Posted by Kevin and Kaitlin on 12:28 PM

Just a reminder to anyone who is coming out for Kevin's graduation--we are having a BBQ at the DeLong's house around 4 pm. It simply sounds delicious! If you are planning on coming, please make sure either Kevin or I know you are coming so we can give Steve and JoAnn a count (if you don't tell us, you might not have any food to eat. ;) haha). We are really excited to see everyone that is coming out this week! And also those of you in Utah who we will be seeing much more often now! :) Woo! We can't wait!

Posted by Kevin and Kaitlin on 4:21 PM

Greetings Friends and Family--

Although most of you probably already know, I am graduating May 15th at UNR. You are all invited if you would like to come (There will be no snail mail invitations). Of course, I understand that graduations are excruciatingly dull formalities and we live a good chunk of distance away from most of you so I completely understand if you are unable or unwilling to make it. No friend or family points will be deducted :) lol.

Aside: Technically graduation is called "commencement," anybody who can explain such shenanigans will win 3 gratitude points.

Saturday afternoon after "commencement" Steve and JoAnn have been generous enough to offer a dinner (BBQ is the front runner right now) at their lovely new mansion. Please email/text/call/whatever me or Kaitlin and let us know if you will be there so I can help them plan how much food they need.

Finally, there will be all sorts of hustle and bustle during graduation weekend because Kaitlin and I are moving to Utah! "Why?" you ask. Because we love you all so much of course! Well, we also love JoAnn & Steve's family and our friends our love of everybody in Utah is not the whole reason. After some difficult decision making, Kaitlin and I have decided that accepting a Presidential Fellowship at Utah State University to study Early American Cultural and Intellectual history in their MA program is the best choice.

Added Bonus: We are hopeful that Kaitlin will be granted residency at USU, which would mean my Fellowship (and savings from Kaitlin's great work over the past couple years) would be enough for both of us to go to school there. Kaitlin should be able to complete her BA or BS while I get my MA. Assuming everything goes as planned, we should know very soon whether or not Kaitlin will get residency and if we have avenues to appeal to if she doesn't.

Those are pretty much all the happenings going on right now. Kaitlin has been working on a post covering our DC vacation that I think she'll have up shortly so watch for it! :)
(EDIT: the DC stuff is posted below this post so everything is still chronological. Way to go Kaitlin!) 

Posted by Kevin and Kaitlin on 9:21 PM

Sorry it took us so long to get this posted! Enjoy! :)

"Far from me, and from my friends, be such frigid philosophy, as may conduct us, indifferent and unmoved, over any ground which has been dignified by wisdom, bravery, or virtue. The man is little to be envied, whose patriotism would not gain force upon the plain of marathon, or whose piety would not grow warmer among the ruins of Iona."

--a quote by Dr. Samuel Johnson that I was constantly reminded of while seeing and experiencing the various sights, sounds, and ideas of DC.

Our trip began rather ominously with our flight experiencing lots of turbulence for about thirty minutes as we approached Reagan National. Needless to say we were more than ready to get off the plane and get to our hotel as soon as we could. Foreshadowing our next few days, Washington DC welcomed us with a cold rain. We had been reading Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol, which takes place in DC, so we were doubly anticipating and looking forward to our experience there. Although our vacation wasn't quite as intense as Robert Langdon's visit to DC we still thought it was awesome!
On our first morning at the hotel we were awakened by somebody drilling our door frame—yes at eight in the morning,without warning, somebody had a drill and was doing something to our door. Of course Kaitlin was completely composed but I was a bit unnerved. Since we hadn't been warned by hotel management, I thought it was pretty freaky that somebody was trying to drill our door off. Even the front desk said there shouldn't be anybody messing around outside our door. Eventually, we found out that it was just hotel maintenance re-installing parts of our external door frame. Still, it was an odd way to start out our trip.

Pictures below: Us in the Metro station and looking down the tracks.

Because it was raining we decided we should hit the Smithsonian Museums for the next couple days. We decided to see the Museum of Natural History first:

Pictures: Museum of Natural History, lots of animals, the Hope Diamond, and a huge shark jaw.

After that, we went to the Museum of American History. Probably the coolest thing at this museum is a huge display that contains the actual star spangled banner. The flag is massive despite being cut off a little bit. Apparently back in the day people used to cut off small pieces to take as trinkets from it. It's behind a giant glass wall now though so no more of that. Unfortunately, the museum did not allow anybody to take pictures of it for some reason ( as good revolutionaries we tried to anyway).

Pictures: The Star Spangled Banner, The Pennsylvania (a war ship), George Washington statue, old money, World War poster, old piano, and Abe Lincoln's top hat.

The next day we tried to go up to Library of Congress and to the Capitol Building but both were closed since it was Sunday. So we went to the Botanical Gardens instead.

Pictures: A giant (fake) tree, Strangler Fig, Devils Tongue, The Jungle :), and the Chocolate Tree. I bet you know what was Kaitlin's favorite! ;)

Then we decided to see the Smithsonian Museum on the American Indian. This museum was a bit underwhelming since quite a few of the exhibits actually contained more about the Europeans meeting and influencing the Natives than information about the Natives themselves. However, the architecture of the building (to be fair, the architecture of pretty much every building there was awesome and possibly the best part) was really cool and there were a few very nifty sculptures.

Following our visit to the American Indian Museum, we walked up to the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum. We were only able to see about half of the museum because it was closing about 30 minutes after we got there.
Pictures: Rolls Royce jet engine and a plane that landed on the south pole (complete with skiis and penguins)

Monday we finally got to see the Library of Congress (Jefferson Building). This building is quite possibly the most beautiful building I have ever seen and probably my favorite thing that we did/saw in DC. Whether covered in sculpture, texture, painting, fresco, or any number of other amazing masterpieces, every inch of the building is artistic. The exhibits were also really interesting—especially a reconstruction of Jefferson's library that he sold to the Library of Congress after it burned down during the War of 1812, which included many of Jefferson's original books.

Pictures: The Library, Recreation of Jefferson's library, art inside and outside of the Library, the Gutenberg Bible, and Kevin (the Thinker)

After the Library of Congress, we followed an underground tunnel that connects the Library to the Capitol Building. We felt like we were in Dan Brown's book! Sort of. Okay, we didn't at all...but it was still cool. We actually got to the Capitol pretty close to its closing time so we didn't get to see a whole lot of it.

Picture: Kaitlin with Lady Liberty.

Tuesday the weather was finally improving so we set out to see the monuments. Although I have seen all of these monuments in photos or movies, seeing them in person is a completely different experience.

Pictures: Washington, Lincoln, and Jefferson Monuments, the Law Enforcement Monument where Kaitlin's Grandpa Black's name is, and the National Masonic Monument.

Wednesday was Old Town Alexandria day. I think I expected more old and less town. It was pretty much just a touristy shopping district and there didn't seem to be very many historical things there. We did, though, still find fun stuff to do—a great place to eat and an amazing street performer. You have to watch this video!

We spent our final day in the DC area at Mount Vernon, which was amazing.

Pictures: George and Martha Washington's tombs, a necessary (outhouse), Kevin trying to take part of the mansion with him, and the Old Tomb.