1/3/08

FINALLY! Our Trip to DC

NOTE: I couldn't be bothered to upload photos to Blogger, so if you're curious lookie here.

Finally!

Back on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, Keven and I flew to DC to spend three nights with our friends Richard & Jenny. They are both English and live a sweet, sweet life as members of the British treasury and global domination think tanks. Their flat is fantastic, about a block from the Watergate building AND a Trader Joe's, and they even babysit the most awesome-est cats in the known universe.

Ok, enough momentary lifeenvy. Keven and I were supposed to drive to Detroit from Indiana in order to catch our 10am flight. Not bad. But we woke up an hour late because our cell phones were still picking up signal from a central time zone antenna, which meant our alarm clocks--although properly set for 6am and effective in getting our butts out of bed--were an hour behind. Yes, mama, we should've used your alarm. So we rushed to Detroit but missed the flight by about ten minutes.

Not a problem, turns out. Despite a couple grumpy-ass Northwestern employees and a $50 ticket changing fee, we were on the next flight to DC by 2pm. That night found us at a super posh restaurant, enjoying dinner on Richard and Jenny. We bought drinks after dinner at an exclusive deal-making sort of place with alcohol the price of small nations. We also passed the White House on the way home, apparently very unoriginal in our thoughts that it seems much, much smaller in person.

The next day we set out for the various big-time monuments. For November, the weather was adorable like a kitten--sunny and a only a bit cool with a breeze. Light coats and lots of walking. We hit mostly memorials, as that's the aim in DC: Lincoln, Vietnam, Korea, Roosevelt, WWII, and Jefferson. Then we stopped for a snack, hit a political memorabilia shop where I bought a Russ Feingold pin and a Lincoln magnet (two heroes in one shop!), then headed back to the flat for dinner. Lovely!

Ok, I must pause in the travelogue to mention that Sunday overwhelmed me. As an historian and an American, the sheer force of PAST in that place is breathtaking. Especially at a time in our history when I think the powers that be have corrupted many of the guiding principles of our nation's founding, the weight of sacrifice, vision, and best intentions swamped me with emotion. How could I stand in the shadow of Lincoln or read the words of Roosevelt or see the tens of thousands of names and not feel that we've squandered so much? My reaction--one of visceral sadness--is still with me, daring me to do better than I have with regard to my place in the world.

*ahem*

On Monday, both Richard and Jenny returned to work while Keven and I struck out on our own. DC is a great town for tourists on foot. Grab a map and go. We started at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, because the American History museum was closed for renovations. Then it was off to the National Archives where we saw the Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Declaration of Independence. Ford's Theater was closed for renovations as well--boo!-- so we went to the house where Lincoln died (so tiny!) and then ate lunch at a fabulous French place next door.

After lunch, we headed to Grant's Memorial in front of the Capitol Building. We walked back down the Mall to the Washington Monument for our scheduled 3:30 trip to the top. Neat-o views! Then back up the Mall to the National Air & Space Museum, which was GREAT. The real Spirit of St. Louis! The real Apollo 11 command module! The real Kittyhawk! A real moonrock! Everything was real. I hate reproductions in museums, so this was an incredible place. Back down the mall to the flat--after about eight miles total for the day--for another fantastic meal. We eventually made it to Georgetown for a trip to Borders and a drink, but Keven and I were pretty pooped by then.

The flight home was uneventful, the best kind. Overall it was the least stressful, most enjoyable, freest time we've had in ages. Thanks to Richard and Jenny for being our hosts, and thanks to my mom for watching the girls. Really, really lovely.

I'll leave you with a picture of me hugging the Washington Monument. If I could've climbed Lincoln to give him a hug, I would have. But I settled for George's massive, marble, freezing cold phallus.

Hopelessly, so hopelessly--
I'm breaking through for you and me.
And you don't, though no one told you to.
And you found out where you were going, where to.
And you're through with me, but I know that you will be back for more.
"
Elvis Presley and America" by Passengers

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