Posted by: TheAuthor | 24/10/2011

Day 38, 39 and 40 Washington DC

Day 38: Shell, Kevin and myself checked into our room, for the next few nights, in a lovely home just outside the main city around lunchtime. We had a miniature flat all to ourselves, worth every penny after 5 weeks of continued travel with multiple counterparts.

We caught the bus to the subway (underground) station and then into the city. As most of the museums in Washington DC are free, courtesy of the Smithsonian Institute, we decided to make a stop at the Air and Space museum on the national mall. This is an incredible collection taken from the Apollo missions; early stages of manned flight; the solar system; and aircraft from various wars throughout history. It was so easy to lose hour after hour here, however with the weather warm and sunny for once we stepped out into the cosy vitamin D rich air outside the building and went for a walk along the national mall. We set off to see the Washington monument, a few minutes walk away to the west. Unfortunately you are no longer able to get up close to the freestanding masonry structure as recent earthquakes have caused cracks to appear in the stone.

Further to the west on the mall is the World War II memorial, a beautiful sombre area dedicated to all the 56 states and territories of the US at the time and the theatres of operation.

Continuing our quest we came to the furthest memorial to the west, the Lincoln Memorial. In case any spotters are reading, I have deliberately left out the reflective pool because it has been dug up in a renovation project.

Before we set off to find a supermarket and then home, we made a final tourist call to the Vietnam memorial close to the Lincoln memorial. A humbling series of polished panels with every name of those killed in the conflict listed in chronological order.

Day 39: Today is my 27th birthday! Hooray for me I hear your cheer from across the Internet. I awoke to a freshly cooked full English breakfast with a Newcastle Brown Ale to wash it down, beautiful. After the cake, presents and calls home we headed into town to celebrate my turning of age.

Shell had organised a segway tour around the city. Neither had every set foot on one before so it was great fun practicing in a little alley before heading out into the streets of Washington DC. We toured the same sights as yesterday evening, with the addition of the lesser known World War I memorial on the national mall and the Korean War memorial. The latter is a brilliant design, dogged by lack of funds. As the war lasted for 38 months the initial design called for 38 steel soldiers, one for each month of the conflict. They unfortunately only had the money for 19 and a reflective wall, that gave the illusion there are 38. The weather was again superb, lovely and warm and so much nicer than the previous 2 weeks of travel.

We had lunch beside an un-named lake on the national mall, near the reflective pools remains. In the warm glow of the sun, it was relaxing to listen to the ducks and geese in the water while eating cheese biscuits and drinking some wine. A wonderful surprise picnic.

We then decided to take things easy and see a couple of quick (free) museums before heading home and out to dinner. I had heard the star spangled banner (the flag that gave inspiration to the writer of America’s national anthem) and the hat worn by Abraham Lincoln the night he was assassinated was within the American History museum. They were interesting items to see in building that also housed Julia Child’s kitchen and a detailed section on slavery and the black rights movement.

The second location we went to was the National Archives, home of pages of England’s Magna Carta as well as America’s Bill of Rights, Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States. These hugely significant documents from America’s history are secured in a high security building. On the subject of security, all museums have x-ray scanners or bag searches and metal detectors on entrance to the facility. Security guards and police roam everywhere all the time maintaining safety with the vigilance of a hawk, especially for anyone taking a photograph.

After getting home on public transport we got ourselves ready for dinner. In a rare decision for what to eat I chose Indian, much to Shell’s delight. We went to the nearby up and coming area near Arlington and stepped inside the restaurant, Aroma. It certainly lived up to its name, as upon entering we were greeted with the vibrant fragrances of herbs and spices utilised in Indian cooking.

Our waiter was a little subdued and didn’t seem too happy to be working, however the man who brought the food from the kitchen was very lively indeed – making up for our waiters unrelenting (lack of) enthusiasm. We ordered a beautiful Vegetarian platter for our appetiser before my Lamb Rogajosh and Shell’s assortment arrived. I fully recommend this restaurant if you find yourself out this far from the City, especially good as I am not a huge patron of Indian restaurants.

Afterwards we went out for drinks at a nearby bar. I felt a little full after the meal so opted for a less filling Gin martini. Shell dutifully observed the barmaid creating our drinks and noted several poor methods of mixing, not straining the mix was one I noted as well – not forgetting the lumps of ice left in the glass.

Day 40: Characteristic of our previous morning in Washington DC, we didn’t rush to get up and out. My breakfast was a carefully crafted concoction of crispy bacon and my birthday cake, plus beer. We had a few things left to see in the city so we left to meet up with our companions Falk and Claire at the Aquarium shortly before lunch. As the aquarium as $10 per person we didn’t go in, it was free everywhere else, and instead went for the national history museum. We spent a good couple of hours breezing through, spectacular exhibits include a young deceased giant squid; tarantula feeding; a fascinating new human origins area; as well as the hope diamond. Well worth paying a trip to.

From here we walked to Capitol Hill and had lunch before the steps of another historic and well-guarded building in one of the most powerful cities in the world. We were not able to enter as we had food in our bag left over from lunch, as well as my pocketknife left over from yesterdays lunch (which had not been picked up in any museum on either day) so we took a stroll around the area.

We quickly decided we were exhausted from a lot of walking and sightseeing and opted to go back home for a chilled night in, before our monster drive to Chicago in the morning.

So gratefully, we went home for the final time in Washington DC on public transport back to Arlington and finished off our wine and Newcastle Brown Ale.

Trip Statistics:

Tim Horton’s Stops – 16

Alternate Coffee Stops – 3

States Driven Through – Delaware, Virginia, District of Columbia

Kilometres driven – 228km

Total Canadian Kilometres driven – 11,499km

Total distance driven – 13,211km

Car faults – Found out Speedometer is inaccurate by 10kph

– Speakers starting to refuse to operate

– Tail Light Casing Broken

– Console Handbrake light always ‘on’

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