Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Hanging in Washington DC

Hey there, I know I have been horrible at posting lately. Sometimes I am lazy and other times well I am busy doing other things. Two weeks ago the family and I packed our bags and went to Washington DC. I lived on the east coast my entire life and this was the first time I was actually in DC. I was on the beltway once as my parents drove to Florida.  We stayed outside of DC in College Park, MD and when we got off the Metro at L'Enfant Plaza, it was one word- overwhelming. Everything around me was white and massive. Unlike in New York City where I felt tiny among skyscrapers, in DC I was just mesmerized. One could just go there and stand on the street and just take in every building, of course I am talking down by the National Mall. However, our adventure started before boarding the metro.

College Park, MD
We left home right after my husband finished work for the night and the drive itself was decent just boring as it was late at night and there was nothing but trees to look at. We made it into Rockville, MD just about 2:30 a.m. I had a coupon for a hotel but the catch was we couldn't make reservations  which sucked balls. And wouldn't you know, the hotel was full for the night. Not a problem, I had another coupon and my computer. And this what really started our adventure, finding a 24 hours McDonald's so I can use their wifi. We wound up driving around the suburbs of DC for hours looking for either McDonald's or a hotel that had rooms. We stopped for gas and  the police were at the gas station searching some guy's car. The guy was cuffed and he didn't seem to be a threat but there were tons of cops. At least a dozen cruisers and officers yet two detained the suspect and two searched the car. The others were chatting. The gas station remained open. The attendant was too busy and I am not sure he charged me enough for the coffee but who cares. Also he didn't have a phone book, I suppose that is the sign of the times. Once we left the gas station, we drove from Seven 11 to Seven 11 looking for directions to anywhere by now we were in Silver Spring, MD. Finally, I found a McDonald's and I called a hotel in College Park. They had rooms. Great because we were coming there. We got the directions and went on our way. We don't have smart phones but I tell you, this was the night I wished I got my husband a smart phone for his birthday.  We checked into the hotel and we went downstairs for a quick breakfast and then we were off to buy Metro Smart cards. And our DC adventure begins...
National Museum of the American Indian

The first museum we went to was the American Indian Museum and there were a lot of artifacts in there and information about the various tribes. There was also some cool Native art.  These museums are huge and there are so many to choose from. The next one we went through was the National Air and Space Museum which is freaking awesome. It was one of my favorites. Unfortunately, I did not see the space shuttle because that is at the Air and Space museum near Dulles Airport.

National Air and Space Museum
The one we went to had a lot of stuff from the Apollo missions which I loved. There is just so much to see there. I know we spent a couple of hours in there and I am sure we did not see everything. Of course, the museums are free to visit so we plan on going back again in the future. This was the first day we were there we went to the zoo to see Pandas but missed them and we were also at the Natural History Museum but not for long as the place was packed and we couldn't see very much. We also went and saw one of my friends who lives in the DC area. We came back to the hotel and just crashed. We were up for over 24 hours at this time and we were beat.

National Archives Building
On Sunday, we started with the National Archives because we wanted to see the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
Unfortunately, we couldn't take pictures of the documents but I was surprised by them. For the longest time, I always thought they were on sheets of paper (think 8.5x11 or 11x 14) but that is not true. They are wide and just massive sheets of parchment. It was incredible to finally see those in person. I am glad that I did. Of course, it is a bitch to see them because you have these jack holes who have to read them. News flash, you can't barely read them because the ink is fading. There are some phrases that can be read but for the most part they are unreadable. It was nice to see them but it was also nice to get the hell out of the building and get some fresh air.   We went back to the zoo later in the day and missed the damn pandas again but we did see some other critters and such. Lucky for us some of the Smithsonian museums were open until 7 pm so we went back to the National Museum of Natural History.

National Museum of Natural History
Finally, I saw dinosaurs and other bones from critters long gone. This was one of the highlights of my trip because I really wanted to see dino bones. I think dinosaurs are really fascinating. Hell I would still watch Dinosaur Train on PBS but my kid makes fun of me. Anyway in addition to the dinosaurs there is the Hope Diamond. I thought the Hope Diamond would be this massive raw rock but it is not. It is a cut and polished rock that was made into a necklace. There was also some other large gemstones there as well. This is also my favorite museum. I loved it.  The bonus was it was pretty empty when we were there so we could finally look at everything we wanted to. Next on the list was to visit monuments since they are open 24 hours. The first one we went to was the Washington Monument.
Washington Monument at Night

I asked a policeman for directions and I am not sure why we didn't follow them. We wanted to see all the monuments, well that was the plan anyway. We made it to the Washington Monument and then we decided to go to the Jefferson Memorial.  There probably was an easier way, in fact I am sure there was but that is not how we roll. We were in the park by the  Washington Monument and then we crossed the street. We could see the Jefferson Memorial far off in the distance. By now night has set in and it was chilly. We walked around the tidal basin by the Potomac River, it was breezy. A helicopter kept making low passes over the tidal basin. The cherry blossom tree branches were low and it was dark because there was barely any light. I really thought there would be light. We finally made it to the Jefferson Memorial. It was one hell of a walk.

Jefferson Memorial
After doing some tourist stuff and taking a piss, we decided to head back to the hotel. We all were tired, hungry and cold. According to the Metro bus there was a stop a couple of blocks away. The park ranger didn't know but gave us directions to the main part of DC.  I was about three minutes away from hailing a taxi because it seemed like so many were driving by looking for customers. We made it to the money making building and just two wonderful blocks was Metro. Hurray. It didn't matter if we had to transfer trains or not it was the Metro. We finally made it back to MD around 11 that night and got some food. Monday would be our last day there. We looked at a map and if we would have listened to the Police man, we would have been able to see all the monuments, we just took the scenic route in the dark, that's all. The zoo was the first stop and finally I got to see my pandas.

Pandas at the National Zoo
I freaking love pandas. I think they are the cutest. I was so happy to see them in person. The one in the photograph is mother panda, they were feeding her bamboo. The baby was there as well.  We didn't spend too much time at the zoo because we pretty much saw everything over the last couple of days before and since it is free to get into, why not. After seeing the pandas we went back to the National Mall and went to the National Museum of American History.  By the time we left DC it was rush hour traffic and we had to take Metro back to Silver Spring, MD to get our car and head home. Lucky for us, the Metro crowd thinned out by the time we got to Silver Spring. Of course, our adventure was not quite over yet. Not sure how to get back on the highway, we used a map and went another way with rush hour traffic all the way. Finally, we made our way onto 270 by the time we reached Germantown, traffic disappeared. 

It was an awesome time and I can't wait to go back again because there is so much we didn't see.

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