Originally published as an email to my friends on August 23, 2001 (just a few weeks before September 11...):
As promised, here’s The D. C. Diaries…Adventures in our Nation’s Capital.
I believe I mentioned that Harry had a business trip scheduled to Washington, and he was going to be gone for a whole week…in the middle of the summer…and I had vacation time coming. 'Well,' I thought to myself, 'What kind of a fool would I be if I didn’t take advantage of this situation?' After all, Washington is well known for its lovely summer weather, and I’d never been there before except when I was 12 and we were driving through during rush hour on our way to make our home and try our fortune in Florida. But don't get me started on that!
So, we took the red-eye out of Sacramento on Saturday night, arriving in Baltimore at 8:30 a.m. As usual, I slept soundly on the plane, awaking refreshed, invigorated, and anxious for adventure (Where’s the nearest bed?!).
We drove to Gaithersburg, where Harry’s account work was to be done. Yes, this was an actual business trip, not a boondoggle…for Harry, anyway! Hee hee. We stayed at the Courtyard, if anyone cares about that kind of thing, this info included just in case anyone is out that way and curious. We were very well treated there, complete with a complimentary shuttle to take me wherever my little heart desired, provided that was a nearby restaurant, the Metro station, or the mall. As it turned out, my little heart desired the Metro station. More on that later.
Since we didn’t want to waste Harry’s day off sleeping, we drove to Manassas to see the site of the Battle of Bull Run. What a lovely, peaceful place. Yet, in my imagination, I could hear the sounds of battle: the shots, the moans, the silence. Since it was the 140th anniversary of the battle, there were re-enactments going on, but we only caught the last of it because we arrived mid-afternoon after checking in, unpacking, and so on. But it was very, very interesting. The weather, by the way, was not at all unpleasantly warm or humid, much to our relief, delight, and comfort.
Next, we visited the over-run-by-Scouts-at-the-National-Jamboree monuments on the Mall, beginning with Vietnam. (Aside…just read a wonderful book called Unwanted by Nguyen…devastating personal account of what it was like for Vietnamese children of American servicemen who were unable to escape the country after the North Vietnamese took over. Back to the monuments…) I’m sure you’re all familiar with all of those famous places, as was I, but there is really nothing like actually being there.
The Vietnam memorial is heartbreaking in its simplicity, each name in a sea of names appearing in silent testament to valor in the face of the enemy, to duty, to sacrifice…and then those names…the ones that evoke painful memories. Paul, Benny, Stan…Girls, there is just no way to describe the emotions you feel when you are there, just no way. Poor Harry. He was in Cub Scouts with those boys, and it was so hard on him to be there.
We stopped by “my” White House for a photo or two (It’s difficult taking movies and pictures at the same time…I need to get Harry to do one or the other so I can concentrate on one or the other!). The surprise there was just how accessible it is. I imagined more visible security and greater distances. But it’s a cute little place, and I surely wouldn’t mind stopping by there for tea…
When we finally got back to the Courtyard after Washington and Lincoln and Korea and Jefferson and who knows what all else (including a bagpiper by the reflecting pool), I, for one, was really, really tired. But not too tired to relax in a bubble bath (We won’t discuss just how badly it was needed…) before falling into bed.
Next up, Day 2 of my Adventures in our Nation's Capital!