It was hot in DC. Did all of this hot air come from Congress?

Washington Travel Blog

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Me, with the Capitol Building. This was the source of the hot air we experienced while in town

June 28, 2008

 

 

This was a blog I pretty much didn’t expect to write. I have personal reasons, as I am sure everyone does, for writing these things. But among those reasons is not to document my travels for work. I don’t travel in that capacity often. But, when I do it the company likes to keep me busy, to justify the expenses. You can’t blame them, and it is strictly voluntary. The point being, when I travel, unless I want to tell you about the ins and outs of Inventory Control or the joys of air travel, it would be a pretty short blog. This would be perfect, as it would induce slumber anyway.

The National Air and Space Museum. Must see!

 

But, this trip turned out differently. I arrived at Dulles International Airport, Washington DC, about 2:00 PM on Wednesday, June 25th. To accomplish this I had to be up at 3:30 AM (Mountain Time) to catch my 6 AM flight. A layover in Dallas followed that, and then another 3 hours in the air to the East Coast. A rental car and a 40 minutes drive, puts me in the historic town of Manassas, VA.

 

We’ll put the rest of this day and the next two in a time machine, and pretend they didn’t happen.

P-51 Mustang. Very important WW II fighter. The Tuskegee Airman flew this type of aircraft
HummmmmmmmmmmmClickHmmmmmmWhizBangKherrrrrrrrrrrrr. As we pick up our story it is now 2:45 PM on Saturday the 28th. Mission accomplished, (we moved the contents of one warehouse into another) and the corporate bosses have released us from bondage. Our plans are to head to Washington DC for sightseeing. The “Our” consisted of Me, three guys from our Milwaukee center, a guy from the New Jersey center, and one guy from the Atlanta facility. This was quite the group; two white-bread Midwesterners (me and Milwaukee #1), two first generation Americans from Mexico (Milwaukee #2 & 3), a white Philly urbanite transplanted to Jersey (Rocky meets the Mob), and a black inner city guy from Atlanta.

 

I was the only one who had been to DC before.

The first one (blue ribbon) is the Congressional Medal of Honor
It had been 9 years since my last visit, and I was very anxious to return. Walking around the mall, touring the Smithsonian museums, seeing Arlington National Cemetery, touring the White House, and on and on. It was one of the best trips of my life. I spent four full days in DC on that trip. Today we would have more like four hours. In the hope that I would make it to the city for a few hours, I had brushed up just a little to recall where things were and how late the museums were open. It paid off, as I found out that this was one of the Saturdays, the Air & Space Museum was closing early and that the American History Museum was closed all together for renovations.

 

The locals in the Manassas building strongly suggested we not drive, but instead take the Metro at the closest station.

The Milwaukee Boys in front of the Wright Brothers Flyer
I was familiar with the Metro (DC Subway) from my last visit, and I echoed their recommendation. Driving and parking in DC is stressful and expensive. We piled into a couple of vehicles and by sometime just after 3 PM we were at the Park n Ride. A train had just pulled in, and we had not bought our tickets. I was afraid we were going to miss it, but this one was to scheduled to sit for fifteen minutes. I guess that was to gather up more of us outlying riders. I think everyone, except our Atlanta representative (Marlon) had been on a subway before. Jersey (Pat) had been to NYC. Our three Milwaukee boys (Matt, Eduardo, and Guillermo) had been to Chicago. So we all pretty much knew what to expect.

 

The Metro is one of the best subways in the country. Clean, fast, easy to figure out, and above all air conditioned.

The Washington Monument
DC and northern Virginia in late June is hot. But to compensate it is humid, too. Today was a standard 90/90 day, meaning both the measures of heat and water density registered just below the century mark. Our ride took about half an hour. We got off at the Smithsonian stop, which was about a dozen stops into our ride. The subway lets you out right in the middle of the National Mall. There was a major festival going on and smells and activity raised our energy level greatly.

 

I had suggested the National Air & Space Museum as our first destination. I figured it would appeal to everyone, and it got a ringing endorsement from the crowd. The trouble was that the museum was closing in about an hour, and we had not eaten since breakfast. The aforementioned smells made continuing without a nourishment break almost impossible. A ten minute break at a sidewalk vendor fixed that, and were soon fortified enough to begin our tour.

World War II Memorial

 

The museums in DC are all free and we were soon inside. When you first walk in to the museum (after the requisite screening) you are greeted by one of the greatest assemblies of aviation history in the world. Hanging from the rafters are such aircraft as; Charles Lindberg’s Spirit of St Louis (1st solo trans-Atlantic flight), The Bell X-1, (flown by Chuck Yeager, it was the first plane to break the sound barrier), and the Apollo 11 Command Module which brought the first moon astronauts home. If aviation or space travel interests you (Me! Me! Pick me!) you have just entered Nirvana.

 

 Through mutual unspoken agreement we all stayed together. The museum was crowded and our time was limited.  We had to go through most of what we saw pretty fast.

Our first look at the Lincoln Memorial.
I could list a ton of things that we saw, but that just would not do them justice. Nor was the amount of time we spent. The only two exhibits we spent any time in held the Wright Brothers original Flyer and the display of WW II aircraft. But, it was still great to both experience this, and to give the other guys a taste of the museum. If they ever get back to DC I will very surprised if they don’t spend a few hours here.

 

After the NASM we made our way back onto the mall. We had already snapped our pictures of the Capital Building at one end, and the Washington Monument at the other. But, towards the Washington Monument end there were many other monuments and memorials to be visited. So we headed west and reached the Washington Monument in about 10 minutes.

The Three Servicemen
There we found a small refreshment stand were we picked up some drinks.

 

Guillermo, was suffering considerable foot pain, and he decided he had seen enough of Washington and he decided to grab a piece of bench and watch people from the shade. I think a couple of the others were also starting to feel the effects of the 12 hour days and today’s heat. But, they continued. We walked on the northern path so we could see the Vietnam Veterans Memorial (The Wall). It was quite a hike, but there were a lot of trees and it was hard not to enjoy.

 

Our first stop was the World War II Memorial. This memorial was not here when I last visited our nation’s capital. I was expecting a relatively small display. I was not disappointed to find that it was huge.

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial
It consisted of about a half acre square reflecting pool, surrounded by a short wall, a few large arches, and keyhole columns. Each structure commemorated some state, country or theatre of war. The reflecting pool had fountains in it, and evidently the public was encouraged (or at least allowed) to cool there feet in the water. That part of the memorial surprised me. I was at first put off as it seemed to be a bit disrespectful. But, then I realized that the memorial did not memorialize the dead, so much as the contribution of the governed. So the governed may as well get a bit of relief on this hot day.

 

After a few minutes at the WW II Memorial, which we did not get in the water, we walked along the north path towards the Lincoln Memorial. But, that would not be our first stop. About 2/3 the way there was the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and before that was the Three Servicemen statue. That particular statue is one of my favorite. I think it captures a combination of fatigue and camaraderie that were both hallmarks of that war.

Pat and Marlon
The wall itself has a special gravity all it’s own. On the path leading up to The Wall people would chat, including our group. But as soon as you turn onto the path that leads to past it, chatter stops. People are quiet. It’s like they are in church. It isn’t like there is a sign that says “Shhhhhhh! Please be quiet.” The emotional weight of the memorial itself is great enough to induce silence. Even the children around sense there is something special about the place. We didn’t spend much time here. None of knew anyone who would appear on the wall (Thank God), so we walled slowly past and paid our respects.

 

The walk now was pretty short to the Lincoln Memorial. I was gung-ho to see it and to climb the steps. So was Marlon. He was very interested in black history, and was anxious to see where Martin Luther King gave his “I Have a Dream” speech in 1968. He was pretty happy to stand in the same general spot and gaze out over the mall, towards the Washington Monument.

Abe is big!
Personally, I still can not get over how big the whole thing is.

 

We were all getting tired and hungry. Heat, humidity, and an empty stomach are a bad combination. But, we had one more stop. Earlier when we were in the middle of the National Mall, Marlon had mistaken the Capitol Building for the White House. He was a bit disappointed when he found out that he had not seen the President’s home. As the White House was on our way back (sorta) to the Metro station, we meandered over to Pennsylvania Avenue. We didn’t stay here long either. This was a whirlwind tour, and we got a few pictures and were on our way.

 

This was pretty much it for our DC tour.

The White House
We walked back to the subway and a train was pulling in as we got there. We got on it and about a half hour of air conditioned rest later, we were back at the Park n Ride. Everyone voiced their opinion that it had been worth the effort and that they had had a good time. I know I was glad to have gone, even if we had to be on the move, pretty much constantly.

 

B-Town says:
Great blog! I may possibly be heading to Arlington, VA in Oct. on another business trip (just got notified last week), so I hope to skip over and check out DC as well! Thanks for the sharing the inside perspective Bill.
Posted on: Jul 30, 2008
missandrea81 says:
Wow!! That's what I call an express visit to D.C. ;) It was hot last weekend... I couldn't imagine walking all that in the heat.
Posted on: Jul 29, 2008
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