Pandas, Monkeys and War Monuments - oh my!
Washington Travel Blog› entry 3 of 3 › view all entries
April 4th, 2010 – by: jenn79
A magician came by and did tricks while we waited for our food. The half-smoked is a MUST try, and the cheese fries without chili is also quite good. I wanted to try like 3 different things so Chris told me to order however many things I wanted and we would share everything. It ended up being the perfect quantity with me tasting a bit of everything. We finished up around 12:30pm and Mark, Lena, and Lola had to leave for the airport so we took a couple more pictures outside of Ben's.
The remaining out-of-staters decided to band together and tour around a bit more, but we couldn't decide what to do! I really wanted to see the Panda and the Hope Diamond at the Natural History Museum (yay science!), but as it was nearing 1pm and we were hoping to leave DC by 5pm, it probably wasn't possible. Carole and Bill wanted to see the war memorials along the reflecting pool, and all of a sudden - quiet, agreeable Mike piped in wanting to see monkeys with such enthusiasm!! So off to the zoo we went after all the paler TBers applied sunscreen for the days' activities in the sun ;) Most of them were a little red already from the previous days' adventures! =) I was worried the pandas wouldn't be there, as they're notorious for sleeping tons, but with Mike's clear excitement at going to see animals, we all agreed to set off to the zoo!
We headed into a new part of town adjacent to the zoo.
We went in and of course being in DC it was free. They don't even seem to track the number that enters here - I think that would be incredibly useful data, but ah well. We entered the wide walkway amongst more throngs of people and came upon the small-mammal building. It was stinky but there was a small blue-faced monkey darting out of a hole in the wall providing beautiful photo ops! A little girl taught me how to use the hand sanitizer and we left pretty soon after because it was incredibly hot and stuffy inside this building.
Off we went to find the panda sanctuary. Upon entry, it said "panda house closed" and I almost turned around disappointed, but people were still walking in that direction so Mike encouraged me to keep going. Sure enough - the pandas were out!! This was the first time I've seen a panda!! The male kept walking back and forth on a hilltop just barely out of view. Somehow, by some great stroke of luck after about 2 minutes, it stopped pacing back and forth and made a beeline towards my area of the fence. I was so excited I started clapping and jumping up and down, completely forgetting to take pictures!! Everyone got great shots and the male picked something up and started suckling on it - it looked like a frozen cylinder of sugar, which must've been nice in this hot weather! Wow, what a beautiful creature! Chris was standing with me during this time and he was such a sweetheart, he kept asking me to stop jumping and to turn around so he could capture me with the panda in the background for my memories.
We head off to see more monkeys for Mike and went into a gorilla and orangutan holding area. Wow this was terribly small for such enormous creatures, and the orangutans were staring at computer screens with their backs to the crowd the whole time - how depressing! =( I don't like zoos. I was happy to see the panda - Lord knows how long they'll be around considering how little China cares about its wildlife (goodbye forever, Yangtze pink dolphin!) but I don't think I'll be returning to any zoo for quite some time.
We left the zoo dehydrated again as it was quite hot, and stopped for a second to get drinks and fruit bowls at one of the pretty cafes nearby. We got on the train and headed to Foggy Bottom station to start at the Lincoln Memorial and work our way towards the Smithsonian metro station.
We wanted to get a quick bite to eat and many wanted sushi so we made our way back to the original hotel area downtown and went to Sushi Aoi - a bit disappointing but got the job down and they had a table big enough for all of us.
The goodbyes were one of the saddest I've had. Meeting such great people from so far away with such similar interests is always enlightening and then bonding under intense circumstances always creates a situation hard to pull away from. There people were great, and it was so hard for all of us to pull away after being together for three days.
Apologies for the delay in finishing this last part up. It's simply that it was SO TIRING just THINKING about it that I never managed to gather the energy! ;) The journey that Milienko and I were about to take should under no circumstances have been after a full day in the sun. The trip back to NY took over 6 hours, with about 12 wrong turns leaving DC, a missed exit, passing through 6 states, accidentally routed through Philadelphia, had one minor run-in with the cops in New Jersey, stopping by a wreck of a diner with bizarre looking patrons, and finally crossing Times Square at 3:30am and there STILL being tons of people walking around on the streets! Much as I enjoyed DC, it was a sleepy town compared to my big, beautiful, vibrant city.
Milienko dropped me off and said goodnight. I couldn't believe what good spirits he was in considering how long our day was and then what a long trip back ensued. Now, he would have to double back 40 minutes out of the way and across toll bridges to get home. What a great new friend, I owe you one Mike! =) If Mike hadn't brought me home, I would have had to stay in DC another night because there were no buses after 7pm back to NY and then I'd have to drag my stuff through the subways and home at 1 in the morning.
All in all - what a great trip. It was beautiful and relaxing and fun and exciting! I can't wait to see you all very soon! Maybe in Canada? =)
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