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Thursday, February 28, 2008
My first visit to the Nation's Capitol.  I'm LAME!
Yes, I have seen parts and places of the world that many people have never heard of, but I've never been to Washington DC.  Can you believe it? 
Actually, there are soooo many places in the grand US of A I've never been, including New York City, the Grand Canyon, and the biggest ball of twine (wherever the heck that is).
I was pretty excited about the opportunity to throw a side trip to DC onto the front end of our trip to Beijing.  I didn't buy a guide book, or even a map, so I was winging it big time.  I knew I wouldn't have much time, and I knew I just wanted to hit the highlights, but now I want to go back really bad.
When the weather is warmer.  It was a bit brisk.
And, because I've been sitting on my butt for pretty much four months, I gave myself one hell of a case of shin splints.  They're almost gone now, I've walked a ton here (Beijing) already, too.  Was a bit painful getting through the airports, then sitting on my butt again for another 26 hours.
But, anyhoodle, back to DC.  We arrived (late) on Wednesday due to a delayed departure in Detroit and Jimmy whisked the boys off to a meeting, stranding me in a hotel in Dulles (and it doesn't look like Dull for nothing).  I didn't realize how FAR that is from DC.  Only about a $100 cab ride.  So, I rode out the afternoon in the hotel, researching what I wanted to see and how I was going to get downtown.
My initial plan was to take the hotel shuttle back to the airport, grab the city bus, then jump on a hop on, hop off tour bus through the city.  Good plan.
However, Thursday morning the boy's plans changed and I got to hitch a ride into Arlington.  From where they were going I hoofed it over to the Iwo Jima Memorial.

Iwo Jima Memorial

And from there it was just a short skip and a jump to Arlington Cemetary, so I whizzed through.  I knew there was a bus pickup somewhere in the cemetary (but it's HUGE, duh), and while I was wandering I saw one pull in, so I started running. 
And lost my map out of my back pocket.  Idjit. 
And missed the bus.  But from where I was standing I was looking across the bridge at the back of the Lincoln Memorial (not that I KNEW that was what it was, but it looked like something I should see), so I decided to just hoof it across the bridge, find the bus later. 

View of Arlington Cemetary, which I basically ran through

Gates of Arlington with Mount Vernon in the background, where I didn't go

Lincoln Memorial was cool. And so was the view of the reflecting pond and the Washington Monument.
From there I headed to the Korean War Memorial, which I though was righteous, dude.
Plus, it was nice being there in the adverse weather, because there WAS NO ONE ELSE THERE!  No hoards of tourists to get in my way.

Crossing over the Potomac, heading toward the Lincoln Memorial

Impressive statue at the end of the bridge

Halfway up the stairs at Lincoln Memorial

Abe-y Baby, much smaller than I thought he'd be, although not THAT small

Reflecting Pool from Lincoln Memorial steps

American Soilders replication at the Korean War Memorial

Another shot of those soilders, and the wall reflecting them with faces on it of the lost. . . neat

Close up of one of our soilder friends

One of the most meaningful things I saw, really. All the monuments don't sum it up as well

Then I zig-zagged back across the mall to the Vietnam Memorial and the Wall.  In my mind I thought the wall was larger in scale, but it's still quite big.  It's built into the side of a hill, so you can't walk around it (in case you're an idiot like me who's never been to DC), so was different than I imagined.  Before you enter the walkway there's a big book where all the names are listed to aid people in finding particular names.  I looked up Hankinson (my maiden name), but there were NONE.  I didn't look up Stout, though, as I was sure there would be many.
The Wall was intensely overwhelming to stand and look at over 50,000 names of dead soilders who fought for . . . well, for something.  What an absolute waste of human life. . .

Vietnam soilders just before the wall

Wonder where we'll put the wall for the Iraq war. . .

Another angle, I like the American Flag reflection in this one. . . I'm so cool. . . :-)

Finally made it to the Washington Monument (it's A LOT farther than it looks or than I thought).  And, I stupidly missed the turn off for the White House, so I had to back track to say HI to George and Laura.  Or say something to them. . .

Uh, duh, the Washington Monument

George's house, didn't have any rocks to throw, so just snapped a pic

So, now I'm off the mall and wandering up a parallel street, somewhere near the Federal Triangle, and gawking at all the big, large buildings.  Oh, and stopping into the CVS to buy some shoe inserts.  Dogs are barking.  Plus, it was real nice and warm inside that drugstore, let me tell you. . .
Headed back to the mall just in time to catch the WWII Memorial.  Didn't wait for the park ranger speech, so can't tell you much more than "this is the WWII memorial".  Hey, GO YOURSELF.  It's cool!

Um, not sure, and can't find my map this instant. Thought it was a church, but maybe not, . .

Where the hell did I put my map?!?!? Some big ole buildings along the mall. . . to be named later

World War II memorial

and again. . .

Further down toward the Smithsonian there was a itty bitty ice skating rink.  Seemed so picturesque.  Stood and watched the skaters for a sec until the lack of movement made me start to freeze up.  I've been outside now for over 2 1/2 hours and the cold and wind are starting to get to me.  But I need to make it to Capitol Hill.
Of course, I never did get on the bus.  They only run every half hour, I think I would have spent more time waiting for it than riding. 

I just missed these two cuties falling down simultaneously

Just as I got to Capitol Hill my phone rang.  It was Mike.  Jimmy was bored and offered to come and pick me up, take me to a mall close to the boys second location, a bit out of town.  Well, OKAY!  Beats trying the subway to the bus to the airport to the shuttle on my own (not that I COULDN'T have done it, just saying it BEATS THE PANTS OFF IT having someone come and pick you up like a VIP!)
Ripped off a bunch of shots standing there, and about twenty minutes later was warming up inside the van.

And, Ta-DAH, the end of the mall and Capitol Hill (I'm just a bill, yes, I'm only a bill, . . )

On the way to the mall, Jimmy drove me through Old Town (which is where we WOULD have been staying had the hotel NOT BEEN FULL UP, dang it) which was so adorable I wanted to pack up all the buildings in my suitcase and take them with me.  All very old colonial type architecture, plus looked like party central.  No pics as we were riding in the van and my fingers were too frozen to hit the shutter button.
But take my word for it, Old Town should NOT BE MISSED!  I could have spent an entire day wandering through the streets there.  CU-UTE!
The mall was less than exciting, but I did buy a card reader for my camera (forgot to pack mine), only to find out later it didn't work.  Thank God for TJ, he has two! 
Picked up at the mall around five and we headed back to Old Town for dinner at Joe Theismann's.  Had some de-lillylicious scallops.  Then a quick drive through Georgetown, which looks like it has a very high fun potential, and back to the hotel to get repacked for our early morning departures.  Some of us earlier than others.  Mike and the boys had to leave the hotel at 3:30.  Me, well, not til 6:30. 
A great trip.  I know there are a thousand things I didn't see or do, and a hundred things I know I want to see and do.  Imperative I revisit.
Here that Mike?  IMPERATIVE!
And a big shout out thanks to Jimmy for shuttling my butt around and feeding me like I actually worked for him or something.  Hats off to the boss!