When conversation turns to travel, I often tell people of my adventures and then the conversation turns to major US cities or landmarks and so many of them I’ve never been too. A lot of places in the US have little interest to me, unfortunately. I guess because my definition of travel is someplace foreign. Some far off land that requires a passport and possible vaccines. A place where English is sometimes hard to come by. A place with surprises, some not always good, around every corner. A place I need a guide book to help me navigate my way.
That being said, when I started planning trips for work, I was excited about the opportunity to visit D. C. About 10 years ago, I imagined D.C. as a crime-ridden place. A city you might not wander at night alone, or even in the daylight in certain places for that matter. But in recent years, I feel like I’ve heard nothing but great things about the city. Obviously the historical significance is intriguing as well and although I’m not a huge history buff, I do enjoy being in places ‘bigger’ than me. Places defined by history. By moments. And although I’m not an overly patriotic person, I feel like D.C. is, by definition, one of these places.
After a great weekend in New York, I was a little saddened to leave, but also excited about the possibility of exploring a city I’d never been to. Unfortunately, the trip turned out nothing like what I had imagined.
I arrived mid-week and decided I would take what was left of the day to do a little exploring. After getting checked into my hotel and getting settled, I left in a light hoodie and flip flops. It was warm outside afterall. I navigated my way to the nearest metro, hopped on and took the subway to Foggy Bottom to make my way to the National Mall and the monuments. Unfortunately, during my 10 minutes underground Foggy Bottom had turned into Soggy Bottom and it was absolutely pouring when I stepped out of the subway. I ran to the nearest restaurant and decided I would grab something to eat to try to wait out the rain. When it only continued to get worse, I decided I would make my way back to the hotel and attempt to get some more work done and plan a different time to explore.
The following day, my co-worker, Laura, and I met for breakfast in Logan Circle and then decided to take a tour of the city and begin our search for venues (we are planning a major event in D.C. in the Fall.) We ended up finding a few great places and actually met some really cool people, including a random server/beer blogger who had just talked over the phone with a few people at the brewery. Too coincidental! Late in the day, we found the perfect spot for our event and it was good timing as I could tell something just wasn’t right.
Throughout the day, I knew I was starting to get sick, but I thought my body was just recovering from a restless weekend in New York. Even so, around 330/4 we decided to call it a day and I went back to the hotel to lay down. By that time my throat was really starting to hurt and I could tell something wasn’t right. I stayed in the remainder of the night just trying to get some rest.
Around 3am, I woke up and could barely stand the throbbing pain in my throat, not to mention I was burning up. I got on my phone and started researching Urgent Care centers.
At 7am, I made my way to the nearest Urgent Care (5 miles away and in Arlington, VA. Seriously!?!) and was one of the first to arrive. “Your strep test came back positive,” the doctor confirmed. WTF! How is it May and I have strep throat?! Unreal. They called in a prescription and I made my way back to the pharmacy near my hotel. Then, worse came to worse. First, the pharmacy only received one of the prescriptions I needed out of three. Then their system completely shut down and they couldn’t run my insurance. Two hours, two phone calls, and several tears later (I was completely exhausted and my throat felt like a golf ball was on fire in it), I finally left the pharmacy and walked back to the hotel. I took some pain meds and laid down. I was in for a long day. I hadn’t felt this terrible in a long time.
The next 36 hours, I alternated between checking emails, napping, popping antibiotics, and watching old episodes of Mad Men. I could barely eat and I just kept waiting for the antibiotics to kick in. This was miserable. The next morning, I felt some sense of normalcy and chugged a huge bottle of water (I hadn’t drank hardly anything in almost two days). That afternoon, I felt about 75% better – a huge sense of relief. Hours had felt like days trapped in that room. I was ready to GET OUT.
It was a beautiful, warm afternoon, so I walked down to the National Mall to visit the White House and the monuments. Surprisingly, D.C. is really a beautiful city. So pristine with new, modern buildings and historical ones placed side by side. Flowers and trees throughout. Tall buildings, but not too tall, and wide, walkable sidewalks in the main parts of downtown.
During our driving tour a few days before, I completely fell in love with the homes as well. Especially in Georgetown. The row-houses are so picturesque and THE BRICK! There’s brick everywhere! I don’t know why, but I absolutely love brick homes. I suppose because in Oregon, everything in made from wood or concrete.
I passed by the White House, and several people were out front snapping photos and sticking their cameras through the black iron fence, including myself. I didn’t realize until after the fact, I only passed by the front. I believe, most times, on the news and elsewhere, you see the back of the house (which faces the National Mall), with its large columns forming a half-circle in front of the yard leading to a large fountain.
I continued on through the park and walked by the Washington Monument, apparently the largest stone structure in the world.
Walking on, I made my way to the Lincoln Memorial and passed by the World War II monument. Hundreds of school children, dressed in red and blue (fittingly) were running around taking pictures and teasing their classmates at the fountains.
I made my way past the reflecting pools, currently under construction, and down to the Lincoln Memorial. Walking up the huge steps, I turned back to see the Washington Monument towering in the distance. With the pools in place, I’m sure it’s a dramatic scene.
And then there was Lincoln. He was big, but for some reason I imagined him bigger and more ominous. Still, the massive statue was impressive. Tourists stood and read the Gettysburg Address and his 2nd Inaugural Address, both engraved into the marble. The building itself was beautiful. Detailed. Very roman-like.
I made my way down the monument and eventually continued down south through the mall. I passed the Theodore D. Roosevelt dedication, a series of waterfall-like fountains and bronze statues, then walked alongside the water. In the distance I could see the Thomas Jefferson monument and I was mostly excited about seeing this. Situated across the tidal basin on a small island-like area north of the Potomac, this monument looked directly at the Washington Monument, as Lincoln had.
When I arrived, I felt a sense of Deja Vu. Years ago, on my first solo trip and only a few days in, I had stood at the foot of the Acropolis and knew I was there; at the footsteps of a ‘moment’. History whispering in my ear. I was in awe. Standing now, at the foot of the Jefferson Monument, I was glad I had made the long walk here. This, by far, was my favorite place in the park. Sitting at the edge of the river, looking back at D.C. The openness of the monument allowing for the light to come in, creating an eerie, but beautiful glow on the statue and the surrounding columns.
I walked back towards downtown and Logan Circle. Content. Certainly, I hadn’t done anything close to what I thought I would in D.C. I decided to even forego walking by the Capitol Building as I left the National Mall area. Still not 100% well and with sore feet, I knew I needed to get back and rest a bit more.
That night, I waited for traffic to die down and drove the 30 miles to Annapolis, Maryland.
Till next time D.C. – I promise to see more than just your event spaces and dead presidents.