dc trip

I went with Karen, her identical twin sister Lynn and Lynn's boyfriend Jay to DC. Adventures ensued - some external - some internal. The trip was certainly worth the effort and the expense, but there were moments.

Trip Up

Lynn and Jay flew in from Houston; Karen and I rode on the Amtrak; starting at 7:00 AM. JP, Karen's son took us to the Charlotte Station. The seats were large; the staff was pleasant; our fellow passengers were congenial. (Tyrone did not puke in the floor as he did forty years ago.) We pulled into DC Union station about 3:00 PM, not too late. Our luggage was very heavy - further screwing up my krav damaged bicep. The Metro terminal was bad. We went up and down old-person elevators.  Intent people ran to catch connecting trains. We had to merge into unyielding pedestrian traffic with our unwieldy bags. An automatic door tried to eat my bag - there was no detection sensor. But many of the people were helpful. Some joined in the effort to get my bag through the bag eating door. A young woman let us follow her to our train. We came out of Metro into sunshine - in our neighborhood across street from the Chili Bowl.

Places Visited

(Most of the monumental places were monumental but cliches of themselves - overwhelming. You would need to come back to see them again to get past the bubbles of perception (or anxiety or whatever) that obscured the view. But I  did have a feeling that these places are where government happens,where power is exercised. I am not much of a patriot -  but I got a very strong sense of our country, our history.)

Lincoln Memorial  - It was certainly impressive. But my favorite part was walking on dirt path behind where few people go - where there was a low wall over a 20 foot drop. I also liked it when Lynn struck up a conversation with an old WWII vet sitting on the marble steps in front. Again, it was finding a human scale.

Korean War Memorial and Vietnam Wall - The Korean war memorial consists of larger than life statues of soldiers wearing steel pots and ponchos. The different small arms used in that period are shown (M1, M2 carbine, BAR, 30 cal machine gun). The soldiers are portrayed with haunted eyes and faces. Everybody mentioned that. The Vietnam Wall did not move me - I had hoped it would.

Capitol - There was a dome and statues of men striking heroic poses. I was most impressed when I first caught a glimpse of the Capitol from the tour bus. I thought well damn, it's real. Security would not let me in with my Leatherman tool which Brenda gave it to me a few years before she died. I threw it away. The security scanner picked up my metal knee and I had to be wanded. There were lots of men with guns, but most of the men were friendly - not effusive but friendly.

White House Garden Tour - (This only happens in spring and fall when stuff is being harvested - or planted?). I heard that the garden was Michelle Obama's idea. I liked view of the floor where the first family lives. And there was a play set used by the children.  At the gate Jay wooed a young female guard who was also named Garrison. He told her he was her uncle Jay. She was taken with him (as most people are), and let us jump ahead of a line of hundreds of people.

Smithsonian paleontology and hominid development exhibits - These were impressive. Dinosaurs on one side and people (or pre-people) on the other. I got some sense of time scales. But I had (have) a question.  Cro-magnon people were not mentioned in any of exhibits, only neanderthals. Why? I also wonder what a Creationist would think about this place.

Institute of Science and Technology and Medical Institute and Einstein statue  - For me this was the best place of all. Jay took my picture sitting on the lap of a cast bronze (?) Einstein. I read on the Internet that this is a favorite spot for drunken midnight photos. Inside there was nobody but a few bored docents - a few sculptures, and some abstract paintings. We were the only tourists. There was a blessedly empty atrium-like room with one painting and one sculpture. It was open three stories to the roof. I got a sense of the cosmos. (And I had a question about text inscribed around Einstein - I did not see any reference to the Special Theory of Relativity only the General. What am I missing?)

Library of Congress - This was more impressive than capitol, on a slightly smaller scale. As before, one would need to come back several times to get a real feel for the place.

Where We Ate

Karen brought a lot of food which we ate on train and in room. Aside from being heavy (to carry) it was good and handy.

When I pitched minor fit about going back to the room to eat our first dinner, we went to some sort of fusion restaurant. I mistook finger towels for mints and tried to eat one. But the food was good.

Another morning when I pitched a similar fit about eating in the room and riding a bus, we walked downtown and stopped for me to eat breakfast in a hole-in-the-wall joint. All the clientele were black working class people. I liked it better than the fusion place.

We ate our final dinner and breakfast at the Chili Bowl - another black owned diner. It is what Mert's a trendy black restaurant in downtown Charlotte pretends to be. It is the real deal. Again clientele was mostly black with some whites. Pictures of visits by Obama and Bill Cosby hung on wall.

Random Notes

We stayed in the basement of a funky B and B in a funky old townhouse in a funky neighborhood. It had the feel of a college place. Many of our neighbors were 20 somethings with not a few crazy street people thrown in. I thought one crazy woman was about to attack Lynn - taking some deep seated offense at Lynn's white platinum hair. I wondered if I could hurt a crazy woman.

The traffic was  horrendous. Black men driving Crown Vic cabs swirled in and out of curb to curb traffic blowing horns and gesturing. We took two cab trips. Our drivers were congenial and smart. One had classical music playing softly on his radio. The aggression seemed to be ritualistic - not personal. And they drove really well.

Walking is best way to see things, to get a real feel for this place. A slow street view strips away the bubbles of perception, anxiety or whatever.

A number of two wheel vehicles were on the streets - bicycles, Vespas (and the like), motorcycles (few crotch rockets and Harleys - more smaller BMWs). We saw cops on Segways. There were bicycles, Smartcars and Segways for rent. It would take a lot of guts to get a small vehicle in that traffic. However agile bicycles with bold riders probably made the best time.

There were many stylish women. The uniform for younger girls was thigh high skirts over black tights.

Most of the people are some shade of brown or black. But I saw no racism on either side. I could probably come here to realize my dream of becoming a Negro.

Pictures Shot By Jay


Pictures Shot By Tom

(10/22/12 - more pictures to come)




Lynn admires mannequin's crotch.

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