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Trip Report Another Great Trip to DC (Sept 20-25)

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I asked for my first one to be deleted as some of my spaces had gotten deleted making it hard to read.

Thursday
3 of us were making a return trip from Hartford to DC for a fun-filled weekend. We booked our train tickets and our rooms at the Americana back in the early summer. This weekend finally arrived!!!

We groggily got to the Windsor train Station and boarded on-time at 6:25 in the morning. It was the most people I have ever seen getting on the train here. Some got off in NYC but most got off in DC. 2 people even went on to Miami!!! Taking Amtrak from CT is definitely the easiest and most cost-effective way on getting to DC.

We got into DC around 1pm and headed to our hotel. Dropped our bags off and headed back out to Nationals Ballpark.

We got there around 4:30 or so. I ran into the Team Store and bought a Nationals Hat as I realized we were going to be in the sun for the first part of the game. Then we headed to the Red Porch. Enjoyed a good beer selection and split a few appetizers. This was the game where the Nats clinched a playoff spot. Why were people leaving as early as the 7th inning? It made me sick. It was a great game and I really enjoy this stadium. Our seats were in the 2nd row of the 400 level out near the LF foul pole. While it was a good distance above the field, we still had great sightlines to all of the action. We enjoyed the beer selection of a few Flying Dog beers and a Heavy Seas Loose Cannon beer. This is one of the better beer selections I have seen at a stadium at prices typical of most parks (~ $8 / beer). We got back to the hotel at a reasonable hour via Metro and crashed. I think I was asleep before I hit my bed.

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    Friday
    We got up nearly at the crack of dawn or was it before? Leaving everything behind at the hotel, we went to the White House. We had requested this tour through our Senator back in March and got it confirmed for 7:30. Having seen many mixed reviews of it, we were not sure what to expect. We were some of the first people let in and got through security promptly. We ended up really enjoying this tour and saw more than we were expecting to. Afterwards, we went to a Corner Bakery for breakfast which we had enjoyed in Chicago and again really liked it. We then circled back to the hotel and picked up our cameras, etc.

    We made it back to the Portrait Gallery as it was opening as we really took our time getting back here from Crystal City. We spent time walking through the Portrait Gallery and the new Amelia Earhart exhibit and the War of 1812 exhibit. We also revisited some of the other exhibits that we have always enjoyed. This is one of my favorite museums.

    Then we went to the other side and the Art Museum. I am not a fan of Art Museums. I cannot get into them but the Art of the Video Game was a must-see for me. Really enjoyed this exhibit and spent a lot of time going through here. I played Super Mario Bros and Pac-Man on the big screens. These brought back some great memories for me. Then we went through all of the old systems and games. It was a strange selection of games (Attack of the Mutant Camels for instance). The games were chosen via online polls. I participated in these but the polls did not give a great selection. It was still great to see some of the old systems and games. This exhibit is only here through September then it hits the road…

    We left here intent on going to the Air & Space Museum for a little while. While walking from the Portrait Gallery towards it, we got turned around and ended up outside the District Chophouse and Brewery. The draw of fresh beer won and we went inside. We each drank a few beers then a few more… I really enjoy the beer here and generally come here every time I am in DC. I had Crab Bisque for lunch. It was more watery than I usually like but there was a good amount of crab and good spice to it so it was very good.

    Back to the Ballpark, we went. We made a beeline for the Red Porch yet again and enjoyed a few prior to the game. Out to our seats and it was a great game until the 9th inning when their closer blew the game giving up 3 runs. Still had a great time and enjoyed our seats right in front of the Red Porch. Got back to our hotel at a decent hour yet again and crashed.

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    Saturday morning, we got up and headed out to Udvar Hazy Air and Space Museum. This is not an easy trip via public transportation. We took Metro to Rosslyn and then the 5A bus to Dulles. Once we got there, we couldn’t find where the shuttle to the museum was. We then cabbed it over to the museum. What a museum and well worth the time / money (about $12 each way per person). We spent all day here and really enjoyed this museum. Given that we all work on Jet Engines, we had a blast. They just opened the Restoration area and saw the Discovery Space Shuttle. We tried to hotwire the SR-71 to take it for a spin but couldn’t get it going…There are a lot of planes here that are the last ones remaining including some from Japan and Germany during WW2. We spent a lot of time going through the planes from the Luftwaffe as they were really ahead of us in the Air Race at the outset of the war. We ate lunch at the McDonalds there for a lack of other choices.

    We then reversed course and headed back to Rosslyn Metro Station and then to the Ronald Reagan Building for the Capitol Steps. What a show!!! We laughed our butts off. Amazing how timely their show is. We did have a few drinks and a quick dinner at Aria (adjacent to the RR Building) prior to the show. Good beer selection and decent food. I only had soup so it is hard to comment. We got back to our hotel and watched the temperature plummet

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    We got up Sunday morning and headed to the Zoo. Last year it was 95 degrees the day that we headed here. Not today as it was high 60s. Instead of taking the subway all the way out, we took it to Farragutt West and then took the L2 bus straight to the Zoo. Easy ride. We got into the Zoo and started walking around. Many animals were out and playing. We were walking around the Panda exhibit watching the male eat his bamboo buffet when we noticed a lot of worried people running to the Panda building. A couple of hours later, we unfortunately found out that the Panda cub had passed away. Sad news. We then walked through Elephant Trails and the new American Trail. Saw the Gray Seal and the Sea Lions being fed. While at the Lion exhibit, the 2 female cubs were outside playing and roaring loudly. The 2 cheetah cubs were also being playful and putting on a great show. I really enjoyed this zoo and we had a good time. There were a lot of people walking around. Only issue I had was people trying to go through the buildings with strollers. They are too crowded and not much room. Leave them outside if you can. We walked out the back entrance of the zoo as none of us wanted to walk back up the hill.

    The street on the backside of the Zoo is Adams Mill Road. This is also the name of the bar I go to at home so I had to take a picture of a Street Sign!!! We took the H2 bus back to Connecticut Avenue and took the Metro back to Downtown DC.

    We headed for the Capitol City Brewery for lunch and to watch some football. I enjoyed a few of their original beers and had the Brewmaster’s Burger and it was cooked perfectly. Good beer as well. We headed out after the 1:00 games ended and were headed for the Hard Rock Café for a round.

    While walking there, we were passing by Madame Tussaud’s. Yup, we went in. Is it overpriced? Yes. Is it worth the money? Probably not. We still had fun. It is what you make of it. But $23 for a half hour exhibit - which could be generous for time. We got to Tom Cruise and wanted to behead him for the thought of him playing Jack Reacher. Where else can you see all of the Presidents and a lot of celebrities in 1 building? The worst wax model was Babe Ruth’s as it didn’t look like him at all. Off to the Hard Rock Café and we each had a few beers there. Again, another overpriced tourist trap but we liked the setup the last time we were there. We are back at the hotel now drinking Yuengling and watching the Pats play at Baltimore.

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    I'm enjoying your trip report. The kids and my husband did the Art of the Video Game Exhibit and loved it. Interesting to hear how the games were selected; I didn't realize there had been online polls.

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    We have definitely always had a lot of fun in DC.

    This morning we got up and headed to Corner Bakery in Crystal City for a quick breakfast and a break from the hotel breakfast.

    We then headed to Arlington Cemetery. We took the bus tour formerally known as Tourmobile and headed to Kennedy's gravesite. Spent a lot of time here. Note that there is a lot of construction going on renovating Teddy Kennedy's gravesite which has been temporarily relocated near the road. Then we headed to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Due to bad timing, we caught the tail end of the ceremony and had to wait for the next one. Opted to stay put rather than walk around to come back. Enjoyed the heartbreaking ceremony. IT really is amazing how precise it is. WE then walked to the Space Shuttle Memorials to the USS Maine Mast and then to the Confederate Memorial, Rough Riders and the Battle of the Bulge. Lots of memorials and really enjoyable but daunting. Gut-wrenching to see how many graves there are. We then got back on the train and up to Arlington House. The view from up here is amazing. Since there is no furniture in the house, we skipped it yet again and headed out. On the way back down the hill, we saw President Taft's grave and Gen. Omar Bradley's as well as Gen. ABner Doubleday's on the way to Arlington House. There is a lot of construction going on throughout the cemetery so there may be a lot more walking required to see the cemetery.

    We then left Arlington to head to the Monuments and somehow found ourselves at Nationals Ballpark...Wrong turn someplace not quite sure how. Got cheap seats and headed to the Red Porch yet again. Enjoyed the game as the Nationals routed the Brewers 12-2.

    After the game, it was back to our regularly scheduled programming...We headed back to Arlington Cemetery (as we weren't sure which other Metro stop was close to Lincoln Memorial). We walked across the bridge and headed to Korean Memorial. Spent some time walking around it and then back to Lincoln. It wasn't as crowded as last year so we spent some time walking around. We then enjoyed some great views of the newly filled Reflecting Pool. This is definitely a great improvement over the Mud from last year and it is much-needed.

    We then walked to the Vietnam Wall and somberly walked past it while talking about the impact over the War. We took our time walking to World War 2 Memorial. We spent a lot of time here as both my grandparents served in the Military during the War. I really enjoy the design of this memorial. Got some great pictures as the sun was really shining and the fountains were flowing. Finally found the sketch of Kilroy on the Memorial.

    We then walked to Smithsonian Metro Station and jumped on Metro to head towards somewhere to get off of our feet after so much walking...

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    We headed to RFD as we knew it had a great beer selection. We each enjoyed a few different beers trying to stick to different local beers. I had a bratwurst sandwich. Decent food but it was mostly for the beer selection. Afterwards, it was back to our hotel as our feet were ready to fall off, if we hadn't lost them already...

    Heres my feedback on our hotel
    1) They have finally upgraded to the newer style of hotel locks with the Card Keys and deadbolts. This has been a concern on here and on TA. No longer the case.
    2) Breakfast is included but its typically bagels / donuts but stocked and refilled.
    3) The next upgrades need to be the bathrooms. MIne has a couple of broken tiles.

    We know that this is a budget hotel and is all that we need. If you don't want luxury and can tolerate small rooms that need some upgrades, this may be the place for you. All of the employees have been great. But you have to be aware that there could be some minor issues like the broken tiles. Showers have been fine. Its in a great location with a shuttle if you need it. I have stayed here a few times now and have not had an issue.

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