Congress put this gag on G-Wash so he
couldn't voice his opinion on The Shutdown.
I calculated that I have been to ten European capital cities, but up until one week ago, I had still never been to my own. To make it even weirder, I worked for a Washington, D.C. institution-Georgetown University-for two years out of Italy, without ever having set foot on the actual campus. So this trip was long past due.
And I picked the best time to go! I couldn't wait to walk through crunchy leaves in my boots, high-fiving President Obama on my way to tour the Library of Congress. But that didn't happen. Between the government shutdown and the last heatwave of the season, D.C. didn't turn out to be quite as I had imagined it. It might have been even better.
When the government shuts down, everyone chills. People relax. Tourists don't feel like they have to spend their whole trip with the fanny-pack-clad masses looking at fossils. Instead, they enjoy serenity and 1/2-off margaritas. They explore the now semi-private memorials as badasses that don't mind breaking rules. It's kinda great.
Melissa and I dedicated Saturday to the National Mall. We skipped right over Nordstrom and headed straight to the monuments. There was hardly anyone in the area; most people heard of the shutdown and decided to avoid the monuments altogether. What a mistake! We were able to enjoy everything (with the exception of Lincoln) more intimately than one usually could.
Here we are at the WWII Memorial, after tearing up watching all the veterans stake claim to it.
I was most excited to visit the Lincoln Memorial, but this was the most locked down of them all. The memorial was still magnificent, and it was incredible to witness it in person. This is the highest level one could reach, and Lincoln wasn't even lit up, so we could barely see him. To compensate for the injustice, the clouds started looking freaking amazing.
To be clear: it's not that we were jumping over fences to get in to these places. The park rangers were literally standing there, gates open, saying "The memorial is closed," with a sly smile and an encouraging wave in. It looked something like this.
The Korean War Memorial was one of the most affecting in terms of design. I couldn't help but feel like I was standing next to actual soldiers trudging through the terrain.
Next up, on the edge of the Tidal Basin, was the newest memorial, dedicated to Martin Luther King, Jr. This one was a literal translation of his words: "Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope": a (perhaps-too-stern-and-not-hopeful-looking-enough) MLK was carved out of the mountain, serving as the stone of hope for civil rights. It was beautiful, and as you can tell from the picture, mostly deserted.
We sat on the edge of the Tidal Basin, enjoying the serenity of a body of water that had no boats, ducks, or children.
We brought the tour full circle by grabbing an ice cream and heading to the Capitol Building. We walked by tons of Smithsonians and I tried my best to think of how nice it was to not feel like I had to spend all my time in museums, instead of how cool it would've been to
steal see the Declaration of Independence.
One of the funniest points of the day was when I asked a foreign man with a professional camera to shoot us in front of the Lincoln Memorial on my iPhone. In a matter or seconds, he took 16 terribly crooked pictures of us. What first seemed useless turned into this great reel of "negatives". We wanted so badly to see what the pictures on his camera looked like.