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Friday, November 14th, 2008

Time Event
Day 1 in D.C.
I'm in Washington, D.C., this weekend, on vacation. Melinda has a conference here and I tagged along for some site-seeing. We're staying at the apartment of a friend of Melinda's mom, who also came along with us to Alaska on the cruise this summer. So, this means I'm in Rockville, MD, at the moment, but that's just a short Metro lightrail trip to the heart of D.C.

Melinda and I got in to D.C. around 4p, having spent the morning on an adventure in retrieving a package from FedEx about 3 miles from here (moral: just take your poster tube on the plane with you, and, if you do ship something ahead of you for a trip, ship it to exactly where you're staying, don't involve third-parties like where someone works). Several offices in D.C. are open for tours during the week but most were closed by the time we arrived. We headed out from the Metro station and walked toward the White house (so exciting!). We got as close as about a quarter mile (the Ellipse, in fact) before we reached a police barrier. The US is hosting the G20 summit and tonight the POTUS was hosting the attendees to dinner. No, they didn't invite us, and so everyone who isn't running a major economic power had to walk the long way around the White house. Oh, well; I'll go back tomorrow and get closer.

Given the time we figured to walk around the Capitol Mall. Starting from the White house we headed south to the Washington Memorial, walked around it (it's nearly 6p and the place is closed), then headed east toward the Lincoln memorial. Funny thing about the Washington monument: the two aerial beacons in the top look like two red eyes. Heh. Along the walk to the Lincoln memorial we spent some time at the WWII memorial. Spend even a couple minutes walking through it and you'll appreciate how immense WWII was and the sacrifice so many people made for it. The memorial is very well done.

I found a penny in my pocket so I had Melinda pose near the Lincoln memorial with this tiny copper-plated replica of the same. It was dark and raining slightly so I doubt the pictures will turn out. But it was fun to take them. We spent some at the memorial, reading his speech given at his second inauguration. Succinct and eloquent, much like his Gettysburg address. The memorial also has a tiny gift store. And still open even at 6p!

The Lincoln memorial is at one end of the Capitol Mall and, given that we couldn't tour any of the museums, we decided to head to the other end, the Capitol building. It's a long walk! We walked through the Vietnam memorial, near the Lincoln memorial, and continued along Constitution avenue. Along the way we noticed that the cars weren't moving. Remember those G20 people? Apparently they needed to go somewhere, and their path from A to B crossed Constitution Ave. For about 10 minutes the Capitol police blocked the road, and several noisy convoys of police cars (and motorcycles with sidecars!) screamed through. No amount of honking by the idling cars seemed to help, but that didn't stop them from trying that tactic. Melinda and I easily covered more distance than they did for a good amount of time, although the cars did eventually win the race (did I mention that end-to-end walk of the Mall is long?).

Along the way we passed the EPA building, the IRS, the National Archives, some museums, and the Canadian Embassy. We finally reached the Capitol, but only to find that much of the grounds to the east have been cordoned off. Not for the G20, but for preparations for the 2009 inauguration of you know who. Wow, really, they need that much time? I heard on the news yesterday that a local judge struck down a plan to sell 25,000 premium seating tickets, on the grounds that the inauguration is for the people and that premium seating shouldn't be allowed to block access to people seeing it. So, dunno what they'll do with all this time to get ready for the inauguration. In any event we didn't linger because we were getting tired and wanted dinner.

On the way back to the Red line at Union Station we came across the Taft memorial. Not William Howard Taft, but his son, Robert Taft, who was a senator from Ohio for 14 years in the mid-20th century. The memorial doesn't explain this, wikipedia did, and the same is true about the memorial *is*. It's a large structure but nothing about it explained what it did. I only now learned that it's a carillon, although I don't know when it plays. Fun stuff.

We found Union station, took the Red line back to Rockville, and ate dinner at Pomodoro in the town center. Back at the apartment now, and should head to bed soon, to be up earlier today than we were today (out of bed at 11a).

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