District of Columbia
Written by Jamie
Our drive from Clover, VA to our campground reservation just outside DC in College Park, MD started off fine, but as we got closer to the metropolitan area, slowed down quite a bit. With road-weary eyes, we rolled into Cherry Hill Park in the late afternoon, and instead of heading back out to get an extra afternoon exploring DC, we wisely decided to get Chipotle take-out and rest at the trailer that evening.
After getting some work done the next morning, we headed into the city to tour around a bit. While we paid a premium to stay at Cherry Hill Park, it is the closest RV park to the district, the bus stop is right inside the park, and it takes you directly to the College Park Metro station, which takes you directly into the city center. It is also (as of writing this post) the cleanest and nicest bathroom and shower facilities we’ve experienced in an RV park.
We started our morning off at the Capitol building, and while both of us had been here plenty of times before, neither of us had taken the guided tour. Sadly, the rotunda was under construction.
We continued touring through the Library of Congress, including the collection from Thomas Jefferson’s personal library that he sold to Congress after the original Library of Congress was burned by the British during the War of 1812.
Something I found interesting was that nearly two thirds of the volumes that Congress purchased from Jefferson were destroyed in another fire on Christmas Eve of 1851…talk about tough luck. Thankfully the Library rebounded and today contains around 16 million books and more than 120 million other items and collections.
“I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.” -Thomas Jefferson
We continued down the Mall to one of our all time favorites, the National Air and Space Museum. Now, I may be about to dig my own grave, but here it goes…maybe we’ve been spoiled with some really great museums in some of our recent travel, or maybe we’re just getting older and our tastes have changed, but the Air and Space Museum is feeling a bit stale and outdated. I realize a place loses some of its allure when you’ve been there multiple times, but with the exception of the Moving Beyond Earth exhibit (highlighting the new heights being reached via private space exploration – very cool stuff), and maybe 1-2 more exhibits, everything else just seemed to be stuck in an 80s time warp. However, I did learn that the Smithsonian opened a new annex a few years ago, the Udvar-Hazy Center just outside the district in Chantilly, VA, that supposedly blows the original A&S museum out of the water. Next time we’re in DC, we’ll have to make a trip there.
That evening we headed out to Annapolis, MD to catch up with our good friends Katie & Brandon Fields who we hadn’t seen in years. Brandon grilled some amazing chicken and Katie fixed some delicious green beans and orzo pasta salad, and we got to catch up on life and play with their daughter Ella.
The following morning, we took a walk on a trail that encircled the RV park. After working for a few hours, we headed back into DC just in time to make happy hour at Old Ebbitt Grill. If you’ve never been there before, it’s well worth a visit. This place is jam-packed with DC history and sits one block from The White House. It was a local favorite for my parents when we lived here, and this was my first time back as an adult (and of age to fully enjoy their bar!). They are known for their raw oysters (which source from all up and down the east coast), and because we made it for happy hour, we were able to enjoy a couple dozen HALF OFF! Here’s the thing – neither of us are “oyster people” and to be honest, this was my first official time having raw oysters (I think I was pressured into having one in college, but I think I took a tiny bite and gagged and never tried again). But now, after our 2 dozen raw oysters from 4 different east coast cities, paired with some delicious Bloody Marys and some baked crab dip, I think we may have officially crossed over to the dark side and are now raw oyster consumers 🙂
We left Old Ebbitt, headed straight to The White House to snap some pictures, when all of a sudden, the Secret Service started pushing everyone back off of Pennsylvania Ave. At the time we weren’t exactly sure why, but I personally didn’t care, as now that Pennsylvania Ave. was completely clear of all tourists, I had a prettier photo opportunity! Somewhere in the mix of being pushed off the street, apparently some of us weren’t moving fast enough.
We walked south headed towards the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial, and as we rounded the block, Air Force One came flying over our heads and landed on the South Lawn! It was really cool to watch, but we’re positive the President wasn’t on board, as Air Force One continued to do this (fly out and around the Washington Monument, come back and land on the South Lawn) another 10+ times in the next hour. We’re thinking training exercise? Either way, it allowed me to get better photos.
We spent some time around the Washington Monument as the sun was setting and eventually walked over to the Lincoln Memorial when it got nice and dark. Unfortunately for us, it seemed like every 8th grade class in America was also there at the Lincoln Memorial, so we chose to hang back and have some refreshments down by the Reflecting Pool until the tween frenzy cleared out.
Sitting on the steps of this memorial that commemorates the man that “saved the union” was a healthy reminder of the dark times in our nation’s past – thinking of ways we’ve changed as a country, and things that haven’t really changed at all (especially in what seems to be a rather un-unified time in our history) – and was also the perfect end to a visit to our nation’s capital.
Trae and Jamie