Our Trip to Washington DC – Summer 2015
Karen was the official keeper of this account of our vacation.
We dropped Ben off in Iowa City at about 5:30 and picked up Rachel and her bags. She spent the night at our house so we could get an early start in the morning.
We left Cedar Rapids at 8:15am and arrived in Fremont, Ohio at about 6:00 pm. After we checked into our hotel, we drove to John Thorp’s grave at the Deyo Cemetery before it got dark. Butch wanted to show Rachel some of the history of the Thorpe ancestors.
John Thorp is the oldest ancestor born and buried in the U.S. that we know of. He was born in 1792. Genealogists have figured out his birth date from the death date and age carved on his tombstone. He died in Clyde, Ohio in 1850. Then we went to another cemetery to find some MacInyre and Lemmon ancestors. We ate dinner at the Denny’s next to our hotel when we got back. We all had very bad food.
Sunday – ate breakfast at the same Denny’s (much better at breakfast) and were on the road to Rockville,MD by 8:30 am. We went through Clyde, Ohio, on the way to the interstate and passed by an interesting roadside attraction, the Twistee Treat ice cream store.
There were many beautiful views while driving through the Allegheny Mountains. Rachel was impressed by the fancy rest stops all along the route. We saw a grey fox dart across the road along with at least one deer. We also listened to a book on tape about a detective named Bert and his dog Chet.
We arrived in Rockville about 4:30. Our hotel and room were very nice. We had a king sized bed in a bedroom with an extra sitting room. Rachel slept on a hide-a-bed in there.
It had a nice outside pool, a laundry room, and a very good complimentary breakfast each day. (Eggs, bacon, sausage, fresh fruit, waffles etc.) they also provided a shuttle to the Rockville metro station that left on the hour. That was a big feature that made us choose this particular place.
We were all very tired and full from lunch so we just relaxed in our room and watched Poldark before bed.
Monday- We had the complimentary breakfast and planned to take the hotel shuttle to the Rockville metro station.
The 9:00 shuttle was full so we didn’t get on. We went back to our room and came downstairs for the 10:00 shuttle but it left before we got there. We finally caught the 11:00 shuttle and at the station we had to figure out how to pay and enter the train area. A very kind attendant let Butch and I go through without paying since we had to buy our Senior’s Smartrip card at Metro Center. She helped us buy a card for Rachel from a machine.
When we got to Metro Central stop we bought our cards and loaded up Rachel’s. Our senior discount made our trips cost half as much as Rachel’s. From the metro, we took a very HOT walk to the American History Museum. Rachel had forgotten her sun glasses and her eyes watered so much she could hardly see. Fortunately she got that under control after a while.
We saw Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers, Kermit the Frog, Lincoln’s top hat, and all of the First Ladies’ Inaugural gowns. After lunch in the cafeteria, we went to the Natural History Museum. We arrived there fairly late in the afternoon and the crowds were horrible. We were exhausted after a couple of hours and really had a hard time seeing much. We liked the mammals, and the gem and mineral exhibits the best. We walked back to the metro and realized we were riding back to our hotel during rush hour. We stood for the entire ride (about half an hour) in an incredibly crowded car. We called our shuttle and after a wait were glad to be on our way “home.”
Later, after we revived a bit we went out to a really nice Indian restaurant for dinner. The food was very good and we all ate too much.
Tuesday- We had decided to buy a Hop On, Hop Off tour to see the sights. We rode the Metro to Union Station during rush hour again. Since Rockville is near the end of the Red Line, we were able to get seats but not together. More and more people kept getting on at every stop. Each time, I thought that they would look at our car and decide it was too full to fit on but every time they just squeezed in tighter. I was nervous because there were so many people we could no longer see each other. Thankfully, a whole bunch of people got off at Metro Center and Rachel could come sit with me. When we got to Union Station we boarded a BigBus Tour with Mike as our guide. We rode on the open top which was in the blazing sun but it was early in the day and not too hot yet and it had a bit of a breeze. Luckily we all had our hats so it wasn’t too bad. Mike was very entertaining and had a passion for telling stories so we learned a lot. The drive was about two hours so we got to see a almost every building and monument of note.
Back at Union Station there were many lunch choices and we all picked what we liked. We then got back on another BigBus and rode to the Jefferson Memorial. By now it was beastly hot and humid and the walk around the memorial to climb the stairs was very uncomfortable. I love that memorial and Jefferson is a favorite of mine so I guess it was worth it. While we were there a beautiful cecropia moth landed on the floor by Butch’s bench. It lay there posing for pictures. Lots of people gathered around to see it and we worried it would be stepped on but everyone was careful and protective of it.
We waited for the next shuttle to take us to the Lincoln Memorial. We were limp with heat and sweat by the time we got there. The crowds were thick and we took a few pictures and enjoyed the view. We walked on to the Korean War Memorial which is is very emotional. It is 15 or so slightly bigger than life statues of ordinary soldiers walking through a rice paddy in ponchos and full gear. Each one has a unique face. Some look scared but most look weary. I have seen it before but that one really gets to me.
By the time we finished there, we were so wrung out we were ready to go home. We waited for our tour bus but it stopped a ways from the bus stop and a whole crowd of people rushed to get on. We were first in line but ended up without a place. We were so tired and hot we flagged down a taxi to take us back to Union Station. It really didn’t cost that much and was well worth every single penny. This time we made it onto a train before rush hour and were able to get a seat and had a comfortable ride back to Rockville.
As soon as we got home we put on our suits for a refreshing dip in the pool. It was an outside pool and was a pretty good size. It took some time before we finally felt cool again.
Our dinner choice that night was Italian and we found a nice restaurant that was only about a mile away. Butch had Chicken Milanaise with lemon cream sauce and capers. Rachel went with her favorite Fettacine Alfredo and I had Pasta Diavolo which was seafood in a spicy sauce. Everything was very good and the restaurant had a nice atmosphere. We laughed and joked and had a very nice time.
We got home In time to listen to a little of our audio book and then we all turned in early. I think everyone had a good night’s sleep after our hot day of sightseeing. As we were going to bed, Rachel and I decided being on vacation was hard work.
Wednesday – Today we decided to sleep in a little. We also didn’t want to take the train into DC during rush hour. We had breakfast and came down to catch the 10:00 shuttle. At about 10:10, a desk clerk came outside where we were waiting and told us that the shuttle had some mechanical problems and had been taken to the shop. We asked her to call a taxi for us and had to wait around for another 20 minutes for one to arrive.
We had planned to split up. Rachel and I left the metro station and walked about 5 blocks to get to the Holocaust Museum. We got our timed ticket at the desk and only had to wait about a half hour until it was our turn to go in. The exhibit is very somber and moving. There are also many horrifying images of all that went on. The videos taken by allied troops as the got to Auschwitz and other camps were almost too much to watch. For me, the movie at the end with survivors telling about their experiences was the hardest. I can’t imagine enduring so much. It was especially hard hearing from parents who were separated from their children and were not ableto hold and comfort them through the terrifying things that happened. Rachel and I each bought a mug with a hopeful message and Rachel also bought a book.
While we were at the Holocaust Museum, Butch went to the Air and Space Museum.
The two of us took a taxi to the Hirshhorn Museum to meet up with Butch. There is a beautiful sculpture garden on the grounds that we strolled through. Rachel and Butch took lots of pictures.
We decided that we had had our fill of museums and were ready to call it a day. Besides it was hotter than Hades again. Outside the museum we caught a metro bus to Union Station. When we arrived, we picked out a Mediterranean Restaurant and had some delicious food for lunch. Rachel tried couscous for the first time and liked it! A horizon expanded!!! When we finished lunch we hopped on the metro to return to the hotel.
Since we were leaving the next day, I took the opportunity to do some laundry. It was expensive and uncomfortable but good to have some clean clothes. Neither Butch nor Rachel were up for a dip in the pool so I went by myself. Doing laundry was hot work so it felt good to relax there for a while.
We went down to the hotel cafe for a pizza and a couple of beers before turning in. For the record, Rachel stuck to coke.