This coming summer will be one for a long road trip again. We are headed from our home in San Diego County, to the East Coast: Washington DC is our goal there. We have things planned along the way and on the way back, but we are a bit puzzled about how to plan for DC itself. I've started in my usual way: researching the websites about the places we want to see in DC, and of course Frommer's, AAA and one other guidebook for the area. But I'm looking for more first-hand knowledge about certain things. We will be staying on the Virginia side and using Metro Rail when we want to go into the city, but our vehicle when we are headed for things like Mount Vernon, which are not on the rail system.

On our list of things to see and do:
National Archives -- how much time to allot to see the major documents?
Library of Congress -- anything in particular of historical interest?
US Bureau of Engraving and Printing -- all that money, so close and yet so far -- how much time to allot?
Monticello -- probably will see this either on the way into the DC area, or on the way out -- how much time to allot?
Appomattox -- probably will see this either on the way into the DC area, or on the way out -- how much time to allot?
Mount Vernon -- allot a full day???

I've gotten in touch with our congressman and have the link to the form we need to fill out for tours of the US Capitol building and the White House.

We are thinking that we may stay for 10 days in the Virginia area, plus extra time for Monticello and Appomattox. We have a handle on a couple of different places in the Alexandria area, and a couple in the Fairfax area. Both have extended stay places since we don't want to mess with deposits, trying to deal with other issues involved in renting someone else's place. Places being looked at are Extended Stay America and Towne Place Suites, along with a place at Fort Belvoir that is run by Holiday Inn Express and actually includes a kitchen. Any comments about these particular chains would be appreciated -- we tend to get places with a king bed and a pool, and one ESA *does* appear to have a pool (according to the AAA Virginia Tour Book -- we would call them because it's not mentioned on their website).

I should add this -- the last time I was in Washington DC, I was a very little girl, JFK had just been killed and his tomb (with an eternal flame) was "just a temporary one". I have few memories of that trip, though I've been through my mom's journal. (That is a giggle in itself.)