I was curious about Washington DC. I’d been before a few times – most recently was a trip five years ago when I’d JUST started blogging. I went with two friends and had an absolutely wonderful time. We did museums, galleries, shops, bars and I absolutely loved the city. However part of it was the thrill of being in the Washington of President Obama, wondering if we might see him or his wife. Putting it simply, I wondered if DC may have lost its glitter in my eyes, due to its latest inhabitant.
It turned out to be both yes and no. Yes because seeing the White House felt quite ‘meh’ and I no longer looked up eagerly at every helicopter or black-window car wondering who was inside. But no, because DC is bigger than one man and its splendors outshine the person who’s living in the White House. Every time we drove over the river into DC (we stayed in Arlington) and I saw the Washington Monument in the distance, I felt like I was in a Tom Clancy novel!
We had five nights and five days in DC. This was a delight because we have been traveling round non-stop since Hawaii and we all relished the chance to actually unpack our bags and hang things in the wardrobes, to form some kind of routine and to actually be in one place for a more extended amount of time. Clearly I’m not complaining about this trip of a lifetime but moving around constantly is draining as well as thrilling and we loved being in DC for a little longer.
The first port of call is always the National Mall, which is always amazing. We rented bikes and set out to explore. This proved really hard actually because it was incredibly hot – it was easily 38C/100F but felt much hotter and although we only cycled 8 miles in total, it completely wiped us out. I have never felt so hot in my entire life and my boys felt the same way. It drained our energy and made us incredibly grumpy! There was a lot of snapping at each other…until we returned to the splendor of our air-conditioned hotel room and miraculously we were all effortlessly friends again.
The next day, we went to run parkrun at Roosevelt Island. This is a lovely little place, new to me…a small island in the middle of the Potomac River with a memorial to every outdoorsy person’s favourite president. I ran to the race, getting in a few extra miles and then ran a bit further, volunteering to put a sign at a junction for the organizer. I’d done 2.6 miles before the race and was literally dripping with sweat. There were about 80 people doing the run. It was a beautiful course on packed-dirt trails through the trees (lots of shade). We did the alternative route as the boardwalk was closed and it looped and looped and looped until I wondered if I’d got lost…but apparently no. It was incredibly hard work for all of us – my time was 30 minutes which is dreadful for me but we all ran MUCH slower than we’d expected or hoped, leading me to think that the heat, humidity and the battering we’d taken on the bikes the next day had defeated us. Oh well. The park run was great though, hugely recommended if you’re in the area.
I took the boys to the Cat Cafe in Georgetown. I miss Charlie so much, it was wonderful to snuggle with cats for an hour or so.
We visited some museums in the Smithsonian…the Museum of American History, the National Gallery of Art and the Sculpture Garden…
My cousin Tina came to see us one afternoon at the Air and Space Museum. This was both a success and a failure. I haven’t seen Tina for 20 years but we basically hit it off like besties immediately and had a blast. It was also great to meet her husband and her FOUR sons at last. However the Air and Space Museum was rammed beyond belief, far too busy for anyone to actually explore the place, particularly when you’re trying to keep an eye on six boys, and it was a bit of a disaster. We had more fun when we went outside, found some shade and just had snacks together. But so good to see Tina.
We went to watch my other cousin’s daughter playing in her Little League Championships. My boys hadn’t seen much baseball so this was good fun.
On the Monday it was the Husband’s birthday. We went to the absolutely excellent Udvar-Hazy Air and Space Museum. It’s located near Dulles airport and is ENORMOUS. It houses a space shuttle, the Discovery, along with hundreds of other remarkable planes. I don’t even like Air and Space Museums and I thought it was fantastic. The highlight was the beautiful Blackbird (the fastest plane on earth) which was physically gorgeous and the Top Gun style simulators. I flew as Goose to the Husband’s Maverick. The simulators were incredible, we were upside down half the time, and I managed to shoot down nine enemy planes which had us as ‘Aces’. This peace-loving girl turned out to be surprisingly thrilled at smashing the enemy!
The other cool thing we did was an Escape Room for the Husband’s birthday. Escape Rooms are when you’re locked in a room with series of puzzles linked to a storyline. You solve the puzzles and the room unlocks. I wasn’t sure what it would be like and if I’d be okay being locked in a room but it was absolutely brilliant and we had a blast. We solved the puzzle and got out alive!
On our final morning, I was up with the birds and set off for a long run into DC (we stayed over the river in Arlington). It was a fantastic run. I got to the Mall at 6.30 where it was just the runners and Abraham Lincoln. The light was beautiful, the air was relatively cool and we had the Mall to ourselves. I just ran and ran and it was gorgeous. 9.5 miles before breakfast and I was so happy.
And that was it. We packed up our car and headed north out of DC and past NYC. New England was calling.