Saturday, July 28, 2012

Washington DC - Day 1

Saturday July 28, 2012

My wife and I have been trying to decide on some things we could do over the remainder of this summer to get out of the house with the kids for a couple of days here or there. One of the things we had discussed was sightseeing in Washington DC. I was a little put off by the idea of it being about a thousand degrees and humid there at this time of year, but that was balanced by being anxious to get back and see some of the sights. I don't think I have been there in about 30 years, other than driving through (or around) on the way to somewhere else. We decided that it was close enough to do a simple weekend trip, leaving Saturday morning and coming back Sunday afternoon. This had the advantage of both not requiring a vacation day as well as being a cheap trip, requiring only one night in a hotel.

Capitol and torn-up Mall
We left home at 8:45am after a leisurely wake up, and hit very little traffic on the way south. We did 95 south as far as Baltimore and then the Baltimore Washington parkway between Baltimore and Washington. We crossed into DC on 50 west almost exactly two hours after leaving home, and pulled into the Grand Hyatt at 10th and H street at 11:20. Check in was 3pm but they had a room ready for us, so we dumped our luggage and went up the Grand Club on the top floor for a quick snack. Part of the overnight package that Amp had signed us up for was use of the Club, and the kids thought the idea of free snacks/drinks/desserts, etc, whenever they wanted them was one of the highlights of the trip.

The three main things that we wanted to see were the Smithsonian American History museum (for all but especially me), the Smithsonian National Air and Space museum (for all of us), and the International Spy museum (for the kids). The hotel was in a terrific location, being only about a 10 minute walk from everything (Capitol, Mall, White House, and all the museums). The American History museum was picked as first up, as it was a short walk south, and shouldn't be too bad a walk despite the mid 90's temperatures and awful humidity. The national museums are all free, so it was just a question of showing up and getting in line to get in.

Another thing that I had looked at before leaving home was where there might be easily do-able geocaches in the area we would be in, and there were many, with the Mall being littered with Virtuals. I would be happy if I could get just a couple. The first attempt at one would be as we walked past Ford's Theatre (the site of the Lincoln assassination). Ford's Theatre turned out to be just around the corner from our hotel, but we couldn't get the required information, as we would need to get into the building or do more investigating than we wanted to take the time for then.

There was a brief wait in the heat outside the American History museum, but it was well worth it. This was a place I could have spent much more time in than we did, with the kids' patience wearing a little thin by the end. Among the highlights for me were the actual Star Spangled Banner flag, and a wide variety of American Revolution and Civil War artifacts.

We then took a cab back to the hotel to freshen up and get a snack before heading back out to the Smithsonian Air and Space museum. I had been to this museum a couple times before, but it is still fun to see, and the planes and space artifacts were of more interest to the kids than the previous museum had been. I am still amazed that people would have gone into space in those tiny little capsules with such primitive looking controls and electronics. [Favorite pics from these two museums will be in following posts]

Dinner at Cure
I got my first DC cache, a virtual right outside the Air and Space museum door, and then we planned to walk the Mall a little for some sightseeing, but they were doing construction and the whole area around where we were was torn up and fenced off. Instead, we hailed a cab and had ourselves driven around past the White House on the way back to the hotel.

Dinner was at a restaurant called Cure Bar and Bistro in the hotel, and it was absolutely fantastic.

The kids wanted to get the dessert at the Grand Club rather than at the restaraunt, so we did that, and then made our way back to our room to watch some of the Summer Olympics on TV before calling it a night. It was a long and busy (and hot!) day, but a very good one. Tomorrow's plan is to see Ford's Theatre and the International Spy Museum for the kids before heading home.

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