After leaving Columbia, SC on Tuesday, Cathy and I headed back on the road for the 7 hour journey to DC. The drive itself really wasn't as bad as anticipated and we didn't really hit traffic until we got to DC. Granted the traffic we did encounter was fairly tame compared to what it could've been. We were able to successfully find our hostel, got checked in, and then jumped on the metro to start our exploration of this grand city.
We took the metro down to the National Mall and walked around for about 3 1/2 hours, taking in as much of the city as we could. The Washington Monument is currently under construction due to the effects of the earthquake that hit Virginia in 2011, so we weren't able to go up into that. However, I personally think that the scaffolding adds a bit to the monument, especially when it's lit up at night. Abraham Lincoln was visited and his famous speeches were reread. The Korean War, Marin Luther King, Jr., Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Thomas Jefferson Memorials were also visited and checked off our list. We ended the night by taking in the White House while listening to some teenagers discuss the making of the movie "White House Down" and how amazed they were that the White House was still in tact.
The next day, we boarded the metro bright and early and continued our assault. The Vietnam War Memorial, National Holocaust Memorial Museum, Natural History Museum, and Air and Space Museum were all visited, absorbed, and appreciated by noon. We then headed back to our hostel to go and meet up with my former babysitter, Rosa, and her family for lunch. It was so great to see her, Maria, Jose, Stewart and the new family additions (Jose's wife Sylvia and their baby girl Isabelle). I haven't seen them since I was in high school, so the catch-up time was definitely appreciated and welcomed. Rosa made empanadas, which were delicious as always! Following lunch, Cathy and I headed back to see Arlington National Cemetery, Ford's Theater, and the Iwo Jima Memorial. By the time we got back to our hostel, we were both beat and passed out immediately!
Thursday, we departed from DC with Pennsylvania as our final destination! Along the way, we made a few pit stops - one in Baltimore, MD and the other in Philadelphia, PA. These stops were filled with scenic overlooks, historic sites, and one hilarious encounter at a souvenir shop...
One of the things that I collect whenever I travel is shot glasses. I have over 40 shot glasses from all over the world. Of course, this trip is no different. While in Philadelphia, we stopped at a souvenir shop so I could purchase my Philadelphia addition. While checking out, the following conversation occurred:
Worker (who happens to be Chinese): Are you Asian?
Worker: Are you sure? You eyes look Asian - maybe Chinese?
Me: Nope - pretty sure that I'm German and not any bit Asian
Worker: Hmmm...me think you Chinese once
Me: Well I'm not quite sure how to take that, but I'm definitely a descendant from Europe.
This conversation continued on for another 15 minutes, in which she offered Cathy and I about 10 maps of Philly, suggestions of what to see (including the lady that sewed the flag's house), where to get the best Philly Cheese Steak in town, directions on how to get to the Rocky Steps and Statue, an attempt to get me to purchase a Rocky shirt, and other things. All I wanted was a shot glass - I ended up with a whole lot more!
Now this story is especially funny because this year I helped put together the yearbook for our AmeriCorps year. One of the things that we asked the members to send in was baby pictures. The baby picture that I submitted is below:
As you can see, I was not only a bit of a clunker as a child, but I also had some Asian similarities (I blame the hat). Phetsada, the only true Asian in our group this past year, loved this picture and assured me that people would think that this was her. At our informal graduation, that theory was proven true as almost all of our members thought this was her baby picture. Needless to say there were a few shocked faces when it turned out to actually be me! So the fact that 26 years later I'm still being asked if I'm Asian or not makes me wonder if this picture has somehow gotten out and about!
We ended up making it Easton, PA around 5:30 and went and saw one of Cathy's friends, Annie. She treated us out to tacos and ice cream. I'm excited to meet family and friends of Cathy's and see where she grew up. We'll be in PA for a week, which will also be a nice break from the constant road time. Who really knows what the course of the next week will hold for us! Stay tuned and find out!