Day 2 in Washington DC Monday October 5

http://picasaweb.google.com/kyotesue/DC_Day2#

We are recuperating in our room this evening, watching the news, having some wine and cheese and crackers for supper and catching up on photos and memoirs. It seems as though we have been here for a long time, and yet it’s only Monday, actually only two days here in DC. They have been really full days, for sure. So far, I am greatly surprised by the Capital City of my country. It is beautiful, full of open space, incredibly clean, and inspiring. I had no idea it would be like this. I had heard of crime and heat and humidity, traffic, more crime, and really had no idea that it would be so lovely.

This morning it was breakfast again in the hotel, and we left for town at 8am to catch the 9am Green loop of the Old Town Trolley tours that we signed up for online before we left.
http://www.historictours.com/washington/

We first traveled through the city to the northwest side and the National Cathedral, perched on one of the highest points in the city. The Cathedral is impressive, with true gothic architecture including the long nave, the tower, and flying buttresses for support. Many presidents have worshipped here and the sanctuary is beautiful. Sometimes when traveling in foreign countries, a saying goes around, “One more gorgeous cathedral” or maybe “one more gorgeous view”. Sometimes it’s hard to remember just what each cathedral looks like and only a few do stand out. This one was lovely, but not as moving as St Paul’s in St Paul, Minnesota even, and probably not even close to St John’s in Valetta Malta. But it was a nice big impressive cathedral and quite adequate for a US city. The real surprise, though, was the Bishop’s Garden, tucked in at the base of the cathedral and filled with perennials and paths and pagodas that rivaled any I have seen. Truly a gem. The view from the tower was another chance to see how DC is laid out, still something that eludes my normally good sense of direction.

Traveling back toward the city we saw Embassy Row, some quite grand, others a bit worn, and the Iranian embassy quite shabby and empty for the last 18 years. On to the picturesque part of DC called Georgetown, where many of the row houses are less than 8 feet wide in order to reduce the tax footprint which in the early days of the city was based on the width of the home facing the sidewalk.

We got off the trolley to walk the M Street shopping district, explore the old Chesapeake and O Canal and towboats, and walk down to the waterfront. J. Pauls Brewery provided a truly tasty lunch and relaxing time watching the people passing by from our window table. Mo enjoyed a chicken quesadilla that was the best I ever tasted in addition to my own cup of perfect crab soup. We re-boarded the trolley back to downtown and then we switched to the Orange line that travels through the main part of the city, including the Capitol Mall, and used the tour as another way to get oriented to where things were and to plan our next day using the trolley to actually get off at the various stops to view the sights in depth.

We arrived at another transfer point in time to switch to the red line that crossing the Arlington bridge to Arlington Cemetery, and managed to have enough time to see the main parts including the Eternal Flame at John F Kennedy’s grave and to walk up the long hills to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Once more I was surprised at how much something in this city moved my deeply. The ceremony of the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was impressive and moving, and really quite lovely. Sadly, I learned that the fancy lithium rechargeable battery on my Nikon camera can’t handle a full day of sight seeing if I haven’t charged up fully the night before, so my photos of the changing of the guard are on my phone. Hopefully I can figure out how to get them on my computer.

Whew. I am tired just writing all this, much less doing it. Dinner tonight is completely unnecessary with such a great lunch, and while I feel very much like a tourist, I am glad for a chance to spend some time here.

Day zero traveling to DC Saturday Oct 3

Although lots of the stories here revolve around the MoHo and RV travel, we do sometimes wander off to see things in other ways. This time it was a trip to Washington DC, a destination too far away to manage a MoHo trip, at least while I am still working and have to deal with limited leave time. Neither of us had been to DC previously, and since my agency developed a great soils exhibit for the Smithsonian, I figured it was as good a time as any to take a week off and go see our Capital City.

We flew from San Francisco on Saturday morning, leaving Jamestown, California at 4am to give ourselves plenty of time to negotiate the bay area traffic. Good thing! There were closed ramps and freeways in the midst of construction somewhere around Hayward that had us going in circles in the dark trying to find a way over the San Mateo Bridge. Never managed that, and ended up going via the Dumbarton Bridge instead to find HWY 101 and still make it to the Travelodge in time for the shuttle to the airport. Whew! We had plenty of time to get checked in and on the plane with no other mishaps.

We have learned that one of the best ways to fly from San Francisco is to stay at the Travelodge in South San Francisco, which has a fly and park package that is very inexpensive compared to parking a car at the airport. The package includes a night on either end of your flights, free parking for 10 days, and a shuttle to the airport both ways. Travelodge Park and Fly

The flight seemed incredibly fast at 4.5 hours direct to Dulles with good weather all the way. On the DC end of the flight we made arrangements with the Super Shuttle. This is an excellent way to travel to and from the airport in DC. Dulles Super Shuttle

Our baggage was on time, the shuttle to Arlington was easy, and the Comfort Inn we had reserved turned out to be more than adequate. After we checked in, dinner was an easy walk across a very big very busy Arlington Blvd to a Chinese place called XO Taste. It was very similar to a Chinese restaurant we once went to in San Francisco, but at least there was also English on the menu. The entire place was filled with Chinese people, not simply Asians, but very much Chinese. We were the only Caucasions in the place. It was a bit embarrassing to be the only ones using forks. After a half-hearted attempt at using chopsticks we gave up and returned to our forks. The dinner was excellent and more than plentiful.

Back home to a good night’s sleep, marred only by a stupid migraine for me. Sigh. Maybe it was the air pressure changes. More than likely, it was the MSG in the really great Chinese food from the previous night. Ah well. It made for a vaguely misfired day for me on Monday, but by evening it was finally gone and now I’m great.