Washington, DC

Heading to Washington DC meant we parted ways with John & Gina (Alysana) and it also meant we would catch up with Jan & Stacy (Ceci Kay). Last time we had spent time with this couple from the Pacific NW was in the Bahamas back in February.  In order to get to Washington DC it took 2 long travel days up the Potomac River where we spent each evening at anchor with Jan & Stacy. Jan & Stacy were traveling with another boat, Clive & Ann (Someday) so we also got to spend time with them. Clive & Ann are Australians and are seeing more of the US than most Americans will ever see. 

Peaceful anchorage just off the Potomac River on our way to Washington DC.

Full disclosure – We had explored Washington DC for several days 12 years ago and really enjoyed it. Knowing all that DC has to offer we have been looking forward to bringing our own boat into the nation’s capitol. An added bonus was that the location for our stay could not have been better, we could walk to just about everything. 

Location is everything but a nice price for that location also helps. We stayed on a mooring ball for $35/night and could walk just about everywhere. 

 Recently completing Phase I, The Wharf district where we were staying mixes restaurants, business, retail and residential space. Phase II will be completed by 2022 and add even more to this thriving waterfront district.  Interestingly we heard time and time again from long time DC residents that they would not even drive through this area before the renovation due to safety reasons. From what is there today you would have had no idea. 

View from a rooftop bar along The Wharf, you can see Heartbeat out in middle on a mooring ball. 

This was our alarm clock all week, helicopters of all sorts (Presidential, Coast Guard etc.) flew low and directly over our boat several times a day, often starting at 6am. Their route kept them out of nearby Ronald Reagan National Airport traffic. It was pretty neat to see these fly by so close and let’s be honest with as early as it gets light now we were already awake most days they came by. 

We went to as many of the Smithsonian museums and galleries as we could days 1-5, often getting back to the boat with our brains about to burst and physically tired from all the walking and it was fantastic! Day 6 was a chore day: Kent changed the engine and generator oil, I took Penny to the vet for a check up, we hit the grocery stores, laundry was completed – all the uninteresting but necessary chores. 

Highlights from our time in DC – 

Natural History Museum – No matter how old you are this is just a great collection and a way to explore our world and how we fit into it.

Air & Space Museum – Having been to Cape Canaveral and Kitty Hawk recently we are a bit spoiled but we had to stop here as well. Unfortunately, a lot of the exhibit space was under construction so we were glad we had visited here years ago. 

American History Museum – So much to see here we had to split it up, doing half one afternoon and the other half the following morning. Everything from social, political, cultural, scientific, and military history is on display here including such items as Dorthy’s ruby slippers from the Wizard of Oz and George Washington’s uniform he wore in 1789. 

National Archives – This was the longest line we waited in years ago but we got lucky and there was no line when we walked in this time. It is simply amazing to be able to see The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution, The Bill of Rights and other key documents in our country’s history. 

National Portrait Gallery – Each of the past President’s portrait is hung here. We walked them in order from Washington to Obama. 

African American Museum – One of the newest museums and we were fortunate to get a couple of the limited same day tickets offered online. This is best explored in 2 days but we had only one day and we made the most of our time here. 

Monuments, Memorials and The National Mall – We walked the route during the daytime and then also at night, each time of day offers a different perspective. I also ran the route a couple of times in the quite early morning with very few other people around. 

Korean War Memorial. The memorial commemorates the sacrifices of the Americans who served in the U.S. armed services during the three-year period of the Korean War (1950-1953). 

National World War II Memorial, extra pretty at night. It honors the 16 million who served in the armed forces of the U.S. and the more than 400,000 who died. 

Lincoln Memorial. Interesting fact – originally intended to be only 10 feet tall, was then enlarged so that it finally stood 19 feet tall from head to foot, the scale being such that if Lincoln were actually standing he would be 28 feet tall.

Jefferson Memorial – early morning when nobody else was visiting, a rarity. 

Walking past Jefferson Memorial at night. 

Just a very small portion of the FDR Memorial. 

Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope. MLK  

Washington Monument standing tall at 555 ft. 

And here it is at night. 

Reflecting pool, stunning anytime of day but especially nice on this morning. 

Capitol Building tour – We were fortunate to get a few of the remaining available tickets available while we were in town. To be honest we almost had adult meltdowns getting to our tour on time though. We were rushing from the other end of the mall, security lines were long/in the direct sun and we were beyond hungry (read: hangry). Fortunately we had 5 minutes before our tour time to hit the cafeteria and each inhale a reasonably healthy sandwich. It could have gotten really ugly without the sandwiches. 

United States Capital. 

Capital Building dome – hard to showcase how impressive this is in a photo. 

Library of Congress – This tour was not on our radar but our Capital Building tour guide suggested it and it was conveniently next door. This was one of the best surprises we had in DC. The building itself was beautiful inside and we were able to see some unique items such as Thomas Jefferson’s library collection (which was considerably large considering the time), the Waldseemüller map (1507) where the name America first appears, and the Gutenberg Bible. All items that have a fascinating history and for those interested are worth looking up for more detail. The Library holds more than 38 million books plus other media such as recordings, photographs etc. Interestingly, the books are organized by size (not author or title or any other more logical way). 

Library of Congress reading room which is much grander than this picture shows.
Video – Inside the Library of Congress, this building was spectacular. Our tour guide walked us through all of the murals that decorate the ceiling, quite fascinating. 

Arlington Cemetery  – We made our way through the cemetery, noticed some ominous looking clouds and decided it was best to head back to the subway. When we sat down we both received an emergency alert on our phones – apparently there was tornado warning for the area. As we traveled safely underground, 68 mph (reported at the airport) winds ripped quickly through the city along with heavy rain. By the time we came above ground it had all passed and we considered ourselves lucky to be dry. 

Arlington Cemetery – 400,000 men and women are buried here. Honor Guard members in the background are adding a flag to each site in preparation for Memorial Day.  We watched as they would take the time to read each person’s name and then place a flag exactly one foot length off the grave stone. 

The Tomb of the Unknowns is guarded 24/7 by members of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, also known as The Old Guard. Formed in 1784, The Old Guard is the oldest active-duty infantry unit in the Army. Watching this tradition take place is beyond words. 

Video – A small segment of the inspection process before the new guard starts his watch. The brown spots on the ground are from their shoes repeating and the repetitive movements with each guard coming on/off watch.  

A few other random pictures from our adventures in DC – 

Inside the US Forest Service building and a shout out to our friend Todd in Portland who works for the Forest Service. 

Riding the Metro. One evening we headed out from downtown and walked the Kalorama and Woodley Park neighborhood. Oddly enough we were not granted access at the police barricade to walk down the street to Obama’s home. 😉

While the Nationals did not come away with a win over the Cubs they did keep the game close.

White House – No trip to DC is complete without a photo of The White House. We walked by early one evening after dinner at nearby Old Ebbitt Grill, the oldest tavern in DC (1856).  

In case it is not obvious we both really like DC and could have stayed even longer. Yes, it can be overrun with large school kids in groups and the outside temperature can be hot (we had several days in the low 90s) but there is so much to learn and explore and it is made available (free) to everyone. 

DC was the longest we have stayed in one place (that was not a result of weather forcing us to stay). Although we are toward the back of the Looper fleet we also do not see the rush as there has been high water and debris in the water north of us on the route to Canada. Each year brings different conditions for Loopers, 2019 apparently brings too much late spring rain. 

For the next few days we will head back down the Potomac for ~100 miles and rejoin the Chesapeake. 

Last but not least we have now anchored on the Maryland side of the Potomac River and the new state random facts tradition continues  …. 

Random Facts: Maryland

  1. Maryland gave up some of it’s land in 1790 to form Washington D.C.

  2. Maryland is a national leader in the production of blue crabs and soft clams.

  3. America’s national anthem (Star Spangled Banner) was written by Francis Scott Key a Maryland lawyer. It is believed Key wrote the anthem on September 14, 1814 while watching the bombardment of Fort McHenry in Baltimore Harbor.