Updated on November 12, 2016
Weekend Trip to Washington DC, Day 2 on July 31st, 2016
Second day in DC.
Having checked in last night at our Airbnb apartment, I was planning to head out again for some night view shots. However, the rain didn’t seem to stop, we retired to bed early, which means we could have an early start today. Well, 8 o’clock is quite early by college student standards.
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Unlike yesterday, weather forecast states it will be bright and shiny all day along, no more rushing in the rain.
We bumped into our host on our way out, who was walking his two lovely dogs that last night gave too much a welcome to someone as dog-phobia as me.
We walked basically along the same route as yesterday night to WWII Memorial and begin the day’s sightseeing.
We were planning to have breakfast on this McDonald’s that yesterday we found closed (and walked to another one instead), it wasn’t pleasant to find it closed for a second day, at least without any advance notice.
We passed White House South Lawn again, the flocks of tourists as usual.
When looked at closely, the water quality of Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool was really not pleasing, as one can barely see the bottom of this ten-inch deep greenish water.
After slight adjustment, Washington Monument looked spectacular against Lincoln Memorial Reflection Pool.
Lincoln Memorial was predictably crowded with people, as people from around the world come to this shrine of great humanity. To me, this president stood on both moral high ground and technological frontier, and it’s fitting for such a temple to be erected on the end of the Mall that he can watch over the capitol that he fought so hard to preserve on his pedestal.
On one side of the Lincoln Memorial walls engraved the full length of Gettysburg Address. I, among other visitors, paid tribute to such a monumental act.
Not far away from the Lincoln Memorial, often out of sight of the tourists, was a plate dedicated to Martin Luther King’s dream, or in Lincoln’s words, unfinished work they so nobly advanced. Standing where I am, it’s not hard to imagine the magnitude of crowds gathered at the Mall, or how much the civil right activities have gone through.
When I was at that plate, I accidentally overheard the tour guide of a Chinese group passing by while briefing describing the Martin Luther King’s plate and his speech meanly as a quest of the black people to get clothed and fed, maybe after that rich as their white counterparts. Well, at least the crowds back then didn’t get murdered like the well-fed well-clothed Chinese students.
Then we headed out for Arlington National Cemetery, with a detour at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
We had some difficulty getting onto Arlington Memorial Bridge, due to the clear lack of signs for pedestrians. Anyway, we did find gaps amid the rushing traffic of Arlington Memorial Bridge and made the cross.
The arrays of tombs at Arlington National Cemetery was phenomenal. With full respect for the deceased, perhaps it could be a little less grand if United States wasn’t as prone to war.
Of all the souls that found their rest in Arlington, perhaps John F. Kennedy enjoys the most prominence. There’s a torch dedicated to his life, plates engraved with his quotes for the prosperity to admire, as I took a brief glance of them. Though charismatic his life may be, turbulent as the cold war may evolve, I didn’t find myself quite comfortable with the arrogance I found so obviously in the quotes. I know how people and media nowadays remembered President Kennedy, his moon mission speech seems to be the better part of him.
Then we wandered into Arlington House, an estate formerly belonging to Confederate General Robert Lee. Yes, that’s what he got when he picked the wrong side.
Our next stop is Memorial Amphitheater, with its Tomb of the Unknown.
We happened to bump into 12 o’clock Ceremonial Change of Guards. However, since we found it at the last minute, we could only watch it from the far back. I had to say it wouldn’t be pleasant to be this well-dressed in mid-summer heat.
After the ceremony, we visited a little museum at the back of the amphitheater about the history of the Tomb of the Unknown Solider, together with its guards.
Nearby were the memorials for the two space shuttle disasters.
After all this, we should be leaving Arlington National Cemetery through its main gate and head for our next stop, Thomas Jefferson Memorial, that’s how we entered it. However, Google Maps somehow hinted me that it’s possible to leave the Arlington Cemetery through its south gate, and cross the Potomac River by 14th Street Bridge. Since it’s a different route, we decided to give it a try, which turned out to be quite an adventure, not recommended though.
Having arrived at what on Google Maps the south gate of Arlington Cemetery, we found it was actually a service gate controlled by a pin pad. Luckily, we were greeted by a gentleman from the service complex. He seemed dazzled by our unique route to Jefferson Memorial, but since it’s on my Google Maps, he kindly opened the service gate for us and wished us good journey.
Our good journey lasted exactly five minutes, as we found that the pedestrian portion of South Washington Boulevard was closed, if it ever admit pedestrians. We walked along the southern border of the Pentagon, took a few photos of the
magnificent Pentagon, that were all deleted later under a police officer’s command, where he showed us a different route to Jefferson’s Memorial that was a lot longer than the Google one, that we were not willing to take.
Suddenly, it came to our attention that the DC Metro Pentagon Station is nearby, and we could take the subway downtown back to the National Mall. So, goodbye Jefferson Memorial and hello downtown DC, again.
Having got off the Metro, we decided on more museums. My friend was more than delighted to explore the nearby Hirshhorn Museum with its modern art as this modern art fan was obviously not very happy with the collection of National Gallery of Art yesterday.
Yet I’m not a modern art fan, so I took few photos in the Hirshhorn Museum. But I definitely would not say no to air-con in a mid-summer afternoon.
With two hours left to catch our 5pm bus back to New York, we decided to pay National Archives a visit with its original copy of Declaration of Independence and US Constitution.
The National Archives houses many important documents. But we, like most other visitors, were only interested in the original copy of Declaration of Independence and US Constitution. No photos in the National Archives, but a lot of waiting in line for the two pieces of paper. More than two centuries later, the words on these two pieces of paper are barely recognizable. But the idea of freedom and liberty for all, enshrined in the two pieces of paper, shall reside in the hearts of every visitor.
With a little more than an hour left for our bus back to New York, we headed for the McDonald’s where we had dinner yesterday, picked up some refreshment, and headed for the Union Station. I had to say McPick was quite a bargain, compared with what things normally are sold at in US McDonalds’.
We arrived at Washington Union Station early enough to finish our dinners, so we sit under its dome and ate. It was when I looked for bathrooms to wash my hands that I discovered its food court.
Thank God our Greyhound services departed DC on time. I have to say Greyhound seats were a lot more comfortable than the nameless services that Greyhound bumped me in to DC, and CoachUSA seats especially for overnight trip.
We passed the outskirts of Baltimore, where not long ago racial tension was on the headlines. It just seemed, the quest of President Lincoln and Martin Luther King has a long way to go.
It was a Sunday evening, so it wasn’t surprising that we hit some traffic jam along the way. But overall, traffic was OK.
It totally caught me by surprise that we passed by Newark Liberty Airport, as my mindless glance outside the window picked up something that resembled an airport terminal. With the night fallen and vehicle moving, it wasn’t a good opportunity to shoot photos.
We arrived at Port Authority Bus Terminal slightly delayed, but with enough time for our connection back to Ithaca.