Late last week, my cousin Becky posted a picture on Facebook she'd taken of the cherry blossoms blooming in Arlington, Virginia. Since she and her family live in Montana, and she was posting pictures she was taking only an hour and a half or so north of us, I felt it was appropriate to ask: "what are you doing so close?"
It was my way of saying, "you've bridged all but 80 miles of the usual 2,500 mile gap in our living arrangements and all I'm going to get is snapshot or two of your sightseeing tour of our nation's capital?" Becky responded she didn't know we lived so close, seeming to forget we'd traveled to Montana the last two summers, which makes close somewhat relative in this case.
Thankfully, I quickly got Becky up to speed on Virginia geography and we moved forward with a plan to meet the next day at the Smithsonian's National Zoo. This particular zoo trip has been on our family's bucket list for years, so checking it off was an added bonus to getting to spend time with family.
The day proved to be well worth the trip north, and I strongly encourage anyone who hasn't been to this zoo to visit it. It's free to get in, especially if you don't accept the zoo's offer to borrow one of their $22 parking places or desperately stave off starvation with $50 worth of light fare at one of the zoo's restaurants. (Translated: take the Metro in and tote a backpack full of Cheez Its).
I also want to add that our cousins are visiting the nation's capital to participate in the Arthritis Foundation's Advocacy Summit. Our cousin Ella has arthritis. She was the one young person chosen to represent the state of Montana at the summit. Over the next two days, Ella and her family will learn more about critical issues related to arthritis and arthritis research. Ella will learn how to advocate for herself, culminating in a visit to congress where she'll get to share her story. We are incredibly proud of her. We pray this trip will be a blessing on her family as they continue to work through the daily struggles arthritis has brought to their lives, and that Ella's story will touch our nation's leaders in a powerful way. Go Ella!!