In light of today being election day in the U.S., I felt it was somewhat relative that I write about the final segment of our visit to the United States – Washington D.C. I have no idea what the results are yet; I haven’t checked online today, but will later. We did vote by faxing in our ballots before traveling to the U.S., which included a statement that by faxing, our ballots were not secret. Tonight’s results will set the course of the U.S. for the next 4 years and beyond, but I am not going to write about my political choices or view.
After our visit to Annapolis, we caught the Greyhound bus Washington, D.C. It is only about a 40 minute ride to the Union Station; and from there a 15 minute taxi ride to our Airbnb 4-night accommodations. We were greeted by our lovely host Sarah and showed to our en-suite comfortable room downstairs. After giving us the grand tour, she suggested a great restaurant for dinner within walking distance. We chose this place for its location-close to the metro, restaurants, stores, and a safe area to walk around. We were not disappointed. The neighborhood was in the process of being gentrified with lots of row homes, brownstones, and apartments throughout. Had a very unique dinner that evening (rabbit & quail), and was able to purchase a few snacks & drinks at the nearby supermarket.
The next morning we had scheduled to take another 48-hr. On/Off bus tour around the Capitol area at 11AM. So before we headed down to catch the bus, we walked to a nearby coffee shop which roasted their own coffee beans bought from all over the world (but not Panama). Then we walked to the Metro Station (subway) only a few blocks away from where we were staying. After figuring out how to buy and use a pass along with what subway line to take, we hopped on the train which directly whisked us down to L’Enfant Plaza in a matter of about 5-10 minutes. We then walked through the mall to the other side where the bus would be to start our tour.
Because it was colder than when we were in New York, we chose to ride in the lower deck instead on top of the double-decker bus. There was only one other couple for the start to this tour, so the very informative tour guide had our complete attention as the bus drove to the various stops throughout and around the Capitol mall area. Having not been to our nation’s capitol for many decades, we chose to ride through most of the full tour before getting off at #17 of 20 stops – the Vietnam War Memorial. Mikkel had served on a destroyer for a few tours in Vietnam. But not only were we there to see this magnificent wall of the names of those who gave their lives, but we were there to pay a final tribute to Mikkel’s Annapolis roommate & best friend, Charles W.F. Warner, who joined the marines and died in action in the Vietnam War. It was very emotional for Mikkel to see his name again on the wall. We walked by the wall and his name a few times while Mikkel handed out braided bracelets with the Vietnam medal colors, he previously had made by an artistsan here in Panama, to many other veterans who were visiting the memorial that day. After leaving one at the base of the section of the wall where his friend’s name was, we also walked to the other Vietnam statues in the park.
Afterwards, we caught the bus again and went to the Smithsonian Natural History Museum. I wanted to see the Dinosaur exhibit, but it was closed. So I toured the Mammals exhibit and then we had lunch in their cafeteria. By the way, all the National Museums & Memorials, including the 9 Smithsonians have free entrance. Only the Private Museums, such as the Newseum, the International Spy Museum, and the US Holocaust Memorial Museum charge an entrance fee. With only 3 days to explore, we only went to those that were free, and not all of them at that.
Then we walked across the National Mall to the Hirshhorn Exhibit & Gardens. Several large sculptures of Mikkel’s favorite artist, Henry Moore, were displayed in the Sculpture Garden.
Next another walk to the Air & Space Museum:
Because we did not want to go back across the National Mall to the last tour bus stop that would take us back to the beginning, we caught the bus in front of the museum and rode around again, this time on the top level of the bus. This time I also took many pictures based on their unique architecture.
The 48-hour On/Off bus tour included a Night tour, so when we returned to the beginning of the tour route, we jumped on another bus for a 3 hour tour (sounds like a song for a TV show). Luckily we got there early enough to secure an inside lower level seat. It was now way too cold to sit on top outside. Basically we were driven around the same route with a few additions, but this time our very enjoyable driver/tour guide would stop at various places to let us out for 10-20 minutes to view certain memorials.
At the end of our tour, we were dropped off at the Metro station. I got turned around and we took the wrong train, ending up across the river at the Pentagon. So we got off and took the train the other way to our destination near where we were staying. One gets turned around when I go underground, so from then on, Mikkel would read all the signs to see which side we would go to board a train depending on where we were going. I now realize that there are still two more days of our visit in Washington DC and I still have a lot more to share. There is so much to see in our nation’s capitol. So I will write a 2nd blog later about the remainder of our trip for another day. One thought I received that especially came after reading the different quotes written in stone on the walls of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial. I hope whoever becomes our next President, that they visit (or revisit) these memorials and take to heart the powerful and inspiring words from our past leaders about the foundation of the United States. Anyone with even half a heart would be moved by these words and aspire to a love for this country that, in my opinion, have fallen short in this century. Just saying.