Baltimore and DC Now…all we need is music

Ha, tricked you. This post has nothing to do with music. Those are song lyrics by Martha and the Vandellas.

This morning I “checked out,” and by saying that, I really mean that I fed the cat, packed my bags and headed out. My goal was to get to DC in time for the 1:35pm baseball game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Washington Nationals. It’s only about 45 minutes between the two…places. And no, I am not going to call Washington DC a city. That would make me a liar. Driving through this area gives a sense of how big the government is. As I took the 295 freeway to DC, I passed several freeway exits which stated things like “Space Center – employees exit only.” It was a bit intimidating to know I am surrounded by the government. That’s partly what bothers me about being in DC; I feel like there is a security camera on me at all times. They very well may be! I did stop in Laurel, MD to get lunch at Panera. This area looks very expensive, and with so many federal employees in the area, I’m sure it is.

My plan was to park at the Anacostia metro stop, south of the ballpark, then get a metro pass. I found the Anacostia metro bus station but could not find the subway portion nor the 800+ parking spaces that their website showed they have. I drove for a good 10 minutes, twice around the property, then decided to drive to a different stop further away on the same line. It took about 10 minutes to get there, I parked, and then found it was only for bus traffic and not subway. A bus driver told me that the parking and metro back at Anacostia are on the other side of the freeway, about a quarter-mile away. So I drove back, and there it was – without any signs or identification, just a little road right next to the freeway off-ramp that leads to the parking structure. At this point the game was starting any minute, so I put the radio feed on my smartphone, bought a [relatively overpriced] day pass and boarded the subway for a single stop. The Navy Yard-Ballpark metro stop exits right beyond the centerfield gate – which is really in leftfield if you ask me. This ballpark is one of the newer ones and looks great.20130721_135005

20130721_135401 It has some neat design features, is very pleasant to look at, and there are great sight lines from the walkways (something Dodger Stadium is sorely lacking IMO). It did seem to be designed for looks rather than function in several aspects. For example, there are two identical inning-by-inning scoreboards in center/rightfield and the rightfield scoreboard has two clocks on it; one digital and one analog.

I took this photo because of how "mountain man-like" he looks, but do you see the two clocks?

I took this photo because of how “mountain man-like” he looks, but do you see the two clocks?

Within two innings, the Dodgers were up 7-0 and I was enjoying walking around with my Dodger shirt and hat on. I saw several people with Dodger clothing on, and I also saw about 20,000 people wearing Bryce Harper jerseys. I don’t think the Nationals will be trading him.

It was hot and humid, so I signed up as a designated driver in order to get a free drink. Odd! Part of the story is that when I got up to the counter, I asked about one of the beers they had on tap, and the server poured me a small cup (maybe 3 ounces) to try it. That’s unusual in itself – free beer at a ballgame. But I just realized I was wearing the designated driver wristband, and was redeeming my designated driver reward after committing not to drink alcohol. Whoops – to me and the server, both.

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George Washington is sweet-talking Martha in the crowd.

If you are familiar with the President Race between innings, Martha Washington distracted George at first, but then the others all tripped over each other while watching her. Taft again didn’t win.

After the game, I took the metro back to my car in order to get my camera bag and to change from sandals to shoes. I have been wearing sandals a lot, and with all the walking, both feet are covered in sores and cuts. Shoes felt nice.

What didn’t feel nice was the 85 degrees and 80% humidity. No shame in carrying a rag to wipe your face, though. Especially when everyone else is, too.

First, I went into the Air and Space Museum because I don’t think Kellie and I went there last time. At least I don’t remember it. It was amazing! The Wrights’ 1903 plane, The Spirit of St. Louis, Amelia Earhart’s plane (her earlier one, obviously), lots of space satellites, the Mars Rover, nuclear missiles which are banned, just amazing stuff!

Spirit of St. Louis- Lindbergh's plane

Spirit of St. Louis- Lindbergh’s plane

Full-scale mockup of the Hubble Telescope (for pre-launch testing)

Full-scale mockup of the Hubble Telescope (for pre-launch testing)

Orville and Wilbur Wright's plane.

Orville and Wilbur Wright’s plane.

I'd like to fly this.

I’d like to fly this. I probably can’t fit in it!

Then I took the metro to another area to get dinner at the Capitol City Brewery. I sat at the bar, and I got a…I don’t remember. I think I got a Cobb salad. If you sit at the bar, they serve you free pretzels and a dijon horseradish sauce which was so, so good. Three guys eventually sat next to me and I started a conversation with the closest one. I ended up talking to him for the rest of the meal. They are from Poland and are here for government/embassy business. We talked about Krakow, Hungary, places to visit in the US, and languages. Very enjoyable. I also tried two new beers. This guy asked the bartender why they had moved locations – apparently this brewery used to be next to the Capitol. According to the bartender, on more than one occasion, the brewery tanks leaked and flooded some storage underground, destroying historical postal archives. So they were asked to move. Oops!_DSC7727

The White House. 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW

The White House. 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW

Eisenhower Executive Office Building (next to the White House)

Eisenhower Executive Office Building (next to the White House)

Washington Monument and the Reflecting Pool

Washington Monument and the Reflecting Pool

The rest of the evening involved wandering the Mall area. In case I don’t get back here before the trip ends, I really wanted to go to the Tidal Basin, since I missed that last time. I got there via the White House, via the Lincoln Memorial (which was very crowded at 11pm), and via the Washington Monument, which you may have heard is under earthquake renovation but has been “decorated” in a very artistic, presentable way. The Tidal Basin is surrounded by several monuments, but it’s just slightly off the beaten path so I bet it doesn’t get nearly the traffic. This is where you’d find monuments to Franklin D. Roosevelt, Martin Luther King, Thomas Jefferson, and George Mason. It is quite a walk around the Basin, and I can’t sugar coat it, it was still very uncomfortable in this humidity as it approached midnight. But it was worth it…

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The Martin Luther King Monument is the newest monument, I believe. It is absolutely beautiful and has immediately become my favorite. There is a long curve of granite carved with many of his most poignant words. In the center is  MLK, carved out of the stone. He has broken away from the rest of the monument and moved forward. It’s hard to explain, but very powerful and beautiful. His sculpture is engraved on the left side with “Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope.” That describes what the monument’s design is. And on the other side of the stone is a quotation of his, “I Was a Drum Major for Justice, Peace, and Righteousness,” which is controversial because it is incomplete and taken out of context. According to CNN, it was to be removed or amended last February or March, but it’s still there. Here’s a photo to give a sense of scale: not my website/photos

Jefferson Monument

Jefferson Monument

I wanted to see these sites, but was getting thirstier and water fountains are not easy to find in DC. A grocery store is even harder to find in downtown DC at midnight. Eventually, I got back to the metro station and was so dehydrated, so thirsty, and I quite possibly have never felt as much despair as when I got to the track and saw the next train wasn’t coming for 16 minutes. It seemed like 3 hours. Now I know how people on Survivor feel. I was miserable! When I got back to my car, I drank an entire liter of water in 15 seconds.

I had a 30 minute drive toward NW Virginia. It’s still technically the DC metro area, but it is on the way to my next destination. The next two days with focus on four important Civil War sites.

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