After driving through three states in five days, we were ready to get to our ultimate destination: Washington, DC.
From Mount Vernon we drove into Alexandria, where we ate an early dinner at Chili's. (We laughed because we never eat there at home since the wait is always so long!) We needed sustenance because of what came next: DRIVING IN DC.
All the books tell you to avoid driving in the District, to take advantage of the Metro, but since we were staying downtown, some DC driving was required!
It was awesome to stay in the middle of everything, but in rush-hour traffic (on a Friday, no less), we were STUCK in the middle of everything! Too many cars, buses and delivery trucks, frustrating one-way streets, and old-fashioned jammed intersections meant it was super stressful to get to our hotel. Once we got there, the curb in front was blocked so we had to double-park to unload. What fun!
Thank goodness for bellhops, though! It was nice to have help unloading our redneck travel gear: cooler, multiple mismatched suitcases and bags, big ol' Taylor Publishing box of food... Those 15 minutes of checking in and unloading were pretty harried, but once we were in our super awesome room and got the car parked (several blocks away), we were car-free!
So what did we do? We hit the mean streets and started exploring! We had plans to scout out the surrounding blocks, but we were just drawn to the mall. The Washington Monument was a beacon, drawing us southwest.
Then Brett saw the Lincoln Memorial and mentioned that he's always wanted to see it. Our monument walk was on the itinerary for another day, but hey! We were in DC! It was our first night! Why not? So we joined the throngs walking toward that great temple.
Along the way we passed this side of the White House. We just took a gander at it from a distance because we were sure we'd go that way again later. Silly us! Never did get any closer to the South Lawn.
Then we paused at the (relatively) new World War II memorial. With the fountains and the open design, it's a restful place amid all the crazy crowds.
From there we had a great view of the Lincoln Memorial (which we had to compare to the penny) and the Washington Monument behind us.
As we walked along the reflecting pool, we recalled the masses who had been there before (like for MLK's "I Have a Dream" speech) and the movie moments (like Forrest Gump). We also couldn't help noticing how filthy that pool was. Goose droppings and the detritus from the previous weekend's Fourth of July crowds made the water less than appealing.
Along the way, Ryan turned into a gooseherder.
We finally made it! All that's left to do is climb all. those. steps.
It's so strange to be in DC. There are so many times you'll look up and see the familiar, those iconic landmarks that you know so well.
And when you're there in person, you can really stop and breathe it all in.
Inside the memorial is the text from Lincoln's second inaugural address...
...as well as the Gettysburg Address.
It was the perfect place to be as night fell.
We spent a little bit of time just sitting on the cool marble on the corner away from the masses.
On our round-about walk home, we had to see the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
Such a poignant place. Being there at dusk made that dark wall even more foreboding.
Again, we THOUGHT we'd be back here before leaving DC. Wrong! Still, I'm glad we were able to see all those names and pay our respects.
On our way home we also passed this side of the White House.
After our evening of seeing these landmarks, we really felt like we'd made it to DC!
Ahhhhhh. Home, sweet home. Hotel Harrington. This place was something else. In fact, I think it's going to get its own post!