A Couple of Days in the District

One of the things we did this summer was take a trip to DC. My brother John and his wife Cara have lived in DC for about a decade, and it’s embarrassing to admit how little we have visited them. So, once we knew they’d be moving back to Vermont, we figured we should pay them a visit and enjoy DC on the cheap while we still could.

Here’s a photo montage and dramatic retelling of that experience.

July 5, 2018

I woke up early, to scarf down breakfast and pack the last of my things before Kris arrived.  We loaded up his car and hit the road just after 8am.  Exciting things happened on the drive, such as seeing animal control wrangling a giant turtle on the side of the road, and getting to drive on the new Tappan Zee Bridge! Except it’s not called that, it’s called the Governor Mario M. Cuomo bridge. It doesn’t roll off the tongue quite as nicely but it looks pretty cool, and I no longer had the nervous feeling that it was about to collapse under the burden of all the traffic on it. No pics of that because I was driving responsibly.

Somewhere along the New Jersey Turnpike

It was a beautiful day for a drive, and surprisingly light on traffic, considering it was the 4th of July holiday weekend.

Six hours and three rest stops later, we were in Capitol Hill! We found a parking spot half a block away from John and Cara’s house and carried all our luggage to the front door. Kris knocked on the door a few times. We were answered with a barking dog. John and Cara don’t have a dog. Mmm, maybe this wasn’t the right house.

Not the right house.

After calling John we realized we were on the wrong end of the street.  They were 210 SE, not 210 NE, or wherever the hell we were. Whoopsie!

Kris brought the car around so we wouldn’t have to lug everything back up the street. Soon we were at the correct house, and after a quick tour, we headed off to a late lunch at Blue Jacket.

John & Cara, still smiling after 1 year of marriage!
Kris and I, slightly goofy after the long drive.

After lunch, John and Cara took us on a brief walking tour of the area, but it was really hot and humid so we went back to their place to lay around with the cat for a bit.

Bertie was thrilled to have some belly-scratching visitors.

We concluded that waiting until evening would allow us to tour the monuments without the sun’s angry rays beating on us, but even so, it would be an oppressive night for a walk.

Days like these, we thank the Lord for A/C.

Nevertheless, we persisted. We started off with a gander at the Jefferson Memorial. A stately rotunda housing a larger than life bronze sculpture of – you guessed it – Thomas Jefferson.

The Jefferson Memorial.
The Washington Phallus Monument.
Inside the memorial, obvs.
Not even close.

From there, we continued around the tidal basin to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial

Never underestimate the importance of good lighting.
You wouldn’t believe how long I stood there waiting to get a clear shot of this.
People included to show scale…
A final look at MLK Jr.

From the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, we walked to the Lincoln Monument, where we also got a cool view of the Washington Monument at the other end of the reflecting pool. Even though it was now dark, the heat and humidity was so intense, it was like the whole world was a sauna.

The Washington Monument at night. A hot, muggy night.
The Lincoln Memorial.
Lincoln himself.
The Korean War Memorial – especially powerful at night.

July 6, 2018

Cara woke up early to check the website for the Museum of African-American History & Culture. She was able to get 4 tickets for us to get in! We were excited, as it’s very popular and you have to buy tickets months in advance – or, get up at 6am and check for day-of availability.

Breakfast with Bertie

After a leisurely breakfast, we headed out, getting to the museum just in time for our 11:00 entry time.

The one picture I took…

I did not take many photos in the museum. I kind of felt like it would be disrespectful, especially during the first part, which was all about the middle passage. It was extremely crowded, but as you are reading about slaves being packed into transport ships like sardines, you realize your situation isn’t that bad.

The exhibits were emotionally powerful, informative and interesting. I wish we’d had the time and stamina to do the whole museum in one shot. We made it through to the civil rights area and it was already 2pm. Upon exiting the exhibit hall, we saw the line for the cafe was very long, so we decided to go elsewhere.

It was a lot to take in, and it’s too bad we couldn’t get back in to see the rest, although we were pretty emotionally spent by the time we left anyway.

We drove up to NuVegan cafe for lunch, and that was really, really good stuff. Then, it was back to the house to rest up and cuddle with Bertie some more.

Forget MyPillow, get yourself a Bertie Pillow!

After some mid-afternoon R&R, and more eating, we decided to go to a Capitals game that evening. It blew my mind that we could still get tickets that late in the day, and for not much money, either! So, that evening we hit up the ballpark.


The sunset sky colors were so pretty that night!
Goooo Nats!

The game was entertaining, as was the audience. We had a group of frat boys sitting a few rows ahead of us who kept us entertained with their bro-laughter and failed attempts to initiate the wave. Mid-game they were joined by a group of girls who were flaunting their assets and tossing their hair. Then, some drama ensued as one of the girls got caught vaping.

As for the game itself, they were tied 2-2 for several innings, and John and Cara suggested we could leave in the 7th. I said, no way Jose! There’s going to be a dramatic tie-breaker, I can feel it! And lo and behold, in the bottom of the ninth inning, there was a home run and the Nationals won. Woo hoooo!

July 7, 2018

Sunday dawned bright and sunny, and fantastically less humid than the previous few days. We walked to the Eastern Market, and browsed the booths there for a while.

A section of the Eastern Market

After that, we checked out Capitol Hill Books. The moving company John worked for- Bookstore Movers- was started to fund the owner’s dream of buying Capitol Hill Books. Since our visit, he was able to make the purchase! Here’s an article about it.

Cara and John outside Capitol Hill Books
The Wacko Stacko
John in the basement section.

After the bookstore, where I purchased one book and a tote bag, we headed to the National Mall. There was a Smithsonian Folklife Festival going on, featuring Catalonia and Armenia. We heard there were going to be human towers, and this was something we had to see!

On the way, we passed the Capitol Building.

Once we got to the Mall, we wandered around the exhibits at the Folklife Festival. There was lots of cool art and craftsmanship on display. We witnessed an interesting dance routine with the dancers wearing various animal heads and lots of fireworks, but the real show was the human towers:

Towers in progress…
Getting pretty tall!

The human towers were really cool to see, but a bit nerve-wracking to watch. Little kids would climb up to the very top and raise their arm, which is what signalled that the tower was complete. Then they would scamper down the tower, sliding down the people like they were a fireman’s pole. One of the last towers was very wobbly and actually ended up collapsing. It looked like they fell gracefully, so hopefully no one was hurt.

Once the tower-building was complete, it was time for Kris and I to head home. We bade farewell to John and Cara and began our long journey north. Not long after getting on the highway we witnessed this creative genius, ironically sporting a Darwin sticker on their vehicle. Plot twist – there was a woman driving it!

Genius or moron?

And thus concludes our whirlwind journey to DC. Thanks to John and Cara for having us! We had a great time!


3 thoughts on “A Couple of Days in the District

  1. Posts like this make me miss my hometown so much even though we are only 90 miles away (and actually in DC as I type this). These are the great parts when you get past the traffic etc. the FDR Memorial is my FAVORITE, and nighttime monuments are ALWAYS better than daytime ones. I used to take the metro sometimes when I needed to just chill at night and sit on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and stare at the reflecting pool and just…..be. For a while. So many memories from childhood and eventually meeting Ken come from here, it’s always close to my heart. It’s really my ride or die city.


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