DC Trip report

Nov 14th, 2007, 01:01 PM
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DC Trip report

Went to DC for a weekend get away on the first weekend of the month on a "last minute" package through Travelocity. It included direct flights on US Air to Washington National, and two nights at the Holiday Inn National Airport. The Holiday Inn provides a shuttle to the airport and the Crystal City Metro Stop.

I had a good time Friday evening. After checking into the hotel, I caught the Metro into the City and went to the Jazz Cafe in the National Museum of Natural history where the Statesmen of Jazz were performing.

While enjoying the show, I had a light supper. It was pretty good salmon accompanied by parsnips and stuffed tomato. Neither vegetable appealed to me, and it was my first meal of the day so I was still hungry.

When the set ended, I decided to check how much of the Museum could be seen - there were several exhibits in the hallways. But I stumbled across a dedication ceremony in the Rotunda. The "Discovering Rastafari" exhibit was opening that night (and will continue for a year). I listened to a bit of the ceremony, enjoying the costumes and music, then noticed that people were moving on into the exhibit.

The way to the exhibit was through the Dinosaurs/Hall of Paleobiology, and the Hall of Mammals. With no one around, I enjoyed a quiet "Night at the Museum" experience as I toured the two halls. I also walked through the African Voices exhibit and looked briefly into the packed Rastafarian exhibit.

Instead of returning to the Jazz Cafe, I wandered out onto the National Mall and photographed a few of the monuments and buildings. The Capital building looks very impressive at night.

Returning to the Hotel about 9PM, I was still hungry and tried Kabob Palace a few blocks from the hotel. The dishes I had were Indian, tasty but greasy.

Saturday morning my first stop was the White House, where I took photos of the front, rear and the National Christmas Tree, then walked over to the Washington Monument where I had reserved a 9AM tour. Folks had been waiting since well before the 9AM opening and I was the last one there for 9AM. The wait on the hill at the base of the monument was windy and cold. The only time I was cold all weekend.

My photos from the top of the monument came out fairly well considering how dirty the windows were. There was a bit of a wait for the elevator back down and when it came, I made a mistake getting in the middle of the elevator. They slow the elevator and defog the doors on the way down, letting people at the two ends view some of the memorial stones on the interior of the monument.

Then I raced to Bike the Sites, arriving a few minutes late for the 10AM tour. There was only one other family taking the tour and my tardiness wasn't a problem.

Bicycles are definitely the way to cover the Mall area, and I enjoyed the easy 7-8 mile ride. I would have enjoyed it more if we had taken a few minutes to enter a couple of the monuments. We saw the exterior of most of the National museums, as well minor monuments and major ones such as WW2, Korea, Vietnam, Washington, Lincoln. Many of the monuments and some of the museums are new since my last visit.

During a brake I asked the guide (Josh) about the Einstein Memorial, and since we were a small group, there was time to stop there near the end of the tour. The childlike bronze figure of Einstein is sprawled and made a great spot for the family to pose for what I bet is their Christmas photo.

Overall, the DC tour is my least favorite of the 4 bike tours I have done in major cities, but I am still glad I went. The Preferred Rider discount that I found made it better. The discount code for any of the rest of you is "refer05" which gives $10 off the $40 charge.

For lunch, I stopped at the food court in the Old Post Office Pavilion next door to Bike The Sites. The unplanned stop was great. I enjoyed a large gyro sandwich, good fries and a drink for only $5.50, while listening to another jazz combo.

From there I went to the National Archive, one of the few major museums I didn't visit during my trips in the 1980s. There is a museum in the building, but the stand out attraction at the Archives is the three "Charters of Freedom" -- the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. They are in a small rotunda with a few other old documents.

The room is kept very dim, and the documents are behind glass in a special atmosphere. It is disappointing to see how badly they have faded. The writing on the Declaration of Independence is almost completely illegiable. Only the largest writing can be read.

There were still a couple of hours until the show at Kennedy Center, but after a lot of time on my feet in the past 24 hours, I decided to head for the Center and chill out before the show. I read a bit and enjoyed the views of the Potomac River. It would have been even better if there was somewhere I could sit and watch the water.

The show was Shear Madness, which has been performed in the Theatre Lab at Kennedy Center for about 8,500 performances. It is the second longest running play in the history of the American Theatre (Boston and Chicago productions of Shear Madness are the first and third.) I had a seat at a table to the side of the stage, only about 5 feet away and close enough that the performers spoke to us during the intermission.

Shear Madness is a comic whodunit with a small cast. Following the off stage murder (above a Washington hair salon), the house lights are brought us and the audience is encouraged to provide advice and assistance to the police. Midway though the second act, a vote is taken regarding who was guilty, and the balance of the show is played accordingly.

The crowd seemed to enjoy the show more than I. Some had seen it several times. I liked it better after the audience became involved - both for their interaction, and for improvisation. The show was only $44 including fees.

Before leaving the Washington University area, I stopped for supper at Kinkeads, a crowded, upscale three level bar and restaurant off Pennsylvania Avenue. There was a long wait for tables, but I found a space at the bar which was mostly filled with other people dining.

I had lobster & shrimp bisque (not much meet but still very good), fried Ipswich clams appetizer and French Fries. A very nice meal. Service was a bit slow, but the people watching was good and a pianist was playing light jazz. The bar tender was having a tough time at the end. He gave me the wrong check. When I pointed it off, he threw it away, then proceeded to give me another copy of the same wrong check.

Sunday morning I was up fairly early and went to the airport to rent a car to go to Baltimore for the day. But my travel was cut short when a vehicle cut me off on the Beltway, forcing me into another vehicle. No one was hurt, but the vehicles were no longer drivable and by the time things were settled, my heart was no longer in the trip. I caught an earlier flight home.
Keith is offline  
Nov 14th, 2007, 01:18 PM
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Keith, I'm sorry about the accident and glad you were not hurt. I hear that it is especially stressful when it happens outside your home "turf", so to speak.

When did you take this trip? Was the weather good? I thought the archives was awesome.
JJ5 is offline  
Nov 14th, 2007, 02:09 PM
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Thanks, JJ.

This was a week and a half ago, the first weekend in November. Weather was nice for the season.

Keith is offline  
Nov 14th, 2007, 04:19 PM
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Keith, so sorry about your accident. May your next trip be full of only happy surprises. Was it spooky to wander through the dinosaur bones outside of regular museum hours, with few tourists? I didn't know they have things like jazz at the Natural History museum, where we spent a lot of time. Interesting. By the way I'll eat that stuffed tomato for you, and my husband will eat the parsnips!

Thanks for posting, even though you are probably still feeling a bit blue about the ending of your trip.
Melissa5 is offline  
Nov 14th, 2007, 04:33 PM
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I feel for ya Keith. What an awful ending to the trip for you.
Sounds like you need to start planning the next trip to get the sour taste out.
Thanks for posting nonetheless.
Best wishes, Nate
panhandle is offline  
Nov 15th, 2007, 04:25 AM
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I wouldn't say if felt spooky, it was more of an air of expectation, that something wonderful might be about to happen.

I do have another trip in the works, Costa Rica in January. Though I haven't done any additional planning since the DC trip. It has changed me a bit.

Keith is offline  
Nov 15th, 2007, 07:31 AM
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I was happy to see that you wrote a trip report about your DC visit. Your 'Night at the Museum' was pretty cool. It sounds like you were having a great time, up until that last day. I'm so sorry that happened to you. Driving around DC can be hellish. It can be even more dangerous when you are standing around the vehicles trying to sort things out afterward. It's good to hear that nobody was hurt. Was it the accident that changed you a bit?

I'm curious about why the DC bike tour was your least favorite of the ones you've taken. Where was your favorite?

We saw Shear Madness a few months ago. It's been playing at the Kennedy Center since the beginning of time, but we'd never seen it. I thought the show was okay if you want to go to a performance at the KC and nothing else is available. It was more or less like a dinner theater show without the dinner trough. It seems to function mostly as a reliable show for tour groups.

I'm sorry you never made it Baltimore. I was interested in hearing your opinion of it. I hope you'll give it another try sometime soon.
Devonmcj is offline  
Nov 15th, 2007, 08:01 AM
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DH and I are moving from the KC area to DC (next week!). I looked at the website for the Jazz Cafe in the National Museum of Natural history. There is no menu listed. How much was your salmon with the vegetables that I wouldn't like either. (why would they serve parsnips?)

I've been looking forward to moving so I can do less driving. Your accident has me worried. Traffic in DC is horrible.
BoniseA is offline  
Nov 15th, 2007, 04:23 PM
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Keith: As long as you stay out of the city, there isn't much traffic in Costa Rica...just bumpy roads and curvy mountain roads. Costa Rica is amazing! We fell in love with the incredible rainforests and cloud forests and plan to go back. Have a great time...you deserve some good luck now!
Melissa5 is offline  
Nov 16th, 2007, 11:27 AM
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BoniseA, just checked my credit card recept: $24.42. No service charge, since you wait on yourself. But there is also a $10 cover for the music.

And thanks again to everyone for the encouragement. The accident really knocked the wind of might sails. I'm just getting back to normal now.

I don't know about another trip to that area - it seems cursed. A year ago I attended a convention in Silver Spring, MD. When we went to checkout of the hotel, the rental car had been stolen out of valet parking.

Keith is offline  
Nov 17th, 2007, 08:44 AM
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Photos from the trip: http://www.mightymac.org/07washingtondc1.htm

Keith is offline  
Nov 17th, 2007, 09:56 AM
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Wonderful photos. Makes me feel I was there. Thanks!
cigalechanta is offline  
Nov 18th, 2007, 09:32 AM
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Nice photos and report!

It does take a while to get back to center after an auto accident. It must be even worse when it happens away from home. Hopefully you will be feeling ready to be off on new adventures soon.
mlgb is offline  
Nov 18th, 2007, 01:05 PM
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Your pictures are really nice.
pgh1974 is offline  

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