and if I did walk 500 miles I would be walking approximately 804.5 kms which would just be crazy. Instead Andrew and I walked a decent 23 kms yesterday, including crossing the state border from Maryland into Virginia (quick spell check there, I assure you) and back again.
Our day started with a sleep in as any Sunday should. Sleep in, coffee at our favourite DC coffee shop and a mission to buy some sunblock, because I picked up some sunburn yesterday and it is not pleasent. I thought only NZ had the no OZONE issue! By 11 am the temperature was in the mid twenties and the sun was beating down upon us.
So, we headed across the border to Arlington National Cemetery to see the tomb of the unknown soldier, spy on the Pentagon and catch a memorial or two, but ended up sticking around for more.
The cemetery is huge and lush and green. By huge Im talking over 400000 graves and 640 acres of land. They must have a crew of 1000’s working nights to keep the place looking so good.
At one point we heard the bugle playing which suggests a burial is going on so we promptly went in another direction. That turned out to be a smart move as we stumbled (sort of, it’s up a hill) onto the grave site of JFK and Jackie O.
They love quoting speeches in their memorials over here and I spotted this famous one from JFK’s Inaugural Address which I quite like:
Since we were already up a hill we went up to the next one and checked out the view from Arlington House, the only property on the cemetery site.
There was a bunch of interesting stuff going on here including a heap of information about the family tree of the owner, Robert E. Lee. George Washington’s step great granddaughter lived here, amongst others in its long history.
From Arlington House it was a quick walk across to he Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Usually at this time of year the guard changes every 30 minutes. The ceremonial changing takes under 10 minutes and is done in complete silence, except for the clicking of the heels of the guards boots. Those watching must stand out of respect and at the request of the commanding Sargent . The guards who work here are from the 3rd inventory division of the US Army and are the top of the top. They have to go through a heap of training and tests before they have the honor of volunteering their time at the tomb. Most impressive was the point where the two guards and the sergeant who runs the changing all had their backs to one another but all turned at the exact same moment and clicked their heels. Military precision at its finest.
Before the changing of the guard we happened across an annual ceremony, similar, I suggest, to ANZAC day, where representatives from all 50 states and the Canadian Provences lay a ceremonial wreath to the unknown soldier. Pretty cool to stumble across.
By this point we have been out in the sun for hours but still, we carry on, after a quick sunblock reapplication.
After a study of the map, under my supervision, we headed off for what was, in my opinion one of the days highlights, the Iwo Jima memorial. This is larger than life and quite a spectacular and evocative sculpture. It took my breath away.
By this point we are hot and tired, having done a whole bunch of walking in the sun. After all the not so good for us food we have been eating I couldn’t believe how good it was to find a reasonably priced salad bar! The salad was HUGE. I could have made two meals of this no worries.
Post salad and sit down we were up for some more exploring so trekked to the Teddy Roosevelt memorial bridge and onto the island. The tracks here are well trodden but the rest of the bush is unkempt and organic which was kinda nice and a contrast to the cemetery earlier today.
After some wandering we eventually arrived at a quite impressive memorial, which was just beautiful, peaceful, well manicured and calm.
Around the outside of the memorial were the bases for a bunch of fountains, which looked like they hadn’t been used over the winter. I imagine they will be turning the water on again soon and I bet it will look awesome.
We thought we could exit off the island, cross the rest of the Potomac river and arrive back in DC but it turns out we were wrong. So, back across the bridge we went, to turn a corner and cross a road bridge into the university and shopping district of Georgetown…
We are hot and sweaty and thirsty by this point, so the allure of a frozen margarita was too much. We went and sat in the cool air conditioned Mexican bar and rested our weary feet.
Post margarita and ready to go we headed down to he Georgetown harbour precinct which was absolutely pumping! And on a Sunday! It must be absolutely buzzing on a Saturday night.
By this point the sun is staring to set and the thought crosses our minds that it might make for some cool photos at the mall. So we head for Lincoln memorial again on foot and make it just in the leadup to dusk.
Some cool photos it does make.
Finally, while we sat under the Washington memorial the sun set and we looked to head home.
On our way we spotted the back of the white house all lit up and while outside met two Ugandan sisters from Minnesota. They were sassy, loud, and couldn’t believe we came from NZ. Half an hour later after a robust conversation about health care (they are doctors who are here to address congress this week) and getting a photo with us we parted ways.
The Americans we have met on the street have been nothing but kind, conversational and welcoming to us as guests.
Finally and at no earlier than 930 we say down at our local Mexican place for coronas, another frozen margarita and some dinner.
Great food and a fun Cinquo De Mayo thing going on, a good time was had by all.
Finally, around 1030 and far later than a normal Sunday night we got home and crawled into bed.
23 kms of walking, a bunch of sights, 3 applications of sunblock and 2 frozen margarita stops made for a pretty great Sunday.
Today represents a week of travel for us. I can’t believe all the things we have seen, done and experienced and we still have 9 days to go.
Happy May the 4th. I hope it is strong within you.