"To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted." -- Bill Bryson

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Young & Stupid? Yes. Have Fun. Pt. 6: Washington DC

Oh Washington DC...what else can I say besides this: hottest place we went to. Hands down. Humid, hot, no shade. Ok, that's a lie. I can think of a lot more to say.

The drive into DC was perfect. We take I-66 east which literally runs into the middle of Washington DC, becomes Highway 50 and then Constitution Ave which literally runs right past the Washington Monument and everything else you could possibly need to see in DC. We circle around and find a parking spot on some street called Freedom St or Independence Blvd or something along those lines and head out in the direction of the Washington Monument.

We take tons of photos of the monument...none of which I'll share with you because honestly, it is just a giant obelisk. We stop at the WWII Memorial before hitting the Reflecting Pool. I am most excited to find the Lincoln Memorial for a very special reason. As you recall, I dropped a book about Abe Lincoln on my foot when preparing for the trip. I thought it only fair that I give Lincoln a good, swift kick to his foot as soon as I get to the memorial. Of course, the statue of Lincoln is about 20 feet in the air and there are velvet ropes stopping people like me from kicking him in the foot. Instead, Sarah gets this photo:

That'll have to do.

Around that time we get a call from another camp friend of Sarah and the Foreign Boys. We head back towards the Washington Monument...but not before Sarah has a chance to slip and fall down the stairs of the Lincoln Memorial. It makes it a little extra special and a little extra funny because it was those particular steps. It's funny enough to have someone slip down normal steps, but these were the steps of the Lincoln Memorial! Needless to say, we pause for a few minutes while Francesco and I laugh hysterically. On the way to meet up with Angie, we stop and get patriotic rocket pops (a necessary item to beat the heat).

Back in the car...
Parking in DC is not easy. Apparently the city is never empty of people, regardless of time of year or time of day or whatever. We have a brief battle with some random man over a parking space (apparently he thought it was not acceptable for Sarah and the Foreign Boys to save a spot for us. His claim was that the spot wasn't a "people parking" spot). Eventually we find a garage under some commerce building. Because the building is a government building, we get to have our trunk searched, Angie and I have to show ID and best of all, the security guards take my fingerprints off the steering wheel! I'm not sure why this is an exciting moment in my life, but it is.

After a quick and surprisingly delicious gyro lunch in the cafeteria of this commerce building, we begin our hike to find the White House. We do find it. Take photos. Walk around to other side. Take more photos. Walk away. This seems to be the theme of Washington DC. There is a lot of looking at things and taking photos.

The Smithsonian is our next destination as we hope to find the Hope Diamond. Now, all of us were expecting the Hope Diamond to be huge. I thought that is why it was famous. Apparently, this is not the case. In fact, I still do not know why the Hope Diamond is famous. I manage to take one mildly crappy photo of the gem before wandering off to look at some much cooler stuff, like this:

The Smithsonian is pretty cool, but also so huge that we really only hit the Hope Diamond museum and The National Museum of American History (the gift shop is the coolest part of this museum). It looks as though a normal human could spend about a week in and around all the Smithsonian museums. Since we only have a few hours, we head out to find food in China Town. It's news to me that Washington DC has a China Town...we soon figure out why.

My reaction to China Town:

We find a restaurant that seems cheap enough for our budget and head on in. The fact that the place smells distinctly like poop doesn't sway us from sitting and eating there. I'm not sure why but I think it can be attributed to the fact that we want to get out of China Town as quickly as possible. We sit and eat our average Chinese food and play with the lazy susan in the middle of the table. I might even venture to say that the lazy susan in the middle of the table is the best part about China Town. It makes stealing (mediocre) food from each other very easy. As we leave the restaurant we discover that the poop smell gets stronger closer to the front door and we celebrate the knowledge that the kitchen isn't what smells like poop. We part ways with Angie, find our car, and get on the road to Philly.

Upon finishing this post it has occurred to me that I didn't like Washington DC. I think it's more of a required place for all Americans to visit as opposed to a cool vacation destination. Don't get me wrong, the monuments were all really moving and I am proud to see them, I just can't say "yeah we had a rip-roaring good time in DC!" Sorry, America

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