Thursday, August 22, 2013

You Impulsively Buy Shoes? I Opt for Plane Tickets...

When I told my co-workers that I would be returning home for two weeks the first reaction I generally received was "oh so short!"  Which, considering how long and expensive the flight was going to be I tended to agree with.  I also had a lot of people I wanted to see and wasn't sure if time would permit to see them all. That's why when my friend Jared asked if there was any possibility that I'd make a side trip to DC I said most likely no.  But then a few weeks later, around 3 am (my normal high-thought process time) I reconsidered this decision, I mean why not?  So the next morning I searched, found and bought a ticket to DC, probably the best decision regarding my trip home I could have made. 

As my second week home approached I began to truly appreciate my former decision to add my side trip in.  Not only was I going to have the opportunity to see Jared it was also my first trip to our nations capital (I guess I missed out as a child) AND it was going to save me from boredom in Milwaukee.  boredom?? yes you read that right, come the second week of being home I was realizing days might soon be filled with being trapped at home: no car, friends and family working and, well that didn't leave much for me to do. 

Monday night I found myself waiting at General Mitchell airport, headaches abound. Check-in, security, boarding, passenger interaction and flight crew - none of the above being even close to an enjoyable experience.  Firstly our airplane had a maintenance problem so it was announced that we would be delayed for 3 hours, I was about to have my Dad pick me up and come back later when they got back on the PA apologizing for the confusion but that we could actually get a plane an hour later, 15 minutes later we were boarding (only 10 minutes delayed).  I wasn't really mad but the thing that ticked me off was the poor management and communication of the situation, please figure your $h!# out before pissing off/worrying the (short-tempered) customers.  

I arrived safely in DC where I met up with Jared near the metro, after waiting for a bit (typical Jared fashion).  ;) We made our way back to his apartment in Adams Morgan before heading out to grab dinner and begin to make a dent on the amount of catching up we had to do.  

Adams Morgan: cute houses and enormous dogs

The next day we were up bright and early to get a jump start on the day, after all we had a lot of ground to cover.  This summer Jared is interning at the US Senate so I had myself a free and highly knowledgeable tour guide for the day.  Not to mention he's been to DC 30+ times in the past few years.  To start with we met his friend Isaac who is also interning with Jared, for a tour of the Capital building, I must say I didn't' mind the VIPeque treatment for the morning.

After loads of pictures, a bit of history, and a few important people spotting, we were on to our next destination.  Temperatures were starting to rise so we decided to make our way indoors to the National Air and Space Museum, a favorite (or so I've been told) among the Smithsonian collection.  To be honest, I have the attention span of a 5 year old when it comes to museums.  I really can't remember one museum that thoroughly captured my attention and made me want to read every little placard posted, and this was no exception. Not to mention I think I was starting to get hungry which only adds to my levels of ADD.

Based on numerous recommendations we opted for lunch at the Native American museum, despite hearing that prices were quite steep.  Another reason we easily settled on this decision is that it was located right next door to the Air and Space, and we were hungry.  My indecision was of little help that afternoon but I finally settled on the chicken taco made with native american fry bread and some special sauces, pretty good but maybe not worth the $12 it cost me.  After lunch we completed a lap of the exhibits, which were easier to focus on now that I was fed but I still had the urgency to get going as the air conditioning must have been set at sub zero temperatures. Hunger and cold probably my two biggest weaknesses. Actually my favorite part of the museum was probably the outside, the building had really cool architecture, a nice stream/waterfall and some pleasant places to sit.  So according to my handy tourist brochure the building was actually designed by Douglas Cardinal (a Blackfoot) and a team of native architects (Cherokee/Choctaw and Hopi) so there you go, now you learned something from reading my blog.

As the afternoon rolled on we made our way down the National Mall, taking plenty of time to stop for cheesy tourist pictures and a few rest breaks. Although Jared didn't allow many of those as we still had a lot to do/see and dinner plans for 6 pm. 

The original Smithsonian 

I told you, lots of touristy pictures 
Before our grand finale of the National Mall we made a few stops at war memorials, up first was the WWII memorial where we took our obligatory "Wisconsin" picture and then off to the Korean war memorial, it is my second home after all.  This memorial was actually pretty eerie, probably the most emotional / emotion evoking of them all.  Finally we walked through the Vietnam war memorial which was also touching as there were various flowers and pictures placed near loved ones names.  


After lots of walking, picture taking and people watching we finally reached the end of the mall and the Lincoln monument, which like the Washington memorial was unfortunately under construction. Apparently someone thought it would be funny to spatter green paint across Lincoln's lap, along with the Smithsonian castle, the National cathedral and Children s chapel. Ehh, not so much. Finally we made a quick swing by the White House, literally it was like a drive by photo shoot, before making our way to the metro.  We had plans to meet some of Jared's intern friends for dinner at one of their houses.  Little did I realize we were going to Alexandra's home home, where her parents were cooking dinner for us! It was a great surprise and turned out to be an awesome evening with tons of stories, and plenty of laughter.

The next morning Jared had to get back to the office, busy busy boy, so he led me in the direction of the metro which would take me to the airport.  I spent some time exploring Adam's Morgan before realizing that I really wasn't that far from the national mall so I continued my walk in that direction. Lucky i'm no stranger to walking and the weather was cooperating with me so I soon made it all the way to the White House, this time on the opposite side from Pennsylvania avenue.  I was able to capture a few more pictures, and relax in a nearby park for a while before making my way to the metro and soon the airport. Although it was an extremely short visit i'm happy with my impulsive decision to add a trip to DC while home.  It was cool to see and explore the capital but more importantly I was able to catch up with a very important friend of mine.  The good news is i'm sure Jared will be moving to DC (and probably become a rich, important big shot) so i'll have plenty of time to visit him in the future. 

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