Day 1, Part 2- Sixteen Miles

The Uber ride turned into a 50 minute drive; traffic in D.C. is insane. While I shouldn’t have been surprised, I was. But it was beautiful. The bridges, the sights in the distance… It was something that I don’t think I’ve ever seen before. I’ve never been a big city person, but man, I can could see the appeal of the area. What was crazier is that we had gone on Pearl Harbor day, so that added a whole different aspect to the beauty of it. I’m unsure of the building we saw in the distance, but it was in rainbow, and that was gorgeous. All the old buildings added to the sights as well, showing the history of the city even though most of it was new and updated.

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The Washington Monument

After the driver pulled over literally on the side of a main highway to let us out, I looked up to see the Washington monument. It was breathtaking to see it up close; I couldn’t even get a picture because of how tall it was. It took us a while to walk to it, because we were literally on the side of the highway, but even those around us were in awe. I remember being surprised by all the people that were wandering around as late as it was. There were families, older couples, and some professional photographers taking some of those really extra yoga pictures that you’d see online- you know, the stock ones. Pretty crazy.

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The WWII Memorial

Walking quite a ways past the Washington Memorial, we passed through the WWII Memorial. There were a lot of random stories, statues, quotes- I’m sure a lot of people that will read this have been to D.C. before, but as a chick from a small town, it was just… wow. There were so many pillars that had small flags, flowers and other trinkets in front of them, presumably in remembrance of people that had come and gone from those states. There were bouquets set up around the large fountain that sat in the middle of the circle, giving thanks to the people that had been involved in that fateful day.

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The Lincoln Memorial

The most beautiful part of it, however, was seeing the Lincoln Memorial in the distance. I’d heard about the Reflection Pool, even saw pictures of it beforehand, but even at night it was beautiful. It actually looked like the surrounding foliage was growing inside the water! I can’t believe something like that has been kept so clean to keep that look. But, again, I’m from a small town that doesn’t really have anything like this.

I remember stopping in front of the Lincoln Memorial and just staring. Good Lord, he was giant. The whole place was, and it was pretty overwhelming. It was taken care of so well that it honestly looked like it had been built more recently than it was. The inside was so… quiet. Those that were inside spoke in whispers, reading the giant speeches that Lincoln had spoken so long ago. One thing that made me laugh, however, were the bathrooms that were added. When you gotta go, you gotta go. Sorry Abe.

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The Vietnam Memorial Wall

From there, we went to the Vietnam Memorial. The different statues there pulled at my heartstrings, which I was not expecting. Seeing the wall with all of the names of those that had perished, the names that had been added recently for those that had been brought to light, the flowers, gifts and candles, really brought home how war destroys so many lives. There were books that documented the names as well, and they were hundreds of pages long, the print so tiny that they had magnifying glasses to see them. Within the memorial, spanning a few yards, were lamps that were flashing in some kind of Morse Code. I’m unsure what it meant, and neither did our family.

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The MLK Jr. Memorial

The recently added Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial was pretty cool as well. I was kind of confused as to where we were, as there were quotes on giant slabs of marble that didn’t exactly point to who had spoken them. Turns out, we went into the memorial at the wrong end and didn’t even see his silhouette that had been carved into a gigantic slab in the center until we were leaving. I also learned that he had gone overseas to speak. I had no idea.

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The Korean War Memorial

The Korean War Memorial was probably the most terrifying thing I’d seen in a long time. The statues were beautiful, but really creepy. I think this was a mix of the horror of it, on top of the fact that they had turned off some of the lighting and water effects around the memorials because there was a freeze warning that night. I almost fell in an empty fountain at the end of it. Whoops.

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The FDR Memorial

I believe my favorite place in the entire trek was the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial, but it was so dark that we didn’t know where we were at first. And, again, we went into the exit of it. Apparently we were wandering in the wrong direction the entire time. Figures.

Either way, we were wandering through this maze of small statues of his life, trying to find our way out at that point when a park ranger scared us by speaking around the corner in the darkness. He was super friendly though- gave us a lot of information about the memorial and the surrounding areas. Apparently, the FDR memorial was built in such a way that no noise could enter it, which made sense as to why it was so quiet. It was also meant to be entered and exited in a certain fashion so that you could see the life that he lead up until he became very ill. The ranger made a lot of suggestions on when and where to go, such as visiting certain places during the day to get a different view of them. It was really nice of him.

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The Jefferson Memorial

The last place we visited was the Jefferson Memorial, which was interesting because they were in the process of replacing some of the roofing. We had to enter through a construction zone. The park ranger explained that many people assumed the building to be closed because of it. There were a couple giggling girls inside that asked if we’d take a pictures, taking our’s in return. Honestly, there wasn’t much to note in this building… other than the fact I literally fell while I was trying to sit on the very shallow steps and hurt my hip. It proved how clumsy I really am. I’m actually an 85 year old woman in a 30 year old’s body.

As a side note, we did visit the White House, as well as a ‘tree’ that was in a large field outside of it, as it was Christmas and apparently was a big attraction. It was beautiful- trains and small trees to represent each state were scattered around it. The White House wasn’t anything special to me, but there were extra barricades surrounding the lawn for extra security.

After calling another Uber, which was $85 this time (D.C. is expensive, I don’t know how people can live here), we made it back to the hotel and pretty much passed out immediately. Which is good, because we didn’t make it back until almost 1am and we had to be at the airport at 8am the next day.

All in all, we walked a little over sixteen miles in less than three hours. It was worth it, though. I can’t believe that my first time in Washington D.C. was because of a flight delay. It almost made it worth it.

Almost.

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-K

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