn’t board until 1:20, which was fine because I was able to actually eat lunch before leaving. And I have never been more thankful that I ate that greasy personal pizza for lunch in all my life. We finally took off around 2:00 p.m., and we were supposed to be a little early to D.C.. That was not the case by the time we arrived. We kept circling (for a little over an hour) above D.C., and finally, the captain said a storm was there and wasn’t blowing over, so we needed to land in Richmond because we were low on fuel. So, we flew the 30 minutes to Richmond. What happened you ask? A storm hit Richmond 2 minutes, yes, TWO MINUTES prior to our arrival over the outskirts of the city with too much lightning so that we couldn’t land. We circled there for about 30 minutes before the captain came on again and said we had to land in Norfolk because we were out of fuel. It wasn’t an option no matter what the weather–we were going to land. So, we arrived in Norfolk, escorted down the runway by a racing EMS (no one really knows why they were there, but I guess that’s what they do with emergency landings). We sat there in the middle of the runway by the fire station for over 2 hours. Thankfully, we had some of the kindest flight attendants and pilots (especially in a situation like that where we are just stranded, already 2 and a half hours past when we were supposed to originally land). Basically, it was a hysterically long day on an airplane. It took 8 1/2 hours on a plane from DFW to D.C. and then 30 minutes to get off the plane. I basically traveled for 10 1/2 hours before I was back in my dorm tonight. And through all of that, we only got one round of drinks (because we kept thinking we were going to land…haha that was a funny joke) and no food. But all is well. Thank goodness for a good book and kind flight attendants and pilots.