Monday, October 23 – Day 55
Occasional showers sprinkled on our trailer roof during the night. The morning brought sun and clouds and a pleasant 77F degrees. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before but we have been blessed with great weather on this marathon trip of a lifetime with mostly t-shirt temperatures and very little rain.
Hop on hop off bus was again our choice for touring Washington DC, but this time we opted for a two-day package which included a 2-hour night tour.
The two-day tour included all the available routes and free gelato or coffee at one of the stops. The price seemed fair at $62 per person, but no Groupons available for this tour.
We decided driving to the train station was more practical than taking the bus. The bus schedule could cause long waits.
We purchased our refillable train cards at the RV park, Cherry Hill RV Park and hopped into my truck for the 15-minute drive to the train station.
We arrived at the commuter train station and filled our transit cards at the ticket machine. The cost per trip worked out to about $4 for seniors and $6 for the young’uns and $5 for parking.
The train platform access was an automated tap and go system, tap the card as you push through the turn style. An led screen shows the value on your card, the trip cost is deducted at your destination. Parking was easy with plenty of room in the commuter parking lot.
Washington DC has always fascinated me, with its many historic buildings, museums, and memorials. I was over the top excited for my first and probably my only visit.
The train took us to Union Station in downtown Washington, conveniently, the hop on hop off terminus is in front of Union Station.
We bought our tickets and boarded the bus. Most of the hop on hop off buses are the British double-decker style. The open-air top floor seating is perfect for sightseeing as long as the weather cooperates.
A live tour guide is preferable to a recording, more entertaining.
Soon our tour guide began pointing out monuments, memorials, and famous buildings, such as the Washington Monument an 800’ high pinnacle built in the 1800’s, the famous US Capitol building dome, and the Smithsonian’s (several museums each with a different theme and free entry).
I was surprised to learn that Washington DC was a planned city designed in the 1800’s not like most cities which sprawl as needed.
One fact I found interesting, the US Capital, the Washington Memorial, and the Lincoln Monument are precisely aligned on part of The National Mall.
The National Mall contains several other iconic buildings including the White House.
The National Mall is 700 acres of reclaimed land dredged from the Potomac River, Washington DC is tiny compared to most city’s at 60 square miles about 8 miles by 8 miles square.
It seems strange such a small area can have such a huge impact on the world.
Our first hop off stop was the Smithsonian’s Air & Space Museum, housing such wonders as the lunar module, the first manned spaceship to land on the Moon.
There are hundreds of fantastic exhibits, too many to mention including Imax and Planetarium movie productions.
Several days could be spent in this fascinating place.
Our next stop was the Lincoln Memorial, a huge building with a monster size figure of the man himself seated in a huge chair staring into the distance as if judging all he sees on Capitol Hill. I’m thinking he’s not impressed these days.
There are words etched in the concrete steps of the memorial marking the spot where Martin Luther King stood while making his famous ‘I have a dream’ speech.
After the Lincoln Memorial, a hot dog lunch for the group from a sidewalk cart and back on the bus.
Our next stop, a view of the White House, apparently, it was not originally white, and if it doesn’t receive a coat of paint every few years the color will revert to the grey stone it was built with. It takes 500 gallons of paint.
The bus took us past many more museums, memorials, art galleries and many other interesting and historic buildings. Washington DC is one huge museum, it would take years to explore it all.
All the history and sightseeing made the group thirsty. We hopped off and found a sidewalk pub to quench our thirst, another challenge ordering a beer. This time we succeeded in ordering something palatable.
After a brief rest, we walked to the White House for a closer look.
Our original plan was to take in a White House tour but submitting an application several months in advance is required. I guess when planning the trip we overlooked this detail.
In the end, the tour was not possible, the White House was under heavy security with secret service everywhere. A distant view was all that was permitted.
We hopped on the bus again and headed back to Union Station in plenty of time for the 5 pm train. We arrived early so we decided to visit the US post office museum across the street.
Not the most exhilarating experience as you might imagine, but I did learn some stuff, for instance, the vehicles used for the US Postal Service mail delivery are built exclusively for the US Postal Service.
It took many tries to get it right, the first design was a 3-wheel contraption that couldn’t move through more than a couple of inches of snow, rolled over easily and had trouble climbing hills.
The museum also houses one of the world’s largest stamp collections,……….. who would have guessed…and many other less interesting exhibits.
After the sleepy museum, we crossed the street to Union Station. We decided to catch a later train and have dinner in the only restaurant in the station.
The host led us to a small claustrophobic alcove in the back of the restaurant/bar, not a comfortable spot for dinner, immediately we asked for a table closer to the bar.
The host obliged and led us back through the restaurant to a table near the bar and handed us the happy hour menu explaining happy hour drinks must be purchased at the bar.
I walked to the bar and immediately saw the problem, no spot to order drinks. Every seat at the bar was taken and of course, the waiters were busy. Getting their attention was a challenge.
To place an order and receive drinks one needed to lean over customers sitting at the bar, not cool.
We managed to order drinks, the next problem ordering dinner, again it was necessary to order from the bartender. We flagged a waiter and asked if he could take our order, he was apologetic but declined.
By this time tempers were wearing thin, Henry grabbed the waiter by the neck and threw him on the table yelling, “How is this for I can not take your order Sir”. The table collapse under the weight of the two sprawled men.
Everyone in the bar including our group gawked with disbelief. Immediately two large bartenders jumped the bar and grabbed Henry dragging him off the startled waiter. Ralph and I were on them like flies on a bowel movement.
Soon security guards arrived weighing into the fray and pulling us apart. The three of us were arrested are still in jail awaiting a court appearance.
A nice story but not true. This is what actually happened.
The manager arrived explaining we cannot have table service if we order from the happy hour menu. Voices became elevated, finally, the manager allowed us to move to a booth but only after we finished our happy hour drinks.
At the booth, we could order food and drinks and have them delivered by a waiter……Woo hoo. I wonder if Mr. Trump made this strange rule?
After dinner, we headed to the train and home. We arrived back at camp around 10 pm to a happy Buddy dog.
The previous day Lynda arranged for the park dog walker to take him out at 5 to go potty and feed him dinner. Buddy had other ideas, he was having no part of this person, growling when she opened the door to the trailer. She did manage to put his dinner out which he ate before we arrived.
We enjoyed a relaxing time around the campfire reliving our first exciting day in Washington DC and then off to bed.
My next article day 2 in Washington DC.
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My next article south to the United States, the second leg of our adventure.
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