Tuesday, July 07, 2009

My trip to the “Capitol.”

Yeah, I meant the one in Washington, DC not Lansing.

Ready for a long post?

I had the opportunity to take a trip to Washington, DC for Independence Day and I took it. My friends, Kraig and Stacey, live near the city in Maryland. You might remember them from when I took a trip out to San Diego and Tijuana last year. It was an eleven hour trip which was mostly toll road (I hate toll roads). Not wanting to push my luck with my own car, I decided to rent a car and for about $20 a day, I didn’t think it was too bad. Plus gas turned out to be about just a little over $100 there and back so I saved money over buying a plane ticket. I left on Thursday night and got there mid morning on Friday.
On my way over, I had a good time driving. It was night so there was very little traffic. My primary concern was deer jumping out. Then the rain. Then driving in the Appalachians in the dark. I had hoped to stop by a place in Pennsylvania to meet up with a former blogger but I think he had his own guest that he was taking care of. I stopped at the town we would have met up in but only because I had to pee (Ohio service plazas seem to be a lot closer together).

After a brief confusion on where exactly Kraig and Stacey lived, I was met outside by Kraig. After catching up a bit, we headed over to Baltimore International to pick up another two of their friends, Andy and Emily. We went to the city long enough to have some lunch, spy a few ships, catch a glimpse of the state capitol building, and see an old man defiantly make his way down a one-way road. After more the 24 hours of being awake, I was drifting out of consciousness on our way back to the apartment. There I took a nice nap while they went out and ran errands.

That night we headed to this crab shack restaurant. It very local and out of the way. I loved it. It had a great view of the Potomac, which at this point, is now mixing with the water from the Atlantic. When I think of Maryland, a dish that comes to mind is crab cakes. I knew that I was definitely going to order that but there were so many other tempting choices. While the rest of us dined at a leisurely rate, Kraig took a long time to enjoy his crab legs. He took so much time that he attracted the attention of the elderly couple sitting across from us. The lady said something to the effect of finally finding someone who ate slower than her. Ha!

After dinner we went to a drive through liquor store to pick up supplies. Mostly for Kraig and Andy. Oh crap… [Hey, did I ever change the Garmin back to English?] Then it was evening lounging in front of the tube.

Poor Emily, I think between me and Andy snoring, she didn’t get much sleep.

The next day (Saturday), we left for Washington on Metro Green Line. I’ve always liked riding the subway much more than using a bus system. I don’t know why. Although $1.85 for fare is a bit high and odd. I like simple math when I have to calculate how much I need to spend to go on multiple trips.

Things are going on all over the city for Independence Day. Go anywhere and you’re bound to run into something interesting. When we got off at the National Archives, they were doing a reading of the Declaration of Independence. Kraig and I stayed and watched while Stacey, Andy, and Emily went to find seats for the parade which they did next door at the DOJ. They were great seats too and they were kind enough to let me use the fold out chair.

The parade was long and I mean loooooong. The worst part of it was some of the pretty lame entries like the semi truck. Yup a semi truck that has more business on the highway than in a parade. I think the driver must’ve made a wrong turn. I really did like the cultural entries. The Philippines’ entry was very long and had multiple parts of it including ceremonial dress, cultural dress, religious artifacts, and a rather fake Jeepney, and Filipino vets. There were Chinese drummers and a Bolivian shaman/boogie man…thing.

Lunch was at the Old Post Office building which is a very nice place. You wouldn’t necessarily think that if you saw it from the outside. The place has a clock tower that you can ascend to see a nice view of the city without as much hassle that you have to go through to get to the top of the Washington Monument.

Next up was a short stomp through the Natural History Museum. A museum takes days to go through properly so we were there for the highlights. That included an IMAX showing of Deep Sea 3-D. I won’t name names but I think the movie was a perfect opportunity to catch another nap. :-P The Museum also houses the Hope Diamond. The museum was crowded already and it was pretty brutal in the gem collection. The Hope Diamond was the worse where you had to bump your way to it. Personally, I’m not into gems and jewelry. I caught a glimpse of it and I was done and moving on. The bacteria infested Mars rock was more interesting to me and unlike the Hope Diamond, I could touch it.

With only a few hours until the fireworks were due to go off, we made our way on to the Mall. Some kind of festival was going on. I paid more attention to the food booths which had international cuisine. I needed to make sure that I had some dinner so I stopped at the booth for Central America and got some chicharron, yucca, and fried plantains. It was finger lickn’ good. It was my first time for yucca.

The place seemed packed and I was beginning to worry that there wouldn’t be any good spaces. Stacey worked her magic and got a seemingly good seat next to 14th St where the Washington Monument dominated the view. While Andy and Emily held down the fort, Stacey, Kraig, and I tried to get to the WWII memorial. It hadn’t been built the last time I was there and I wanted to go see it. To do that, we needed to go through a security check point. It wasn’t too bad as we weren’t carrying anything with us at the time. When we finally got up to the WWII memorial, we found out that it was closed off. I was slightly disappointed but at least I got to see it with my own eyes.
We got back to our spot shortly before the fireworks went off. Maybe I came in with too high of expectations because I thought that they would be bigger, longer, and set to music. Maybe they were set to music somewhere near to the concert pavilion, but where we were, we didn’t get any. Still, it was a great show although Stacey said that it would have been better if there wasn’t a big pole in the way. I suppose you can overshoot when trying to find an aesthetically pleasing view. Andy timed it at being half an hour which surprised me because I was thinking more like ten minutes. I must’ve been having a grand ol’ time because time just flew by.

I wish the time few by as we were waiting to get back on the Metro.

Sadly all good things come to an end and we all began the process of leaving once we woke up in the morning. I wish I could have stayed longer. Hell… I wish I could live there. But, Michigan is a long drive home and I needed to get a ride back to where I parked my car.

I said that although I liked the experience, going to Washington, DC for the Fourth is not something I would do again. I changed my mind. I would do it again.

1 comment:

Stacey said...

a few things:
1. i totally forgot about the person going down the one-way street, that was funny!
2. you should live in DC, i mean no one that I know would enjoy it more and you could play historical catchphrase on the Mall lawn
3. your post is much better than mine, i might use it for my scrapbook instead of my own!