Washington DC

Thursday, March 29, 2012

I had been waiting for confirmation that I was awarded a job.  That confirmation came through this morning so we began looking for a place to set down for a few days.  We found a place in a town called College Park, just about 10 miles from downtown Washington DC.  I emailed the plans to a Fedex Office (Kinkos) in Annapolis MD.  When we got there the plans were ready so we headed west toward DC and College Park.  The entire day we drove about 80 miles.  Almost completely across Delaware, about 25 miles, then into Maryland and nearly to DC.  We did make a quick detour on our route to visit a small suburb called Landover MD. It was a quick stop and only a few miles out of our way, but we needed to make a small video for a friend.

The park is very nice, but a bit pricey.  But they have all the amenities necessary for me to work comfortably and efficiently.  They also have a little cafe and a laundry and store.  So we got all set up in a space very close to the restrooms and a short walk to the cafe, laundry and store.  We also made reservations for a 3 hour night tour of Washington DC for tomorrow night.  We have discovered that some of these bus or trolly tours are very convenient for us.  As you might imagine, it is not easy to find parking places with our van.  If the tour is short enough we can just leave LaKisha in the van with ventilation running.  If the tour is more than 4 or 5 hours, we will try to find a doggy day care for her.  You may remember Lucy took an all day trolly tour of Savannah, but I had to work so I was the doggy day care.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Today I worked, or at least I tried to work.  I began getting the job organized and setting up my computer forms and such.  As I began looking at the plans for my initial review, I noticed two things. One, the Fedex Office guy did not print 10 of the pages and they were important pages.  They were the structural engineering drawings. Two, there is a separate part of the job for which I did get the structural drawings, but the structural engineering plan did not not match the architectural plan.  I called the architect and he discovered that he had sent me an old version of the plans for that part of the project.  So I unhooked everything on the van and we headed back to the Fedex Office to get the plans they forgot and the plans the architect re-sent me.  That cost me half a day.  We got back and set up again about an hour and a half before we had to catch the bus for our 3 hour tour.  With the luck we are having today, we were praying that it did not turn out like Gilligan’s 3 hour tour.

This is the Treasury Department. It was too big to get it all in the photo.

We were supposed to be at the bus stop at 5:45pm to catch the bus that would take us to union station for the start of the tour at 7:00pm.  We were there at 5:35pm.  The bus arrived at 6:35pm.  Apparently he got hung up in traffic.  Someone had called the driver to see what the hold up was and his response was, “if you will send someone to move all the cars in front of me, I will be there in 5 minutes”.  The fact that it was quite cold waiting at that bus stop, was mitigated by the fact that we were just one of 3 couples there and enjoyed some good conversation.  We arrived at Union Station at 5 minutes before 7:00pm.  We were all set to jump off the bus and run to the tour bus, but it turned out the tour bus was the bus we were on.  Someone might have saved us quite a bit of stress by sharing that little tidbit of info from the get-go.

As we left the RV park we passed an IHOP restaurant on a corner a block or so from the gate.  The driver glanced at the six passengers and said. “Did you know that the IHOP restaurants were founded by a man with only one leg?” Had we known that this bus driver would also turn out to be our tour guide, we might have been concerned about the prospect of listening to this kind of one liners for the entire tour. As it turned out, he was very entertaining and very informative as well.

As we were pulling into our first stop, we saw Marine One arriving at the White House.  Someone commented that the president must be arriving home from Korea.  The guide told us that it may or may not be the president, but if it was we would not be getting very close to the White House because they would be sealing off the approaches.  Sure enough, as we walked toward it, the police arrived and blocked off our approach.  Dratt.  The only view we had of the White House was a glimpse through the trees and later a view of the back from the bus.  Next stop was the Jefferson Memorial.  A very impressive round, domed building with a bronze statue of TJ in the center.  Lucy and I went in through the ground floor entrance as that is where the restrooms are located.  If you are a man over 50 or are acquainted with one, you know that this is an important part of any tour. After this necessary stop we took the elevator up to the floor where the stature is standing.  As we turned to return to the bus we ran into a stampede of 12,357 teens.(I may have exaggerated that number slightly) We decided to go down the exterior stairs and walk around to the entry side.  We started down, but before we got to the ground level it appeared that the ground level walk did not go around the building.  We noticed that the level we were on appeared to go around and so we started walking. We walked the entire perimeter of the building with no way to get to the ground until we got to where we started.  It still did not appear we could get around by going down, so we went back up into the throngs of teenagers to go down the elevator.  We fought our way to the elevator and waited for a couple of minutes for it.  We were watching the time because we were supposed to be back to the bus in about 1 minute.  When we finally got onto the slowest elevator in DC it took us back to where we recognized our entry door.  As we emerged from the building we noticed that the ground level walk did indeed go all the way around and that the door we entered was about 10′ from the steps we stood on earlier.  So we sprinted(using the alternate definition of the word sprint, as two overweight 60+ people waddling quickly along the sidewalk) and arrived at the bus just as it was loading. We probably resembled two old flightless ducks fleeing a determined predator. Next we were taken to visit the Korean war memorial.  At night this was a very eerie sight.  Unlike the Vietnam memorial, it did not list names.  Instead, it showed grey faces on the onyx background of the wall.  Guarding the wall are several statues of soldiers carrying weapons in rain ponchos.  They were also grey and dimly lighted.  The entire experience was an eerily ghostly scene.  I tried to get a photo, but am afraid it does not do justice.  Next we entered Virginia across the river and visited the older part of Arlington cemetery and the Iwo Jima Marine memorial.  The part of the cemetery we saw was where the civil war veterans are buried, including many black soldiers in a separate area.  That was appropriate because our next stop was the MLK memorial.  It was a very impressive monument too.  The large stature, along with a mountain cut in half with a path through the middle.  On each side of the mountain were walls with famous quotes by MLK from his sermons and speeches.  Last stop was a combination of the Vietnam memorial and the Lincoln memorial.  The Lincoln was a very large building like the Jefferson, but rectangular and taller.  The statue was Lincoln sitting in a chair. I was familiar with it because there is a small replica in Kentucky where he was born.  The Vietnam memorial was quite moving for me, but not one that should be visited at night.  The wall is not lighted enough to see the names.  I was planning to look for the name of a friend, but it was impossible in the dark.  We did not specifically visit the Washington Monument, but there is almost no place we went that we could not see it.

The tour was fun and informative and when we returned home we were very tired. So our 3 hour tour took  from 5:45 to 11:30.  You do the math.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Not much to write about today.  Got up late, worked late.  Lucy did laundry.  We ate at the little cafe here at the park.  Went to bed.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Got a call this morning from Barack.  He had heard we missed seeing the White House on our tour and felt bad that he had messed it up.  To make up for it he invited us to Sunday dinner.  Unfortunately we had to decline.  I had to work.

April Fools!!!!

I actually did have to work.  I finished my project at about 2:30 today.  Lucy made a new friend and they went to Petco to get a special collar for LaKisha.  Lucy does not walk LaKisha nearly as much as she would like, simply because LaKisha constantly pulls on her and makes it very difficult.  Apparently this special collar helps with that problem.  Lucy tried it and it really works.  It is called a Gentle Leader.  It has a strap which goes around the dog’s nose.  It is very loose and comfortable, but when she pulls, it tightens down on her snout and it not comfortable.

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