31st Jan 2008 - 1st Feb 2008
Another long haul day of van appreciation and we find ourselves at the penultimate stop on my list of plenty, the capital of the United States of America, home to the most powerful man in the world (worrying isn’t it!), Washington DC.
We arrived when it was dark and not long after we check in to our hotel we’re back in the van and doing an ‘illumination tour’ of some of the city’s most famous sights, its one thing to see some of these extremely famous buildings at all but when lit up at night…very cool! First things first we dive in at the deep end the Capitol Building itself, home of the senate and the power behind America’s governing body, the dome looked particularly impressive under the lights, it kinda hits home when you see it in person exactly where you’re stood, directly in front of the epicentre of world politics. If you do a 180 on the spot you’re looking at Washington’s most famous memorial, the Washington Monument, the centre of Washington DC and a prime view of The Capitol Building, Lincoln Memorial and the White House.
Next stop on the illumination tour was the Jefferson Memorial, you’ll come to learn that DC has only 2 types of buildings, anything that exists within the capitol is either a political building or some sort of memorial, that’s it! So the Jefferson Memorial, a rather cool dome type building with a big bronze statue of the man himself inside with the walls decorated in scriptures of his four most famous speeches, including the one where he said ‘we hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal’, I think if he knew Arnie was going into politics he might have had to rethink that one!
Next was the absolutely amazing Lincoln Memorial, you’ve seen it on TV but you’ve no idea how big it actually is, I certainly hope it wasn’t to scale or he would have scared the shit out of the voting public! The building itself looks like a Greek building, surrounded by giant columns and made of white stone, (but then every building in DC is white, seriously!) Its empty inside the building which looks more like an alcove filled with the giant statue of the bearded top hat wearing legend himself, you practically had to queue if you wanted to get a decent photo with it.
Immediately in front of the Lincoln Memorial is the Korean War Memorial (remember what I said earlier, its either a political building or a war memorial, nothing else exists in DC!!) so before we headed back to the hotel for a beer we thought we’d check it out, the scary part was that all the statues of soldiers were life sized and it was pitch black so it created a very life-like atmosphere, quite eerie really.
Next day when the sun was shining…well, when it was daylight anyway, I decided to spend the free day walking my ass off to see as many of these famous tourist spots as possible, as I’ve already said there wasn’t much else to do, at least nothing that stood out that was more a appropriate and effective use of my time than visiting these numerous memorials and monuments. The first stop was an obvious one, the aptly named white house, now after a slightly embarrassing moment of mistaking the white house for the US Treasury Dept (Dave and I just looked at it and said ‘well, its greyer than it looks on TV…!) and to be fair it was right next door and looks very similar to the front entrance! Anyway we found the back entrance and wondered how long it would take us to get arrested for being undercover terrorists, we wisely decided to move on before we found out, but not before we loitered at the front entrance to get that all important snap shot.
After that the rain started to hammer down so Dave called it a day and sat in Starbucks all day but with the shame of his Mexico achievement still fresh in my mind I was determined to make the most of it and soldiered on. I passed loads of interesting buildings but I’m only going to mention the major ones. There was the WWII Memorial (which lies between the Washington and Lincoln Memorials), I revisited the Jefferson Memorial as it was on my way and wanted to see it in daylight, The Franklin D Roosevelt Memorial (we have nothing to fear but fear itself) complete with what I can’t decide is a Westie or a Scottie, back to the Korean War Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial which looks just as impressive in daylight as it does at night. Then there was the three Vietnam War Memorials which to me just seems a bit excessive, ok so I know they lost but surely one is enough, WWII only got one for Gods sake!
Next I made my way to Arlington Memorial Cemetary, home of Arlington House, the grave of JFK and his wife, the Memorial Amphitheatre and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, I passed Theodore Roosevelt Island on the way which was pretty dull really and a memorial for the Seabees who apparently were the engineers that built ships during times of war usually while ones taking place and their under attack! Brave, but stupid!
Believe it or not it was no short walk to get to these sights as they were spread out all over, and with the rain still pissing down I was starting to get grumpy, but I figured I was already soaked through so may as well press on. It just so happened that the next spot I wanted to see was actually well out of the city centre but worth seeing anyway, I wasn’t about to let a little thing like rain and pneumonia stop me! I was off to see the Iwo Jima Memorial, that one where all the soldiers are fighting to get the flag in the ground, it’s iconic!
After that I was pretty knackered and I’d been on my drenched feet for hours, I was beginning to think being around all these war memorials and walking in the rain as I had been was going to give me trench foot! So I started back for the hotel, but I noticed that on the map I was looking at my hotel was actually quite near a few other sights of interest, so in for a penny in for a pound. I happened to chance upon the house honest Abe died in! The opera house he was shot in was directly across the street from the place he died, it was decided that they didn’t have time to take him to hospital so they took him to the closest bed they could which was obviously right across the street, so he died in a simple town house belonging to complete strangers! Around the corner was the J Edgar Hoover building the FBI building itself, complete with big ass sign to tell potential terrorists or anyone else pissed off with them exactly where they are, now that’s smart aint it!
When I finally made it back to my hotel I peeled off my now second skin and slept for a few hours cos I was absolutely knackered! We went out for a meal and a few beers and to catch up on what everyone else had done that day and to enjoy what would be our last official night on the trek America tour (and my last night on official tour of my whole trip!) and we just happened to come across one more memorial as we made our way to another bar, the Star Spangled Banner memorial??? I always thought it was a song, their national anthem or something, why the hell would it need a memorial? SONGS CAN’T DIE!!
So, moving on to my last official day of my last official trip, bring on… New York!
Washington DC 1 - www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=185564&l=3b417&id=699720654
Washington DC 2 - www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=185580&l=dd47b&id=699720654
George Washington obviously had issues...
I really wanted to hold a sign saying 'I love Bush'!
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