(Did you miss day one? No fear – it’s right here.)
May I just say, at the onslaught, that I miss Washington D.C. I miss the noise, I miss the madness and yes, I miss the ENERGY! People here are so SLOOOW in comparison. Everything is too quiet, our space is, well, too spacious. I honestly think I prefer the compact crazy intelligence (is that an oxymoron?) of D.C. to our scratch-our-heads-and-say-”huh?” mentality of the Ozarks. (Hey, I can say that, I’m FROM the area – Yo).
Er, maybe. More on that later …
Day Two – Sunday:
Our first night in Washington D.C. had to be the WORST night I’ve EVER spent in a hotel room. I got virtually no sleep – none. Well, I dozed off at irregular intervals but jerked awake at every horn (there were PLENTY), sirens (there were MANY), snores (the husband’s snores could wake the dead – seriously), and this crazy jump/jarring/shuddering noise that occurred every 45 minutes and nearly gave me a heart attack each and every time it ripped through the dead of the night. After hearing it several times, I finally hazarded a guess at what it might be – it must have been the housekeeping staff (who had their hub right next to our hotel room), jerking their cart over the inch platform that framed each doorway’s threshold. I found myself cursing the staff for their inconsiderate behavior.
So much for THEIR tip.
I later discovered, quite by accident, when I was in our kitchenette grinding up coffee beans to make some coffee, that the horrific noise, the one that had kept ALL of us up that first night? Was our refrigerator. Whenever the thing shut off, it shuddered and shook so violently that it vibrated the walls. Why previous guests never complained about the evil refrigerator before is beyond my comprehension but we certainly planned on lodging a complaint when we checked out. (And for the record? We totally forgot to do so when we checked out. My apologizes to the guests who next stay in room 801).
We all awoke Sunday morning groggy, tired and disoriented. WHERE were we? Oh yes, Washington D.C. WHY were we here? Oh yes, to tour the numerous museums and see The White House.
It was time to get our bearings and have some fun.
I had originally planned on touring Arlington Cemetery on Sunday, but after looking at the weather and noting that there was a 30% chance of showers (which means it was GUARANTEED to rain in Missouri, but apparently, this was not the case in D.C.), I didn’t want to be caught out of doors, in the middle of vast tombstones with no where to go for shelter with our cameras, so I rearranged our itinerary and we headed to the National Museum of Natural History instead.
The day was beautiful (in fact, the weather cooperated with us the whole trip – we had a few showers, but they were in the evening and when we were back at our hotel so we didn’t have to deal with them), and though it was hot, it wasn’t that muggy, sticky hot we endure in Missouri this time of year.
We walked to the Foggy Bottom Metro station, which was across the circle (our hotel was on Washington Circle) and stuffed between a hospital (which would account for all the sirens we heard – duh), and the George Washington University. We rode the escalators down into the bowels of the city.
We purchased four Farecards,
slipped the cards into the gate and walked down to the trains. The air was stale, the lighting was poor and there were bored people with their noses in various reading materials everywhere. We looked at the stops the different trains made, determined our train and waited for the monster to slide out of its hole and pick us up.
We lucked out that first day. Though there were a lot of people, we began our Metro experience at 10 in the morning, which meant that most everyone was where they needed to be by that time – work/home/school, and boarding and exiting the train wasn’t that big of a deal. However, later in the week, we got caught up in the snarl of human rush hour and it was pure chaos trying to jostle our way on and off the train and still stick together.
But we’re not to that part of the story yet …
Our train arrived and we boarded. We stepped in and noticed all of the seats were occupied. No problem, we would just hang onto the overhead bars. The train jerked to life and within seconds, we were SPEEDING down the tunnel. We were quite surprised by how fast the trains travelled. Picture a cartoon character being whisked off its feet by a strong gust of wind, one tiny hand desperately clutching a bar, its hair being whipped away from its face and you’ll have a general idea how fast these suckers went.
We arrived at our destination: Federal Triangle Station. We stepped off, inserted our tickets into the gate, the system deducted $1.65 from our total and we rode the escalators above ground and back out into the throng of fresh, different crowd of people once again.
We had survived our first Metro ride. And we were thrilled. In fact, I think it would be so cool to live someplace where you didn’t have to have a car, like D.C. Oh sure, there would be the inconvenience of not having a place to store bags of groceries, but think of the benefits: no car payments, no insurance, no gas fill-ups. You would be forced to walk everywhere, thereby getting exercise and living a healthier lifestyle. And that was something else we noticed about D.C. right away – there was virtually NO OBESITY! How could there be in a “walking city.” And the fact that NOTHING was clearly marked, meaning you really had to search for someplace to buy food and it wasn’t hitting you over the head, nearly every corner you came to, that you need to eat or drink fatty substances like we have here in Springfield. Everything was more subtle in Washington D.C. Life was about working and being productive in D.C. as opposed to gluttony and slothfulness here in Springfield. The healthy lifestyle really appealed to us and I wish Springfield would incorporate the same sort of subtlety.
We’re VERY spoiled here – but I digress …
We’re at Federal Triangle. We consult our map and locate the National Museum of Natural History. We walk in and see a huge elephant in the rotunda.
The place is a labyrinth of rooms that consist of
and “America’s treasure chest of the natural sciences and human culture.” I thought it was quite interesting, but I think the hubs got a bit bored after a while, (“How many bones do you have to look at before they all start looking the same?”), and he got QUITE impatient with the evolution area (as you can tell, we’re not big proponents of the evolution theory), so we hurried through the last half of the museum.
MK wanted to walk through the butterfly exhibit, but it was hard to justify spending $25.00 on something that would take less than five minutes to go through just so we could dodge colorful butterflies and get sprinkled on by the water mist – we could do all of that for free down by our lakes.
After the Natural History museum, we headed to the Old Post Office Tower and Pavilion. We did so for two reasons: 1. There were supposed to be places to eat there (remember, finding a place to eat was challenging in D.C. because nothing was marked and you didn’t know you were on a restaurant until you were in FRONT of a restaurant) and 2. it was supposed to be the second best view of D.C. (the first being the Washington Monument, but we didn’t want to stand in line for tickets and then be herded up the monument like cattle only to squeeze into a small area at the top and squint out of tiny windows that would be foggy and smudged from so many visitors before us. The St. Louis arch is like that and … no thank you).
By the time we got to the Old Post Office (OPO), we were pretty hungry. At the time, D.C. was holding some sort of BBQ fest and they had the whole street in front of the OPO blocked off, but stuffed with places to eat. Only, to get to these places, we had to pay $10 A PERSON to get in AND THEN pay more money on top of that to eat.
Um, no thanks. We ended up going into the OPO and eating tacos instead. While there, the boys met the president:
They were quite thrilled by the experience. *winkwink*
We then headed up the OPO tower. The view was indeed magnificent
and the air was so cool and refreshing that we spent a little time savoring the sight and catching our breath. (Except GD, he was sort of freaked out. He doesn’t care for heights, so he stayed back from the edge. And yes, flying is hell for the boy – he hates it. BUT, he did pretty well this trip, considering his fear).
We headed back to the hotel to start thinking about what we were going to eat for dinner. As I’ve mentioned, finding food was a bit of a challenge for us in D.C. because nothing was clearly marked. The Unofficial Guide to Washington D.C. sort of dropped the ball on restaurants, in my opinion, because we weren’t interested in mortgaging our house in order to eat. We did go to one restaurant that the book suggested, but it was closed (we got there at 5:30 and it didn’t open until 6:00) and we weren’t ABOUT to spend $8.00 on one burger, so we got back into our car and drove around until we stumbled onto Georgetown. The main strip had tons of places to choose from, so we parked our car and walked up to Johnny Rockets to have some burgers. The service was terrible (but they were busy and looked short-handed), and the hamburgers were a bit on the mushy side, but it was a fun place to eat.
A little boy, he couldn’t have been more than eight, entertained us with his guitar and drew quite a crowd. (The hubs got quite a kick out of him because he started playing guitar at roughly the same age).
After dinner, we drove around, stumbled onto a Safeway and relieved to find “normal” food (as opposed to the organic stuff at Trader Joe’s), we bought rolled tacos, pizza, and TV dinners to eat for the remaining evenings. That way, we didn’t have to waste time finding someplace to eat and it would be cheaper than eating out.
As you can see, food doesn’t mean a whole lot to us.
Our first full day in D.C. was a lot of fun and we really got a kick out of riding the trains. Our culture shock was beginning to wear off and we were starting to feel more at home.
Of course, our second day was NOTHING compared to the fun we had on our third day …
(To be continued)