This Will Be a Zoomed-In Look at D.C.
Trip Start Dec 26, 2011
7Trip End Dec 29, 2011
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We got into DC around 9PM. An eleven hour trip, altogether We just couldn't seem to get out of New Jersey, then we were in Delaware for what we calculated was about four miles, then we drove through Maryland for a fair bit. It was a pretty boring ride, full of on-and-off traffic (more on than off), and only highlighted by a spectacular sunset. It was low and orange and red, with a dusted blue and grey sky above, and at times silouetted the bare trees and made them appear on fire.
Finally, finally, we reached D.C. It was very strange - we drove through a very industriliazed, ugly, and barren area (the best way to describe it is "beat-up") and without ever turning soon came into the main, touristed area of the capitol. We could see the capitol building growing closer the whole time. I can't decide if it's disturbing or impressive how little division there is between those two extremes. Another stark contrast from what I'm used to is the absolute lack of white people. Mom had said, it's something like 95% black residents, and I could see that right away. There's nothing wrong with that fact, obviously, but it just goes to show how much my New England life lacks diversity.
We stopped at the hotel only briefly, just to put down our bags, really, before going for a walk. Our hotel is very near the capitol building, and you can see it at the end of the street. We walked over there first, then to the reflecting pool, then a little bit along the mall. It wasn't too cold, which was nice, and there was absolutely no one around. A few families with younger kids were dancing around the tree in front of the capitol building, and we saw a mini-van filled with a family at the reflecting pool, and plenty of cop cars, but that was it.
We were a bit surprised by the lack of Christmas decorations. Besides the tree in front of the capitol, the botanical gardens had some nice lights and then private offices had decorations, but that was it.
It felt really good just to walk around and see some of the sights at night and locate some of the museums we might visit tomorrow. What did not feel good was struggling with my camera. My little camera zooms out but is of much lesser quality, especially at night, while my DSLR has only the zoom lens right now and requires creative cropping and much backing up. Most of my photos for this entire trip will either be very zoomed in or bad quality, so I apologize in advance. I'm taking the challenge in stride, I think, and hope to have some great photos by the end of this trip.
After an hour or so we headed back to the hotel. The hotel has a nice lobby (with Christmas decorations!) and the bar makes good food (as we just found out). The view out of our window is kind of depressing - office buildings - and the air is dry and hot and has some sort of horrible air freshener. I look forward to being back outside/in museums. As a side note/commentary on walking around this city, I would LOVE to know who came up with the walking timers for the crosswalks. They make absolutely no sense: one of the shortest streets we had to cross gave us exactly 52 seconds, and another 64, while a crazy intersection allowed the white walk man to be lit for a whopping 25.
Since we have been here before, we're trying to do things we haven't already done. Tomorrow we are definitely going to the Newseum - a museum devoted to news and the spread of it. It's one of the few museums here that isn't free. We also plan to hop around the Smithsonians a bit - the Museum of Natural History, the American Indian Museum, the American History Museum, the National Archives, etc. If the weather holds we might go see some of the memorials, most of which I'd like to see again. However, the forecast is 100% chance of precipitation and "zero ultraviolet".
By the way, Happy Boxing Day!