A fool and his money are soon parted. If however, the venture does not involve money, if however, the venture is **FREE**, you can bet that a cheap fool will keep his money, but waste his day. I am a cheap fool...perhaps the Queen Cheap Fool, and I dragged along my King and our five little jesters on an adventure to learn many lessons we already knew.
Lesson #1: Wither goest THE PRESIDENT, there also goeth large crowds, long lines, hassles and inconveniences.
Lesson #2: When you know you will encounter situations involving large crowds, long lines, hassles and inconveniences, it is best to leave children under the age of 10 at home.
Lesson #3: If the adventure is in part for the benefit of the children and there will be large crowds, long lines, hassles and inconveniences, it is best to have all other conditions be optimal: nice weather, plenty of snacks, not nap time, a stroller for resting, amusing things in pockets, etc.
Lesson #4: Having FREE admission in honor of President's Day will draw HUGE crowds.
Lesson #5: Freezing weather and ice on the ground will not deter HUGE crowds, rather it will deter sane people but encourage cheap fools who have deluded themselves into thinking that perhaps, just perhaps, the freezing cold weather might keep people home.
Today, Mount Vernon offered FREE admission. They opened at 9 am, I read. We've been to Mount Vernon, but not in a while, and not inside the house. We had a year-long pass, but it has expired. Since we are moving this summer, I didn't want to spring for another year-long pass, or even the one-day admission, which is more than $10 for anyone over 6, I think. I'm cheap.
My thought was to get there at or before 9 am. It was cold. It's a holiday. I thought we could get there before most people roll out of bed on the Monday morning of a three-day weekend. Perhaps we'd wait a bit for entrance to the house, but surely not for long, right?
We ended up getting there around 9:20 am. I won't even include that as a "mistake" because arriving 20 or 30 minutes earlier would probably not have significantly altered the rest of the morning. The parking lots there were full. We had to go up this one road, but our return route was blocked. We cut through residential streets and discovered satellite parking in a church lot with shuttle buses. The line was long - more than 2 bus loads. And it was now after 10 am.
Mistake #1: The smart thing at this point would have been to announce a change in plans and gone to Dunkin' Donuts or Krispy Kreme. Really, this would have been the best thing to do. Instead we decided to hoof it over to Mount Vernon. It was only about a half mile, and the half inch of snow that fell yesterday thankfully provided just enough traction over the icy, cratered path. So it seemed like a workable plan.
Mistake #2: I had no idea that THE PRESIDENT was going to Mount Vernon at 9 am. Had I known this, I would have killed the plan or considered a much later time frame. At least we now understood the large crowds and blocked traffic. Grrrr.
Mistake #3: I had no idea that THE PRESIDENT's visit would continue until about 11 am and that the house would be closed until his departure. By the time we got up to the house, it was nearly 11 am, and THE PRESIDENT was gone. But hundreds of people had gotten into line for the house tour while listening to THE PRESIDENT wish everyone a merry President's Day.
Mistake #4: We actually got in line. Bill figured if we were going to debate and waffle about waiting in line, we may as well do it while in line and not stand to the side watching the line grow longer and longer. The line began to move and this led us to believe that it might not take that long to get to the head of it.
We waited for an eternity, that was probably about 15 minutes in duration to anyone who wasn't accompanied by a 5 year old who clung tightly to your leg in an attempt to keep warm making muffled complaints about the weather into your pants, a 3 year old who repeatedly and loudly declared her desire to return to her place of residence while imitating a 30 pound sack of loosely bound potatoes lying on a dirt path, and a 20 month old who bemoaned his cold hands but who continually pulled his mittens off or squirmed and fought whenever you tried to put them on.
Finally we gave up and went to IHOP. It's supposed to be in the 50s for the next three days - a high of 57 on Thursday. Couldn't have had that weather today, huh? Saturday is supposed to be 48 degrees. Maybe we'll try then. I may be a cheap fool, but I'd usually much rather lose money than time. In this case, it seems I will lose both.