We had been warned that you could spend a month in DC and still not see everything. We thought…yes, but we did Yellowstone in 16 hours! We’ll be able to see enough.
OK, so I’m here to tell you. If you want to do DC in a day, DON’T take a Trolley Tour, like we did. Our decision to take the tour stemmed from the facts that we were totally unfamiliar with the area and there was a shuttle straight from our campground to the trolley stop at the Capitol building.
It sounds like a no-brainer. You just hop on and hop off at all the stops, right? Well, yes. But in between you sit through a lot of traffic. In hindsight, we would’ve done things a bit differently. But, here’s what we DID do, for what it’s worth.
The KOA Shuttle picked us up at 9am…
…and dropped us off about 1.5 hours later at the Capitol Building, where we got on our first trolley.
We enjoyed our ride, getting bits of trivia here and there about the various buildings.
Our first choice of stops was Arlington National Cemetery, where we boarded another shuttle, getting off only for the Changing of the Guard, which was POWERFUL, and the Iwo Jima Memorial.
The tomb of the Unknown Soldier. What a concept. Here rests in honored glory an American soldier known but to God. Tears. Appreciation.
We had quite a hike to the Iwo Jima Memorial,
but it was worth it. There were some Arizona Honor Flight Members there.
After receiving a poppy and reciting In Flanders Fields,
we hopped back on the trolley, hopping off at the Lincoln Memorial. (I must insert a parenthetical children’s book recommendation here. In Flanders Fields: The Story of Poem by John McCrae by Linda Granfield is awesome. Just so I don’t have to interrupt again, Capitol by Lynn Curlee is a great book, too, even if you just looked at the map!)
At this point, we realized that we had hopped on and off of exactly two trolley stops…and we only had four hours until we had to rendezvous with the KOA shuttle back at the Capitol, which is at the other end of the city! (To catch you up on your DC landmarks, Lincoln looks toward the Capitol.)
It was so cool to be standing where Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his I Have a Dream speech. To look up at Lincoln, bigger than life. To read his words engraved on the wall, having visited Gettysburg only days before. To march up and down those stairs! While we had an amazing visit with Lincoln, disappointment began to set in, and we realized that we had to make some choices. Korea and Vietnam, off the list. FDR and Jefferson, sorry. We decided to walk past the Reflecting Pool toward the Washington Monument, hitting the WW2 Memorial just because it was on the way.
It was at this point that Isaiah mumbled as he collapsed on a nearby brick barrier, “Mama, I really need some healthy food.”
We had brought a backpack full of nuts, dried fruit, and granola bars with us. But I knew exactly what he meant. We were exhausted and needed some protein. Observing the White House from afar,
we hiked toward the next trolley stop, hoping that there would be food nearby.
Thankfully there was a food truck on the corner of 14th and Constitution. Five chicken strip platters. $50. Our entire wad of cash. Not exactly “healthy food” when paired with french fries, but it did the trick. We all felt better as we devoured it in front of the Smithsonian Museum of American History. (We may have also fed a few birds, as well as Birds.)
That’s the closest we came to visiting any of the Smithsonian buildings that day. Sigh. I had such dreams of seeing the flag flown at Fort McHenry. (I actually had to abandon plans to visit Fort McHenry the day before, as well.) Obadiah desired to see the Hope Diamond. Several of us couldn’t wait to go to the Air & Space Museum. But those were unrealized dreams.
The rest of the day was spent dodging traffic in the trolley. We did get to see and hear some interesting things along the way, to be sure. But it wasn’t what we had dreamed of. I don’t mean to sound morbid or anything. We really did enjoy our visit and got a lot out of it. We enjoyed everything that we WERE able to see. And we were truly grateful for our trip, as well as for the country which inspired it.
The Trolley dropped us off in front of the Capitol with 20 minutes to spare,
but that, folks, is not the end of our DC Tour! No. Because when “nature calls” in DC, it is not altogether straightforward, as we were about to find out! The porta potties down the road? Yes! Let’s run!
Um, they’re LOCKED! What a sick & twisted joke! OK. How about the Capitol building?
NO…the closest facilities are at the U.S. Botanical Gardens across the street.
Are you serious? And so, away we run. Of course what we’re looking for would be located at the back of the building! But, if I had to be running top-speed through a museum, THIS would be my choice. I tried to snap some pictures along the way!
This place is SO me! (If we would have done all of our stops top-speed like this, we may have been able to see everything on our list, after all!)
Our mission accomplished, we headed back to the Capitol and boarded our awaiting shuttle. MANY annoyed eyes pierced us as we climbed the stairs and proceeded toward our seats. Aw, c’mon, folks. Have a little mercy!
I don’t know about anyone else, but I definitely nodded off a time or two on our 2-hour ride “home”! We let Uriah supervise the children at the KOA Bounce Pad while we took a much-needed nap!
Guess where we’re going now? I’ll let you know if you’re right…next time!