Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Day 1: Exploring the National Mall

July 5: I took an early morning metro train into Washington, DC, getting off at the Smithsonian stop and wandering over to the Washington Memorial. Today I would officially start my hike! But I was slackpacking today. No full-sized pack necessary, and I'd be going into a hotel at the end of the day.

One of the few photos I managed to get
before my camera gave the dreaded
"out of memory" error.

Amanda didn't go into town with me since she wanted to see some sights outside of the National Mall. I didn't really plan to see or do anything new myself.... today, I'd be walking through just to get photos for Walking 4 Fun. It helped that I was already somewhat familiar with the area and knew my way around. I already had in my head an idea of where I wanted to go and what I wanted to get photos of. At least a rough idea of it.

Upon arriving at the Washington Monument, the weather was beautiful! Mostly clear, blue skies with an occasional puffy white cloud to make the sky interesting. The overhanging rain from the day before was long gone.

The city had a feel like it was getting over a bad hangover from the night before. Most of the security fences from the day before were still up, but they'd been pulled apart and knocked down in places so people could get through without having to find an official entrance. A stage where music had been performed the day before was being disassembled. The Federal City was returning to normal.

I took a few photos of the Washington Monument before I hit my first snag: My camera gave me an "out of memory" error. Crap!

I blamed Blueberry for my problem. I had taken photos of him pretending to jump the White House Fence, and popped out the SD card for my camera to put on my laptop. I had promised to email him the photo as as well build this fake webpage announcing his arrest for jumping the fence. I had forgotten to return the SD card to my camera, though. It was still sitting in my laptap, which was sitting back in the hotel room. My camera had a tiny amount of memory to take maybe about 5 photos without an SD card, and I filled it up in seconds. I needed an SD card!

Where's the closest place to the Washington Monument to get an SD card? Hmm.... I didn't know, but I had a smartphone which I rarely used. I carried it today in case Amanda and I needed to get in touch with each other, but I flipped it on and ran a few searches for stores I thought would likely carry SD cards. I found that there was a CVS a few blocks away and walked over to it where I purchased the smallest, cheapest SD card I could find (it was a 4 GB card). It didn't have to have a large capacity--I just needed it to last the day. At the end of the day, I'd go back to the hotel and put the high-capacity SD card back in my camera.

I took this photo of the CVS where I bought the new SD card.
You know, to test that it was working properly before I went too far! =)
With the new SD card in place, I walked back to the Washington Monument to start my hike again. I retraced much of my steps from the day before but in reverse, heading out to the White House first then working my way clockwise around the National Mall, then out around the Tidal Basin and towards the Lincoln Memorial.

I wanted to include some of the interiors of the Smithsonian in a few of my photos so planned my hike to include walking directly through a few of my favorite Smithsonian buildings including the Museum of American History, the Natural History Museum, and the Air and Space Museum. I would have like to have gone through even more, but it was kind of a hassle since I had to go through a security check with every building. It's not as invasive or slow as going through an airport security line, but it's still a hassle.

The Museum of American History caused me more trouble than I had expected! I quickly walked through the whole place, making a circuit around each floor looking for something "iconic" I could get a photo of. There's a lot of interesting stuff, but it's not necessarily iconic or photogenic. The thing I wanted a photo of the most--the American flag that inspired the Star Spangled Banner anthem--didn't allow photography. It probably wouldn't have turned out well in any case. The flag is old and in pretty bad shape. It's displayed in a darkened room and quite large--getting a single photo of the entire thing probably wouldn't have worked even if they did allow photography.

I did take a photo of the entrance to see the Star-Spangled Banner, but I spent the better part of an hour going quickly from room to room trying to find something that would make a great photo. Eventually I found Lincoln's top hat--the one he wore to Ford's Theater the night he was assassinated. That's an interesting piece of memorabilia! But as far as photos go, it's pretty drab and because it's behind a protective glass enclosure so people like me can't reach out and grab it, it wasn't particularly photogenic. Stupid glass display cases.... I took a photo of the hat anyhow.

I left that museum frustrated with lack of a great, iconic photo, but the National History Museum gave me the opposite problem--so many iconic photo opportunities that I didn't know where to start! Just walking into the lobby was a wonderful, giant elephant. I dropped by the Hope Diamond for a quick photo, but that photo sucks not the least because it was hidden behind a glass case and crowded with tourists. But what I really wanted was a skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Those are just cool! Even as a kid I thought they were cool, and I still think they were cool! So I wandered around until I found the dinosaur skeletons and took a few more photos. But they weren't, alas, particularly photogenic. Mr. T. Rex had a weird red light over it that gave it a strange glow, and the flash on my camera can fix that problem, but made the rest of the skeleton look washed out and flat. They also were in relatively small rooms--not with the soaring ceiling where the elephant in the lobby was located.

Look at all the crowds! And it's still pretty early in the morning!

I walked passed the FBI Hoover building on my way to Ford's Theater. I remember touring the building with my dad back when I was 10 or something, but apparently they don't give tours of the building to the public anymore. Which is somewhat sad... I remember the tour fondly and thought it infinitely more interesting than the White House tour.

I passed by the National Archives building, but didn't go inside. I knew photography wasn't allowed of the Declaration of Independence or Constitution, but they weren't particularly photogenic anyhow. And there's always a long line of people to get in to see those documents.

As the day progressed, the heat cranked up significantly. Weather forecasts predicted temperatures of around 90 degrees--and the humidity was oppressive at best. By noon, it was pretty awful walking around outside. I tried to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, but even the water in my backpack turned nasty at those temperatures. Hot water is just gross, so I would drink heavily from any water fountain I passed.

Late in the afternoon, I had finally finished my circuit around the National Mall and it was time to link up with the C&O Canal. On a map, it didn't look like it would take more than an hour or so, and it didn't. From the Lincoln Memorial, I looped around the back of it and followed the Potomac River upstream. Past the Kennedy Center, past the Watergate Hotel, over Rock Creek and into Georgetown.

I didn't link up immediately with the end of the C&O Canal, though. I'd never been to Georgetown before and wanted a quick look around while I was there. I followed the waterfront upstream towards Key Bridge, the headed inland to the C&O Canal. But I'd overshot the end of the trail by a mile or so, so I followed the trail back to its start taking photos along the way.

I didn't remember seeing this distinctive-looking building on my previous visits to Washington. And why are there fences all around it block it off? It's the new National Museum of African American History and Culture that wasn't due to open for another few months.

Once I reached the start of the trail, I felt like that was a good time to stop. I was exhausted! I had taken over 40,000 steps for the day, and that's a lot of steps in 90 degree weather with high humidity! But I needed to get back to the hotel. I was familiar with the metro for getting around the DC area, but there weren't any metro stops in Georgetown. I wasn't familiar with the bus system at all, although I'm sure one of them could have gotten me to my necessary destination. The closest metro stop was across the Potomac at Rosslyn, or back the way I came from. Not wanting to retrace my steps, I decided to walk to Rosslyn.

I followed M Street back towards the Key Bridge, then walked over the Key Bridge towards the Rosslyn station. Walking over the bridge was exhilarating. So high! The views! =) I took lots of photos, but knew I wouldn't use any of them on Walking 4 Fun because I had now walked "off-trail." This section wouldn't be on the virtual walk. Maybe I could work the walk down M Street into the trail, but not going across the Key Bridge.

I arrived at the Rosslyn Station at dusk, and took the train to the stop closest to our hotel. About ten minutes before I would get off, I called Amanda to let her know I'd need to be picked up there soon. Our hotel wasn't particularly close to a metro stop so Amanda dropped me off in the morning and picked me up in the evening.

I had finished the day much later than I initially intended, and it was quite dark by the time Amanda picked me up. We stopped at Chick-Fil-A for a quick dinner and called it a day. I was done!

I couldn't get a photo of the actual Star-Spangled Banner, but I did get a photo of this entrance for the exhibit!

In the American History Museum, one of my favorite objects was the hat Lincoln wore to Ford's Theater the night he was assassinated. But as far as photos go, it's kind of a disappointment. Not very photogenic!

The lobby of the Natural History Museum is absolutely awesome!

Ford's Theater, where Lincoln was assassinated.

The building in the back is the National Archives building and houses the US Constitution and Declaration of Independence (among other important documents).

The US Capitol building.

Lobby of the Air and Space Museum. The plane in the foreground is the Spirit of St. Louis that Charles Lindbergh flew non-stop across the Atlantic. The orange bullet-shape plane just under that wing in the background is the Bell X-1--the first plane to fly faster than the speed of sound.

The Castle was the first building that made up the Smithsonian and is now houses the administrative offices and information center for the Smithsonian.

Jefferson Memorial

View of the Washington Monument from the Jefferson Memorial.

I kind of wanted to ride a duck too! =(

MLK Jr. Memorial

WWII Memorial

Vietnam Wall Memorial

View from the Lincoln Memorial overlooking the National Mall.

The Korean War Memorial is wonderfully done, I think, but it has a kind of grim and spooky quality to it that most memorials don't have. If there was a "haunted memorial," I think this would be it.

Behind the Lincoln Memorial, along the Potomac, and now headed to Georgetown!

The Watergate complex, and a reminder that corruption has been a part of politics for many, many years! It's not just a recent thing! =)

Rock Creek

Georgetown waterfront
It's official! We're on the C&O Canal! This would be my first view of the canal, but it's not actually the beginning which I overshot by following the Georgetown waterfront. So now I'll walk backwards on the trail to the beginning maybe a mile or so away.

One of the many, many locks of the C&O Canal.

Another lock of the canal.

The beginning of the C&O Canal is located where the canal empties into Rock Rock.

Businesses on M Street in Georgetown.

Sunset from Key Bridge
Loved the views from on top of Key Bridge!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This makes me want to take a trip to DC even more now!