Packed up my shit outside of Harrisburg and burnt down the I-81/I-70 to Maryland. My MP3 player ran out of juice and I’ve misplaced my cigarette lighter / USB adapter so I had it to capital-area radio stations. Politics is hard on the blood pressure, everyone talking is bordering on apoplectic. Try to find Kool Hits of the ’80s to no avail.
I’ve never been to DC before but it seems really complicated to drive in. I wrote down directions from Google Maps but I wasn’t seeing any exits or roads I thought I should be, so I turned off the GW Parkway, came around a corner and pulle directly into the Pentagon parking lot. Oops. No gatehouses or any authority figures demanding ID though, I quickly u-turn and get out of there.
I do a couple more u-turns before crossing over the Potomac – I don’t have a pic cause I was trying to drive and read signs, but damn! It’s pretty surreal seeing all the Washington stuff in the skyline. Got lost about six more times before finding my buddy’s apartment and parking. First time parallel parking in years, horrible job – need to practice a lot before Mexico City.
Spent the day chillaxing and catching up with a few ex-Californians, walking up to Capitol Hill and the Mall. Backyard happy hour and then Mexican by the river.
Next morning, hoofing around DC on my own. Hit Capitol Hill first:
Several other tourists asked me to take pictures of them posing in front of the hill. Not only did I not think to ask them to reciprocate here, but nowhere throughout my day did that idea occur to me.
Walked over to the Canadian embassy. Looks much more Washingtonian than Ottawanian. I walked in hoping to check it out, the only other people there were suits going through the metal detectors. The woman asked me if she could help me, I said “I’m a tourist with no real business here at all. I want to check this out.” She told me I had to leave, that the building was for employees only.
Next door was the Newseum, a museum about news. The highlight was a display case containing historical newspapers on slide-out trays, everything from 9/11 to the 16th century:
Much more bizarre was an entire floor dedicated to the film Anchorman. I shit you not – in a six-floor museum about the news, one entire floor was dedicated to Anchorman:
On the top floor was a balcony overlooking the Canadian embassy and Capitol Hill. I took pics for several people (including a couple of cute girls from Calgary who wanted less Capitol Hill and more embassy), then we saw three choppers going towards (?) the White House. Some dude standing next to me said that it was the president, they fly two extra choppers with his so “you don’t know which one to shoot down”.
Sauntered over to the Smithsonian Museum of American History next. Overall it was kind of lame – a huge focus on the revolution, subsequent wars and the president… And not a whole lot about anything else. The Depression? The Monroe Doctrine? Manifest Destiny? Very little or nothing as far as I could tell. A few cool things though, particularly in the propaganda subsection of the WWII section:
“You know the rule, Hitler – gas, grass or ass.”
This wall of TVs was in the Vietnam section, playing seemingly random footage of Nixon, jungle fighting and napalm. It reminded me very much of one of the final scenes of Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas, where Raoul Duke is losing his mind on adrenochrome.
The original FPS? (Too soon?)
After the museum I wandered over to Chinatown with a hankering for dumplings – and because I knew the International Spy Museum was over in that neck of the woods. I didn’t find the spy museum but I did find some really decent xiaolongbao. The fortune cookies include Chinese vocabulary lessons. Here’s the one I got:
Without question, the most unnecessary Chinese lesson I’ve ever had. I’ve probably used that word more than I’ve said hello (ni hao), goodbye (zai jian) or thank you (xie xie).