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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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 –
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
Maryland gave up some of it’s land in 1790 to form Washington D.C.
Maryland is a national leader in the production of blue crabs and soft clams.
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.