Maryland & Philadelphia - Day 3.
The campground had a much welcomed shower. Gathering my shampoo & soap, I made my way over and inside the building. In the group area, there were two middle aged men conversing; the one inquired,
"Did'ya hear any noise from your daughter's tent last night?"
"If I did, ya would have heard my shotgun right after!"
Bwahahaha! The comment was absolutely priceless. I was so excited to tell Chad & UJ, that I took one of my shortest showers ever.
After packing up our tents and the car, today would bring me to my first ever national capital - Washington D.C.!
We first scoped a vacant building near the old Nationals ballpark, but decided against that. Next, we went to another building, but it was ON A POLICE TRAINING CAMPUS. So we decided against that as well (after seeing ~60 cop cars parked there).
Not one of us was feeling very confident about checking out buildings in security laden Washington, so since neither Chad nor I had ever been to the Capitol, we decided to do some typical touristy stuff instead.
Just driving around, I was really impressed with the building stock in Washington. I guess it never crossed my mind as a city rich with architecture, but it seemed an elementary oversight after my eyes were opened on this day...
I happened to see so much of the Washington building stock, because we were having trouble even finding a parking spot. We decided to stop for a pint, so that we could use our computers to look up tours & parking.
While driving around, I noticed a bar named Chadwick's - an amusing enough name to acquire our business.
We went in and had the pub brew; which Chad couldn't resist asking me 'how the Chadwick tasted', but it was actually really good. The waitress was also really friendly and helpful and, I think because she heard us asking about cheap tours, gave us a round of beers for free!
So I completely recommend Chadwick's if you're in Washington - not because of the free beer, because it actually was a quality establishment.
The tours ended up being too expensive, so UJ said she would drive, drop us off, drive around, then come pick us up when we were done.
Chad drove initially because of how hectic driving in the American capital is. Trying to simply get to the Lincoln Memorial, we made a wrong turn and we were suddenly headed over some random bridge...'Welcome to Virginia'!!!
Virginia!?! 33rd state!!! Ooooooooooh yeah!
I knew Virginia was a short jaunt across the Potomac River, but I had planned on pleading to have lunch there...but now? I just got it done!
...and before you even start, I realize that 30 minutes in a new state is really pushing the states counted list definition, but while I was there, we saw Arlington National Cemetery, saw a Dodge Viper lose its entire wheel and slide on the brake drum while going 30 on the freeway (producing an incredible amount of sparks) and also The Pentagon (see above)!
Driving around The Pentagon, you're impressed with just how far you have to stay away from it. A circular road keeps you about a kilometre (or 0.62 miles) away; while there are moats and security booths if you need to access a parking lot.
There are also plenty of very welcoming signs - signs telling you that unauthorized photography is prohibited!!!
I actually stopped taking pictures and obeyed after snapping a picture of the sign, not really wanting Lt. Crewcut to check my backside for terrorist intel since I was taking unauthorized pictures.
Our last Virginia moment was pulling into one of The Pentagon's distant, unsecured parking lots. There were port-a-johns in the lot and we needed to use the facilities, but the facilities had zip ties holding them shut!
I'm not about to claim damage to American property, on Pentagon grounds, on this website; so we'll just assume we held it for the next 2 hours until we could find somewhere else to go in Washington.
Across the Potomac River again, we handled the exit properly and entered the loop for the Lincoln Memorial.
UJ took the wheel while Chad & I exited the vehicle and hurried onto the grounds.
The construction of the 16th president's memorial finished in 1922. It is modeled after the Parthenon in Greece, as Greece is the birthplace of democracy. The memorial features 36 exterior columns, 1 for each state when Lincoln was president; the states which Lincoln fought to reunite during the civil war. Above each column is the state's name which the column represents.
Walking into the front of the memorial, there is the main hall with the 19 foot statue of Lincoln; flanked by a chamber on each side. The statue was built by Daniel Chester French and the 28 separate pieces of Georgia marble were brought from New York City to the site and assembled on location. D.C. French sought to convey Lincoln's characteristic strength and compassion with his hands - one in a closed fist (strength) and the other one more relaxed (compassion).
Each side chamber is dedicated to a Lincoln speech. To one side, the chamber showcases his Gettysburg address, where he showed his strength and determination to finish the Civil War and conclude with a nation where all men were created equal. The other chamber features his second inaugural address, which was delivered one month before the end of the Civil War and shows his compassion as he urges the Northerners to welcome the Southerners back into The Union.
There was a LOT of people there - 3.6 million people visit the memorial annually.
Lots & lots of picture taking mofos. It makes you wonder what it would be like before the advent of cheap point & shoot cameras and facebook - how many people would really have had film SLRs here back in the day?
I'm sure the fact that it was a day where it was almost too warm, in October, while sunny and ideal, led to exorbitant numbers of people visiting. I'd love to actually live in Washington and have the ability to come here in the middle of a snowstorm, or at 5 a.m. on some random rainy Tuesday night...
Chad & I stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial for a bit and looked out at the reflecting pool & the Washington Monument. I'm more of a geography or architectural history buff, but I did respect standing on the steps where Martin Luther King Jr. made his I Have a Dream speech...
Also, I was telling my grandma about visiting this and she reminisced about standing on those same stairs and having her picture taken there before she even met my grandfather - which would have to be more than 60 years ago...
Chad & I also checked out the Vietnam Veterans Memorial before phoning UJ and getting picked up.
Big ups to her for sacrificing, since she had already seen these sites in her youth.
It was time again to head north, so I had to say goodbye to Virginia and Washington - but not before laughing at a gaggle of tourists on Segways.
Washington is a complicated city and the GPS failed us again - somehow we ended up on a highway, took an exit and we were suddenly at a forest clearing and an abandoned road. What the hell?
The downfalls of GPS led to fortune though: while trying to get back on the highway, I spotted a sign and realized we were in the Anacostia Neighborhood. I had researched this neighborhood after finding some old articles about abandoned buildings here, but it was well on its way to gentrification and elimination of those buildings.
The one thing which still excited me about Anacostia though? The world's largest chair!
...okay never mind, I just looked and apparently it's no longer the world's largest chair - well I was excited at the time.
It's still a big, imposing chair.
In between Washington & Baltimore was a hospital we had scouted and wanted to check out.
We got as close as about to enter the woods, when a conversion van spotted us and yelled at us to get off the hospital grounds.
Failing, UJ suggested that we get something called Chic-Fil-A, a southern fast-food chicken chain. I was skeptical about chicken, but Chic-Fil-A was amazing and instantly jumped into my top 3! The best part about the whole thing was that waffle fries came with the meal instead of regular fries - and oh boy were they delicious.
I soon forgot about the hospital with perfectly cooked, not too greasy, not too salty, waffle fries putting my mind at ease and bliss.
After our delicious food, it was back to Baltimore.
Cruising some areas rougher than downtown, I was dying laughing at how all of the convenience stores and shops advertised lake trout...
...including Steve's restaurant right here.
Seriously? CHICKEN AND TROUT!
(If you're wondering why I find this so amusing, it's sort of an inside joke, just ignore me)
We were in these rougher areas for another of our destinations, but the seemingly fresh boards and the high number of people sitting on porches in direct view, led us to pass on this as well.
We felt bad because the trip was a bit of a failure, and now I feel sorry bringing that fail to you. I'll step up my game next time in Maryland...
Cruising on the freeway, I spotted a graffiti covered building tucked in a neighbourhood. Since we had failed and pussied out of so many things already today, none of us cared that it didn't look very good, we just wanted a place to relax and check out during our last hour of daylight.
We were getting turned around trying to find said graffiti factory, when we came across this boarded up school. UJ & I love all schools, but Chad can't stand them, so we had a good time trying to convince him that we were serious about checking out a one-story, modern elementary school.
Chad shut down the elementary school idea and it took us another 30 minutes to FINALLY figure out where this graffiti covered place was. Unfortunately, it was one of those tease places which is really run down, but still active.
There was a stray cat which came to hang out, while Chad & I each had a beer, so I guess it was just as good as a really lame location.
Without anything in mind for the rest of the night, while being in Baltimore, I proposed we go do something which had been on my bucket list for a lonnnnnng time...
...go see an Orioles game at Camden!!!
I know Chad & UJ don't necessarily mind baseball, but I wasn't sure if they'd want to use up 3 hours of their vacation sitting at a stadium, while not even watching their Tigers. I always hate asking favours of people, but my shyness and weak stance on asking was met with their overwhelming enthusiasm about going to see a game.
We had nothing else planned, so why not?
I didn't get up to explore the stadium all that much. I was enjoying myself, I drank some Heinekens and simply took it all in.
Also, I loved the dude who was selling me my beer - he was some old, hippy-type dude, who was downright amusing and awesome. I jumped up at the top of the eighth to get one last beer as that's when they usually stop at Comerica; but when I hurried over to him, I asked if they were still selling beer and he replied, "of course we're still selling beer. What time do we stop? Maaaan, I don't know, whatever!"
That guy ruled.
Do you know what else ruled?
The Orioles putting the beat down on the Blue Jays!
It was actually a tremendously boring game, but of course I liked the outcome.
Chad & UJ seemed a little bored, but I don't think they regret going, ahaha...
UJ was set on getting a tattoo afterward, so we called around and found a place - unfortunately it was closed by the time we got there.
Chad got some gas, I got i.d.'ed at a liquor mart, where an elderly lady told the clerk to stop picking on me, then pulled me close to tell me to be safe - making me suddenly uncomfortable with my surroundings in this neighbourhood.
Fortunately, I crossed the road and we safely dipped out of Baltimore.
(There's more to this story and it will come in a couple days.)
1 - Lincoln Memorial National Memorial - Stories (U.S. National Park Service)
2 - Roadside Attractions - One-Time World's Largest Chair