You gotta love four day weekends. I’m lucky enough to get one twice a month. This time, I took Denise to Washington D.C. for her birthday.
The drive down took about 15 hours. We decided to hit the side roads just outside of Pennsylvania. The eastern border of Ohio, West Virginia and south-east Pennsylvania is some beautiful and hilly country. It added four or five hours, but we saw some fun things in the mountains.
View a Map of our Drive
Saturday was sunny and warm. We spent the morning walking around the mall and looking for some food. We found some at a great little place called Breugger’s Bagels. That was tasty! I spent much of the morning recognizing landmarks and metro stations from a video game called Fallout 3. If you an Xbox 360, check it out sometime – especially if you think you know Washington D.C.
Around 11, I received a text from Denise’s cousin Joe. He and his wife were in town to surprise Denise at the Nationals baseball game we were going to. Denise surmised that I was texting with work, so we were able to pull off the surprise perfectly. We got off of the metro at Navy Yard and headed to the park when Denise spotted someone wearing a Detroit Tigers cap. Turns out it was Joe and Sarah! Thanks for helping me plan that one Joe!
The game was fun (the Nationals pulled it out at the end) and the park was nice. We all skipped the metro and walked back into town for horrible service and bad food at the ESPN Zone. At least the water was wet. Just about everything else went poorly. We sent Sarah and Joe on their way home to Baltimore and headed back to the hotel ourselves to plan our assault on the memorials and the museums the next day.
If you’ve never been to Washington D.C., here’s a word of advice: You can’t do it all in one day; at least not on foot.
We started out walking along the south side of the river towards the Jefferson Memorial. I took this sweet picture of the door you use to get into the Memorial in Fallout 3.
The large monuments are cool to look at, but don’t have a lot of character to them. I really enjoyed the Franklin Roosevelt Memorial that we went to next. It’s unassuming – in fact, we stumbled across it by mistake. We didn’t even know it was there. It was more park than memorial. It had waterfalls, statues, and quotes from FDR.
We continued our walk around to the World War II Memorial. It was a grand monument that celebrated the lives that were given to rid the world of two great evils. There was a large contrast between it and the Vietnam Memorial. The Vietnam Memorial is sunk into the ground such that you cannot see it from the road. It is a somber reminder that not all wars are worth fighting, but if you are going to fight a war, you had better fight it to win it.
We continued on to visit Mr. Lincoln in his iconic Memorial and then on to the soldier’s statues at the Korean Memorial.
We had thought about walking across the river to Arlington National Cemetery, but by this time we were already whooped and had a long way to go yet. The next stop was the Holocaust Museum. My friends I had talked to said it was the best museum they had been to. After going there, I cannot disagree with them. The museum is extremely well done. The exhibits are perhaps the best and most informative I have seen. However, the subject material is horrendous and I was angry pretty much the entire time I was in there. If you do not know much about the Holocaust, you need to go. If you think you know a lot about it, you still need to go. Either way, be prepared for an emotional day.
We hurried through the museum pretty quickly. It would have been easy to get stuck there for four or five hours. We caught the metro up a few blocks to go find food (there isn’t much on the south side of the mall. All the food seems to be north of Pennsylvania Avenue). We ate at Breuggers again, and then headed back down to more museums.
We hit the Old Post Office (now with some stores, restaurants, and a free ride to the top of the tower), the Natural History Museum (with a great exhibit on human evolution), the Smithsonian Castle (there wasn’t much to do there, it’s really just administration offices), and the Air and Space Museum (cool, but we were too tired to care!). We then stumbled back to our hotel and passed out for an hour. It was four in the afternoon.
For our evening encore, we took the Metro over to Union Station and found a Pizzeria Uno. We then walked back past the Capitol Building, Library of Congress, and Supreme Court. Denise got some great shots of the Capitol at night. You’ll have to make do with my cell phone pictures!
All in all, it was about 9 miles of walking.
The next day we got up early to drive home and made a bad decision. We thought it would be a great idea to drive the Shenandoah Skyline highway. We thought we could see some cool things and maybe see some history as well. We got there to find that the highway was 109 miles long! It did not look that long.
The drive was neat, but with 75 overlooks along the entire drive, it was going to take all day. 90 minutes and 30 miles in, we decided to hop back on the expressway and make our way home. It still took all of 18 hours and we didn’t get to our house until just after midnight.
It was a hectic and fun filled weekend. Happy Birthday Denise!
Here’s some more pictures if you want to take a look.