Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Vacation Shutdown

Tell's birthday is in July. Tell loves American history. For Tell's birthday, I surprised him with a trip to Washington D.C., where he's never been before, to tour his little history-loving heart out. He was so excited. I was flying high on Best-Birthday-Gift-Ever status. Just one little thing: I planned our trip for October 4-7. 

For those of you who may have just awoken from a coma, first of all, thanks for choosing to read our blog on your first day of regained consciousness. Second of all, the federal government has been shut down since October 1st. 

So we're all on the same page– I happened to plan Tell's first-ever trip to D.C. at the very same time the government happened to shut down. This means our plans to tour monuments, Smithsonians, the Library of Congress, and the Capitol, were ruined. Best-Birthday-Gift-Ever status: revoked.

Despite the fact that all our plans had been foiled and that crazy people were abound in D.C. running their cars into the White House gates and whatnot, we decided to go ahead with the trip. I mean, if all else failed we knew they would still have bars with alcohol. 

Day 1
Tell and I have traveled together to large cities before, but only on family trips with my itinerary-armed mother shouting which subway train to get onto at what time. My mom travels a lot so I never had to learn how to do it myself, as long as I could speedwalk fast enough. What I'm getting at is that Tell and I may as well have been wearing fannypacks and matching neon yellow t-shirts with one another's photo printed on the chest because our Metro navigation skills were at Tourist Level 0. We sucked. We were so bad at the Metro that the first three times we were trying to exit the station, the Metro workers just let us go through the gate instead of using our fare cards to get out. I think maybe they e-blasted our pictures to all the Metro workers with the subject line: "Please be nice to these idiots." 

Us at the Capitol, because we're really good at cameras, obviously.
After we finally got settled into our hotel, we headed out to eat. We had done some minor research and wanted to try this place called Capitol City Brewing Company. We asked a guy at our hotel (who maybe wasn't so great with English) how to get there. He told us it was just one Metro stop away. Excellent. We did exactly what he said and ended up at.......... the Capitol. Cool, but we wanted beer. We gave up on our Brewing Co. hopes for that day.

Day 2
We woke up early with plans to visit Arlington Cemetery. We were both excited that it wasn't closed as part of the shutdown. We planned to ride the Metro to the cemetery but learned that the station next to our hotel was going to be closed all weekend for maintenance, because of course it was. We ended up having to ride a shuttle bus to a different station and then riding the Metro from there. 

We finally made it to Arlington Cemetery. If you ever go to D.C., I highly suggest visiting the cemetery, even if the government isn't shutdown, because it was beautiful. Guest Dud, Emmie, required that I visit JFK's grave, and I was happy to oblige. When we got up to the site (it's kind of a hike), you know what? His grave was fenced off for maintenance to the Eternal Flame. I'm not kidding because you literally cannot make this stuff up...and for those of you keeping track, the score is D.C.: 1000000, Nicole: about 2 (because I'm not a total loser). We did still get to see the changing of the guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which was amazing.

After our tour through the cemetery, Tell and I walked to the National Mall. As I mentioned, the monuments were closed, so we just had to look from a distance. The only luck we had was at the WWII monument, which was guarded and blockaded, but we got in anyway. As we passed the guard, another tourist asked "is this closed?" to which he replied, "the park is closed but I can't stop you from going in." I'm not sure why this was the only monument people were up in arms about, but I'm glad we at least got into one, and I appreciate that particular guard's lack of enthusiasm for guarding.

By the time we finished walking around D.C. I was dead because I'm out of shape and wholly opposed to comfortable footwear, apparently. I swore to Tell that we had to have walked 10 whole miles, so he mapped it out. He said we only walked 3.47 miles but I know he was lying because I refuse to admit that I was worn out by that short a distance. I'm sticking to the 10 miles it felt like.

After our 10 mile trek around the city, we really felt we deserved some microbrews from the place that had alluded us the day before: Capitol City Brewing Company. This time, we called a cab. The thing about cabs is, you have to give them the right address. We did not. The address we gave him took us to a questionable neighborhood. Luckily, we were street-smart enough to stay in the cab. On our third try, we finally wound up at the right place. Was it worth all the trouble? Eh, it was decent. 

Day 3
For our last full day of the trip, we made plans to visit Mount Vernon. Sticking true to the theme, we had some problems getting there. While we made it to the correct Metro stop, we got on the wrong bus to actually get to Mount Vernon. Before you go thinking that we're just total idiots, ALL the buses went to Mount was just a matter of the stops you made on the way. We just happened to get the "creepy locals" route to Mount Vernon. You might be thinking, "hey, Nicole, that's rude," so let me take you on a journey:

At stop 7 of 15, a woman who uncannily resembles Jabba the Hutt (not rude if it's factual) boards the bus. She's clutching her Betty Boop purse in one hand and a Bubba Keg thermos in the other. Why am I staring at this woman? I don't know. She puts a finger in her mouth. She's reaching for something. Oh, it's her gum. She pulls at it but it seems to be stuck. She sticks her tongue out revealing the issue: her gum is twisted around her tongue ring. That's right, Jabba the Hutt has a tongue ring. She retrieves the gum. She puts it back into her mouth. WHY DID I WATCH THIS WHOLE ACTIVITY UNFOLD? I don't know, but it's burned into my brain along with all the other things I can't get rid of like the lyrics to the Oscar Mayer theme song. 

We arrived to Mount Vernon with my stomach barely under control.

Tell Washington
While I knew how much Tell loved history, I'm not sure how prepared I was for the geeking-out that ensued. My husband wants to BE George Washington. He wants his house, his garden, his farm, and maybe even his hair (maybe). I swear Tell spent 10 minutes studying Washington's seven-year crop rotation strategy. The only hiccup in our Mount Vernon adventure was when a man spilled Mountain Dew on me and we couldn't find any paper towels because all the bathrooms have air dryers because the environment is more important than the stickiness of my sandals, I guess. Other than that, it was a blast. It's definitely something else to put on your list of "things to do in case I idiotically plan a trip to D.C. during a shutdown." 

After four hours at Mount Vernon and carefully selecting which heirloom seeds we wanted to purchase for our garden, we actually got on the correct bus to get back to the Metro station– I know this because it was full of tourists and free of Star Wars villains.


When I was younger, my mom made my siblings and me write down what we learned from each trip we took. In honor of Annette, what I learned from this trip is:

• The government doesn't care about Best-Birthday-Present-Ever status.
• Tell and I are bad embarrassingly awful at cities.
• Texas is to ranch dressing as the North is to horseradish (and they make it look like ranch dressing because they're some tricky bitches).
• Only look out the windows and nowhere else or at any other passenger on any bus, ever, for the rest of time.

Happy Wednesday,

1 comment:

  1. HAAAA! I loved this! I did the fast tour of DC with a group of 7-8th graders with low attentions spans. I much prefer your version. Happy Birthday, Tell, and keep on blogging!!!!