I warned Kyle before we came to DC that I pursue my vacation plans rather aggressively. I like to plan my daily itinerary, get up early and work hard at accomplishing my goals. It's funny how much of a type "A" personality I have at various moments in my life. There are some things that really matter to me, and when I'm on vacation I want to make the most of my time (and money). Kyle was a bit wary when I warned him a couple of weeks ago, mumbled something about needing to "pace ourselves" and then said little more. What more can you say when your dad is taking you on an all-expense paid trip to a historically significant part of the country?
So today was our first real foray into the area. We were on the road by 7:30 this morning (having eaten the meager hotel breakfast) on our way to Mount Vernon, Virginia, estate of George Washington. It was a blistering hot day in this part of the world, typical for this time of year with temperatures in the 90s and high humidity. We walked much of the estate, visited the tombs of George and Martha, took the yacht tour of the Potomac, toured the Mansion and then spent some time in the beautiful museum associated with the Estate.
The highlight of the museum are its interactive theaters, one of which details the years of Washington's life as a Commander in the Revolutionary War. The theater shakes with cannon volleys, snow comes in the air when Washington's forces are crossing the Delaware on Christmas Eve. The effects make the experience popular with kids, but even adults find it alluring (well, at least I did).
We ate lunch at Mount Vernon. I went the healthy route with a cup of peanut-chestnut soup (historical sort of thing that tasted like a bowl full of creamy peanut butter with crunchy things in it) and a spinach salad. Kyle had the turkey "pye" which was nothing special, he reported.
Departing Mount Vernon we traveled to historic Alexandria, Virginia, where we visited Christ Church, the parish which both Robert E. Lee and George Washington called home while they lived in that city. As was the custom of the day, their pews are still "marked" with their identities. They both would have "purchased" their pews. Here is what their pew identifiers look like today:
We didn't spend much time in Alexandria, as it was getting late (nearing 5) and most everything historical closes at about that time, so we walked back to our parking place and set out for the hotel. Upon arriving at the hotel I had clocked about 12,000 steps on my pedometer (my daily average has been more like 4,000). I sat down to read email, Kyle grabbed the remote and we both disappeared into an electronic world for a couple of hours.
"So, dad, is there anything to do around here at night?" Kyle asked, breaking the monotony.
"Umm, yeah," Kyle. "This is the nation's capital. There's always something to do here."
"Like, let's walk down to the metro station and go into the city. We can walk to some of the monuments and be on the Mall for a while."
He wasn't sure that was such a great idea. It would, after all, involve a lot more walking, so I was preparing myself for the "pace ourselves" look. Pre-empting any words I reminded him (and myself), "I didn't come to DC to sit in the hotel."
He was agreeable, and so we took the subway into DC, got off at the Smithsonian stop and visited Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, the World World 2 Veterans Memorial and the Vietnam Memorial, before hopping back on the subway and returning to our hotel, all within the span of three hours.
It has been an exhilirating day. I feel my time has been well used, and my feet are telling me that the 22,800 steps I walked today were purposeful. Tonight I am tired but fulfilled.