Friday, May 23, 2014

Washington D.C. Part 1

The Man and I went on vacation!  We went on our first real vacation since our honeymoon (four and a half years ago) without parents or camping equipment.  This was my first trip to the east coast, and it was The Man's first time in the District of Columbia.  He had previously been to Boston, Massachusetts, and Alexandria, Virginia, for business trips, but he didn't do any sightseeing on those trips.

Washington Monument
We flew from Portland, Oregon, to Washington D.C. on Saturday, May 10.  The flight was nonstop on Alaska Airlines.  We took off around 9:30 Pacific and landed around 5:15 Eastern.  While we had a very smooth flight until just past Chicago, we definitely had some bumps and jostles for the last hour before touching down.  I was able to watch a movie and read a little, and The Man slept, read, and sort of stretched out with an empty seat next to him.

Vietnam Wall
After getting off the plane and rushing over to baggage claim to get our checked bag, we had to get to our hotel.  The Man and I agreed that renting a car in D.C. wasn't going to be worth it, so we knew we'd be in taxis or on the Metro, D.C.'s subway system.  Being from rural Oregon means that we don't have any experience with public transportation, so we were out of our element for sure.  We figured out how to get to the Metro, and I'd watched some videos about how to buy Metro cards and use them ahead of time.  We each bought a card with some fare money already on it, and swipe! boarded the blue line toward Largo.  Easy peasy!  The Metro is sort of like the Max in Portland, but Max is much more updated and above ground.  Metro feels safe, and it was really convenient throughout our trip.

We hopped off Metro at Metro Center and made our way up to the street.  This was our first look at downtown D.C., and I had to get my bearings without any hint of which way to look to find my bearings.  (In the Willamette Valley, we always have mountains, wind, moss, and the sun to help us find which way is which.)  I finally found a sign that showed the direction toward the White House, and I knew we were staying really close to that, so we went that way.  In two loooooong blocks, we spied our hotel, the JW Marriott.  Check-in went smoothly, and we next had to deal with the hotel elevators.  At this Marriott, the elevators are all controlled by computers.  Rather than just hitting "up" or "down," you hit a button indicating on which floor you want to be, and the screen tells you which of six elevators to ride.  This means the wait for an elevator is very short (usually), and the trip to your floor is not interrupted (usually).

Korean War Memorial fountain
Our room, 891, was TINY.  It had just enough space for a king-sized bed, a chair and ottoman, a desk, a dresser, and the smallest bathroom I've ever seen (5' x 6' with a tub, toilet, and long counter--the door cleared the toilet by less than an inch).  The one closet was smaller than a normal coat closet as barely ten hangers filled it completely.  However small the room may have been, it seemed clean and air conditioned, and those were much more important details.

The Man needed a nap, and I needed to look at the map again before trying to get anywhere for dinner.  Once he was awake a couple hours later, we decided to walk to Ella's Wood Fired Pizza about six blocks away.  Late on a Saturday night, Ella's was still busy.  We ordered a pizza, inhales several "sodas," (our "pop" didn't get us anywhere on the East Coast--we started calling everything exactly what we needed, "Diet Coke"), and finally were able to relax with something in our bellies.  The pizza was amazing.  The service was good too.  We ended up ordering a second pizza to completely stuff ourselves since we missed lunch while on the plane.

World War II Memorial
We waddled back to our hotel and promptly laid there for three hours trying to fall asleep so we could get up early the next morning.  Jet lag set in, and we struggled through the night.  Though the bed was actually pretty good, the pillows weren't firm enough, and our sleep got messed up pretty badly.  Around 7:00am, we rolled out and went to breakfast--McDonald's, because it was close, and because it was open early on a Sunday morning, and because The Man actually likes their breakfast food.

Lunar Lander as used in Apollo missions in Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum
Fed and watered again, we set out on what became a 10-mile day (I have a Fitbit One).  We toured the entire National Mall, saw just about all of the monuments, and dearly wished we could have taken Oregon's weather with us.  85°F with 60% relative humidity is not pleasant.  With new shoes on and all of that walking, I got a blister on the bottom of my little toe.  I hobbled through both the Smithsonian Castle and the space sections of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (we skipped the rest as we have already been to the flight museums in McMinnville and Tillamook, Oregon, and Tacoma, Washington).

It was a very long first full day of sightseeing.  It was not our longest day, however, nor was it anywhere close to being the most exciting.  More to come in this story!  Stay tuned:

Part 1: Saturday and Sunday, flying and our first full day
Part 2: Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday; museums and memorials
Part 3: Thursday and Friday, our last full day and the trip home
Part 4: Food in D.C.
Part 5: Final Thoughts

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