It is that time of year again, time to load up the tandem bike and go somewhere for a ride. Sue and I decided to tone it down a little this year (after our amazing trip to Nova Scotia last year) and headed off to Washington, DC to see the sights. As you may have noticed, the weather had been terrible for several weeks, but we decided we were going anyway. We arrived in DC on Monday afternoon and checked into our hotel, which thanks to a good friend, was the Omni Shoreham, a real nice place to stay and then took a short walk to the zoo. Washington zoo is one of my favorite places in the city, and it is free! The rain had stopped and the temperature was comfortable which allowed us to have a great time seeing the animals. Even though I enjoy going to the zoo, it troubles me seeing those wild animals locked up in cages for our viewing pleasure only. The large lions and apes appear to be so unhappy, restricted to their tiny piece of land, unable to roam about the way they were meant to. Maybe someday we will come up with another way to satisfy our need to see these glorious beasts in person.
Back at our hotel we settled in for a good night’s sleep so we would be ready for our bike ride to Mount Vernon in the morning. Bright and early we were up and ready to go. The weather was questionable, but we decided it was now or never, so we rode our bike to the Rock Creek Parkway and began our 20 mile journey along the Potomac River, over the Washington Bridge, past Arlington Cemetery, right under the Washington National Airport approach, past the city of Arlington and through the beautiful green countryside that leads to George Washington’s home. After about an hour and one-half ride we arrived at Mount Vernon, paid the $15/ticket to get in and spent the next several hours learning about our nation’s first president. He was an incredibly talented man, which was evident from the beautifully laid out and landscaped farm that has been restored to its earlier grace.
Invigorated by this great stop, we mounted our trusty tandem and began our journey back to the hotel with several planned stops on the way. The first was Arlington Cemetery where so many of our fallen and the greatest president of my lifetime, John F. Kennedy, are laid to rest. Although I have been there several times, I still suffer recounting the amount of sacrifice our men and women have made. Mile after mile of tombstones adorn the land. It is a place that every American should visit at least once in a lifetime to help us focus on the true price of war.
It was getting late and daylight was slipping away, so we jumped on the bike to ride the five miles on the Rock Creek Parkway Trail to our hotel. By the time we were close to the hotel it was dark, and our bike was not equipped with a light so it was a little scary. During that short time in the dark we witnessed hundreds of joggers who apparently got off work, joined a group and did some kind of relay races on the trail. The competition, though friendly and spirited, was somewhat intense but enjoyable to watch.
Back at the hotel we called it a day quickly so we could continue our adventure the next day. The following morning we decided to use the subway to navigate the city. We bought an all-day Metro pass for $9.00, boarded the RED LINE and zoomed over to Chinatown.
Chinatown was a little disappointing because most of it has been taken down and replaced with newer buildings. A short walk from Chinatown we found the National Building Museum which I had never heard of before. It is a HUGE building and the word HUGE is inadequate to fully describe the size of this building! Take a look inside.
Next, we ventured over to the Post Office Museum which was really nice and FREE. From there we traveled past several large government buildings including the Senate Building (where I hear nothing happens), The Supreme Court, The House Building, around the Capitol and finally over to one of my favorites, the Botanical Gardens.
The day was getting away from us so we marched over to the National Art Museum and did a one-hour quick tour before they announced that the building was closing.
It was time for dinner so I took Sue to the wharf (the best fish in town) which sort of looks like a scene from the apocalypse. We bought two crab cake dinners for a total of $25 and found a place in the grass to enjoy our dinner.
I told Sue that one of my favorite memories from past visits was seeing the Reflecting Pool from the Lincoln Memorial after dark. We began the long walk past the Washington Monument, past the now empty Reflecting Pool; they decided to fix it last year.
The Reflecting Pool was now a large rectangular area filled with gravel, mud and tractors. Despite the lack of a this attraction, it was a beautiful evening; looking back at the Monument and the Capitol should evoke a genuine pride on our country. Not far away is the Korean War monument, truly a remarkable sight in the evening! A group of bronze, six-foot soldiers appear to be advancing. It is an amazing exhibit and in the dark one almost feel as if it is really happening right in front of your eyes!
Tired after walking almost eight miles with Mother Nature threatening to drop an immense amount of water on our heads, we quickly began our return to the nearest subway station, Foggy Bottom. As we took the escalator deep into the earth we could see behind us that the rain was beginning to fall. We boarded the train and were whisked away to a block from our hotel. Our bed was a welcome friend that evening after walking so many miles; dream-land was not far away!
The following morning we lay (check this spelling on lay) around the hotel for a while, packed up and called the porter for our car, loaded up the tandem and began our journey home, Making a quick stop at the Iwo Jima Monument,
stopping off to see Sue’s Aunt Polly and Uncle Ed in Arlington. We are already planning our next year’s trip to DC. It is such a great city to visit with so many things to see; it may take us several years to see it all.