Saturday, September 12, 2015

A trip to Washington DC and a new Highpoint

Kim and I took had never been to Washington D.C. before and we both had really wanted to go.  Since we had moved to Pittsburgh, we quickly realized that it was within striking distance in the car and we started planning a trip.  J is getting better at sitting in his carseat for longer periods of time too so we thought this would be a fun little trip.

We stayed at a Hotel right on Pennsylvania Ave, almost exactly a mile from the White House in Georgetown.  I would highly reccomend it, it was named Avenue Suites, and like the name implies it was an all suite property, which meant that J had his own room for his naps (and we didn't have to hide in the bathroom while he napped like a normal hotel).  The kicker was that it was also one of the cheapest hotels for the long weekend we were in town.  I will definately stay there again.

Day 1:

We spent the first two days touring the monuments in/around D.C. and, much like I expected, I was stunned at the care that was taken to get things just right.  Almost everywhere I have been accross the country I have gone out of my way to visit any nearby National Parks, National Monuments, National Battlefields or really anything with the name national in front of it.  The reason, really, is that the National Park Service does an incredible job of preserving the history and beauty of this great nation. 

We brought our bikes with us and had J's bike trailer hooked up so that we could maximize our time and see as much as we could in a few short days. 

Our trip started with a quick ride down historic Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House.  A word of note, the secret service doesn't allow you to lock up your bike anywhere near the white house, so if you want to ride down there you will need to find a different place to lock it up. (we found that out the hard way). We didn't linger there long but stayed long enough to take a look at the building and the grounds and then hopped back onto our bikes for a ride down to the national mall.

Once on the mall we rode up to the Washington Monument, which is much bigger in person than it looks like in pictures.  It is really hard to believe that it was built when it was.  Especially since when it was built it was the tallest building in the world.  Pretty incredible.

From there we left the bikes and walked down to the WWII Memorial, where I got a few pictures of the War in the Pacific side and some of the Massachusetts (my home state) section.  My grandfather fought in the pacific so I felt a bit of a personal connection to the memorial.

From there we walked past the reflecting pool to the Lincoln Memorial which was awesome. 

On our way back we walked along the Vietnam Memorial Wall before heading back to our bikes at the Washington Monument.

Once back at the monument we had a quick snack and then back on the bikes to check out a few more places before heading back to the hotel.

 Our first stop after our snack was the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.

We then made our way over to the Franklin Delano Roosevent Memorial where we walked around for quite a while and then sat down for a picnic lunch.  This was probably one of my favorite memorials as it sort of told a story as you walked through it.  It was organized by periods of his presidency from beginning to end and you really got to feel a sense of change in the country as you walked through it.

Finally though it was time to head back to the hotel for some rest and a nap.

Day 2:

For our second day of the trip we really didn't have an agenda but we had heard that Theodore Roosevelt Island was a great place to ride bikes.  It ended up being one of those mornings where everything goes wrong.  

We loaded up the car with our bikes and all and drove down to the parking area just outside the Island.  Now it is no easy task to load up a toddler into a bike trailer, get in your biking gear and get ready to go on a long ride so by the time we unloaded everything out of the car we were just ready to go.  Except we initially went the wrong way out of the parking lot and ended up going away from the Island and back towards the city...  so we turned around and headed back towards the island.  There is this really nice little footbridge leading out onto the island from the parking area and once we figured out that that is how you go to get to the island itself we made our way over there.  Only to see, at the last minute, a sign saying no bikes!  So again, we turned around and went back to the car unloaded all of our bike gear back onto the rack and decided we would just walk instead.  We put J in his little umbrella stroller (we left the big jogging stroller at home) and took off over the bridge, finally we were making some progress.  Until, that is, we realized that not only is it not friendly to bikes but the trails are near impossible to push a stroller on.  It was at this point that I realized we had gotten some bad advice.  but we weren't deterred, I picked up the stroller and ran back to the car the bike that turned into a walk with a stroller just turned into a hike.

Once all of the missteps had passed though it actually was a pleasant little morning.  We took a short hike around the perimeter of the island, part of which is on a cool little footbridge over a marsh.  At the end of the hike we stopped at the actual memorial itself which was really impressive.  An added bonus was that we were one of the only ones there.  I think that a lot of people don't get out to this monument because it is a little off the beaten path.  That being said, I would absolutely recommend seeing it in person.  (just don't bring a bike...or a stroller).

While J was napping I decided to go for a run and see some of the monuments that we had missed.  I left the hotel and headed down Pennsylvania one more time and ran by a few of the familiar ones from the day before,  but this time I stopped at the Korean War Memorial and spent a little bit of time there.  Despite it's size there is actually a lot to see at this site.

From there I headed down past the FDR memorial and stopped to read the inscriptions on the inside of the Jefferson memorial.  Finally I took one last loop around the reflecting pool and headed back to the Hotel.

When J woke up from his nap we took a walk around Georgetown and stopped in at the Old Stone House which is part of the Rock Creek Park.  It is the oldest house in Washington D.C. and it was surprisingly interesting.  We had walked by it a few times during the trip but never made it inside but I'm glad we made the detour, it is worth the 20 or so minutes if you find yourself in Georgetown.

Day 3:

Our last day in the city and we didn't have any plans again, except that Kim needed to have a cupcake at Georgetown Cupcakes.  They don't open until 10am and we have a toddler who wakes up at 6am so we had some time to kill.

I am always out looking for a new highpoint to conquer so we took the short drive up to Fort Reno to pick up the Washington D.C. highpoint.  This one was surprisingly hard to find.  It is just a survey marker in an open field so you have to be right on top of it to find it.  Also it is not actually the highest point around it as there are a lot of man-made areas in the vicinity that rise above it.  It took a little bit of figuring but we eventually made it.  We parked at the Deal Middle school and walked up a small path once we got to the large open field it was a quick left and up a little hill and we were there.  There wasn't anything to look at so we took a few pictures and made our way back into the city for some delicious cupcakes.

 So that was it.  I hope you enjoyed reading about our travels!