Wednesday, August 21, 2013

sometimes you just need cool water

Like today, for example.

I'm back in D.C.  Arlington, VA, actually.  This place brings out my bravery and adventurousness.

Today after my classes ended, I caught a cab back to my hotel, dropped off my stuff and then walked to the metro.  I figured out the right train to start my adventure and then changed trains and then walked to the Newseum, which is an awesome place to see lots of photos and videos and memorabilia from the past, all as captured by the press.  It was interesting and informative and memorable and, well, overwhelming and sad.  Lots of sad things have been documented from the past.  I could spend days there studying everything, but I'm not sure I could handle it all emotionally.  Some of the best moments in history, the times of great joy, came after so much suffering.  I'm thinking of the exhibit about the Berlin Wall.  So much suffering and then down it came.  The Newseum has several sections of the wall as well as a guard tower, videos, pictures, and other items.  It was powerful.

Less painful but still interesting is the viewing area on the sixth floor that looks out over Pennsylvania Avenue.  

It is very cool because there's a map that identifies all of the buildings you can see.

I wanted to go to the Supreme Court building to get a close up picture.  It didn't look that far away from the Newseum or from the Capitol Building, so after wandering around the Newseum for a while, I headed out towards the Capitol. 

With my dead cell phone.  So, kind of all on my own, right?  But I pressed on. 

Depth perception is a tricky thing.  Or maybe judging distances is the tricky thing.  Either way, the closer I got to the Capitol, the less I could see of the Court building.  And, because it is August and I'm in D.C., I'm getting hotter and sweatier because I'm used to 8% humidity and today it must have been about 80% humidity.  And of course, because it's hot and humid and I'm walking--yep, of course I'm getting another blister.  One on my right foot to match the one I got yesterday on my left foot.  Boo blisters.  I always see lots of people walking around in D.C. and I don't see any of them who look as hot and disheveled as I feel.  And nobody seems to be developing blisters.   

When I finally got to the Capitol Building, I couldn't see any sign of the Supreme Court Building, which was a little disappointing, but since my cell phone had died, it wasn't like I was going to take a picture on this trip.  I found a bench in the shade in front of the Capitol and sat down to study my paper map since Siri was napping. 

[Side note--this town has little parks everywhere.  Grassy, tree-covered places with statues and monuments and benches.  I like that.  A lot.] 

I decided I could go either direction in front of the Capitol and would end up at a metro station, so I started walking and quickly spotted a sign with an arrow directing me to the Union Station metro stop.  While I would never have guessed that building was a metro stop--it looked like it should have been the treasury building or had some other equally important government function going on inside--it didn't take long to realize it was a metro stop once I noticed the nearly constant stream of pedestrians all headed into it.  Lots of them, women especially, may have been wearing more appropriate walking shoes than I, but still I was completely amazed they didn't all join me in giving a dollar to the guy on the corner who was selling ice.cold.bottles of water.  He probably saved my life.  And he complimented me on my lovely purse.  I would have given him $5 for that water.  With or without the compliment.

[Side note 2--there is a lot of governmenting going on in this town.  While there are a lot of parks, there are way more buildings.  Important looking buildings.  The Treasury.  The FBI.  Art museums and more museums.  So.many.buildings.  So much government.  We live in a big country, so maybe we need a lot of government and a lot of buildings to govern from?  Or maybe it just seems like there's a lot of buildings when I'm walking so slowly.  Who can say, really?]

In yet another amazing bit of awesomeness, I got myself onto a train headed in the right direction, transferred to another train headed in the right direction, and walked myself back to my hotel after my train ride.  As I type this I wonder if anyone who isn't me can really appreciate the effort it takes to get on the right train, going in the right direction.  Especially in those big stations where there are trains coming and going in all different directions, upstairs and downstairs.  Seriously.  It takes me three days of riding the metro to finally start to understand that I have to get on the right side of the tracks to get to the train that's heading in the direction I need to go.  But first I have to determine which direction that is.  And then when I get into a station where all of the lines come through, it adds a whole new level of complexity.  Literally.  Upstairs or down?  Riding trains seems like it should be fairly straight forward, but I felt like I'd really accomplished something today by the time I got back to my hotel.   Which may have included some pleasure that even though I left the metro station in what I thought was the same exit I'd used all week, once outside I realized I was on a street I'd not seen on this trip and yet, I made it back to my hotel. 

I might not always walk in the most direct route to my destination, but I always make it eventually.  I see lots of new [to me] stuff since I can't seem to find the same street twice, but I'm getting used to that. 

It's nothing that a cool bath and room service [crab cake sandwich, sweet potato fries, caramel apple tart with ice cream] can't fix.  Right?


Lisa B. said...

awesome saga. i was right there with you, and I especially thrilled vicariously to this moment, on every level:

>>He probably saved my life. And he complimented me on my lovely purse. I would have given him $5 for that water. With or without the compliment.


Jessie said...

Well, I am impressed. I am completely intimidated by the public transit system here, and as you know, I never have any idea what direction I'm actually traveling. So good for you for venturing out, seeing new and interesting and important things, and enjoying your time in foreign places.

Also, good call on the water. My girls would be proud. :)