Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Are we there yet?!

Day 6 of ‘merica Road Trip:

Another early morning (roughly 7am): I got everyone up and out so that we wouldn’t be late. We were all exhausted, when we finally got settled and into bed it was close to 3am. We were planning on meeting our friend from camp, (Nurse) Angie in Washington DC for lunch and I didn’t want to be late. We were checked out, moderately fed and on the road a little after 8am. In our quick haste we left my pillow in the hotel. I mourned the loss of it for an hour of the ride out-of-town. Everyone slept while I tried to stay awake and not drive us off a cliff. I got us into DC and didn’t really know where to go exactly. None of us had ever been to our Nation’s capital before. Angie was on a train coming our way and was waiting for us to decided where to meet. We drove around in circles for a while, mostly because we didn’t know where to go but also because we couldn’t find parking. We ended up parking somewhere near the National Agricultural building or something and we walked towards the national malls, I think that’s what they call it. All of DC’s stereotypical landmarks are in one area. Is that a coincidence or not — is it because tourists are lazy and don’t like to travel around to get their fix?

We went to the Washington Monument first. We were not the only tourists in DC trying to see our capital’s spots. I couldn’t help but think of that moment in The Simpsons, Lisa Goes to Washington [3.02] when Marge sees the Washington Monument and giggles and Homer says, “Oh Marge, grow up!” It was huge. I didn’t expect it to be so big. I wasn’t surprised that we weren’t going to be able to make the tour. Apparently people line up at 7am just to get tickets to be able to go on the tour. We headed down to the reflecting pool towards the Lincoln Memorial. We meandered around the World War II Memorial on the way, slowing down in the heat. Not only was it hot but it was tremendously humid. Walking down the reflecting pool we thought about the famous scene in Forrest Gump where Jenny runs in the reflecting pool as Forrest is giving a speech. We dared each other to go in and cool off but we didn’t feel like getting arrested. I was surprised by all the locals walking their dogs and babies in strollers as if it just a normal thing. They weren’t phased by the great historical memorials they were jogging past. It was just another day for them. The Lincoln Memorial was more crowded than the others.

When we made our way to the top and weaved our way to the front, I couldn’t help but be in awe. Even though I have mixed feelings about America, I am still very interested in its history. Lincoln was bigger than I expected. It was very crowded and hot. I wanted to have a quiet moment of contemplation with Honest Abe. It’s tradition to ask him a question but I didn’t know what to ask him. I had traveled more than 1500 miles and in all that time I had forgotten to think up a good question to ask. I couldn’t really stress about it because it was impossible to think while I was boiling in my own skin. I tried to show Abe my love while Amy had a bone to pick with ol’ Abe: the day before the trip a Lincoln biography fell on her foot and busted her toe. She had plans to kick him in the foot but couldn’t because of his size and the barrier around the bottom of the statue. This (see pic on left) was her revenge. We walked around the memorial some more, reading the walls when we just had to get out of there. We were walking down the steps trying to plan our next move when my phone rings and as I went to answer it, knowing it would probably be Angie, I slipped and fell backwards on my butt, falling down some 3-6 steps on the front steps of the Lincoln Memorial in front of some 200 strangers. Everyone stared at me but no one helped me up. I think some Asian teenagers took pictures of, probably under the impression that all Americans are clumsy. Sam, Franco, Amy and I were all hysterically laughing. It probably wasn’t even that funny but we just kept laughing. I wish I could have seen it. (see pic to right)

Angie was going to meet us back at the Washington Memorial then we were all going to go get some lunch…somewhere. We got there before she did and played the human Where’s Waldo to see who could find her first. Amy had met Angie briefly during our camp summer holiday break because Angie spent one night in Austin. Franco saw her first and just starting yelling at the top of his lungs “NURSE ANGIE! NURSE ANGIE” and waving uncontrollably to get her attention. She smiled and laughed. We all exchanged pleasantries and headed back to the car in search of food.

DC is a beautiful place with beautiful old buildings that seem very symmetrical. The only obvious sucky thing about DC is that there isn’t any parking. We stopped looking for places to eat and mostly concentrated on finding another parking spot. We actually found one next to a park (success). Sam, Franco and I hopped out to save the spot while Amy and Angie drove around and bought to parking pass. And just as they were back around to pull into the spot this man starts backing into it. Now, I have to say, I was hot and hungry and determined to not lose this spot, thus I had the three of us standing in it. This man starts yelling at me to move and I start yelling back that he’d have to run me over if he wanted this spot. He kept backing up and I kept standing. This must have been an interesting scene to see because people started stopping and coming over to see the commotion. Eventually the boys grabbed me because Amy didn’t want to deal with this ridiculous man, who barely spoken English.

We ended up parking at some Commerce Building garage where the security guards took our IDs and check our trunk. We were starving so we ate at the food court, stuffing ourselves with Middle Eastern food. After we were all energized we headed out to see things. See the thing is with DC is no one new what they wanted to see. Thankfully Angie helped us figure out good sites so we headed to the White House. We were in the back of the White House but it was funny because Amy and Sam said it was the front. Angie and I tried to tell them it was the back but they were sure it was the front. Once we walked to the front it was obvious to everyone. I just love it when I’m right.

We thought it best to go to the Smithsonian and check out all it had to offer. Boy, I had no idea that the Smithsonian was so big. It is basically a collection of museums all smashed together. It is obvious why it’s the ultimate field-trip destination. We strolled through mammals and considered our options. Angie or Amy, I can’t remember, wanted to see the hope diamond so we headed upstairs to the Geology exhibit. All five of us lose each other in this exhibit. It was quite funny because once one of us would find another we would then split up again to find the others only to repeat over and over. I felt like we were in that exhibit for over an hour. Once we regrouped we went downstairs to the children’s area where we played with all the interactive science exhibits. I really wanted a copy of the constitution so we checked out the gift shop which is just as large and elaborate as some exhibit halls. I got my copy of the constitution and Angie, Amy and I waited for the boys for awhile. Apparently Sam bought personalized dogtags with his music Pen name, Sammy Jay, or something. Amy and I later laughed about this because Sam was constantly worried about money and hated spending money on food, but apparently personalized dogtags were a necessity.

The cute man at the gift shop recommended that we eat dinner in Chinatown so we walked some 12 blocks uphill towards Chinatown. This was not my first Chinatown. I have been to the Chinatown in New York City and San Francisco and I’m starting to see a lot of the same things in each of these Chinatowns. They all have the same cheesy Asian gift shops and restaurants. We couldn’t decide which Chinese restaurant to ate at. Amy and I were leaning towards one that apparently was too expensive for the boys, but I mostly mean Sam, so we ate at this questionable little place that actually smelled like poo. The food was so so. I guess the price was right. It was a nice dinner of everyone teasing me since I kept dropping food on my shirt. I had to even go to the restroom to try and get out all the food stains.

We had one quick stop at Starbucks so Amy could get another mug for her collection and then we parted ways with Angie. She was a lovely addition to our crazy travel group. We were really glad to have another person that could make decisions and settle disputes. I wondered if I’d ever get to see her again. Slowly, I have gotten more and more distance from my camp friends, my camp family. Angie, you will be missed. Thanks for hanging out with us. Thanks for being there at camp all summer.

We got back to the car after some debate on where we parked. We were in need of gas which was impossible to find in downtown DC. We ended up getting somewhat lost on the east side of town but we found a gas station. Somehow we found I95 and headed towards Philadelphia. I felt like it was a quick trip traveling through three (?) states peppered with many toll booths. In Delaware some bitchy toll booth lady freaked out because she thought Franco was trying to take a picture of her. She said she got out license plate number and that she would prosecute if she found her picture online. We spent the rest of the trip making fun of Delaware and declaring it the worst state ever. I think “Fuck you Delaware” was said a lot. I think a lot of that was Amy’s frustration with the drivers. I drifted in and out of consciousness and after a little bit of time so did the boys, leaving Amy brewing, by herself, about where we were going and bad drivers. I woke up once I realized we were in Philadelphia and lost. Amy was not in high spirits. We had made plans to meet up with Amy’s friend from work, Terrence, who was in town visiting his parents and friends. He was going to let us stay with him. Terrence told us to meet him at some bar that we had a little trouble finding. We circled the downtown Philadelphia for about an hour. Philadelphia is definitely a place I could see myself in. The boys slept the whole time but I was awake and being the navigator. We found the bar at about 1am. We meet up with Terrence and his friends and we hung out. We tried a couple of bars but settled on the first one which was half diner. Everyone decided to postgame at someone’s house so we went there and continued to drink and do what young people our age do. We didn’t make it to Terrence’s parents’ house until about 4am.

Another productive day.

Amy’s Washington DC post

Amy’s Delaware Post

Amy’s Philadelphia post.

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