East Coast 08, part 1: Welcome to DC

We’ve wanted to take a trip to the East Coast with the kids before we become [even more of] an embarrassment to them. This was the year to quit talking about it and put our money where our mouths were.

Weather in Seattle: high of 70, humidity 77%

We took a short hop from Seattle to Portland, then boarded an Airbus A320 (with apologies to my Dad, who was a Boeing engineer) for the overnight flight to Philadelphia. The *idea* was to sleep on the plane, wake up at 6:00 AM in Philly for our final connection, then arrive bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in Washington, DC’s National Airport. We arrived in DC about 9:00 AM, bleary-eyed and dragging our tails behind us along with our carry-on bags. By the time we navigated the subways and towed luggage several blocks to our accommodations, we didn’t need to comment on Washington’s heat and humidity – and it was still morning.

Weather in DC: high of 97, humidity 81%

We stayed in a great two-bedroom, air-conditioned apartment with a full kitchen and washer/dryer, about a ten-minute walk to the Capitol and two subway stations. Groceries we’d ordered online arrived shortly after we did. After unpacking garb and grub, Susan and I walked around the quiet and mostly residential neighborhood before returning to join the kids in taking naps. We woke up in time to fix dinner, play cards, and do a little reading before going to bed early.

High of 93, humidity 79%

First day out and about we walked to Union Station, a grand old structure beautifully restored and home to more than 100 shops, with restaurants and movie theaters to boot. Oh yeah – and it’s also a train and subway station. We climbed on an open air tour bus to get a feel for the city.

During our stop at Arlington National Cemetery (where more than 300,000 people have been put to rest), we learned that 30 burial services take place there every day. Miles upon miles of grave markers stand as stark reminders of the terrible costs of wars. We also saw the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns. This somber ritual shows a proper respect for lives lost in military service (and I’m trying hard to resist commentary about the current administration).

By the time the bus returned to the National Mall, we were ready for some air conditioning. Took a quick run through the National Air and Space Museum before joining the throngs in the cafeteria for lunch. After we’d cooled off and refilled our water bottles, we walked to the International Spy Museum. The museum’s executive director was with the CIA for 36 years, and his advisory board includes two former CIA directors, two former CIA disguise chiefs, and a retired KGB general. That explains some of its authentic ambience. Zack enjoyed it most, but there was enough information (and intrigue) to make it interesting for all of us. Considering that the instruments and techniques displayed are decades old (at least), it makes one wonder what’s possible with current technology. Seems unlikely that there’s much going on in the world that American spy agencies “don’t know” about. Kinda creepy. On the lighter side, notable displays included: a copy of the Aston Martin DB5 used in the 1964 James Bond film “Goldfinger” (complete with machine guns, tire slashers, bulletproof shield, oil jets, dashboard radar screen, rotating license plate, and ejector seat); a 1960’s shoe transmitter used by the KGB; a lipstick pistol; a coat with a buttonhole camera; a tree stump listening device; and a homing device hidden inside a piece of real-looking dog poop.

After a delicious hot dog dinner, we went up on the apartment roof to watch the sun set behind the Capitol dome and the Washington Monument, then played cards with the kids before turning in.


One response to “East Coast 08, part 1: Welcome to DC

  1. Sounds like fun, Tom.

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