Pulling out under clear sunny morning skies from New York’s Penn Station on Amtrak, we first crawled then sped down the Eastern seaboard to our next destination, the nation’s capital. For the next three days, Washington DC would be our exploration grounds. And yes, because it was summertime, we knew it would be HOT and HUMID.
We just didn’t know exactly how much.
This would be my fourth visit to this fascinating place. RAS’s family is from here, so this would be his two or three dozen time or so. Of course, this would be the girls’ first. I only know DC as sauna-like because summer is the only time I’ve visited.
But no matter what time of the year you make the trip, the sheer historical and political significance of the place makes you pause and contemplate all that has occurred and what does now. Of course, this isn’t a political blog, and I won’t get into that part of being here. Most of you know where I stand, anyway 😉
On the three-and-a-quarter hour train ride down, we rolled through Newark, Philadelphia, Wilmington, Baltimore and several other smaller towns. Each of these places can’t really be appreciated from a train station, and they all seemed to look the same. The only real scenic break is when the Amtrak skirts along the shore of Chesapeake Bay. When we finally arrive in Washington, DC, around noon and in view of its gleaming marble structures, we finally got excited.
Then the humidity tidal wave hits…and we start to wilt a little. The taxi ride over to our hotel provided no relief, as the driver either decided not to turn on the A/C, or it was (more likely) not working.
Once we get into our room at the Avenue Suites, the size of the room was nearly the twice the size of our New York rental. And it had working wi-fi, central air and a full kitchen, with a Trader Joe’s right across the way. Woo-hoo! We take a little time to indulge in the spaciousness, relax, eat lunch and steel ourselves for some sightseeing on the National Mall.
Maybe we should’ve waited until the sun went down? It may have helped with the girls’ attitudes in walking around the monuments, and mine in dealing with them. But we somehow made it, and even enjoyed what we saw.
First off, the Lincoln Memorial:
We headed over to the nearly 20-year-old Korean War Veterans Memorial, which along with the Vietnam War Memorial, I hadn’t seen up close on my previous DC trips. The statues of tired battle-worn soldiers, trudging through a symbolic triangular battlefield, gives a sober reminder of this “forgotten” conflict.
The Vietnam Memorial stuns visitors when they arrive. You can’t help but become silent and reverent in its presence. The angled reflective black stone walls, etched with 58,195 names of servicemen and women either killed or missing in action, gradually descend a slope to a low midpoint. The panels on the wall first begin with a few names at eight inches tall, then eventually become ten feet at the middle with several thousand names, until you start walking along the opposite side. Then the pattern is reversed. There are also two sets of statues – the trio of combat soldiers and the women’s memorial, of nurses tending to a wounded soldier.
Our last stop was the World War II Memorial, with its layout of pillars representing the 50 states and US territories, encircling an impressive fountain pool. When I’ve been here before, large groups of veterans, mostly with walkers and in wheelchairs, are making a pilgrimage to the place, but there weren’t any when we visited.
Two memorials we didn’t make it to were the Washington and Jefferson. We at least snapped a few silly shots of us with the first as a backdrop:
Then we stopped by to say, “hi” to Barack and the family…ha, ha.
Later on, we joined my friend Margot and her husband at an awesome and insanely fun place called Hill Country BBQ for dinner. As most of you know, I am not much of a meat eater. But I loved the barbecue here, and really loved the sides. We would all highly recommend it.
See you on day two!