One thing we discovered on our last trip to DC is that it’s an awesome city to see on bike. Last time, we parked in Arlington, VA, and rode across the Potomoc and it was such a memorable experience riding through nature paths over to see the White House and National Mall, we did it again.
Another thing we discovered about DC is that there’s so much to see and do and a weekend just isn’t enough. But that’s all we had on this road trip. So we rode the Mt. Vernon Trail over to the Thomas Jefferson Memorial. Although I might roll my eyes when Eric tries to tell us about history when we’re home, I love listening to him when we travel. History was never my thing, but it’s his. He gave us the scoop on historical figures. Who needs a tour guide when you have Mr. C.?
I have been intrigued by the life of a spy for just about ever, so we I knew we were coming to DC, I was practically foaming at the mouth to go to the International Spy Museum. “Kids, you want to go to the Spy Museum, right? Spy. Museum. Like Spy Kids. You know you want to go…”
So off we rode to see the tools and tricks of the trade. We assumed our undercover identities and oohed and aahed at miniature cameras and hidden weapons. Although I love the idea of being a spy, I also know I’d suck at it. I’m a writer in my own world most of the time. Unlike Eric who notices everything and everyone. So imagine the pleasant surprise when I noticed a display case focused on writers and spies. It mentioned how writers make good spies because their talents at looking at the world around them and writing about it. “Eric, did you see that? DID YOU SEE THAT?”
Sorry, I just daydreamed about being a spy and forgot where I was going with this. Oh yes, this post is supposed to be focused on fitness so we’ll get back to the bikes. After lunch, we rode through the sculpture gardens and down the National Mall to the Capital. I remembered something cool was inside the lobby of the Library of Congress, but I couldn’t remember what. I did know that I copyrighted my books so I’d registered with the Library of Congress and was thrilled to tell my kids that I have books in there.
“Let’s just walk in real quick,” I said.
Holy splendors of splendors! The lobby of the Library of Congress is breathtaking. Just look at a portion of the ceiling here. Oh, I could lie on the floor and let my eyes feast on the scene. But DC is filled with more wondrous delights. And another one was the special exhibit on Armenian books. This year marked the 500th anniversary of the first Armenian book.
“Kids, read the sign. You are Armenian.” When they protested, I insisted, “Read it!”
I won’t force you to read the sign like I did to them. But if you are so inclined, here it is.
Right behind the Library of Congress is the Shakespeare Library. The building had scenes and quotes from Shakespeare’s plays. Oh joy, I could skip around this garden! Or read. Where’s a copy of Othello or Hamlet when you want one? Eric and I subjected the kids with quotes from Hamlet and Henry V, but the kids joined in and acted out the To Be or Not To Be scene with great pomp and circumstance.
And then we rode back down the Mall. Nicky chose the Natural History museum. It had fun things to see on animals, fossils insects, etc., but was too crowded for me. And Eric wanted to see the American History museum next door. An exhibit on Thomas Jefferson’s slaves was very interesting to see another side of a man who’s memorial we saw that morning. I enjoyed this museum much more, especially the gallery on America at War, which depicted the military in various wars in our history. We touched a piece of the Berlin War, saw a segment of one of the Twin Towers, and read personal accounts, which I always find fascinating. We also saw the Hope Diamond and Kermit the Frog. Woo hoo, love the Muppets!
And then we rode down the Mall, up through Foggy Bottom to see the White House before getting dinner at Elephant and Castle, a cool English-style pub/restaurant in the area. We were pretty beat after a day of riding around DC, but still had four miles or so back to Arlington. We rode by the memorials. We’d spent a good deal of time at them the last time, but seeing the Vietnam Memorial, Korean Memorial, and the other memorials are unforgettable. So we briefly walked through the area and then over to the Martin Luther King, Jr., memorial, before riding to the FDR one. This was a highlight for Eric, a history teacher, and I could see why—it was designed so you walk through each of his terms, witnessing key points and speeches from each period of time. As a writer, I’m always fascinated by quotes that make you think, especially when they have a message of caring for your fellow humans. There was a statue of Eleanor Roosevelt, a fascinating woman in her own right, and I wished they had some of her quotes there as well, such as one of my favorites from her:
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
Tired legs, we powered on back to the Mt. Vernon trail. All in all, we rode bikes or walked for most of the daylight hours until it grew dark, with a couple of breaks to eat. Yes, we were tired and cold by the end of the day. But even my son said as we rode the Mt. Vernon trail back to Arlington, “I’m having fun.”
Day 3 Coming soon – Arlington National Cemetery