How to Do D.C.

Eyegal and I have been in Washington, D.C. since Wednesday for a little getaway plus a friend’s wedding, and we’ve compiled a list of tips on how to “do D.C.” I’ll probably have more to say about my impressions of this wonderful city and the wedding later in the week, but since we’re traveling back today this will have to do for now:

  • For outdoor touring, pick the one day in the summer when the temperature tops out at a mere 75 degrees with only a trace of humidity and a few scattered clouds. Oh wait–that was last Thursday and probably won’t happen again anytime soon. But we couldn’t have “planned” our outdoor tour of the city any better.
  • There are numerous tour buses and trolleys that you could use, but the Old Town Trolley worked pretty well for us, plus it had the added advantage of being the only one that had a route that took us to Washington National Cathedral.
  • Speaking of which, its Gothic architecture and sparkling stained glass are beautiful and inspiring and worth the trip, and did you know that Helen Keller and Ann Sullivan are buried together in the crypt (i.e., basement) there? I didn’t, and I bet most of my Alabama friends don’t either. And, for any NASA geeks out there, don’t forget to check out the moon rock in the middle of the “Space Window.”
  • The World War II memorial wasn’t the eyesore that a lot of people had whined about, so spend some time there. We thought it was very nice and in keeping with the heart and character of “The Greatest Generation.” I can see why so many of my patients are excited about it after having taken one of the “Honor Flights” from Huntsville to visit it.
  • Remember to silence your cell phone when you visit JFK’s grave at Arlington. Just ask Eyegal–oops.
  • Also, if your camera battery is five years old, replace it NOW. Otherwise, you’ll burn it up when you’re taking all those pictures of the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns.
  • Go see the Charters of Freedom at the National Archives no matter how long the line is. It moves pretty quickly, and it’s worth it to get a chance to eyeball The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution and The Bill of Rights. I’m feeling a little more invested in and proud of my country as a result. I had told the boys that I was going to D.C. to steal the Declaration of Independence and kidnap The President, a la Nicholas Cage in the National Treasure movies, but one look at that big burly security guard standing watch over the documents changed my mind. She looked awfully tough.
  • If possible, see D.C. at night, especially The Capital Building. Many thanks to Nic and Diane who gave us the million dollar nighttime tour. We felt like VIP diplomats, what with the way he whipped that Honda Pilot around, stopping on a dime and hopping any curb to let us out and walk while he circled the block a few times.
  • If you’re going to have lunch with a couple of hipsters (say, your newly-graduated William and Mary alum niece and her boyfriend) at a vegan bistro located in an ethnically diverse central D.C. neighborhood, then be sure to wear something besides a Nike polo and khaki shorts and try to hit the tanning booth a few times before you go. I’ve never felt so old–or white–in my life.

There’s more–so much more–and that’s not even including the wedding (Maryland-born, WASPish groom marrying a Southern California, Japanese-Filipino bride). There’s a community column in there somewhere, and perhaps you’ll see the bits and pieces of that come together over the next week or so.

But first, there’s breakfast, BWI and the flight home to Huntsville. I know one thing for sure–D.C. is no longer that distant, disembodied “other” place that the pundits talk about so much on TV.

It’s “my town” too, and truth be told, always has been.

  1. Stoogelover

    I was there twice, visiting a friend who preached in nearby Arlington. He was a great tour guide, but we were on a limited schedule and it was raining most of the first trip. This blog makes me want to go back. If nothing else, I’d like to rent one of those people mover gadgets!

  2. Brady

    I visited the same friend that Greg mentioned, only he is my brother-in-law, and we made the trip 4 times. I love the city, though the kids had more fun just hanging around with their cousins the fourth time around. The new air and space museum at the airport was incredibile.

    Never had one of those day at 75, though.

  3. ME

    I took my dad to the WWII Memorial a few years ago, right after it opened, and I was also impressed on how it blends into the other monuments on the mall.

    It’s not an eyesore at all but then again, I defer to your expertise on eyesores anyway.

    I’m glad to hear you visited the National Cathedral as well; our only political scientist president, Woodrow Wilson, is buried there and it seems fitting that we build a cathedral around him.

    Have fun!

  4. Mike the Eyeguy

    Stoogey, we saw several doing DC the Segway way (click here). I’m thinking I want to take Number One back there at fall break (he’s a history minor at Bama and would love it) and maybe do that.

    My only fear is that I would be the one person in the universe who wouldn’t be able to master the thing. I get embarrassed just thinking about it.

  5. Mike the Eyeguy

    Brady, you may already know about this, but I saw an interesting piece of Restorationist history there as well. At an old Christian Church (now Unitarian) there is an enshrined replica of Alexander Campbell’s study sitting right there near the street.

    I kid you not. I saw it with my own eyes.

  6. Mike the Eyeguy

    ME, I saw Wilson’s tomb and heard the story about how he was a Presbyterian and wouldn’t have normally been eligible for burial there, but his wife was a staunch Episcopalian and that apparently made all the difference.

    As for Keller and Sullivan, they apparently received an “invitation” to be buried there prior to their deaths.

    I know political scientists are darn important, but I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for Westside to build a wing around you when you kick the bucket. 🙂

  7. DC-SoCal

    Wow, sounds like a great trip to DC for you and Eye Gal! Also, sounds like the WASPish groom is one lucky guy to win the hand of the beautiful Southern California Japanese-Filipino girl! Wishing them all the best!

  8. Mike the Eyeguy

    “Also, sounds like the WASPish groom is one lucky guy to win the hand of the beautiful Southern California Japanese-Filipino girl!”

    That is the understatement of the year, my friend.

    Welcome back, “DC-SoCal.” The wedding was “da bomb” that was dropped on Eyegal and me–baby.

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