2.7.09 Arlington Cemetery, the Zoo, Cathedral, and Chinatown

Washington Travel Blog

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2.7.09 Arlington, Zoo, Cathedral, Chinatown           



The weather was glorious so this Saturday was a walking day- probably 10 miles worth! 


Also, did you know that nearly all of the museums, monuments, and national treasures are free?  Really!  It is such a nice treat to not have to evaluate if an exhibit is worth the (typically exorbitant) price.  Love Washington DC!


Although it takes 15-20 minutes to get Ciao from the Pohick campground to the Franconia-Springfield Metro Parking lot, we’re getting used to the route.  Our RV parking spot (there are 5) was open and we bought a full-day pass, unlimited for $31 for the 4 of us.  Each person needs their own pass for the day. 


We really like the Metro.  There are signs saying how long the wait is for each train, which makes it easy to decide whether to hurry or change lines.  We have never had to wait longer than 6 minutes and the trains are quite efficient.


Arlington Cemetery:  What a beautiful cemetery of honor!  It is a huge place with rolling hills and many people.  The tourmobile will take you around if you’re willing to pay the steep price.  We chose to walk. 


The information lady at the Visitor’s Center said that the “Changing of the Guard at the Grave of the Unknown Soldier” ceremony was on the hour, but we couldn’t make it.  “Why not?” I asked.  “Because it is a 20-minute walk and it is 10 ‘til the hour,” she said. “You can’t make it.”


Well, we made it!  Of course, we were a bit dizzy and couldn’t hear over our pounding hearts for the first minute, but we recovered before the 11th strike of the bell tower clock. 


The short Guard-Changing Ceremony was very nice and we felt honored to see the solemn service.  Sadly, the tourmobile people came panting up the hill just as the commanding officer and the retiring soldier walked off. 


We also paid our respects to the graves of John F., Jackie, and Robert Kennedy and saw the eternal flame on the hillside by their graves.  The SS Maine monument and the large memorial exhibit at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier were nice too. 



National Zoo:  We grabbed some lunch at the 7Eleven just outside the zoo and ventured in to admire the animals for the afternoon.  There were hordes of people enjoying the nice weather, but plenty of room for all.


Butterstick is the nicknamed little panda who was born in 2005 at the zoo.  He is a Washington DC celebrity with his own webcam.  When he was born, he was the size and weight of a stick of butter.  We enjoyed seeing him munch on some bamboo.  His mom was also entertaining nearby.


Of course, we had to visit the Panda store afterward- We are suckers for pandas!


We also got a great view of the new little gorilla that we’d read about on the news before our trip!  He was so tiny and almost a month old.  He reminded us of the little baby howler monkey we’d seen in Belize of about the same age.


The Kubota Dragon, tiger, lion, and marine animals were impressive too.

National Cathedral:  This was a long uphill hike along Cathedral Drive from Constitution, but worth it.  Once we reached its awe-inspiring doorway, my young hikers’ grumbling and outright complaining finally ceased.


It was breathtaking!  This amazing cathedral is the 6th largest in the world and magnificent!  We walked throughout and made a donation, although the “suggested donation” idea seemed a bit offensive for a church- I don’t remember encountering such directness elsewhere.  But perhaps it’s needed as the church is non-denominational and used by multiple religions or maybe such suggestion is effective.  Regardless, we were thrilled to walk among the magnificent arched ceilings and admire the sculptures, stain glass windows and even a Texas pillow on one of the chairs.


We walked back through the historic, lovely homes of 24th Street and down to the Metro north of the Zoo.


Anther metro ride took us to:


Chinatown:  This area was busy on Saturday evening.  We watched a man twist dough with his hands and string it through his fingers repeatedly until he’d made noodles!  Twice we watched the process and still were shocked by how quickly he made the long, thin, perfectly spaced noodles.  Amazing!


Then we found an authentic Chinese diner off the main street and enjoyed a terrific meal.  The place quickly filled up and many people came in to buy the rolls.  They had custard filled rolls, bacon and onion rolls, and black bean rolls.  Many kinds!  W finally bought a custard one to enjoy before our meal arrived.  For $1, it was a great appetizer. 


We didn’t explore Chinatown very much.  There were many people of all nationalities basically hanging around the metro entrance- there seemed to be a lot of young energy in the air but not much going on, which usually is feels ripe for action that I don’t want to be in the middle of, so we basically headed on after dinner.


It was a long, beautiful day and we were happy to get back to Ciao Baby at the end of the blue metro line, stopped at the store for some basics, and back to our home at Pohick Bay Campground for some sleep.






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photo by: b93sp