30 Lessons From Washington D.C.

Earlier this week, when I published the unexpected road trip post, I threatened to said I would complete the vacation adventure tale by giving D.C. its own blog space. Seeing as I will forget what I wanted to say if I wait much longer, the time has come for that post!

IMG_2888

Consider this a humorous travel guide, like those I wrote for Hawaii and Disney World. All of the pictures are mine, in that I took them with my trusty phone (which I’m sure you would have discerned by their epic photographic brilliance).

And now, without further bantering, I bring you the list of lessons from our nation’s capital.

1.Everything means more than it seems. Statues, memorials, and buildings are always more than statues, memorials, and buildings (this point is first because it comes back several times).

2. The Metro is a lifesaver. Driving and parking in the city would have been a nightmare (and every local we talked to laughed at the idea of driving in town).

IMG_2940

Chilling on the Metro

3. Humidity is not a myth. Our home is in a famously dry place, so it was no surprise when my son asked why the air was “thick.”

4. There is a LOT of walking involved. I try to exercise regularly and I was sore after a few days – just from walking.

5. The Smithsonian museums are free! I know this is common knowledge for a lot of you but it was a very pleasant surprise for us.

IMG_2880

That’s a replica of Amelia Earhart’s plane.

6. The Air and Space Museum is the most popular one for a reason. That reason is not the ginormous McDonald’s that occupies the food court.

IMG_2868

IMG_2871

IMG_2870

7. At the American History Museum, you can see relics from your childhood preserved behind glass. And it doesn’t make you feel old at all.

IMG_2952

“Mommy, look at this OLD computer!”

8. You’ll also see icons from your childhood . . .

IMG_2944

9. . . . and later, you’ll be amused at Bert and Ernie’s proximity to the next picture in your phone (it was in the neighboring case).

IMG_2945

10. One of the coolest things in the History Museum is something George Washington himself owned and used.

IMG_2956

11. And there are bits of history that fill you with an odd sense of pride, even if you personally had nothing to do with the event.

IMG_2957

This is a suffragette’s wagon.

12. The Natural Science Museum is HUGE. We didn’t have much time so we only saw a few exhibits, but one of them held the Hope Diamond.

IMG_2959

13. If you’re an owl enthusiast like me, you’ll enjoy the owl display. I forced my family to stop walking so I could take pictures. Because owls.

14. I didn’t take pictures in the Holocaust Museum because it felt disrespectful, but it made a lasting impact on us anyway. There’s an exhibit that “followed” a Jewish child from his home to the ghetto to the concentration camp that’s especially poignant.

15. A totally worth-it expense is an evening/night tour of the monuments. They put you on the top of a double-decker bus and narrate your way through the city.

IMG_2904

Viewing the Jefferson Memorial from a distance.

IMG_2912

And up close (or zoomed in, rather)

16. A hidden gem is the FDR Memorial. It’s spread over four “rooms” in a park, designed to be accessible to those in wheelchairs. Each room has a water feature that means something different (like the chaotic falls representing the chaos of World War II).

17. There are quotes engraved on things everywhere.

IMG_2916

This was at the FDR Memorial.

18. The MLK Memorial best encompasses the meaning of unfinished statues (which were fairly common). Because he was assassinated, his work was unfinished. Surrounding the statue are quotes by Martin Luther King Jr. that were not as famous as his “I Have a Dream” speech but were just as important.

IMG_2922

19. The Lincoln Memorial is much more crowded than movies have led me to believe.

IMG_2929

See all the people??

IMG_2932

It was a very people-y place.

IMG_2933

Another statue that was bigger than I expected.

20. The Iwo Jima Memorial is more poignant at sunset somehow.

IMG_2928

21. After sunset, we saw the landmarks in, uh, new light, including the White House, the Jefferson Memorial, the Washington Monument, and the WWII Memorial.

IMG_2938

IMG_2937

22. Another worth-it excursion is a tour of the Capitol Building. I planned to do this because it’s a setting in my next book (you know – research), but there’s a lot more to it than I realized.

IMG_2998

23. There are so many statues in the Capitol. Some make sense . . .

IMG_2990

Thomas Edison

IMG_2991

Rosa Parks (with random guy)

IMG_2983

George Washington

24. . . . and some don’t.

IMG_2969

Thank God Chipotle was open.

25. The rooms themselves have special meanings and history.

IMG_2976

I forget what this room is called but it’s circular and where they put presidents’ coffins before their funerals.

IMG_2980

The ceiling of that room.

26. A thirty-minute Metro ride from the Capitol Building will take you to Old Town Alexandria.

IMG_2859

It’s a pleasant walk through Alexandria.

IMG_2860

This is the most “Virginia” pic I captured.

27. At the end of the street is the Potomac River, where street performers hang out. One is an escape artist guy who attracts a big crowd but doesn’t seem to know what he’s doing. We got bored and left before we could find out if he escaped his chains. But the guy playing the xylophone was awesome.

The final three points are either random or surprising and didn’t really fit anywhere else, so they get to be at the end.

28. The best place in the city to eat lunch is the cafeteria inside the US Department of Agriculture building.

29. The walk from the Air and Space Museum to Union Station is only a mile but it feels like more because of the heat.

30. Next time, we’ll plan more than a week to visit. We saw a small fraction of everything D.C. has to offer. We can pretty much make it a new vacation (except for the riding the Metro part. We have that down).

Do you have your own D.C. lessons? Share in the comments!

4 thoughts on “30 Lessons From Washington D.C.

  1. I got a kick out of the computer display at the American History Museum. As I walked past it, I told my kids, “I worked on that one and that one and that one…and oh yeah, that one when it was brand new.”

    “Gosh dad,” they said, “maybe they should put you in there.”

    Liked by 2 people

Share your thoughts!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s