Washington, DC Trip
Hi all! This week has been a rough, rough week at work. By the time I’ve gotten home, I’ve barely had the energy to get on the computer, let alone write a post. But I wanted to finally tell you a bit more about my trip. I warn you now, this is gonna be a long one – mostly pics though.
Last Wednesday night, I think I got about 3 1/2 hrs of sleep. Thursday, I got up early to take care of quite a few things before my trip like getting an oil change in my car and picking up a copy of Chely Wright’s new book. You’ve probably all heard about her in the news lately. But one of the bookstores here is doing a book signing/performance with her and the only way to get tix is to buy her book. Of course, I’d probably have gotten it anyway. When I was in high school, my best friend dragged me kicking and screaming into country music. I ended up loving it. By about my junior year in college, though, I was back to mostly listening to pop/rock. I honestly haven’t listened to country music in years, but I always did like her music and I want to support her. I actually remember meeting her at a CD signing when I was probably about 17 years old. I’ll have to see if I can find the pic I took with her. Here’s one of her more fun videos:
Okay, back to DC. So didn’t get much sleep Wednesday night. I also then didn’t get much sleep Thursday night between having to pack, do laundry, and get my dad all set up for the weekend. I think I got about four hours of sleep that night. It didn’t help that I kept tossing and turning and waking up every half hour with the worst sinus headache you can imagine. I’m sure the excitement of the trip didn’t help. I finally gave up and got up around 2:00 a.m. We had to leave by 4:45 to catch our flight.
Everything went incredibly smoothly with the flight. We didn’t have to do those full body scanners (which I was worried about), but did get patted down for some reason, even though the guy that went through before us didn’t. But the flight was on time and was smooth and it all went really well. I tried to sleep on the plane, but that didn’t happen. I guess I was just too excited.
We landed in DC at about 11:00 or so and made our way directly to our hotel, the Grand Hyatt. We were there by 11:30. I had requested an early check-in, but since check-in time was 3pm, I didn’t expect them to let us check in quite that early. But there was no problem and no question whatsoever. They let us check in as soon as we got there. Unfortunately, when we got up to the room, it was just a single king bed when we had booked two double beds. So we had to traipse back down to the lobby and get a new room. But there wasn’t a problem there either. She switched it and within five minutes or so, we were back up in our new room. I do think she could have verified the type of room we had reserved before sending us upstairs.
I have to say that the bed was THE MOST comfortable bed I’ve stayed in in a hotel in YEARS. I like my beds on the soft side and most are usually WAY too hard for me to get comfortable at all. But this one had a soft pillowy top to it and was wonderful. My only complaints about the room were the lack of electrical outlets for guest use. There were only two on the far side of the desk in the corner – very inconvenient and one in the bathroom (which you obviously don’t want to use for electrical devices – especially when you’re showering). After we got there, I took a bit of time to iron my clothes for that night and my shirt for the next day. Just to get it out of the way. I had to plug it in way over by the desk and then it kept shorting out the power strip and shutting it all off. That was a pain. I finally ended up pulling the nightstand out from the wall to plug my cell phone into the one outlet available back there. My other complaint was that there wasn’t a fan in the bathroom. Fans really do help in cutting down the steam build-up after a shower and this one was so stuffy that it was awful.
Other than those issues, I was pretty happy with our stay. We bugged the concierge desk quite often and they were always friendly and helpful. We learned that though we had taken a shuttle to the hotel from the airport, a taxi would have been about half the price and that’s how we ended up getting back on Sunday. Much more comfy, too. They helped us with directions and tour info. Plus, the place was just gorgeous:
So after ironing and getting settled, we decided to go wander the blocks around the hotel and find someplace to eat lunch. I also wanted to hit an ATM. So we wandered a bit and ended up at M&S Grill for lunch. We didn’t have reservations, but they were still able to seat us right away – I think it was about 1:30 or so at this point. But oh my god. I have NEVER had such slow service in my entire life. I think they were getting revenge for the fact that we didn’t have reservations. I got the pan-seared mahi mahi. Another coincidence between last year’s CA trip and this one. Those are the only two times that I’ve ever had it. I have to say that there was NO comparison. The San Francisco version was incredible. This one was so-so. They did have a great cranberry lemonade.
So by the time we got out of there it was after 3pm. We wandered around, hit the atm, and then headed back to the hotel. Since “Lbs.” didn’t start until 7:50 that night, and since we’d had so little sleep, we were a bit concerned about not snoring through it. 🙂 We decided to try and lay down for a little bit, but neither of us was successful in falling asleep. It didn’t help that there was a hotel employee that knocked on our door apparently just to see if the room was occupied. You know, I would have thought the privacy tag on the door might have clued him in. But we did feel a bit more rested. We then ordered room service for dinner (I had half of a grilled chicken sandwich and a bit of cucumber/tomato salad. I wasn’t too hungry yet and was too nervous to eat much anyway. So then we showered and got ready.
We headed down to the theater at about 7:00 – you’ve seen the pics and heard my story of what happened there, so I’ll spare you the details again. If you missed it, you can read about it here.
We got back to the hotel at about midnight. And unfortunately, I don’t know if it was the excitement or what, but I ended up getting even less sleep than I had Thursday night. But I was up and out of bed by 5am Saturday morning, excited to get the day started. We had breakfast in the hotel cafe. I had a slice of banana nut bread, a small slice each of cantaloupe/honeydew melon, half a glass of skim milk, and this incredible (and incredibly sinful) half of a biscuit with cheese, egg, and bacon on top. It was all delicious.
After that, we caught the metro (which conveniently had an entrance from our hotel) down to the Federal Triangle station. Again, we were a bit early, but it gave us a chance to look around and use the restrooms at the Old Post Office.
They were forecasting rain for that day and it was awfully cloudy when we got down there, but it cleared up and the rest of the day was absolutely beautiful. Unfortunately, there was a problem with the shuttle and our tour was about 20 minutes late getting started. Needless to say, we felt a bit rushed through the rest of the tour, because they still tried to get us done by the time that it was supposed to end. We were also supposed to stop at the Iwo Jima Memorial, but never did. I was a bit disappointed, because it is supposed to have a great view of the city.
On the tour, we hit the capitol building:
The White House:
The World War II Memorial:
Where we also saw the Washington Monument:
And did I mention how freaking windy it was?!?!?!?
We also saw the Jefferson Memorial:
Where I also took these two random pics that I loved:
And where we also got to see the south side of the White House from a distance:
Next was the Korean War Memorial:
We then went to the Lincoln Memorial which was in my top three moments (“Lbs.” was one of the others, and the third I will get to shortly). Just standing next to the freaking Abraham Lincoln statue was something I’ll never forget.
And we got this view of the National Mall:
Next up was the Vietnam War Memorial. I’ve seen many pictures of it before, of course, but I never realized how it was cut and built into the ground. I had always thought that it was just a straight line built up off of the ground – like a wall. I also knew that there were a lot of names on it, but it was completely and utterly overwhelming and even though I don’t know anyone that died in the war or went missing, I about broke down in tears. Just seeing all of those names written on the wall and knowing that each one represented a human life was almost more than I could bear.
The start of the wall (and the back of our tour guide):
A flag that was left:
Reflections of life on the wall at its tallest point:
I took this photo of the Washington Monument on the way back to our shuttle from the Vietnam Memorial – we hadn’t been on the shuttle since before the Korean War Memorial.
When they took us back to the Old Post Office, we had just enough time to eat a late lunch. I had a turkey sandwich with mustard, lettuce and tomato on wheat (and snatched exactly two french fries off of my mom’s plate). We then started walking down toward the National Archives. For anyone planning on visiting the National Archives, it is entirely free, but I HIGHLY recommend that you make reservations online. It only costs a dollar per person. There is a separate entrance for those who have reservations and when you get up to the security checkpoint where you go through metal detectors and have your bags x-rayed, they stop the line of people without reservations and let you cut in front of them. Cuts out a LOT of waiting time. It was really nice, and I’m so glad we went ahead and did that.
Here’s a pic of me in front of the National Archives (on it’s north side):
This would be the third highlight of my trip – seeing the Articles of Confederation, Declaration of Independence, Constitution of the United States, and Bill of Rights. The whole archives exhibit was really interesting. Seeing documents, letters, etc. signed by George Washington and Abraham Lincoln was just amazing, but they also had several different exhibits. But when we got through the line to go into the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom, I seriously about had a freak-out attack in a good way. 🙂 As I’ve said before, I am a huge history buff and just seeing those things in person and just a few inches away under glass was seriously amazing and a moment I’ll never forget. I mean, these are the documents that shaped our country. They’re why we’re here and why we have what we have. And seeing them – and the real signatures (including the real “John Hancock”) – was just amazing.
Outside of the Rotunda, they also have the Magna Carta from 1297. That was also very cool to see. Of course, it was in Latin, so I couldn’t read a word of it. But I just freaking love being around things that old. I have got to get myself to Europe one day is all I have to say. But I was just doing a search for a link to info on it and discovered that it was sold by Sotheby’s in 2008 for $21,000,000!! Holy moly, I think that’s probably the most expensive thing I’ve ever stood next to.
One of the amazing things about the whole National Archives exhibit was the number of foreign languages I heard being spoken in the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom. I don’t know why, but it just surprised me a bit.
By this point, it was hitting on being 7pm or so and to say that we were absolutely WIPED OUT would be a massive understatement. Not only were we sleep-deprived, but we were sore from being on our feet all day, sweaty and in need of showers and, well, just exhausted. So we decided to head back to the hotel by metro and that we would decide what we wanted to do next. Of course, the entrance to our hotel from the metro wasn’t a handicap accessible entrance and the only escalator going up wasn’t working. So my poor mom had to climb up the steps after spending almost the entire day on her feet. Did I mention her bad back, hip, and knee? But she did it. We even stopped at the concierge desk to check into our tour options for the evening, and I was also dying to go back and see the “Lbs.” guys again, as they had invited us back several times. But by the time our shoes were off, we were firmly planted and weren’t going anywhere. Of course, now that I’m rested (for the most part) and not in any pain whatsoever, we’ve both been kicking the hell out of ourselves for the past several days about not going.
But that can’t overshadow the fact that we had an absolutely amazing time. Even before we left, we were talking about going back. Next time I want to make sure I have time to hit the Smithsonian museums and the Holocaust museum.
Finally, Saturday night I got a bit more sleep – about five hours. 🙂 We had ordered room service (the aforementioned pizza and chicken fingers which were both heavenly) and started watching “It’s Complicated” on tv. But we couldn’t even make it through that before we went to bed.
I was up by 6am Sunday morning to shower and go to the airport. When we woke up, the temperature was in the very low 40s, about a 20 degree drop from the morning before. And they said on the news that it snowed in NY! My mom blames me. She made me take a jacket on the trip – I even had to buy a new one – and I was complaining Saturday night about the space it took up in my suitcase since I didn’t need it. I then complained that I probably wouldn’t need it now that summer is coming and that by the time I did need it again, it wouldn’t fit anymore (wishful thinking since I plan on losing a ton more weight). So then we wake up on Sunday morning and it’s freezing out, and it’s freezing when we get home to KC. Ooops. 😉
So anyway, we had absolutely NO problem getting through security at Reagan National Airport. We weren’t even patted down this time and the TSA agents were some of the friendliest I’ve ever seen. We did see a couple of cops making rounds with rifles, though.
Bored at the airport:
When our plane took off, we got the most incredibly perfect aerial view of the Pentagon. I just wish that I could have taken a picture of it. I did get a few pics later on in the flight – boredom again and amazingly, I was still incredibly sore from Saturday.
Other than only having two seats per side of the plane, this is the best reason to fly Midwest Airlines:
Other random plane pics:
At one point, I dozed off for about 10 minutes (I know – I checked my watch). Before I fell asleep, my window looked perfectly normal. When I woke up, the bottom of it was covered in frost:
So now I’m home and back in the grind. But I have lots of good memories to hold onto and lots of new ones to look forward to!
PS – I sure hope it doesn’t take you guys as long to read this post as it did for me to write it!
PPS – If you’re a glutton for punishment, or really don’t have anything else to do, you can check out more of my DC pics here.
Update: A couple of thoughts that I forgot to mention. One of the things I fell in love with DC for is the architecture. Everywhere you look, it’s simply breathtaking. The part of town that we were in was also incredibly clean and felt really safe.