I’ve never been to DC, but I’ve always wanted to go so when hubby mentioned going for our 29th anniversary I quickly started gathering info and bought a more netcams, a new smaller lens ball and tripod, the Pedco UltraPod II Lightweight Camera Tripod
We’ve not taken many vacations because I never want to leave my cat(s). When we got Trinity and Tyler in 2007 it was right after we’d booked a big saved for trip to Hawaii. So we had someone stay in our home with our newly adopted kittens while we enjoyed that monumental trip. We had postponed any long trips because Skeamer, our first cat, was having health issues and needed daily pilling.
The kittens did fine, and we did one short trip to Niagara Falls. We had a New Orleans / Texas trip planned for a milestone anniversary when Trinity got struvite crystals or had her seizures — I can’t remember the which but the trip was canceled. We ate dinner 5 minutes from the house and didn’t take another multi overnight trip for a long time.
After we lost Trinity, and found out Tyler had a heart murmur I was thinking we’d never go on a vacation again. After his scans and a good annual vet visit, was when hubby asked if we wanted to go anywhere for our anniversary this year. Well yes, I did, but I didn’t want to leave Tyler. Then decided it was a now or probably not again anytime soon with him turning 12 this month.
A quick Washington DC trip was thrown together. I bought a few extra netcams and booked our first non hotel/motel stay with Home Away (VRBO). It was too late to visit our congressman to get passes to the White House, but I did get passes to tour the Capitol Building. I am a spreadsheet, trip planning maniac and with very little time before we hit the road it was not how I plan a trip.
We tried to see it ALL in 48 hours, but just couldn’t. I really had a hard time leaving Tyler even though he was in perfectly capable hands with my best friend. I checked the netcams live feed so much we went over our mobile data with Verizon! I’ve always wanted to go when the cherry blossoms were blooming, and hubby hasn’t been since before we met. We had beautiful weather and saw the tail end of the cherry blossoms. As impressive as it all was, the scale and architecture, the history, I was most impressed with what God made when he crafted Great Falls and enjoyed the view from all 3 overlooks. Here’s the video.
7 hours and 15 minutes took us from the Western North Carolina Mountains to standing above the Great Falls on the Potomac River. It was stunning! Who else drives that far to see a waterfall? Well, that’s what hubby asked anyway. It was beautiful We saw lots of black vultures. They were not intimidated by people and had white tips on the bottom of their wings. The flood stage post showing flood lines of the past, was hard to fathom.
We left there and drove into a housing development following my phone’s directions to Scott’s Run, to see another small waterfall. We were obviously not the only ones who did that because there was a permanent sign that there was no water access.
We were about to give up on finding it, but the interstate was bumper to bumper so we did a U-turn and found one of the two parking areas. While standing staring at the map a couple gave us directions to the falls. It started drizzling rain, but we quickly (as in shin splints quickly) hiked the trail to the falls. Sadly, it had graffiti sprayed on the rocks and people in the water and was kinda a letdown after seeing Great Falls. We huffed it back to the car, after remembering my laptop might be visible through the rear windows and joined the queue of cars. It took us an hour to 12 miles!
We found the house, but we had the wrong code to get in. My fault, but the owner was right there to help. Because of Jonathan and Cynthia, we will do VRBO again. They were very helpful, and offered lots of advice. They even gave us a few metro cards when I mentioned we didn’t pass a CVS to pick up two. Their “cozy and hip” home away was clean and within a few blocks of the Petworth / Georgian metro stop and a Safeway grocery store. We both prefer our bed soft and the pillows firm instead of the other way around, but all-in-all it was a good choice. They even left a few snacks and being able to park the car without having to move it was wonderful.
I had thought that we might go to the National Mall that night, but we walked to dinner at Homestead and walked to the metro to try to figure out how to ride it, and loaded the cards with fare. Back to the room we followed the TV directions but couldn’t view anything, so we texted the owners and went to bed. Next morning Cynthia responded she could come down before or after work and help with the TV.
Now to downtown DC!
We walked and walked and then walked more. I wish I had Fitbit or enough wireless data and phone battery to know how far, but we ran out of mobile data as it was trying to find our way around. I had wanted to see the sunrise but even though we were up around earlier enough every day we were there, it didn’t happen. I read in Snap DC, that we wanted to start at Foggy Bottom off the metro. Pretty sure that started our day with extra walking because it was a trek before we were to the Lincoln Memorial. I also read the National Mall is 2 miles long, so I assumed it would be no problem to walk from one end to the other and see everything there was to see, by our 2:40 Capital tour pass that said to be there by 2pm. Ha, was I wrong. We walked all day and didn’t see near all of the 146 acres it covers.
I’ve seen other people’s photos and scenes on TV but it was neat to see it in person, the scale is a must see in person. All the rain in the forecast had finished and the skies were clear. We walked and saw the Lincoln Memorial, reflecting pool, Korean memorial, DC War memorial where they’d just finished with an early morning wedding, we walked around the tidal basin with all the beautiful cherry trees in (late) bloom, the MLK memorial, the Franklin D Roosevelt memorial, that I read later was 7 ½ acres all by itself, walked over the Kutz bridge where I captured a lens ball shot, then the Thomas Jefferson’s memorial. We stopped at the Holocaust memorial but it was a little too long of a tour with our Capital reservations.
We went through security to look at the menu at the restaurant near it, but there was nothing celiac hubby would eat, so on to the (closed and fenced off) Washington memorial where we started passing what I guess were Monks trying to hand us stuff. Always polite, but it happened often, and only one touched my arm.
Here at the Washington Monument, after walking miles back and forth we (finally) got on the free DC Circulator bus and since we had inadvertently skipped the Vietnam Wall memorial, we went back to it by Circulator bus. I didn’t know the back part was underground and that you walked down, while the wall grew in height. There were people on ladders rubbing names into paper, flowers and other gifts at the base.
We then walked to the World War II memorial and found the North Carolina pillar.
From there we took the Circulator to the Capitol building. It drops you off in front of the water in the front of it, so we walked to the front of the building, and were told we needed to walk around to the back for the tour. After a half mile walk to the back, we got our passes and had a salad for lunch at the cafeteria. I had a delicious cupcake, heck, I’m sure I walked off all the calories. I had cupcakes on the mind after hearing we should try Buttercream bake shop.
The Capital tour had tickets available for an earlier tour, so we took it. Very interesting. I read the painted dome with E. Pluribus Unum, “Out of many, one” ceiling is 180 feet in the air. I had in my notes to take the tunnel underground to the Library of Congress but sadly it was closed for the day.
We walked to Union Station since it was kinda behind the Capitol, passing the Supreme Court building on the way. Union Station had restaurant chains and shops, plus the architecture was cool and the fountain/statue out front made me wonder about the story behind it.
We caught the Circulator bus to head back toward the White House. We would now be taking the free bus every chance we could. We walk, we hike and we were both beat. Hubby started asking just how far I could walk in a day, and for him to ask that and be tired too tells a lot.
We actually saw the back of the White House first. So many roads were blocked off, we didn’t see a place to turn to get to the front. There were cops, and people holding signs. You couldn’t get near the gate. When we walked back several blocks past the front of the White House, and South lawn, and another closed road, you could see the front of the White House from a distance. I seem to often spot hawks when we’re out and guess what was on the top of the flagpole on top?
Back on the Metro to the house. We couldn’t find anywhere to eat (I know, there had to be something, but we just were not finding it) so we picked up pizzas to cook back at the Home Away. We were exhausted. So many things to see, so little time. We crashed early and rose early the next day, just not early enough to catch a sunrise down at the National Mall.
The next day we took the Metro to Pentagon station and started at Arlington National Cemetery. It is hard to fathom how large it is. After passing through security We walked to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. There are headstones for miles. I thought they only changed guard at the Tomb on the hour. During spring and summer, it’s every half hour so we didn’t need to be hurrying but it was so impressive, we watched it twice. There was a ceremony with a wreath and family. When the Honor Guard walked up the stairs to the family and back, his head didn’t bounce with his steps like normal, it was completely smooth like he was riding an escalator. We were amazed at the detail and precision. I teared up. We passed a coffin being taken to the gravesite by horse-drawn carriage. Very somber place, that made me even more grateful than I already was, to live in the United States of America where we have so many that sacrificed so much for our freedoms.
We got back on the metro and rode one stop to try to figure out the metro bus system. We learned it was trickier than the subway. Busses are not as punctual. I guess because they have to deal with traffic. I asked a lady who looked like she worked there, about going to the Air Force memorial, and she said she was going there next. We had the bus to ourselves and she passed the bus stop and drove us right to the entrance! Wonder if she knows how much I meant it when I thanked her for her kindness.
The Air Force memorial is newer and not as crowded. You could see the Washington Monument and Capitol building in the distance. We walked back down the hill to catch the bus. We saw more Secret Service buses, SUV’s and cars here than we’d see everywhere else. I’m still curious who was in all those vehicles.
Somehow, we’d started early and it was way past lunch when we got off the multiple stops back to the National Mall. I was hungry and wanted a real sit down meal. We got on the Circulator and went back to Union Station where we tried Chipotle. I’d seen Steak & Shake too, but the line there was too long. Hubby got his Trump hat, but I didn’t see any shirts I really liked.
After we were not staving anymore, we decided to go back to the WWII memorial and see the 4,000 sculpted gold stars on the Freedom Wall, commemorating the more than 400,000 Americans who gave their lives during WWII. Somehow, we missed it when we were right there earlier. We were parched and actually sat for a minute and guess what we saw? Two boys pushing a shopping cart calling out “ice cold water”. We hadn’t seen that before and we never saw the cart again after, but right then when we thirsty, there they were.
We caught the Circulator to the metro to go the Chinatown. My husband actually ate Chinese food! I also remembered since it was Grandma Erb’s birthday to take a photo of her with a cherry tree from when she was in DC.
I didn’t expect to see the big churches. One looked like it had been burned, and I remembered reading something about riots. We didn’t stay there long. We had just enough fare with only a few cents remaining to get us back to the Georgian Petworth Station.
Up before dawn, we ate, packed and headed home. I finally saw a DC sunrise in the car side mirror after we’d been on the road an hour. It was an exhausting trip but I’m glad we went and that Tyler was okay. He’d given me a scare because on this final day he wasn’t showing up in the netcams and I’d already told Caroline she didn’t need to go by, because we’d be home. He was fine, but I know we were both glad to see each other. He’s been even more needy than normal and he’s fussing at me even if I leave the house.
We had people offer us help as we stood at the information signs. We saw some people on the metro offer their seat to others. We saw a guy smoking a joint on his front porch. We saw homeless people mostly near Union Station. We saw human crap, yes really, in a cup by the sidewalk. We didn’t see DC at night or for sunrise. We didn’t get to the United States Marine Corps War Memorial (Iwo Jima memorial said it was being worked on), The clock tower was closed, Holocaust Museum, the Library of Congress, the Arboretum, the Navy Memorial, the zoo, the Theodore Roosevelt Island overlooking downtown or the Netherlands Carillon, the National Cathedral, Rock Creek bridge or any section of the Smithsonian.
For the photographers Here is the info on the new items I purchased (other than the book mentioned above) and why.
I got the smaller 40mm 1.57″ lens ball because the 3″/80mm one is big and heavy. Yep, you can’t see as much in this one but for hours of carrying one, I think it was a fair trade-off. In hindsight, I probably should’ve just bought the 3 pack 60mm/2.36 inch, 80mm/3.15inch, 100mm/3.94 inch, or just the 2″.
I didn’t really want to carry even my small MeFoto tripod because I read so many places around DC didn’t allow one, plus I don’t really trust it to stand if it got just slightly bumped. My Miggo, which is my other small tabletop tripod that is lightweight, that would support my camera, doesn’t fold up small enough to go in my shoulder bag. I decided to buy the UltraPod II after looking at several others. I actually never used it but it folds down smaller and if you put the lens over the long leg it seemed sturdy enough.
So there is my low down on DC, if you go I’d love to hear about your trip.
It’s almost Easter and I just want to do a shout out that lilies can be deadly to cats. So avoid the pretty flower and know we wish you all a blessed Easter ~
If you enjoyed this post, my cover design or photography -please share. If you’d like to follow my blog, (which includes pet food recalls) and get an email when I post, just click on the “follow” button in the bottom righthand corner of the page or on the homepage. You enter your email address, and you’ll receive an email confirmation in return. I do NOT share email addresses. To learn more about my book cover design, photography or the books I’ve authored— my first homepage on this site has all the links.