Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Pardon me Sister, but can you tell me how to get to the Capitol?

I had never been to Washington DC before last week. Most people are amazed to hear that, as though I've said I've never eaten potato chips before or something. It's sad but true--though I have seen many of our country's cities, DC has never been one. Thus, I seized the opportunity to add a couple of days on to my conference trip for work so that I could visit. Fortunately two of my friends and co-workers that were also going to the conference, Erin and Autumn, were up for a little sightseeing as well, so I had companions.

We arrived in DC midafternoon on Tuesday. We toted suitcases filled with warm clothes, as we were going to be in DC and Baltimore in late October, and it's supposed to be cold. Only no one told DC and Baltimore that. It got up to 80 most days. We were only in DC for about 48 hours, so we had to make the most of it. Fortunately, we were up to the task.
After checking into our hotel, we went out walking for a bit. We circled the White House--pretty much exactly what you see on TV. It's a lot closer to the street than I imagined it would be. Amusingly, the only vehicle in sight was a pickup truck in the circle drive:

For some reason, this struck me as funny--like the President had just taken a run to the store and parked out front while he unloaded the groceries.

Every building in DC, and there are LOTS of them, are very imposing and fancy and most are clearly marked with what area of government is managed inside. All the usual suspects were there--Department of Justice, Federal Aviation Administration, Office of the Attorney General. This one, though, was new to us:

If there are people that our government pays to make sure we spend thriftily, I might humbly suggest that we sack the lot and start from scratch--thriftiness is definitely NOT a hallmark of our country.

EVERYONE in Washington is wearing a business suit it seems. We joked that this was true, but then we walked by some road construction. Check out the guy doing the work:
Whaa??? We stood there forever trying to figure out why an older man in a suit would be digging in a manhole while the construction workers hung out and watched, but we gave up. It's the government and road work--it's not supposed to make sense.

After our walk, Bekah and Greg came to visit us. I went to graduate school with Bekah, and she and Autumn are best childhood friends. Greg is her very gallant, VERY patient husband who bravely set out with 4 women for dinner on the town. It was so wonderful to see them both. Bekah, along with two other friends in our program, Julie and Allison, are the only reasons I made it through graduate school with my sanity. Here's the 4 of us girls at dinner (Greg, of course, was the cameraman):

Wednesday was our only full day in DC, and we were determined to make the most of it. We started with a huge breakfast at our hotel, then set out in search of M&M's--Monuments and Memorials. We hit the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, The WWII Memorial, and the Vietnam Memorial in quick succession. Here are a few of the photos I took:
The view from the Lincoln Memorial:
The WWII Memorial:
A lesser known component of the Vietnam Memorial:
The reflecting pool and Lincoln's Memorial:
After a brief stop for refreshments, we trucked over to the Holocaust Museum. It was intense and extraordinary. I learned more than I thought possible, including details about the US' complete refusal to help refugees fleeing the concentration camps. All around me, I heard people whispering, "How could our country have let that happen?" Ironically, we are repeating our own cruel history at this very moment by ignoring the millions (yes, millions) of deaths in Darfur. I could go on, but this is a post about the trip, so that's a soapbox for another day.
Wednesday evening, we took a night tour of the city. It was fantastic seeing all the monuments lit up, and hearing stories about the city's founding and history. Plus, it was fantastic not having to walk. By the end of the tour we were all worn out--so much so that at one point, I mistook 4 large table umbrellas that were still in their tables but closed up for 4 nuns hanging out on a terrace. In my defense, they REALLY looked like nuns, very still nuns, but nuns nonetheless. We got back to the hotel around 11 and I think I was asleep before I actually laid down.
I'm pretty sure anyone who has actually read all this is all scrolled-out, so I'll stop for now. Coming up next: Dorothy's shoes, Union Station, and crab-alicious Baltimore.


Anonymous said...

Wouldn't it be thriftier for each govt. department to ensure their own thriftiness, instead of making a whole department of paid employees to do so??? :) That's got to be one of the most boring govt. jobs i can think of!

Isn't DC great!


Mandy said...

Looks like you had fun. Can't wait to hear about the rest.

Anonymous said...

Sounds and looks like you had a wonderful time!! Did you eat any interesting cuisine? Can't wait to see the rest of the pictures!!

Kori "o)

Anonymous said...

I know you had a wonderful time, it is always fun to go, but so much better to come home to your family! Your so blessed to have a wonderful husband and wonderful job that allows you to make all your trips!Love,Crazy Aunt Linda

Mandy said...

Alright - chop, chop already. I am ready for the rest of your trip :)