annie are you okay

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Let peace begin with me Let this be the moment now. With ev'ry step I take Let this be my solemn vow;To take each moment and live


l preface by saying that this is long…how could it not be, it’s about 96 hours of information. I might also note that I included for each day, the number of states traveled to, the number of pictures and showers taken, and the Joke of the Day…the Joke of the Day is very important, because these jokes were told often throughout the trip, and just got funnier as the trip got on. You keep telling them…you’ll think so too. I have also included links to some of the places and events that we attended…please click on them in order to have a better understanding of what is available for the visitors to the Nation’s Capital. But to get you in the DC Mindset…please click here for a little educational background.

Day 1: Travel

We arrive in Chatanooga at 10-ish, Central Standard Time, we’re not in Kansas anymore folks.

After sitting around with our friends, the lovely Jessica and Matt Hauber, and their family…you know, the usual “heys” and “how are yous?” followed by a good solid hour of Family Feud re-runs on the Game Show Network…a particularly funny hour of Family Feud where we saw the Streeter family win one episode and then lose the next, we go to bed, ready and anticipating the 4:58 Eastern Standard Time alarm. The Streeter family, I must also say, was clad in bright colored-outfits, was exceedingly excited about being on the Family Feud and was just good times.

State Count, Day 1: Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee (You’re the only 10 I See)
Picture Count, Day 1: 0
Shower Count, Day 1: 1
Joke of the Day, Day 1: Two fish are in a tank. One looks at the other and says, “How do you drive this thing?”*

*You might not think this a really complex joke, but I will admit that I didn’t understand it until about the 3rd time that it was told. If you need help understanding it, just ask, I won’t judge.

Day 2: Travel and Arrival

4:58 a.m. comes way too soon, but we like a good conquerable challenge every now and again, and we are in the car, showered and clean, at 5:52, DC bound baby!

And arrival time: approximately 3:30 p.m. in Vienna, Virginia. We check into room 323 (which is good, because in the unfortunate event that there is a fire and we are unable to escape the door, the fire ladders will be able to reach the third floor—always something to keep in mind, folks).

We get ourselves collected and ready for an afternoon of fun and we are out the door by 4:30.

First stop: Front desk. Mr. Marriott, please.

I ask, “Mr. Marriott, where is the nearest Metro?”
Mr. Marriott responds, accompanied with a point, “Across the street.”

Stop right there, Mr. Marriott, there is a street, I see what you’re pointing at…BUT, Mr. Marriott, I’m gonna need you to be a little more specific. Across the street and then what?

As Mr. Marriott starts looking for something else to do, I bring his attention back to my questions. “Mr. Marriott, do you have a map?”

Mr. Marriott digs around in a desk and proudly presents me of a map of Vienna, Virginia. Are you kidding, Mr. Marriott? I did not travel 12 hours to see Vienna, Virginia (no offense, though, your city looks lovely). Mr. Marriott, I need a map of the district, but now that you have given me a map of your city, beaming with pride, I can’t ask you for the map I was really after.

“No, wait, Mr. Marriott, I have just one more question. Where do the Oriels play? And can I get there?”

Mr. Marriott tells me that it’s an hour and a half away in Baltimore.

Mr. Marriott. Come on! I know I just asked you where the Oriels played, and a true fan would know that, but I do know that it is in Baltimore. Can I get there by Metro? If I can’t get there by Metro, can you tell me which stop I would go to in order to catch a cab?

Mr. Marriott, you failed, and you will now be referred to as “Junior Marriott,” “Junior Mint,” or “Junior Asparagus”

With a general lack of information, we walk across the earlier mentioned street and find the M for Metro, and go down the escalator.

We purchase our metro passes and we are off to Arlington National Cemetery. After looking at the Metro Pocket Guide (MPG), I say, “Why not The Pentagon first?”

So, we get off at the Pentagon Metro Station, ride the escalator up to sea level (or just ground level) and are face-to-face with the Pentagon. If only you could see it from sky level, instead of just ground level, I bet it would be cooler. Alas, that was not the case. But, we did conquer seeing 2 out of the 5 sides. And we saw our share of Pentagon Police.

We also saw a couple “no photography allowed” signs, but we chose to ignore those. I don’t think they were talking about just taking pictures of the building anyways, so I think it was okay, but shouldst there have been an issue and shouldst the Pentagon Police decide to surround us, we were going to claim illiteracy and pull out the “I’m from Alabama and I can’t read” card. As luck would go…it never came to that.

After the Pentagon, we went to Arlington National Cemetery. Always a pretty emotionally (and physically—lots of men with guns) intense and interesting place. We went straight for the Changing of the Guard Ceremony, which was actually followed by a Wreath Laying Ceremony of some type…complete with a Bugle Player. All present were to conduct themselves in a Silent and Standing and Reverent manner…Well, several failed at that. The babies, of course, they were being un-silent and un-standing, which caused some of the parents to follow suit. And then we had our friends from Washington Middle School in attendance. Oh, they were everywhere, and getting on my nerves, because they were acting like middle schoolers: completely un-aware of anyone besides themselves and the girl and/or boy they were smitten with at that moment (which would change by the time they hopped on the metro and arrived at their next destination).

Conclusion of Arlington National Cemetery: Don’t bring children to Washington D.C. You must be at least 18 years old to begin to have an appreciation for and understanding of the place. You may disagree, but I will stick to my guns on that one.

One stop by Bobby’s and then the John F. Kennedy family’s plots and we were headed back to the Visitor Center and then back on the Metro. Union Station time, folks, here we come!

We walked in Union Station and looked around a tid-bit, bought some quite deceitful postcards, and then decided on Pizzeria Uno…it’s pretty darn good. We were seated in the café area overlooking the shops and the people. While we were waiting for someone to come take our drink orders—Pepsi with a lemon, please—we started writing and stamping postcards. We thought we had 80 to play with, turns out, we had only half that many. And, when our server did not come take the drink order, a manager-type man came to do so. Flora, our server, caught the ADD at some point and was struggling. We also noticed that down below, our friends from Washington Middle School decided they would join us for dinner…they were in the Food Court THREE LEVELS BELOW and I believe I picked up on some of their individual conversations. (also, want to note that we, and everyone else, were able to point out a Washington Middle Schooler by the Red or Green t-shirt he wore, and because…well, middle schoolers travel in packs!) We couldn’t get out of there fast enough. Part of a pepperoni pizza later and we were done with Union Station.

We had to pick up a friend at BWI airport (not really pick up, I suppose, but meet). We rode the Metro to the last possible stop on the green line and then had 4 minutes to make it to the BW30 bus to Baltimore. Three dollars and 45 minutes later, we were sitting in the airport, staring at a vending machine. Dr. Pepper with 23 flavors please. There was a man beside us who just wanted a bag of popcorn out of his vending machine, and the bag got stuck…what do you do when the bag gets stuck in the vending machine? You rock the dern thing until your bag (plus the other two yours got stuck on) come falling into your hands. And the man didn’t even offer us one of the bags…just put them into his backpack and kept walking.

We are walking through the airport at 10:45 in the evening and then see what we’ve been looking for: Brochures! Only one eighth of the brochures were dedicated to the District of Columbia, but we found our “Welcome to DC” brochure, complete with a pictorial map! Thank you BWI; don’t need you now Junior Mint.

So, we sit and wait for Brittley, looking through brochures and generally planning our trip. We’ve got somewhat of a list.

Since Margaret Ila and I have been up since 3:58 a.m. Central Standard Time, we decide not to go out and test the city out at the early a.m. hours and call it a night. HOTEL, MOTEL, HOLIDAY INN (really Marriott), we’re coming!

And the BW30 has already left the station, so it’s cab time for us. So, we get in the taxi line (yes, at the airport there is a line that one has to go through in order to get in the cab). And, we tell the nice gentleman that we need to go to the Greenbelt Metro Station, and we are on our way. And 45 minutes and 70 dollars later, we are on the train.

This Metro ride was quite entertaining. Once on the Orange Line, we had to ride until the second to last stop in order to get to our hotel. First, I noticed a young lady getting a book out of her bag to read on the long ride home (I’ve had some time to think about you, on the long ride home,” thanks Patty Griffin). What’s noteworthy about this? Well, the book she pulled out was the book Blink, by Malcolm Gladwell. I’m reading that book too, ma’am. And, if not for traveling light in DC, I would have had the book in my purse, I could have pulled it out, and I probably would have just made an extra friend on I’ll put in a little plug for the book right here: it’s absolutely great and a pretty fast read. I read about 75 pages last night alone.

A man (tall, nice pants, button-up shirt, glasses) came on the line and sat down. The next stop a group of four individuals got on. One of the young ladies (bleached blonde hair, white wife beater, and cut-off jean shorts) asked if she could have a seat by the gentleman. I was trying to hear their conversation (why wouldn’t you), she was asking him about what he did (he had some papers in his lap) and where he lived and could she get his number.

At this moment, one in the group of three asked us, “are you listening to this?” Well, of course, sir, but I’m not going to tell you that. So, I just smiled. The guy in the group of three starts egging Ms. Cut-offs on, and she said to Mr. Nice Pants, “they’re just making fun of me.” To which he replied, “people do that to me all the time.”

Oh dear.

So, it came time for Mr. Nice Pants to exit the train, I think with a phone number. And Ms. Cut-offs (later, found out her name was Taylor) came back to the group of three, making it a group of four. And that’s when the real awkwardness began. By this time, there is that group of four, our group of three, and probably no more than 5 other folks in our car.

The argument begins. Apparently Taylor had left the group at some point in time and the other three, Mary, Lindsay, and guy were worried about her and were forced to stick around instead of leave, because they are nice people and were worried that Taylor wouldn’t be able to make it home. Taylor and Lindsay are sisters of some type, blood, sorority, I don’t know, but Taylor made the point of saying that she was more willing to listen to Mary’s concerns than to Lindsay’s and that she was mad at Lindsay because she was never excited for her.

Example, Taylor tells Lindsay that she wants to move closer so that she can touch Damien Rice.

Timeout: I don’t know where they were, but who wouldn’t want to move closer to have the chance to touch Damien Rice?

And Lindsay said, “okay, go,” but didn’t put any enthusiasm into those two words, and that really upset Taylor.

The guy wanted Taylor to apologize to Lindsay and Mary for being the cause of concern, and Taylor wasn’t going to have any of that.

There was a lot of yelling and a lot of the F word usage, and a lot of suppressed giggles from the three of us. And Taylor admitted to being drunk, which means that in the morning, she won’t remember anything and Lindsay, Mary, and dude will be that much more frustrated with Taylor, who will inevitably just leave the group again, in order to go touch Damien Rice.

And, after we make it to the Dunn Lorring Metro Stop, we are in the midst of yet another dispute between two young ladies and a gentleman who, at first, appears to be involved...but, we later realize that he is just stumbling somewhere. He then appears to be following us, as we make our way back to the hotel, but he starts stumbling across a street instead of the slumber party with us that he was not invited to. We never saw him actually make it across the street, but he was not flattened there the next morning, so we are assuming (we all know what happens when we assume) that he made it home. So, get us safely back in the building puh-lease, we have a date with Junior Asparagus. Junior Asparagus, we need about 7 more towels, thanks.

Once in the room, get me in a shower, ASAP, it’s been a long, hot, summer day! Once all clean, we make decisions to get up way too early the next morning and that’s about all we can do, and in the words of Luda, “go to sleep, go to sleep, if you’re tired, be quiet and go to sleep, hoe to sleep.”

State Count, Day 2: Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia (I know, I know, no taxation without representation, but whatev)
Picture Count, Day 2: 141
Shower Count, Day 2: 2
Joke of the Day, Day 2: What does a purely stereotypical homosexual horse eat? “Haaaaaaaaayyyyaaaaaaaayyyyy”

Day 3: City Life

Alarms ring and there is a stirring in the room at the 7:00 hour. We start getting ready, and by 8:15 or so, we are ready to hit the streets. We are in our dresses; I am also in my tennies plus rain jacket tied around my waist (30% of a chance of isolated showers…I don’t know what that means, exactly, but I need to be prepared)!

And, Metro, here we come. We hop on and hop off at Capitol South. Walk by Cannon (woot woot!) and make our way down to the Capitol Building, hoping that we can get in line to get passes to tour the Capitol. Well, the line to get those passes stretches all the way from the Senate side to the House side, and seeing the amount of people (and the amount of school groups), we decide not to stand in that line and waste our entire day. So, we do the next best thing and take pictures of the outside of the building.

Supreme Court, here we come. We walk up the stairs take a few pictures, and we’re done with that.

Onto the Library of Congress, well, just one of the LoC buildings. We notice that the thing opens at 10, and it is about 9:40…so, we park it at one of the table and benches that is provided for our convenience, I’m sure. And, we push our way to the front of the line at about 9:55 and are ready to get in there. The LoC is absolutely AMAZING. I’d been in there before, but I don’t think I took a lot of time to look around, and I definitely did not own a digital camera, which made the experience totally different. So, I’m snapping pictures of the quotes on the ceiling like I am getting paid to.

I make it into the American Collection, and I have seen that before.

Then, we all go into Special Exhibit, I don’t remember what it was called, but there were several pieces of Japanese Art. It is set up in a U shape, with little alcoves. We have made it down one side of the U, have turned, and are walking up the other side of the U, and something tickles one of us, which causes the rest of us to do a little laughing, and we got “shhhhh’ed by a teenager. Well, I guess we were laughing above a whisper, and add it to the list of rebel activity that was engaged in during this trip (the first being that we took pictures at the Pentagon that we may or may not have been allowed to take).

The LoC also has a pretty amazing gift shop, where I purchased a coffee cup, three pairs of earrings, a ring, and some post cards. I saw no coffee cups or jewelry in the actual LoC, but they sold me that stuff anyways. Thanks, LoC!

Once out of the LoC, we decided that we would travel down towards the National Gallery, by way of checking back at the Capitol to see if the lines had gone down for tours. Well, there were no lines, not at all, but then we were informed that all the passes had been given out. Oh well. Next time, we will arrange to get to the District during Office Hours and schedule a tour with an intern working for one of our state representatives.

In order to get to the National Gallery, we must walk by the back of the Capitol, and by doing, we pass a couple groups of children getting their pictures taken, with the Capitol in the background. We encouraged one photographer who was looking student-by-student to see if every hair was in place to hurry it on up, or he would have students fainting right and left. We also checked out these students’ stuff, which was laying by the fountain, to see if there was anything worth taking. There wasn’t.

The next group we saw, well, they weren’t even in place yet. The only people on the steps were the Chaperones. We took that opportunity to lead this group of middle-agers in a round of the nationally acclaimed Hokey Pokey.

Well, I guess really we didn’t…but, the important thing is that we could have.

We walked by a big ol’ fountain, complete with a pond-like body of water, and were very concerned when we saw a floating duck. Well, all ducks float, I suppose, but this one was floating upside down. Seeing that several of his/her duck friends were fishing in the trash, we thought that this upside-down-floater was a gonner, but he/she came back for air, and we breathed a sigh of relief.

Onto the National Gallery. We went first into the East Wing. We didn’t really look at any of the art there, just got a map and then went down the stairs to the underground walkway to the West Wing (ha ha ha, the West Wing) which was a completely smooth transition because of the moving sidewalks, that no one tripped on getting on or off.

Once into the West Wing, we looked around very minimally at the art (as to say, we noticed about 3 of the paintings that were there…Margaret Ila visited the second floor to see some real art for a couple moments). But all was not lost. We spent a considerable amount of time (and I spent a considerable amount of money) in the gift shop. This gift shop, I will also mention, is where I got my Warhol shoes poster that is framed at my apartment, if any of you have been there. And, where in 2007, I got 4 more Warhol posters. Margaret Ila also stumbled upon a Warhol poster that she got for her kitchen. The picture: Cakes (see Wayne Theibaud). What better to put in your kitchen than cake? Brilliant!

After the National Gallery, we walked through the NGA Sculpture Garden, where we saw a guitar like sculpture and a sculpture of a big Spider, I will refer to her as Charlotte Junior. We also looked at the National Archives, and decided to put that on our list of things that we wanted to do if we had time.

And next, Museum of Natural History, here we come. The famous American History museum was closed for renovations, which is a shame, because one can spend at least 5 hours walking around the museum and add another hour at least in the gift shop. We had to settle for the Natural History Museum, where we decided to pay a visit to the Hope Diamond. We walk in and are greeted by a gigantic Big Al. (just an elephant). We place our hands over our hearts and give the giant creature a moment of silence and lead all the visitors in a hearty ROOOOOOLLLLLLLLLL TIDE ROLL, and then walk up the stairs towards Hope. Well, the line to see Hope is about 160 people long, and we decide to forgo that experience; we’ve all seen Titanic and we’ve all, therefore, seen a pretty big diamond. I can’t convince the other two that the Insect Zoo Exhibit is worth seeing, and so we leave the museum. We stop at a couple of souvenir booths and Brittley and Margaret Ila pick up some magnets, t-shirts, and coffee cups, and we are ready to get back on the Metro.

In order to get to the Smithsonian Metro stop, we have to first cross a big field (dusty field)—the National Mall. We see a big Stop Sign (not Government Issued) and stop to read it. It says something about not crossing the Mall. Huh? We all must have looked pretty confused, and a lady comes up to us and says that we are not smiling, and that we are not allowed to cross the Mall if we’re not having a good day. Huh?

She continues her shpeal (is that a real word?) and wants to give us some stickers that will be sure to remind us to smile in return for a donation for something or someone. We respectfully decline and decide that it is indeed not a crime to cross the Mall. (but, if it were, just add that to the growing list of rebellious DC behavior).

And onto the Metro we go. We head to Union Station for a late lunch at the Capitol City Brewery (go there, it’s fantastic!). And some burgers plus a Bananas Foster later, we are ready to not do a thing.

Around 3:30-4, we’re back on the Metro headed towards Vienna. Back in Vienna, we take showers and must take a nap for a little while. We decide to head out about 8.

At 8, it’s decision time, once again. Georgetown here we come. But first, a trip to the Whitehouse. We get off at Farragut West and walk towards the White House. We stop at the Old Executive Building, which is absolutely amazing at night, and take our pictures there. Then, onto the Whitehouse (they’re right next door to each other). We take some pictures there and then continue in the circle so we can get the back view as well. But, first, we stop at the Department of Treasury, take a picture and then take a gander to the left, to the left (like Beyonce) and there is the Capitol Building in all it’s night time glory about 2 miles away. Stop, it’s picture time. That's one of the coolest things about the DC area, that you can stand at the White House and look to the left and see the Capitol Building. Or, that you can stand at Arlington National Cemetery and look and see the Washington Monument. Fascinating, I tell you...and pretty darn cool!

We make it around to the other side of the Whitehouse, but are stopped by the Whitehouse Police, who are telling us that the sidewalk is closed and we’ll be pushed back (push ‘em back, wayyyy back) for a more distant viewing. That’s okay. We keep making the trek around the block and pass the Daughters of the American Revolution Building as well as the Red Cross building, and take necessary pictures of them.

Next, we take a nice little stroll through the GDub campus and then it’s taxi time. I tell the driver 30th and M. Well, we definitely made it to M, but apparently I failed in my annunciation and we were at 13th not 30th. I tell the man again 30th, and he says, “oh, Georgetown.” Well, yes, sir, that is correct.

We get to Georgetown and go to the CVS and purchase sodas. I bought a couple extra postcards, because I had two stamps left over, which just means that I failed to put stamps on two of the postcards I sent (or just intended to send, ooops—sorry two of y’all, I don’t know who you are…so, if you didn’t get a postcard, that’s you I’m talking to). And then we walk around Georgetown. We stop at The Old Stone House, which is one of the oldest remaining houses in the DC area. Picture opportunity? I think so. And are welcomed to Georgetown by Mr. Georgetown himself. A very nice man who told us we were in the right place for a Saturday night and told us to enjoy ourselves. Thank you, Mr. Georgetown.

We keep walking down M and then up Wisconsin and about 10:45 decide to stop to eat dinner at Martin’s Tavern. We were seated at Booth 3, the Proposal Booth, where it is said that Johhny Kennedy proposed to Jackie. I will choose to believe that I was sitting right were the future Mrs. Kennedy sat.

After a little time at Martin’s, we decided that about 12 o’clock it was time to go back to Vienna. Taxi driver, Foggy Bottom Metro Stop, please.

On the way back to the hotel from the M, we noticed a rat who thought he was playing a racing game with us. Well, we let him win, hands down.

Back in the room, it’s again shower time and then time for a little shut-eye. But, first, we noticed at a couple of the metro stations advertisements for the Bodies Exhibit. Sign me up. Pretty disgusting, I think, but probably also very educational. And, I think it would be quite a bonding time for whoever was also in the gallery with you. Lots of “oooooooh’s” and “SICK!!!’s” and such. I looked up the website and shared the ticket price of $26.50, and we decided that we would not give our money to these folks. Plus, the tickets had to be purchased in advance, and well, we were not in advance of anything.

State Count, Day 3: Virginia and Washington D.C.
Picture Count, Day 3: 157
Shower Count, Day 3: 3
Joke of the Day, Day 3: Two penguins are in a bathtub. The first penguin asks the second one, “Pass me the soap?” The second one says back, “What do I look like? A typewriter?”

Day 4: City Life and Departure

Sunday morning we arose about 9:00 and got ready to go. We stopped downstairs to get some more information about the Duck tours that occur in DC. The DC Ducks is a land-and-water tour that lasts 90 minutes and gives you some history and stops at some key sites in the city. We asked Ms. Marriott if she could tell us where the Duck Tour street was. She looked at the street name and exclaimed, “this is in DC.” Really, Ms. Marriott? Are you sure that the lovely and culturally and historically rich town of Vienna doesn’t give Duck Tours?

After she was not too helpful, Margaret Ila kicked a couple kids from a family reunion off a computer and we found the DC Duck Website. During all this, a little girl came up and asked the three of us if we were her cousins. Apparently she was there on Family Reunion Business. Missy, we are not your cousins. Maybe. At least not close cousins. Sorry to disappoint, though.

Well, we read the tour information and are pretty much all signed up to go, and then read the devastating news that the DC Ducks is closed on Memorial Day Sunday. WHAT? No DC Ducks for us.

So, hop on the Metro and ride to the China Town Station and go to the American Art Museum/Portrait Gallery, something that I didn’t do when I lived there or on any subsequent visits.

That place is just stinkin cool. We looked through the American Art exhibits, where there was a special exhibit by an Alabama man. I don’t remember his last name, but his first name was William. Good job, William. After looking through the AA exhibits, we went to the gift shop, where, again, I bought some jewelry, and some note cards (you know how I like stationary).

At that point, Brittley had to go meet her DC friend and left Margaret Ila and I to conquer the Portrait Gallery, which we did. We checked out the second floor, which contained the President portraits and the Great Britains portraits. And then, up to the third floor, where there were more portraits of various individuals. At the top of the stairs, we were greeted by a Smithsonian Police Officer, who we named Lou. Lou stopped us and told us that he was proud of us for taking the stairs. He told us that while we had legs, we should use them, and that taking stairs was going to keep us healthy…or something like that. But, it doesn’t matter, Lou said he was proud of us, and that’s really all that counts. We looked around the third floor and then noticed a sign. It read, “Champions use stairs.” You’re darn right we do! We realized later that it was talking about another exhibit called “Champions” that was located at floor 3 and a ½, but whatever, we’re going to say that the sign was in honor of all the stair-climbers of the day.

Notes from the American Art Museum and Portrait Gallery: First, there was a painting of Mrs. Kennedy that was altogether too cool (see the photo above). Then, there was a picture of some old-timey folks...I know they say that married people begin to look alike, but COME ON! And then, there was a picture of Ms. Hepburn. Someone I know, but I can't, for the life of me remember who, someone's dad or mom or grandparent or something was babysat by the woman. WHO WAS IT? And finally, my friend Nathan Lee Tucker who refuses to play his horn with his cheeks out...well, see who has his picture in the Portrait Gallery and who doesnt? Exactly!

Once we conquered all of the American Art Museum and Portrait Gallery, we had a seat and a look at our map. We decided that we would walk down F, check out Ford’s Theater and the House Where Lincoln Died (it’s name) and continue on to the Whitehouse during the day and then onto the Monuments. Well, we made it a block and had to stop at Joe’s Souvenir City, where there were all too many students picking out gifts for themselves and friends, talking way too loudly on their cellular telephones, and looking too alike in their “Oklahoma is OK” red t-shirts. It was time to go.

Across from Ford’s Theater, we noticed one of those Double Deck tour buses. Well, DC Ducks might be closed, but Hop On Hop Off (which may or may not be the name of a Dr. Seuss book) was in business and after a little questioning, we found out that tickets could be purchased right on the bus. So, Ruth (the ticket giver), here’s my money, let me be a champion once again and climb the stairs 14 feet above the ground and find a seat on top.

First stop, the National Cathedral. Well, being Sunday and all, we decided to Hop Off there and walk around the Cathedral and take a couple pictures. We Hopped On the next bus about 30 minutes later and kicked our feet up and enjoyed the ride through the greater DC area. Well, sort of enjoyed the ride. Occasionally we would have to duck to get out of the way of low-lying branches and power lines. We visited Embassy Row, Adams Morgan, Georgetown, Dupont Circle (where people were playing games of chess, which I thought was really cool!), the Woodley Park area (where the National Zoo is, and don’t you think for a minute that they don’t have Zoo police, in addition to Smithsonian Police, Capitol Police, and I’m sure, other types as well). We also rode by the Capitol and White House, the Watergate Hotel, the Mayflower Hotel (where Kenneth Star interviewed one Miss Monica Lewinsky), Ford’s Theater, the Smithsonian Museums, Rock Creek Park, and the Monuments. We rode the bus for quite a while, just drinking in the sunshine, the occasional breeze, the low-lying branches, and the history of the Nation’s Capitol.

I must also mention that this weekend was Thunder Rally (2 links) weekend, a big ol’ motorcycle rally of some sort. Motorcycles everywhere! And due to that rally, at first we were not allowed to go near the monuments. But, on the second go around of the Hop On Hop Off tour, we were able to Hop Off right next to Ol’ Honest Abe himself, and that’s what we did.

On our way up the stairs (we are Champions, after all) to see Mr. Lincoln, we noticed yet another school group, these guys had on their red shirts, but also had some sort of reflective gear (maybe tape?) on their t-shirts and looked somewhat like crossing guards. Cool.

We walked up to see our 16th (I think?) President and read some of the words he said. We were dodging all sorts of folks (one little girl in particular--see photo) trying to get a clean picture, but I think it was accomplished. We bid our farewells to Abraham and set out to continue down the Reflecting Pool towards the Washington Monument, making stops at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the World War II Memorial.

As we were descending the stairs, we noticed a storm brewing a little ways away. One of those isolated storms the Weather Channel had been warning us about. Margaret Ila spotted a café that we thought we would sit in while the storm blew over. But, on our way to the café, the wind picked up and the café basically blew to pieces, as in, the tent we were going to sit under fell down knocking down tables and chairs. The rain started coming down. I put on my jacket that I had been un-foolishly carrying around for the entire day and Margaret Ila stole (add to the rebel behavior) a trash bag right off a DC fence and got in it. We decided to be champions, not only of stairs, but of the rain, and while others hailed cabs and took cover under un-blown down tents, we kept on a’walking (not after midnight, out in the moonlight), we took a little bit of time at the ever-powerful Vietnam Memorial, I would suspect a highly visited Memorial any day, but probably more so given the Memorial Day weekend. There aren’t really words to describe the experience, but the pictures left, notes written, flowers left, people searching the names for friends and relatives...those are just some of the sites.

We walked down the reflecting pool stopping ever-so-briefly at the World War II Memorial, able to snap only about two pictures, before we continued to the Washington Monument, eyes blinking through the storm (the Monument’s, not ours). We paid a little bit of a tribute to the monument, gave it a solute and then continued to the Smithsonian Metro Station. We spotted the M in the distance and were encouraged to keep going through the rain. We went back to Union Station in search of blow dryers to dry ourselves off with (we failed) and any place to buy clothes (we failed). So, we just went back to the Capitol City Brewery where we ate dinner.

After dinner, we decided to go try our luck back on Capitol Hill for the Memorial Day Concert sponsored by PBS. We made it with only 15 minutes left in the show, but we made it. And, just in time for the Military March thing where all the branches’ songs are played and the members of each branch are asked to stand when their song is being played. Another incredible moment on the Hill, and one where words cannot begin to accurately describe the emotion felt by those veterans or those still on active duty. There were some jumping around for joy, raising their arms, surrounded by family who were also highly excited, “that’s you, Grandpa!” they said when one of the songs was played. Then there were others, who stood in solitude. A couple who stood during the Army’s recognition, arms around each others waists, eyes forward and quietly singing along with the choir. It was moving.

After those 15 minutes, we, along with thousands of others, walked away from the West Lawn of the Capitol and towards the Metro stations. Thank you D.C. for all the education and the fun times; it’s time for us to depart. Don’t worry, we will return again. Capitol South please, we’re riding this Orange Line all the way to Vienna.

This proved to be quite an interesting and entertaining train ride as well. A stop or two after we hopped on, a group of 6 came aboard, consisting of “Pull-ups,” “Harry Potter,” “BYU,” “Red Skirt,” “Polka-dots,” and “Tall Man.” They were enacting a junior-high dance when they first hopped on. Girls on one side, boys on the other. It was obvious that someone was into someone else, and that this outing had probably been arranged for the sole reason of hooking up at least two of the six. Polka-dots started out on one side of the group, but then conveniently had to tell one of the guys something and wormed her way onto their side, causing Harry Potter to have to shift to the girl’s side. Red Skirt tried to sit down, but the others did not follower her lead, saying that they were still too wet from the rain to sit down. Well, Red Skirt, we know that you just want folks to look at your red skirt. BYU was cracking jokes left and right. Pull Ups, well, she was trying to do pull ups on the train. She failed. They got off at one of the GWU stations, but our entertainment was not over. They exited the train, and a man entered. This man stood at the front of the car, where there are poles for people to hold onto, shouldst there be no seats, and where the car doors open and close. There are windows on those car doors, which basically act as mirrors. This guy was being “That guy” and was checking himself out in the doors. I mean, it’s not like the car was empty of people and he was the only one on board. This guy was listening to his iPod, hopefully to the song, “You’re Beautiful, You’re Beautiful, You’re Beautiful, indeed,” and checking his teeth, looking up his nose, the whole shebang. You know that saying that we use for backstage during theater or dance? “If you can see them (the audience), they can see you.” Sir, just because you can’t hear us…well, it doesn’t mean that we can’t see you. It was embarrassing…for him!

Once we got out of the train back onto solid ground, we walked back towards our hotel. I noticed not one rat, but about 4 of them this night. We got to the car, I got out dry clothes and dry shoes to put on, and life was a lot better.

At about 10:45, we said our goodbyes to Vienna, thank Junior Asparagus for his hospitality, and we are out.

Crank up the Paula Abdul and our voices and we’re off. The drive is somewhat of a long drive, it’s late, and we’re both tired. At one point, we see some horses on the side of the road…not like dead on the side of the road, but in a pasture, meadow, field, or something like that…and as I’m commenting about there being horses out there, I think (and say), “I feel like there was a joke I heard about horses.” That prompted lots of giggling from the driver (see Joke of the Day, Day 3)

About two and a half hours later we are approaching the town of Bridgewater, Virginia: a suburb of Harrisonburg, Virginia, and the place where dear friends Jay and Jennifer McGuirk live. They have kindly agreed to be our hosts for the evening. We get in and catch up a little with Jennifer and learn that Bridgewater is the home to a lot of Mennonites. Well, interesting. She also informs us that there are two Wal-marts nearby and one of them has hitching posts so that the folks can “park” their horses and buggies somewhere. We didn’t make it by to see those hitching posts, but that is crazy!

We take showers and wash what’s left of the city off and it’s bedtime, because 5:00 gets there early when it’s already 2 in the morning.

State Count, Day 4: District of Columbia and Virginia.
Picture Count, Day 4: 333
Shower Count, Day 4: 2
Joke of the Day, Day 4: What do you call the guy who is standing at your door with no arms and no legs? “Matt”

Day 5: Departure, again, and Arrival

We woke up at 5-ish and left the great state of Virginia. Leaving Bridgewater, we saw no horses nor buggies, and were a little disappointed by that, but soon enough, we were back on the interstate and on our way home.

Margaret Ila drove for a little ways, then stopped to let me drive and take a nap (not me drive and take a nap at the same time, just me drive and her take a nap). During that hour or so, I saw a dead chicken on the side of the road. Talk about a Bird Flu scare…right there on the side of the interstate. I’ve seen a lot of things on the side of the road (you’ve got your cats and dogs, deer, an occasional rabbit, squirrels, but never have I ever seen a chicken!)

Then she woke up and I had to take a nap. I don’t know what went on during that time.

At about 10:30, we stop to get gas, and I spot a Subway. I know that it’s only 10:30 in the morning and that’s Eastern time, so really, in Central time it’s only 9:30 in the morning, but we’ve been up since 5, and we’re kinda hungry. Subway, anyone? Ding. So, we go up to the counter and a middle-aged lady walks up to greet us, she is either suffering from allergies, or is crying about something. Mrs. Subway, it is all of 10:30 in the morning and we’ve got a lo-ong way to go, while we are nice people and probably should ask if something is wrong, we do not have time to do that today, will you just fix the sandwiches and let us have our brunch in peace?

From then on, it was a rather uneventful drive, although, we did come up with ten reasons to go back and visit the nation’s capital.

I arrived in Birmingham at about 3:45 and unloaded my stuff and DC2K7 officially came to a close. A rather successful trip, I might conclude. Educational, Exercisional, Seasonal, Fun-filled…and you name it, we saw it, or took a picture of it.

State count, Day 5: Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama
Picture count, Day 5: 2
Shower count, Day 5: 2 plus 1 bath
Joke of the day, Day 5: How do you sell a deaf person a chicken? “Wanna buy a chicken?”

And final counts:

State Count: Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia

Shower Count: 8 and a half

Picture Count: 633

Jokes of the day Count: 5


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