Washington D.C.

I flew into Washington D.C. this week for work.  Okay, work was actually in West Virginia, but I had a 6 hour layover due to a delayed flight and missed shuttle.  This initially annoyed me, but then I remembered I had never been to Washington D.C. before.  I started doing the math. Dullis International Airport is only a 30-minute drive from the National Mall; an hour by bus.

Layover be damned–I could have a mini vacation!  So I got a bus schedule, grabbed my luggage and hopped on the metro.

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The 5A picks up from Dullis, although you wouldn’t know that from the bus.  “Not In Service” showed on the sign.  I curiously approached the bus driver.

“Is this the 5A?”

You’d think I asked the driver if bears shit in the woods.  With clear annoyance in his voice, he pointed to the bus shelter sign outside.  “According to that sign it is.”

I considered mentioning that HIS sign said nothing of the sort, but figured this man wasn’t interested in logic.  Oh well, a few other passengers mentioned how pissed the guy was, so I didn’t take it personally.  Besides, I was on my way to D.C.

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After about 40 minutes on the bus, I made it to Rosslyn station.  It was now time to take the metro!

The ticket purchasing was confusing as hell.  Looking back, it seemed efficient if you knew what you were doing.  But since I’d never bought a subway pass before, I was pretty lost.  I managed to put three dollars on a metro card, figuring I only needed to go one stop east.  If that cost more than three dollars, I had bigger problems.

It cost $2.15.

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Into the abyss!  The escalator was extremely long, to the point where 20 seconds in I decided to pull out my phone and shakily take a photo (all while not looking too touristy).

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Okay, so I didn’t get a picture of the subway.  In my defense, a train came a few seconds after the escalator ended.  I made the quick decision to jump on.  It was surprisingly crowded for 2-something pm on a Tuesday.  But as luck would have it, I got on the correct train and made it one stop east to Foggy Bottom Station.  I was greeted by another escalator and bright sunlight.

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Foggy Bottom Station is right outside “The” George Washington University.  Why am I emphasizing “the?”  Because every damn sign, sweatshirt and statue did.  I think I’m going to start “A” George Washington University.

AGWU: Definite Quality.  Indefinite Article.

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Fun fact: Foggy Bottom Station is about 0.9 miles from the National Mall, which is where I was headed.  They should have named it “soggy  bottom,” because you sweat your ass off walking to the Mall.  I had all my luggage with me, so a normally easy walk turned into a damn death march, not to mention I looked ridiculous.  Oh well, THE George Washington University campus was scenic, and I could see the fruits of my labor in the distance.

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I picked up some litter while visiting D.C.  Which means my two hours at the Capital were more productive than a month of the Trump Administration.

Your move, Donnie.

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At long last!  A beautiful view of the Washington Monument.

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My first destination was the Lincoln Memorial, which I knew was at the west end of the Mall.  How did I know?  Fallout 3.  Although there were less super mutants than I anticipated.

If you don’t get that reference, it’s probably a good thing.

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Okay, I’m actually a huge Lincoln nerd.  It’d be false to say I know everything about the man or idolize him, but in terms of historical figures, he’s up there in my book.

“Now he belongs to the ages.”

Indeed.  There’s a reason “Lincoln” is synonymous with luxury vehicles and building blocks, while “Booths” are things people fart on while eating bottomless pancakes.

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The Gettysburg Address: proof politicians once wrote beautiful, succinct speeches and should be held to such standards.

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The view from the top of the Lincoln Memorial stairs.

I don’t consider myself patriotic, and despise faux patriotism.  But I honestly felt proud to be standing on those steps.

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You know I like a place if I take a selfie.  You know even more if dozens of people are around as witnesses.  I didn’t care.  I was inspired.

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My grandpa fought in Korea, although he never talked about it.  He did mention once how a friend got an infection from not cleaning a wound properly.  How did this come up?  I was pretending to be a cat and licking myself.

I was five, if that makes you feel better.

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I think Korea is easily forgotten.  IN WWII, we were fighting evil Nazis and avenging Pearl Harbor.  In Vietnam, we experienced a counter-culture critical of traditional war-time nationalism.  What did we do in Korea?

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Answer: die.  54k Americans dead to suppress the “domino-effect of communism”?  What a waste.

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The Jefferson Memorial, complete with Canada Geese swimming the Tidal Basin.

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I had to veer off-course a bit to see the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, but damn was it worth it.  We need the wisdom of this brave man more than ever.

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Well said, Dr. King.

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What do you do when it is 60-something degrees in Washington D.C.?  Apparently play ultimate Frisbee on the Mall.

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What do JFK and hockey have in common?  These fields, which are managed by the National Park Service.  Which seems weird, but also awesome.  Imagine JFK calling a hockey game.  I’d pay to hear that.

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The World War II Memorial.  That’s all I’ve got.

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Sorry, you’re getting animal photos with this post.  Even worse, you’re getting patriotic puns.

This Robin is a true American.

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An Eastern Grey Squirrel, fat from what I imagine is a steady diet of tourist leftovers.

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A mixed flock of European Starlings and Red-winged blackbirds.  Fun fact: European Starlings aren’t native—they were brought to the U.S. by Eugene Schieffelin, who wanted to assimilate birds mentioned in Shakespeare’s plays.  In 1890, he released 60 birds.  A little over 100 years later, they are one of the most abundant species in the U.S., numbering over 200 million.

“Lord, what fools these mortals be!”

—A Midsummer Night’s Dream

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The black birds with their wings spread out?  Double-crested Cormorants.  They do that to dry their feathers.  The whitish birds on the left and right are Ring-billed Gulls, probably the most common gull species in the U.S. (you may see them fighting over scraps in fast food parking lots).  The birds in the middle are a mix of Ring-necked and Northern Shoveler Ducks.

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Always happy to see waterfowl.  They are severely lacking in Iowa.

I’m gonna go out on a limb here: the ducks in the forefront are Ring-necked Ducks (judging from their color and diving behavior), and the ones in the back are Northern Shovelers (based on the broad bills and dabbling).

I’ve still got it!

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A mix of Canada Geese and Mallard Ducks in the Constitution Gardens.

Funny that the Garden designer wanted the Constitution associated with “living” things.  Maybe Supreme Court Justices should take notice.

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I love Sycamore trees, and the Mall is a great place to see some beautiful ones.  Notice the iconic camouflage pattern of the bark.

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One thing that annoyed me about the Mall was the lack of female recognition.  I did find this memorial to nurses during the Vietnam era, but even found that lacking.  Why does it have to be about war?  Make a statue of a woman standing, and call it the “Women Standing up to Centuries of Bullshit” memorial.

#feminism

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Nurse one: “Don’t worry, we’re here to save you!”

Nurse two: “Why does that helicopter say “Agent Orange?”

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Fun fact: owls regurgitate things like fur and bones they can’t digest into condensed balls called “pellets.”  This was too large to be from an owl.  My guess?  A Cormorant pellet.

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The Vietnam Memorial.  They seem too cheery to be commemorating Vietnam.

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The lawn was filled with these strange spiky balls, which are actually seeds from the Sycamore tree.

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While attempting to return to the airport, I took the wrong metro.  I started to get worried, knowing I had limited time to make in back for my 7 pm shuttle to West Virginia.  I caught the final bus with about 5 seconds to spare.  Somebody was looking out for me.

Conclusion:

I only spent a few hours in D.C., but they were amazingly memorable hours.  I’m no history buff, and never saw much value in bleeding evocations of ‘Merican nationalism.  But there was something special about visiting the Mall.  I felt more patriotic than I ever have in my life.  Seeing so many people come together to enshrine the values of freedom, equality and democracy was truly inspiring.  It gave me hope that maybe the Republic isn’t as fucked as it might seem.

That being said, we need to fight for it.  That doesn’t mean you have to join the army and tote a rifle.  It means do your part, whatever that may be.  Smile at your neighbor.  Volunteer.  Protest.  Crop dust a racist.  Do whatever you can with your talents.

Because the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men (and women) to do nothing.

Edmund Burke said that.  Not bad for an Irishman with a wig.

I said that.

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