On Thursday, Chicago was at the tail end of a frozen week, complete with mountains of snow and the nickname “Chiberia”. I was nervous about making it out of O’Hare to DC, so I set off for the airport immediately after work. I needn’t have been in such a hurry.
My 7:55pm flight was delayed. As soon as we were boarded, we were told that we had to be “de-iced”. Ice turned into mechanical problems, which turned into a game of musical airplanes, leading to a midnight departure. By the time I made it to the hotel in Fredericksburg (an hour outside of DC), it was nearly 3:30 am. Sometimes travel is truly not glamorous.
I worked Friday and woke up Saturday to
the mild winter of the south a monsoon. The forecast read 100% rain…all…day. But I was in DC and I was going to see it, even if I was drenched!! By 8 am, we had packed a lunch and were off. The name of the game wasn’t to see everything, but to spend time in the things we really WANTED to see. Our itinerary looked a bit like this:
We wanted to take public transportation so parking wasn’t an issue, but the metro didn’t reach all the way out to Fredericksburg. The closest metro station (the Blue Line Franconia-Springfield station) was ~ 40 minutes away, but it had free parking for the weekend. We parked there, bought day passes, and rode the blue line to Arlington Cemetery.
We spent about an hour wandering the grounds, a light rain caused a fog to settle over the tombstones. We visited Kennedy’s grave, the Arlington house, the Tomb of the Unknowns and the Civil War Unknowns Monument. It was a bit eerie, and I didn’t feel right taking a whole lot of photographs.
It started to rain hard while at Arlington, so I was happy for the refuge of the metro that took us further into the city. Chase’s pick was next on the list–of course it was the Air and Space Museum. 🙂 From the moment that we arrived to the moment we left, Chase was talking about airplanes, motors, and aerodynamics…it was like a personal tour. The highlight for me was walking through the “How Things Fly” exhibit. My aeronautical engineering partner was very patient and explained everything. I didn’t have to read one plaque! I only wish we could have spent more time there.
We walked by the Smithsonian Castle afterwards, since it was the only part of the day where the rain seemed to stop for a noticeable period of time.
Next up was my pick–the Holocaust Memorial Museum. What an incredibly moving experience. I found myself getting very emotional and at one point, on the verge of tears. When you enter the museum, you are given an identification card with a summary of the experiences of a person who lived in Europe during the Holocaust. It helped me to feel a more personal connection to the events of the time. After receiving your identification card, you are crammed into an elevator with other guests and taken to the fourth floor (perhaps to draw a parallel to the confined freight cars, which carried Jews to concentration camps). From the fourth floor, you weave your way down a multi-level stream of exhibits. As you exit the exhibits, you have the option of proceeding into a remembrance hall that has the names of concentration camps inscribed on the walls. Candles line each of the walls, and soft benches invite private reflection. I lit a candle under Dachau, the concentration camp I visited 5 years ago while in Germany, and we left. Chase and I didn’t say a word to each other for a while.
After the Holocaust Memorial, we were “museum’ed out” so we set out to tour the National Mall. This too was in the misty rain, but it actually wasn’t bad at all. There were almost no people and everything was really calm. Here are some of my favorite pictures: