an amazing city

We’re in Washington DC, and I’m going to write this quickly since I am using a stolen wireless connection that keeps dropping out (I don’t really want to go down to the lobby for a better one—it’s late). The only traffic we really ran into was a mess on 287 just past Nyack, which, of course, backed everything up to the Merritt. But it was mostly smooth sailing after that.

We found Hotel Harrington without much trouble—they give good driving directions on their website. The rooms are miniscule, kind of like the rooms at the Waldorf Astoria, meaning very old but clean, just about big enough for a bed and a bathroom so small it requires the same care you’d take if you were on a ship. A decent cafeteria (The Blue Plate). Really close to just about every place you’d want to go in DC. The bed is comfortable.

First night, we wandered over the see the White House, which was amazing. We had to work our way around miles of berms and barriers, but we got to see the back of the White House, the Treasury Building, and then around to the front of the WH across from Lafayette Park.

Today we went on not one, but two, tours. The trolley tour took us everywhere, from Union Station to Georgetown and the National Cathedral to everything along the National Mall ... we heard about or saw just about all the major spots. We went to the house where President Lincoln died, the across to the Ford Theater, which was closing so we’ll try to get back there soon. In the evening, we did the Monuments by Moonlight tour—or whatever the Gray Line calls it. We had a wonderful tour guide, Art Engram. We got out at the Jefferson Memorial, the FDR Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial (which is also the stop for the Korean War Memorial and the Vietnam War Memorial), and the Iwo Jima monument next to Arlingtion National Cemetary. The FDR Memorial was amazing. The Korean War Memorial was very, very eerie, particularly in the moonlight. We didn’t have enough time to see the Vietnam Memorial or the WWII Memorial: those are on our plate for tomorrow or Tuesday.

I know, breathe.

The Chinese Embassy was the second-most depressing thing we saw—what a horrible, ugly building for representing a country and culture that has been a symbol of such beauty over centuries. The most depressing thing we saw was how they’ve torn up all of the beautiful lawns surrounding the Washington Monument—they’ve ripped it to shreds because they’re putting up some security wall or something. There are security berms and barriers and barricades all over the place, all in the name of Homeland Security, but it’s all such bullshit and such a monumental waste of money (pun intended). It’s all so unnecessary and makes it look like we’ve already lost the war on terror, whatever the hell that is.

But, the monuments still move me to tears, just like the did when I first saw them some 35 years ago. No amount of government assininity will be able to do away with their power. Stanley wonders if Bushie ever visited any of these places.

Tomorrow we have the Duck Tour and the Capitol and the National Museum of Natural History on our list. Tuesday, the monuments we didn’t get to see yet (WWII and Vietnam). If we can get into the National Archives, that would be great, too, so we can see the Constitution before the current Administration tears it into shreds. (The lines are very long—even on a Sunday!)

We are well on the way to completing our American Haj.

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