Photo: The Reflecting Pool, Washington, DC.
We took the speedy, but expensive, Garden City Parkway and then the Jersey Parkway south, from Jersey City, where we had to pay a number of tolls, totaling about $20. Eventually we found our way to Paradise Lakes RV Park near Hammonton, New Jersey, where we spent an uneventful night.
Photo: We entered New Jersey from a corner of New York State, driving southeast, taking a jog back into New York to see NYC. Eventually we drove southwest into Delaware. The line that goes southwest to nowhere is a mistake – we didn’t go there.
In the morning we awoke to rain again and hit the road, driving through Delaware in about an hour, where we were stunned and amazed to see how much ground was covered by the behemoth Amazon.Com warehouse.
Photo: We entered Deleware from New Jersey and drove southwest to Maryland in about an hour.
We crossed into Maryland as the weather began to clear. Driving the miles-long bridge that spans Chesapeake Bay, we landed at the Duncan Family Campground at Upper Marlboro. From here we’re well positioned to take The Metro into Washington, DC.
Photo: We entered Mary land from Rhose Island, driving southwest into Virginia, with a jog into Washington, DC.
The next morning we drove from the campground to The Metro, which would take us directly to the centre of the city. The campground offered a shuttle to and from the Metro for just $3 each but we decided we wanted to be on our own time. It was a good thing too because by 4:00pm we were completely bagged. Waiting for the shuttle at 5:30 would have been a stretch.
The GPS, (Susan) took us right to the Metro parking compound and from there we hopped on the high speed Metro, which runs mostly underground. Every time it did go underground it created a lot of pressure on our ears – more so than a jet taking off – so our ears were constantly popping. I guess people who ride it all the time must become somewhat immune. It was a twenty-five minute ride and covered at least that many miles, with five or six stops.
We got off at The Smithsonian Stop, right at ‘The Mall’ in the centre of the Capital District. The Mall has nothing to do with shopping; instead it is lined with the twenty-three buildings that make up The Smithsonian Institute, the enormous National Gallery of Art, as well as the Museum of Natural History. It’s anchored by the George Washington Monument at one end and by The Capitol Building at the other.
Also sneakily poised along the mall is The Federal Reserve Building, which has no right to be among the publicly supported properties. After all, it’s a private enterprise that belongs to some of the richest families in the world. You can bet it receives tax free status too.
Just as we did in New York, we went right away to a tour bus outlet, paying $27 each for passes that allowed us to jump on and off the narrated tour buses all day. In New York our buses were double-decker with open upper decks, where we always positioned ourselves. In Washington the buses were one-story and enclosed, with a central hinge that made them into two sections.
The first stop was The Capitol Building. It was still fairly early in the day so all the major news crews were lined up there to report on whatever spin might be coming down the pipe.
Photo: The Capitol Building.
Photo: A different view of the Capitol Building.
Close by was Union Station, a beautiful railroad station that is still a serious hub of activity. Trains full of business people from New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and Baltimore, probably a good deal of them lobbyists, were scuttling for waiting taxis or limousines. We went to the food court there and had a Subway Sandwich, (budget, you know) while we waited for our tour bus to reappear.
Right across from where all the taxis and limos were lined up, this oriental guy, with an amplifier, was singing religious hymns, slightly off key but at the top of his lungs. He also played trumpet, not so badly, and would promptly knock off another hymn on that instrument, at a decibel level that could not be ignored. He was there all day, every day, paid by this or that church, driving the Union Station workers crazy.
Photo: The inside of Union Station.
We got back on the bus, (the tour guides are so much drier in Washington than those in New York City) and got dropped off across the Potomac, in Virginia, at Arlington Cemetery. There we watched the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and then visited the JFK gravesite/memorial before trekking back to the tour bus.
Photo: A small portion of the thousands of graves at Arlington National Cemetery.
Photo: At the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Photo: The JFK Memorial.
We hopped off the bus again at the Lincoln Memorial and then walked along the reflecting pool to the Whitehouse.
Photo: Janice in front of the reflecting pool with the Washington Monument in the background – the shot was taken from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
Photo: The Lincoln Memorial.
Photo: The White House. Note the little silhouette of the security guy on the top of the building.
Back on the bus, we were headed for our last stop, The National Gallery, where we spent some time taking in the huge Rembrandt and August Rodin collections; a private collection of famous impressionist paintings that had been donated to the museum, and a lot of priceless renaissance work, including one beautiful Leonardo Divinci painting that stopped us in our tracks – a portrait of a young woman that I was unfamiliar with. Janice remarked casually, “He was pretty good, wasn’t he?”
Photo: Tim at the top of the steps at The National Gallery.
We walked back to The Metro for the ride home and found ourselves to be the only white people on a crowded subway. Although everyone else was black, it was evident that there was every class of society represented; from homeys to well-dressed executives. The fact that one guy was obviously mentally disturbed, bothering everybody, not just us, made the trip somehow seem familiar. It seems there’s one of those guys everywhere. I commented to Janice though that I was glad to be taking the ride now, as opposed to what the same ride might have felt like twenty or thirty years ago.
As we tried to exit the Metro Parking compound, the sign in front of the closed gate said Swipe Your Pass to Exit. Realizing that we must not have noticed that sign on the way in and that we should have purchased a pass when we got there, with traffic backing up behind us, Janice ran back to the car behind and asked what we could do. He laughed and gave Janice his pass to swipe. She threw five bucks in his lap and we were out of there.
The next morning we decided to head for Shenandoah National Park in Virginia…