Monday morning, bright and early, I embarked on my second trip to our nation's capital. Last time I set foot in the city: 1997. Back in 1997 I was 14. I had a similar haircut, owned a cross body bag and had a fondness for sleeveless shirts. I had recently completed the 8th grade and took a bus to Washington D.C. (+ more) with other cool kids.
We did cool things like stay up late, tour Presidential Monuments, played cards in hotel rooms, met boys from other cities who were so cute and named Ryan. We also rode all the water rides wearing our loud colored one-piece bathing suits with shorts and glow sticks in our hair at Busch Gardens. I don't remember much of the trip, but I do have an elaborately captioned photo album to remind me what people wore in 1997 and all the sights we took in on the bus adventure. That kid in the sunglasses looking smiley but anxious, that's me. That bag likely contains a souvenior pressed penny from a museum.
This trip to D.C. was a little different:
I stayed in Alexandria, VA while in town and surprisingly conquered my fear of public transit.
(More about the must-see and must-eat spots in Alexandria coming in a follow up post.)
This trip, 17 years (gasp! I'm that old?!) later, was a little different. More beer and fancy dinners, less supervision. You know, grown up luxuries. I did manage to carve out a couple hours for sightseeing and figure out the super-easy-to-use D.C. Metro system. Truth be told: I took a cab from the Westin to the National Mall which wasn't my smartest choice. $30 later I was in D.C. at 7am.
Tip for tourists: no one is on the Mall at 7am other than runners. Worker-outters were everywhere. EVERYWHERE.
I walked the Mall for a couple hours, sweating although I was not running. At the Lincoln Memorial there was a giant CrossFit crew whooping and getting a team photo taken. (I'm assuming it was CrossFit. They looked like a gang of really fit people wearing nice work out gear who were jumping over each other and running up and down the steps. Sorry if this is offensive to CrossFit. I mean this lovingly.)
I chanced upon a gentleman on a bike having a quiet, meaningful moment at the Vietnam War Memorial that reminded me of my trip there in 1997. I walked until my legs ached and then mapped myself to the Metro station, anxiously.
My early morning D.C. exploration mission was nothing like my original trip, but I still felt that same reverence. Even as a 14-year-old I gasped a little at the sight of these monuments. It's just so grand, so much history captured, so much to honor. I smiled the whole 22 minutes back to Alexandria. (And only spent $5 on that trek.)