Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Washington D.C.

Today Bryan and I left Olivia to play with Nana (Bry's mom) while we took a little jaunt into the city.

Washington D.C. is known for the cherry blossoms this time of year and, due to an early peak in the blooming, we happened to go on one of the peak days.  It was so fresh and beautiful.  Such a wonderful way to celebrate and welcome the first day of Spring.

Come join us while we walk around a bit of the city!

We drove in a ways and then parked and took the metro in the rest of the way.
We were going to do this anyway, but when we remembered/realized that we happened to go in on a peak cherry blossom day, we were especially glad we didn't brave parking in the heart of the city.

It was about a 20-30 minute ride on the metro from where we parked.

There was a group of fellow-tourists sitting next to us on the metro made up of one young well-groomed farm boy, one old man, and two old biddies.  They were very concerned about getting off at the right stop.  It was kind of cute and funny to watch.  I am happy to report that they made it off at the right stop (same stop as ours) without any trouble.

The view out the window was fun... until we started going through tunnels.  At that point I started feeling mildly claustraphobic and remembering scenes from that old movie from the 90's about the people who get trapped in a tunnel that runs under a large river and they have to climb out through the vents.

Luckily our journey was nothing like that movie.  It was very chill and uneventful.  Whew.

Off the metro and out into the open air.

We got off at the Federal Triangle stop and... didn't really know where we were.
Bryan wanted to see the Museum of Natural History, so we wandered in that direction.

On our way we saw some people camped out in tents along the street.  Protesting?

Gave ol' Benji a wave on our way past.

Here's the old post office building.  It's been converted into a mall/food court if I remember right.  We didn't go in today.

The last time Bry and I went into D.C. to do tourist-y things was back in 2005 when we were dating.  I came out to Virginia to visit him (and our good friend Emily) before Bryan left on a 2 year church mission to Switzerland.  When we came into D.C. on that trip I think we got lunch in this building (the old post office), but we didn't stop in today.

As we were walking down the street (I have no idea which one, sorry, but I know it was parallel to Constitution Ave.) something weird started going on.  Traffic slowly dispersed and then cop cars started turning on their sirens and heading the other direction.  Meanwhile, helicopters started circling overhead.

We figured there must be some criminals somewhere down the street (?) and kept on walking.  But then there was a cop in a safety vest a little way up the street that had just yelled at a man walking in front of us telling him to stop and stand still.  I noticed and pulled Bryan aside.  We stopped and stood on the side of the road, looking up and down it to see what was going on.

That's when the motorcycle cops started riding by.

And then the cop cars, followed by black limos and SUVs.  Well, Bryan and I have watched enough West Wing to finally recognize what was going on.

The presidential motorcade was driving by.

Hi President Obama!

Okay, actually I'm not sure if he was in this car (or in the motorcade at all) since I didn't see him.  Sadly, I was a little too wrapped up in snapping pictures to be able to look inside the cars much.  But Bry said he was pretty sure he saw someone that looked like President Obama in one of the limos.  And I'm pretty sure it was this one.  So, there you go.  A picture of what was maybe President Obama driving by.  Cool!

Then the rest of the motorcade continued on by.

More official-looking black vehicles.

An ambulance just in case.

And finally the tail end of the motorcycle cops in formation.  Pretty rad.

After our personal welcome to the Nation's capital by the President of the United States himself, we continued our walk down to the Museum of Natural History.

One of the things that greeted us when we walked in was this large stone.  Bryan actually wrote about these on his blog a couple years ago (see HERE).  It was fun to see one in person!  (Though, admittedly, from the way he wrote about them I imagined them being a lot bigger.)

This is a " diceratops ."  Apparently the only one they've found a skeleton of.  Like a triceratops, but with only 2 horns.  Rad.

And here's a pretty sad picture of the Hope Diamond.  Apparently, according to legend, it's cursed.  So, ya know, good thing I didn't walk out with it.

After this I gave up trying to take pictures in the museum.

Oh, except I pulled the camera out one more time in there to take a picture of this cool retro seating installation.  Wouldn't this be so fun in a play room?  Random.  Anyway...

Once we finished in the museum, we headed out on the other side toward the mall.  (The grass mall, not the shopping mall.)  Field trip groups were plentiful.

Down the steps.

Onto the sidewalk.

Across the street.

Past the guys with the bicycle taxis.

And down onto the gravel path of the mall.

It was kind of overcast when we first started walking down the mall.

We didn't really have any plans after this, so we decided to head down to the Washington Monument.

Here's the capitol building (I think) in the background.

Bryan said this is the old Smithsonian building.

Continuing our walk.

The closer we got to the Washington Monument, the more crowded the sidewalks became.  We soon realized this had less to do with the monument and more to do with the fact that it was on the way to the cherry blossoms.  So we decided to head that way too.

On our way we passed this tidy little row of Don's Johns.

Bryan's younger brother worked for Don's Johns moving them from one place to another (or something like that) last summer.  So we got a kick out of seeing them in the flesh.  Glamorous, no?

Continuing up the path toward the monument and the cherry blossoms.

A quick wave to the monument and then we set off to find the famous cherry blossoms.

On our way we met a United States squirrel.  Everything's official if it's in D.C., right?

And then, there they were!  The cherry blossoms!

The street was lined with tour buses.  So many tourists.  But I didn't feel like there were so many more tourists there than usual.  (Uhh, compared to the one other time we went which was almost 7 years ago.)

We stopped for a rest and sat on this beautiful lawn under the blossoms to enjoy our lunch.  Despite the bustle of the city and the busy roads on either side of us, this was such a serene little spot.  It's one of those quiet places I think I'll remember forever.

We packed a yummy lunch full of fresh fruits and veggies, hummus that Bryan's mom made, and sandwiches made on my mother-in-law's signature homemade whole wheat bread.  Yummm.  We topped it off with a couple of these yummy "raw" chocolate chip cookie dough balls for dessert.  (They are so good!)

Last night when we were planning this little excursion I was being kind of a ruiner about the whole thing.  I was crabby about paying for parking and metro fares and having to walk everywhere.  The last time we went into the city my feet got really sore and I was so exhausted by the time we got back that the bad overshadowed the good in my memory.  I just wasn't super excited to re-live that.

I'm so glad I got over it and that we went this morning after all.  Though my feet were tired by the end of this trip, it was nothing but good times and fun memories.  And such a fun, quiet day with Bryan.

This picture is for my mom.  She complains that I never post pictures of myself.  So, here you go, Mom.  And, here you go all of you newer readers that maybe haven't seen a picture of me in a good long while.  Do I look like you thought I did?

And here's Bryan doing what he called, "The Katie Face."

Ooh, I just loved this spot.  It's the kind of place I'd like to visit over and over again in my dreams.

After lunch we headed back out and crossed the street to see the main part of the cherry blossom crazy.

From what I could see, these beautiful blooming trees went all the way around this area.  It had a magical feel that was something like Disneyland, but more genuine.

This area was a lot more crowded.

And full of so many cherry blossoms!

And so many photographers!

I think most of us pointing our camera out there today were novices, but it was all good fun.  I saw people taking pictures on everything available.  DSLRs, point-and-shoots, iPhones, iPads--if you can take a picture on it, someone was pointing it at a cherry blossom today.

All the blossoms floating on the Potomac looked something like a happy cross between snowflakes and confetti.

Bry and I were curious why there was so much fuss being made about the cherry blossoms, but not the eventual cherries.  Well, according to the sign, these trees don't produce edible fruit.  Bummer.

Apparently the trees were a gift from the Japanese at the beginning of the 1900's.  The first shipment they sent over had some nasty bugs in them, so all of the trees had to be burned and a new shipment was sent a couple years later.

And now they're a sight to see!  Even the dogs came out for a look!

Here I am waiting while Bry was off making good use of one of Don's Johns.  Apparently the first one he peeked inside was in need of a seriously good cleaning.  Gross.  Luckily the second one he opened wasn't as bad.  And luckily I didn't have to open any.

These funny little flower beds were planted out near the cherry trees.

Bryan and I especially loved (read: made fun of) this bus.

And these guys on segways.

Then we started heading back the way we came.

A friendly park ranger gave us each one of these buttons.  Haha.  So awesome.

Here's Bryan navigating our way back.

I could read a map if I had to, but I much prefer letting someone else navigate.  Bry did a great job.

Ruh-row.  Glad we didn't park in the city!

This poor guy.  His job was to stand up on this wall and hold up a board while the other guy did some kind of pressure washing on the other side.  Which mostly meant that this guy had to wear this ridiculous suit and then stand on a wall with his bum facing the sidewalk for all to see (and take pictures of).  And he probably didn't even know.  Haha.  Sad.  But maybe it's better that way?

I always love me some good signage.  After a while I had to just openly admit to this because Bryan kept giving me funny looks every time I stopped to snap a picture of a random sign.  What can I say?  I love the bold designs, the subtle fonts, the over-all classic look.  Can't help it.  Love the signage.

Bry and I passed this guy on our walk back.  We joked that there was so much stuff in the city that they started just putting some of it out on the lawn.  I'm not sure this view was entirely wrong since there seemed to be a lot of random things like this outside buildings.  Maybe it's time the Smithsonian and D.C. in general started Living With Less.

But then, who could get rid of this colossal head?

This picture is quintessential D.C. to me.  A street named after something majorly historical, a roadside vendor with tons of tacky D.C. merchandise, and a taxi driving by.

We decided to drop by the National Archives before heading home.

This is the second and last picture I have of it because, well, you're not allowed to take photographs or videos inside the building.

The cool thing about going in here: seeing one of 4 remaining copies of the Magna Carta.

The lame thing about going in here: the line to get into the room to see the Declaration of Independence was super ridiculously long.  So we peeked over some heads, called it good, and headed back.

Let me just say that it is so not like they make it look in National Treasure.  There is no way someone would be walking around in there with a video camera propped up on their shoulder.  Also, that room seemed really dark compared to the bright, happy, open room they show in the movie.  Just sayin'.

Then we started the trek back to the metro.

Past the IRS building.

Walked along side this bicycle taxi (tour in progress) for a bit.

Past some more big pretty buildings.

Waited to cross the street.

Crossed the street.

And back to the metro station.

Insert ticket.  Ride back to the car.  Drive back home.  And done.

Thanks for a fun day, Washington D.C.!


Lisa Lou said...

Oh Yay! This made me really really super-de-duper happy.

Kathy Haynie said...

Well, at least I got to see 1 picture of you! Love it love it love it that you got to be in DC for the cherry blossoms on the first day of spring. Truly, this post brightened my (rainy, gloomy) day. How fun to have a peaceful / interesting day with your sweetie! Hooray for spring break!!

Erica and Spencer said...

I loved this post! It made me so excited to go out to DC for the summer! :) Seriously, so excited!

Fresh Juniper said...

Thanks for this post Katie. Love the story about maybe seeing President Obama. Very exciting! I remember visiting DC years ago and seeing those gorgeous blossoms. You photos are beautiful.

Anonymous said...

Protesters are OccupyDC.

Please don't stand on the left side of the escalator on the Metro. Locals get very annoyed.

There's really no need to use the port-a-potties. When you're in the tourist-y part of DC, you're never too far from indoor plumbing. (All of the memorials have restrooms.)

And thank you for taking metro instead of driving, but you wouldn't have gotten a boot. Those are only when people fail to pay tickets. (You *could* have gotten towed, if you were parked in a rush hour zone, but that's a separate issue :-) )

Emily said...

I loved all the pictures! It was fun to "see" your day after hearing about it tonight. Thanks again for coming over! It was so fun to have you and Bryan over! :) Also - I love the cherry blossom pictures! Makes me want to go! Can you believe I've never been in all the years I've lived here!?

Amanda said...

I love all the pictures!! Looks like y'all had a wonderful time! How cool that The President drove right past you?!?!?! My sister-in-law works at the National Archives. So true that it's not really like the movie, but they do have some pretty cool events there.
Glad you got excited about going and had a good time! Its so nice to be able to enjoy an activity you weren't sure you were going to be in to.
Thanks for sharing all the cherry blosom pictures! SOOO pretty!

Marilyn said...

Loved walking with you via your pics....would love to see you while you are in Virginia. We live atop one of the small mountains overlooking the Shennandoah Valley (Linden)

Unknown said...

There is very nice photo post.
Thank you for the opportunity to take with you a virtual tour of the U.S. capital. I hope that someday I will be able to repeat your route.
I wish you luck and success.

Nathan said...

Hey! Don's Jons! Good times, good times.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for showing off the beauty of Don's Johns portable toilets! If you would have taken a picture with you next to it and uploaded it on our facebook fan page, you could have won a Don's Johns t-shirt!

We'd appreciate it if you could link to us also!