We drove from The Duncan Family Campground near Annapolis, Maryland to The Metro, which would take us directly to the centre of Washington, DC. 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 mostly ran 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.
Just as we did in New York, we went right away to a tour bus outlet and paid $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 tops, 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 Capital Building. All the major news crews were lined up there to report on whatever spin was coming down the pipe for the day.
Pictured is the Capital Building.
Next stop was Union Station, a beautiful building 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) waiting 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.
Pictured is a shot of 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 heading back to the tour bus.
Pictured are: A small portion of the thousands of graves at Arlington Cemetery as well as the JFK site.
We hopped off the bus again at the Lincoln Memorial and then walked along the reflecting pool to the Whitehouse.
Pictured are: Janice in front of the reflecting pool with the Washington Memorial in the background - the shot was taken from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. The Whitehouse.
We got back on the bus and 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, “He was pretty good, wasn’t he?”
Pictured is Janice 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. We commented that we were glad to be taking the ride now, as opposed to what the same ride might have felt like twenty years ago.
As we tried to exit the Metro Parking compound, the sign in front of the closed gate said to Swipe Your Pass To Exit. Realizing that must not have noticed 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 the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. We drove the Skyline Road along the mountain ridges, where you could see for miles and miles on each side, and then dropped down into Stanardsville and the nearby Heavenly Acres Campgrounds. From here it’s a short jaunt to Charlottesville and Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson.