We hit the jackpot this year yall. Our best friends moved to Annapolis, Maryland mid 2015 so we rented a car and headed their way for the very first time. We’ve been itching to see Washington DC for a couple of years now and, since the northeastern states are so close together, we hoped we could add a number to our list of visited.
Our rental car was a 2016 Toyota Corolla with a tag from the great state of TEXAS. My Nana was apprehensive about our travel and made an effort to give us tips on how to “not look like a traveler” – we let her finish her spiel and calmly explained to her that people are just gonna know. She laughed.
We got an early start – up at 4am and in the car by 5:15 – the drive was fifteen hours! It shouldn’t have been… but we made some pit stops. I used Roadside America to find oddities of interest as we entered different cities. For sake of time I chose only a few.
On the road again, getting hungry. Craving Taco Bell. They are literally nowhere to be found. We drove about 300 miles before we found one in Salem, Virginia. It was so satisfying. From Salem, we took backroads to Roanoke.
The last leg of the drive was through farm towns. The sun was setting and it was actually so picturesque and breathtaking. The leaves have changed and the rolling hills were so healthy. I was sad when there wasn’t any more sun. Eventually everything was dark and we were about an hour away and we crossed this enormous bridge and saw the Washington Monument in the distance all regal and gorgeous and a big, big, bright MGM casino on our right. Seriously. The biggest I’ve ever seen. I don’t know if I’ve ever had a moment that I felt more American.
Arriving in Annapolis, google helped us decipher the lane situation (I have never had so much lane anxiety in my life) and finally, Jeff and Julia greeted us after 5 months of separation. It’s so nice to have friends that feel like family. They had a fire pit out back and some neighbors that we got to meet (real life yankees! – That quickly got shot down as they so boldly believe that they are southerners because they live south of the Mason-Dixon line. This was such news to me. It kind of ruins the name of this post. I stand firm that we were in the North for the sake of quality travel blogging).
WASHINGTON D.C. Round One
I HAVE TO BEGIN WITH THE STORY OF TWO ALABAMIANS TRYING TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO USE A METRO IN MARYLAND. It was like straight out of one of those movies that portray us as country folk in the big city – well I will tell yall. I live in a city. And I felt wholly inadequate and unprepared to travel via public transportation. After staring at the fare wall for 6 minutes, I asked for help from a really nice security guard. He taught us how to buy fare and our very first metro cards. Did we absorb any of it? See round 2 further in this post. Including the Metro, DC was full of revelations for us.
Like how all the movies and TV shows that depict everyone in DC as avid runners is TRUE. Everyone in DC runs!!! They run everywhere!! All the time! Always running!
The Capitol Building. The LARGEST building I think I’ve ever seen. The sheer size of it made me dizzy. Unfortunately, there was construction being done and lots of the grounds were closed off but we were able to walk around and see it from the other side. We spent some time in the Visitor’s Center and learned about House and Senate history, saw its construction over the years to the massive beast it is today, and I personally learned that we adopted Hawaii in 1898. It was solid, educationally. They allow tours in and around the building but frankly, we didn’t have time for that. We quickly learned we didn’t have time to do all of the things we wanted to do here.
The Washington Monument. My favorite thing we saw that day because of the easily accessible bathrooms. Walking down the Mall towards it is indescribable as it grows and grows and grows until WHAM you’re straining your neck and smiling in disbelief at this crazy tall phallus that you can’t stop looking at even though you’ve been battling the patriarchy since 18 because it’s just so massive and amazing. It is an understatement that the monuments in DC were larger than we expected.
The White House. This was Jordan’s favorite. That dog’s name is Luna. The lady that took our picture offered her has a prop because she thought it would make a good story. But that’s it. That’s the whole story. Its hard to get close to it for obvious reasons. We tried to visit the Visitor’s Center but it closed at 4pm so we went back on day 2 and learned that it’s actually much bigger than what we can see from the front or the back. All that extra business is covered with trees and foliage for safety. There we also saw Abraham Lincoln’s Presidential seal, Woodrow Wilson’s typewriter and learned that Ronald Reagan ordered 3 tons of jelly beans for his inauguration in 1981.
ps – we walked over 18k steps this day. Over 15k the next day. I had multiple blisters as always. It is fine.
WASHINGTON D.C. Round Two
We could not do all of the things we wanted to do in one day. Even picking and choosing the important things, it cannot be done in a single day. Too much walking. Too much reading. TOO MUCH LEARNING! (this was the trip of my dreams). So we got up and did it all again. Determined to be adults and not ask for help after being taught how to use the fare wall, this!! time!! we!! figured!! out!! the!! fare!! wall!! by!! ourselves!! We were born to ride metros.
The World War II Memorial. It forces itself upon you on your way to the Lincoln Memorial (below) but it’s really nice, surrounded by all the states and territories and an impressive fountain in the middle that kids were playing in even though it was below 60 degrees that morning…. We went straight to the Alabama statue and got a pic, also the Texas one to honor our noble steed (the Corolla).
The Lincoln Memorial. We didn’t get to see it before the sun went down the day before so it was first on our list. It’s a looooong walk down the reflection pool and the avid runners made you feel like you were wasting all your time walking everywhere but 1.75 miles later we made it to the steps that lie before Zeus I mean Abraham Lincoln. Can we talk about enormity? The Memorial isn’t much, it consists a room for Lincoln and columns to hold it all up but wow that’s a lot of marble. The view towards the Washington Monument from here also deserves a WOW.
The Korean War Memorial. This one was the most poignant for me. Just incredible. People leave roses to honor those that fell even to this day. And there were thoughtful quotes of selflessness and portraits in a marble wall nearby. It was too much. I cried.
Donald Trump’s newest hotel, complete with protestors. This was election day, mind you. This stop wasn’t on our itinerary, it was across from the pub we ate at for lunch. Later that night Trump would become the next president elect of the United States, to the dismay of myself and many others that are close to me.
The rest of the evening we spent at the National Museum of Natural History. This was the number one building of the Smithsonian we wanted to see and it did not disappoint!! It was BEAUTIFUL and INFORMATIVE and our favorite exhibit was the Human Origins wing!! It was an eye opening journey into our species and how far we’ve come. I recommend it to anyone that isn’t a creationist, even though yall would benefit from it the most. Did you know the flu killed 5% of the world’s population in 1919? Get your flu shots if you wanna live kids. We almost ran out of time here so we had to speed through the Bug Zoo and the Mummy exhibits but they were still exciting and I sped read my ass off. For the cherry on top, this building houses the Hope Diamond — and I was disappointed to find out that it never actually traveled on the Titanic.
I’m at 1500 words and that’s too many to keep your interest any further so be on the look out for part 2 in the coming days!