This week I have regained faith in myself; in my life, and everything else in whole. Whether or not DC had anything to do with that, I have no idea. But I do know, the quarter life crisis, I’m pretty sure, has ended.
In other news, Washington DC was amazing. Honestly the best vacation I’ve ever been on. Nothing, literally NOTHING went poorly in any way. We made great time there and back, we avoided traffic and bad weather. We got through everything we wanted to do in DC, without having to wait in lines or be surrounded by tourists. I spent way less money than I thought I was going to, we even had extra time to do stuff that originally wasn’t on our main list of things to do. We walked everywhere and took the subway. We didn’t get lost, we never felt like we weren’t safe in any way. We were happy the entire time. We never ran out of interesting conversations, things to do or places to see. We’ve never felt so patriotic in our entire lives. It was 3 days and 3 nights of perfection, in a vacation sense.
We left Lansing around 7:30am and hit the road strong. We stopped in Ann Arbor for breakfast but immediately was back on the road. In Ohio we pulled off the expressway for a quick shopping run, some gas, and back to the road.
We stopped in Pennsylvania for some lunch. We made necessary bathroom breaks. We arrived in Arlington around 5:30pm. First stop: Chinatown. We hopped on the subway and took it into DC. We immediately fell in love with the city, me for the first time, and Andrea for the second time.
We passed the Verizon Center, where the Ringling Brothers were hanging out. They had their trucks all over town, it was kind of cool. We passed a few great Chinese places I MUST return to someday, and then came around to the Chinese Friendship Arch – the first stop on our list of thing to see:
Figured it was appropriate, considering this was a friends weekend getaway. We continued wandering around Chinatown, stopped at a bar for a drink and then headed back to our hotel.
Our hotel, by the way, was fantastic. We stayed at the Hyatt Arlington and it was right downtown, super close to the Rosslyn Metro, the Key Bridge, Georgetown, Arlington National Cemetery and the Potomac.
The weather was a bit chilly, but the sun was bright and the city was gorgeous. Our first stop was the Lincoln Cottage, we had tickets for the 10:00am tour. GPS took us through the busiest part of town, but we arrived just on time, and enjoyed the tour very much. First, we saw the cottage:
We decided next up would be the Smithsonian(s) since we knew it would be warmer the next day, so we’d spend that day indoors. We started off at the castle:
For a quick bite to eat and the beginning of our schooling. I won’t be posting any pictures (of the million I took) from the photograph-able exhibits that I have. You really must go yourself, it’s amazing. After the castle we went to the Hirshorn building for the art, and then to the Air and Space museum. Next we headed to the National Gallery of Art. By the time we were through with those we figured, we’re here, it’s getting to be later in the day and the buildings are starting to close, but the weather is still nice. Lets hit the memorials and the Capitol. So we started walking towards Capitol Hill:
Once we arrived, we were blown away by the honest beauty of it. The building, the surroundings, the view of the national mall. We sat on the steps and talked and enjoyed ourselves for quite some time.
Next, we headed off towards the Washington Monument:
Which is STILL being worked on from that 5.8 magnitude Earthquake on August 23rd, 2011… as you can see. So this was as close as we could get, and we could not go inside to get the grand view of the land. Past that, you continue on to the reflecting pool towards the Lincoln Memorial:
Which was incredibly lovely as you can see. The sun is obviously starting to set at this point in the evening. We walked the route to the memorial and then hung out with Lincoln again:
On the way back towards the Smithsonian Metro station I had to rush over to see the Vietnam Memorial. My dad served in Vietnam in 1971. It was the first thing he did when he joined the marines. He doesn’t talk about it much but I know it had a major impact on his life (as expected) by the few things he has said. I immediately began to choke up when I walked up.
The size and length of this wall, and the huge amount of names of those who died or were never found is extremely moving, incredibly sad. This entire walkway was silent of words, and only sounds of sniffling and sounds of choking up or holding back cries were heard. There was a feeling of unity of all of us who walked through. The pictures, drawings and flowers that were stuck to the wall was what got me. Names with markings on them from their loved ones who had visited… agh. So much respect for those lost and those who fight for us… sigh, anyway. After this we headed back to the hotel for a bit before heading out to Clarendon to see an old friend and his girlfriend for dinner. We ate pasta, enjoyed a glass of wine, and then went home and passed out cold after a long, but fantastic day!
We slept in a bit. On Friday we had such great luck with everywhere we went that we ended up completing most of the things on our list. We now had a day and a half left to spend in DC and just three things left to do. It was time to start finding more to do. We headed back to the National Mall and bought tickets for the holocaust museum. We selected tickets for later in the day so we could get through the Natural History Museum first. We headed there and started the touring part of our day:
Again, I’m not going to post pictures of all the amazing things we saw inside, A. because there is far too many and I wouldn’t be able to choose between them and B. because I don’t care who you are, you need to go see it all for yourself. We spent a few hours here and then decided to check out the National Archives, but due to the long line and the time slot we had for the Holocaust Museum we decided to skip it and instead headed back into the grassy, benched part of the national mall to enjoy the warmth of the sunshine. It was about 54 degrees and the cold brisk wind from Friday was gone. We people watched and ate ice cream. We talked about everything on our minds. We enjoyed the slower pace of the day and relaxed.
The Holocaust Museum was next. We spent about two hours going through the self guided tour, relearning the chilling facts we’ve learned so many times in school. It was a bit crowded (due to the fact that it was now Saturday, a much more tourist-y day) but we made it through in good time. At 5:30, the sun was still warm, the day was still young. We had time to spare and nothing to do. We decided to check out Georgetown University. We had heard good things about it and were highly impressed with it’s beauty when we were driving into town.
We walked from George Washington University to Georgetown, first down the expensive and lovely M street and then through the neighborhoods. I couldn’t get enough of the brownstones! We stopped for dinner on the way at a little hole in the wall bar, which had some of the best food we ate all weekend. amazing! We took a staircase down to Canal and then walked right up the front drive of Georgetown University. Sigh. I can’t even begin to explain how much I fell in love with this campus. Unbelievable beauty! We even saw three deer just walking around, in the middle of the city, but tucked away in quiet university grounds.
Once it got dark we figured it was time to head back to Arlington. The subway station was actually further away than our hotel was, since it was right across the river, so we walked. It was a gorgeous night and we got to see both Arlington and DC from a new angle.
We arrived at the hotel, grabbed some more food and relaxed. It had been a lot of walking in two days, and we were getting to the point where we were pretty beat.
We woke up and packed our bags, sad to be leaving so soon. We checked out, packed the car and headed to Arlington National Cemetery. This is the kind of place that pictures just can’t show you the massiveness of it. There are over 600 acres of gravestones. Rolling hills of white tombstones in every direction. To the East, the Pentagon, to the North, a perfect view of Washington DC’s National Mall. But before any of that, just headstones and headstones and headstones. The grounds are obviously kept in immaculate condition and the tour of Robert E. Lee’s home was actually quite fascinating. I never knew how interesting his story was! The changing of the guards at the unknown’s soldier was also something you must see in your lifetime. The ultimate amount of respect. It was freezing on Sunday, and it was nothing to them. They stand out there, marching their 21 steps, in perfect routine, through everything. Through super-storm Sandy, through cold winter storms, it doesn’t matter. They stand out there and protect the unknown. This tradition, this routine, has been going on since WWI. My dad saw it himself when he was 8, and even then it had been going on for many, many, many years. You can’t help but think about all the people who’ve had someone go off to war, but never come home. Never know how or when they died, but to just never return.
Then, we headed back to Michigan.
Again, perfect weather and traffic. We made good time. I was back home at 10:30pm and Andrea was back home around 11:30pm.
It was a perfect trip. I took over a hundred pictures, and posted 100 of them on facebook. I have memories that will last forever, and an experience with a true friend that we will always be able to talk about. I highly recommend the trip to anyone who’s looking for something to do. I can’t wait to return someday.