Posted by: mckenzie68 | July 8, 2010

Celebrating July 4 in the nation’s capital…July 3-5 or Days 76-78

After Norfolk’s fun, we were stoked to see what would unfold for us in Washington.  We headed off on what turned out to be a BRUTAL ride.  The car drivers were in top form (insert heavy sarcasm here) and the heat was off the charts!  We finally got to our hotel and started to unload once we convinced the bell hop we’d be ok with a cart – which was quite a task to do!  I decided to take the cart to the room while Ray parked the bikes in the hotel’s garage.  I was fine until I got to our floor when a little hobbit of a bell hop leap out of what I can only imagine was his hobbit hole and grabbed the cart.  I had been walking in front of the cart and he came up behind it.  Then he started pushing it…and ended up pushing it right over my right heel which almost knocked me to the ground.  I caught myself on my hands just before I did a full face plant.  Then he proceeded to tell me that what happened is the exact reason they don’t let clients take the carts themselves and they can hurt themselves.  Now…if you know me, you know that I am not a pleasant person when I am really, really hot, nor am I pleasant when I get run over by a hobbit then blamed for it.  Let me just end this story by saying that we got to the room without me hurting the little guy but he did scurry away as quickly as he could.  A good choice.

Ray came up a bit later after working out some parking details – every now and then we run into problems.  It’s a good thing that he had so much practice at negotiating!  We both took showers and felt 1000x better.  We dressed for walking and set off to see our neighbor Obama…we were staying just a few blocks down the road on Pennsylvania Ave.  We didn’t see him, but we did see some Secret Service (they really aren’t that secret…), some nutty protesters (my favorite) and lots and lots of people.

Over the next few days we walked for miles.  We saw, Union Station (very cool), the Capital Building (wait for that story!), Holocaust Museum (WOW), several Smithsonian museums, Ford Theater where Lincoln was shot, Arlington Cemetery (amazing), Jefferson Memorial, Washington Monument & Reflecting Pool (we stood where Forrest Gump gave his speech), Vietnam memorial (met a great veteran who chatted with us), Korean memorial, Iwo Jima Memorial, Law Enforcement Officer memorial (there were so many names of fallen officers…so sad), Watergate hotel and the list goes on.  It was a lot of walking, but so worth it!  And it was all FREE.

Let me tell you a bit more about some of our favorite things that we saw and places visited.  Arlington Cemetery was a must see for us, and it was worth the hot walk over.  Just the size of this cemetery alone is worth seeing.  It’s huge, with war dead from every war (and their spouses).  Once in, we headed first to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to see the changing of the guard.  The ceremony is beautiful and moved me to tears a bit.  I love to see the respect the USA gives to their military.  The guards, known as Sentinels, guard the tomb 24 hrs a day, 365 days a year changing every hour in the winter and at night, and every 30 minutes during the days in the summer.  The position is held in really high regard and the training can take up to 8 months!  It showed too, these guys were awesome!

We continued to wander through the cemetery looking at the various graves (there is so much history there) and eventually came to JFK’s grave.  He has been laid to rest along with Jackie.  The eternal flame is at the top center of the site and at his feet, looking towards the Washington Monument are some of his quotes carved into marble.  It’s very peaceful and dignified – just what you’d expect.

Speaking of JFK, we also loved spending time around the Whitehouse.  You can’t do a tour inside anymore without contacting your Congressman (that’s a problem for a CDN!  LOL) and being cleared at various levels.  We were told it takes 3-6 months!  Hanging around outside it gives a lot of entertainment too.  There is a group that has a 24 hr a day anti-nuclear/peace vigil that has been going on since 1981.  It looked like it was the original members manning it.  The one day, there was this crazy woman (some actress whose name I can’t remember) screeching at people, and Obama, through a mega phone.  She told Ray he needs to learn how to read – LOL – it was hilarious.  One mother came over and let her have it!  Then a policeman came and told the crazy protester woman to settle down or scram.  It was too funny.  I could watch those people all day – it’s like a program on Discovery Channel.

A couple of other places that we really enjoyed were Fords Theater and the Capital Building.  Fords Theater was actually a reconstruction of the original (although the room where Lincoln died, across the street is original), with some original pieces like the chair that Mary (Lincoln’s wife) sat in on the fateful night.  Basically, you come in to the ‘box office’ and get a ticket to the theater and/or the museum below.  We selected to just go into the theater, but once in you don’t wander around, you sit and listen to the story.  Now the poor Park Ranger (apparently the whole middle bit of Washington city is a National Park) giving the talk seemed very nervous and so was very monotone.  The story he told however was gripping!  Ray and I both learned a lot about the night Lincoln was shot and the politics of the time.  We loved it!  After the talk (about 20 minutes or less) you could walk around and take pictures of Lincoln’s box seat which we did…you had to know we would!

The Capital Building was an interesting adventure.  We got in and chose not too look around too much in the main hall, but head straight to the Capital tour.  We got our pass and were shepherded in with a large group to a movie theater.  Just as the movie was about to start, one of the guides asked if anyone had left a pink backpack in the main hall.  Nope.  So the movie started and it was really interesting, about the origin of the states, the US government and the Capital Building itself.  I’m not kidding either, it was interesting!  Part way into the movie a guard came in to announce that there was a ‘situation’ and that they needed to clear the theater.  Right away we looked at each other and said, “pink backpack”.  We were ushered out the back of the theater and taken on a shortened version of the Capital Building tour.  It was just a way to usher us all out without any panic setting in…or that’s Ray’s theory.  He’s probably right, but I’d rather be taken out a little quicker if they think the place may blow!  Anyway, on our way out Ray asked one of the guards if this had anything to do with the pink backpack upon which we got a sketchy but affirmative answer.  I told the guard to give a really hard noogie to that kid if they find her.  She shut down the whole building!  We missed seeing much of the place, but at least we got to see a bit.

The only other thing I have to tell you about is July 4.  WOW.  The security was nuts.  There were checkpoints upon checkpoints that you had to go through if you wanted to get anywhere near the downtown/Whitehouse area.  There were regular coppers, coppers on horseback, Secret Service convoys (6 black armored SUVs driving around together), helicopters and gosh knows what else!  A very heavy presence to be certain.

The day ended with fireworks over  the Reflecting Pool and we thought they were wonderful.  The guy beside us, a longtime Washington resident, told us that they were “ok, but not as good as some years”.  It all depends what you compare to.  I mean, if that guy would see the fireworks that they blast on CDA day in Okotoks…well…his opinion would change and he’d think these were fabulous too!  LOL.  It’s all relative.

There is so much more that I could tell you about, but you’d be reading for a long, long time!  If you have the chance to go to Washington, DC, we highly recommend it.  Stay near the Whitehouse as parking is horrid, and very expensive.  Walk or take transit and you will love every minute.




  1. Did you guys getted mugged in DC or what?? Haven’t caught any updates of late.

  2. Tap, tap, tap………is this thing on? Hope you guys are still safe.

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