DC & Midwest Trip | August 2019 | Days 1 & 2
This is a trip that we have been eagerly anticipating for almost 2 years. We looked forward to it as a career milestone for Curtis, as well as the first time we would return to the mainland after nearly 2 years of living in Hawaii. You’ve probably picked up on this because of a lack in posting, but we’ve been experiencing island fever for the past few months. We knew this trip would be exactly what we needed — different scenery, new adventures, long drives, happy reunions, and a fresh perspective. Obviously we wish we could travel home more often, but Curtis’ work schedule and the high costs of travel have kept us from making the trip. Luckily because this was a work trip, Curtis’ flights and some lodging and meal expenses were covered by the military, so we saw it as an opportunity for a half-priced trip.
Of course, when traveling with the military, things aren’t quite as simple as we’d like them to be. Curtis had to wait for his flight tickets to be purchased until a week prior. When he finally received them, we looked into how much it would be for me to join him on his flight. The result was that the tickets purchased for him were ridiculously expensive…and one quick Google search showed that I could travel for a third of the cost, with less connections and overall travel time. While it was unfortunate we couldn’t travel together, it was a no-brainer for me to book the cheaper tickets!
I dropped Curtis off at the airport at 5:30 am on Monday, August 5 for his flight off the island to LAX. I came home and spent the morning doing last minute cleaning and packing, and spent time with Charlotte. I won’t lie, I was emotional about having to leave her for so long. We were going to be gone for 16 days — longer than we’ve ever been away from her. Thankfully we have wonderful neighbors watching her, so she was able to spend the days at their home and sleep in her bed (I mean…our bed) at night.
My ride to the airport came at 1, right around the same time that Curtis landed at LAX, with a short layover before flying to Philadelphia. My flight for Detroit left at 3:30. I did my best to sleep on and off the whole time in order to adjust to EST, 6 hours ahead of us. Meanwhile, Curtis landed in Philadelphia at midnight and had a 6 hour layover. During his layover, he walked around the airport to cross a county line and went outside to find a letterbox. His last flight was from Philly to DC, where he arrived around 8:30 EST on Tuesday, August 6.
I landed in Detroit at 6 AM and had an hour layover before my second and last flight. My only catch was that this flight was to Baltimore, not DC. Through thorough research I had found that it was cheaper to fly to BWI and take a train to DC than it was to fly directly into DC. I also was able to get more counties than Curtis despite only having one connection, so…win! I landed in Baltimore at 9, took a free shuttle to the nearest train station, then bought a $7 ticket for a pleasant half-hour ride into DC.
Curtis met me at Union station, and we walked a mile to our hotel together. It was hot and humid so we lingered in the air conditioning a bit longer than we planned before going out to find lunch. We debated what we should do with our first half-day, and decided that since we were jet lagged it was in our best interest to not do a museum or anything that required thinking.
Instead, we hopped on the metro and rode all the way out to Tenleytown. Why? To find the highest point in Washington DC, of course! We walked through the quiet suburb to Fort Reno park, made a circle around the area before finding our way up the mound. The highest point is actually the rim of a man-made reservoir and inaccessible thanks to a tall gate surrounding the area. We got as close as we could before continuing around the gate to the highest natural spot, maybe 8 feet lower. There’s a plaque and a waypoint marker to identify the high point, at a total of 409 feet above sea level…the second lowest, with only Florida standing below it. It’s not a state highpoint, but it was a fun way to start our trip.
After this, we took the metro to the zoo, since walking around looking at animals takes little effort on jet-lagged minds. It was still so hot which meant very few animals were active. The highlight of the zoo was the panda exhibit — they were in an air-conditioned building and just as happy as could be eating bamboo. We sat for a good long time watching them eat before going on our way.
We took the metro back to the mall and walked around admiring the different monuments. I’ll admit this all is a blur to me now since we were so sleep deprived at this point. But Curtis remembered. We walked down the south side of the Mall past the Korean War Monument towards Lincoln only to find the entire area crowded with Marines. Turns out there’s a weekly concert/parade by nearby Marine detachments during the Summer. We decided to skip the main event and instead headed South around the Tidal Basin past MLK, FDR, and (Curtis’ favorite president, which has always been his favorite) Thomas Jefferson (not Polk).
Done with monuments and footsore, we picked up dinner at a place called Falafel and walked back to our hotel room, where we ate and forced ourselves to stay up until after 8. It’s funny how we went about this time change the same way we did when traveling from the midwest to Europe back in high school — only this time, we were just traveling across the US. Our efforts paid off though, we slept well through the night and woke up early, ready to continue exploring the next day.
Oh, and while going to bed we realized that this would be our first night sleeping in an air conditioned room in almost 2 years. It doesn’t seem like a big deal in Hawaii since it’s never that hot or humid, but I don’t think we could have survived without it here!