Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Day in D.C. (including a nomad's guide)

Thursday afternoon I got a call from my mother asking if we'd like to go to Washington D.C. for the day.

Of course, she was asking because she had a conference there and didn't jump for joy at the idea of driving alone. She'd benefit from the ride, we'd benefit from the opportunity to jaunt around the city (I heard "Smithsonian" and was hooked).

However, I needed to do work. T needed to work on law school applications. So I decided to be a grown up and decline, and opt instead to plant it in front of my laptop all day. Mom would take the train instead.


Friday morning, after a run, while we were doing a little Pilates in the living room, I saw Mom heading out.

I asked as she passed the living room doorway if she was headed to the office before her trip. After all, her meeting in D.C. started at 1:00pm, and it was about 6:45 in the morning.

"No, I have to go catch the train. It leaves at 8."
"What? I thought that you'd just ride one up when your meeting was and come back afterward!"
"Well this is the only trip up today. I won't get back tonight til about 9:30 because the train back leaves at 7."
"Geez, that's awful, why didn't you tell me?"
"I didn't know until I went to book the trip. No problem though. Have a good day!"

And out she went.

I sat back down, looking at T with guilt in my eyes. We exchanged a couple sentences, and I darted to the side door, gesturing frantically at her to come back in (I didn't have shoes on. It's COLD here). She had no idea what I was talking about, so she cracked her door. I cracked the side door too and called to her to see whether she could cancel the train ticket. She didn't know. So, leaving the car running in order to warm up, she came back inside and made a call.
note: this was at about 7:00. I'm sure our neighbors thought that exchange was awesome. I like to do those nice things when I'm home.

The ticket was canceled, and three and a half hours later, we loaded up the car to drive north.

I listened to an audio book, T and Mom read and dozed, and the drive was uneventful. Who'd've thunk that I would miss my highway drives after I overdosed on them so completely in California?


We got there, dropped Mom off, and put the Smithsonian's address into our GPS.

I'll spare you the gory and blood-soaked details of the next 45 minutes.
(I mean metaphorically, of course).
Construction and sirens and confusing turnabouts, combined with a schizophrenic GPS (get your sh*t TOGETHER, Clarissa! That's her name. Cause she explains it all. Or so we thought...) all resulted in confused drivers, stress levels through the roof, lots of four-letter words and dirty looks, horns blowing (not AT us, but AROUND us, which is just as bad when you're not used to it), a Chinese fire drill, and a cranky couple.

note: As I'm spell checking, I notice that I've used the term "Chinese fire drill." Is that in any way offensive? I honestly have no idea. And I have no clue where it came from, so I can't tell in that way. Please let me know, because I'd hate to be saying stuff that spreads bad feelings unknowingly. Anyway.

We drove all over the place in LA. However, driving in LA is difficult at first because everyone drives QUICKLY. Quickly, efficiently, and yes, very rudely. But this was an entirely different universe of bad driving. We weren't used to it. So we ended up forgetting the Smithsonian (one would think that a place entirely made for tourism and education would make it easy for people to visit it, wouldn't you? Not here...) and instead circling that area of D.C. for another half hour, looking for a parking garage.

Note: Besides the bad driving, D.C. is expensive. Like, really. Like, coming from a girl who just moved out of Los Angeles. So that's saying something...

But? It's beautiful. So I dragged T on a 2-hour long jaunt (literally, like walking and stuff) across the city.
I thought it was good times.

Eventually he came around and agreed. After the road rage wore off. (I didn't blame him)
We went to see some of the sights,
Then got a little freaked out when we saw this:
(look closer)
Until we heard that this was the case:
Eventually it was time to head back, and since traffic was pretty much the worst imaginable, we saw the rest of the sights from the car as it took us 45 minutes to drive two miles to pick Mom up.
Then, back on the road to Richmond. A drive that had taken us two hours in the morning took us just about six in the evening. A big rig crash. Not pretty, but evidently interesting enough to make everyone and their Uncle Charlie slow down to a crawl to see it...

But, a good day nonetheless.
And I got some good shots, so I'm happy.The end.

PS: I'm starting this new thing on m'blog called "A Nomad's Guide." Richmond's is in the works and will come in several installments. But, as for D.C.:

A Nomad's Guide to Washington, D.C.
1) Get a map. M.A.P. Map. Don't depend on a GPS, they can't make heads or tails of the roads either.
2) Expect to get frustrated on the road. I'd go ahead and put any angry music you have on as soon as you enter the city limits. The theme to Batman (instrumental, of course), works well. I know from experience.
3) Parking is difficult, and expensive. Be prepared.
4) The scenery is beautiful, and you can walk to just about all of the main sites in D.C. If you're there on a mild day weather-wise, this makes for a lovely afternoon.
note: It's MUCH easier to find your way around on foot than behind the wheel. One-way streets contribute to this.

The End. (really)

Today's quote:
"Changes in life are not only possible and predictable, but to deny them is to be an accomplice to one's own unnecessary vegetation."
~Gail Sheehy


angryredhead said...

Ahh, impromptu roadtrips are the best. And you were up at 6:30 am? Also, you're a good daughter.

The Shabby Princess said...

I loooove DC. And I love that your GPS is names Clarissa. Our was named Lola. She died--her maps just disapeared and it costs more to get the maps than the actual GPS. So, my parents got us a new one for Christmas. His name was Steve. We liked Lola better. But, then the husbands car got broken into and Steve got stolen. And this is my story about GPS.

lasvegasisforlovers said...

I have convinced to take a trip to DC when we are visiting NJ for Christmas. I have now decided we are taking the train there and then walking everywhere...I am sure he will be thrilled! I am excited to check out somewhere new!