Keeping Myself Busy: Green Travel Part 2

Arriving at the bus loading area in Union Station quickly led to the most confusing 20 minutes of my young life. We were basically in a parking garage that had no visible exits or entrances. So, instead of asking how the Hell I was supposed to get out of there, I walked around imitating a Roomba iRobot vacuum just walking one direction until I bumped into a wall, then backing up and trying another direction. Once I finally made it upstairs/downstairs (who knows?) I had a lot of difficulty finding the Metro that I needed to get on to make it to DuPont Circle to meet my friend. Finally, this bellhop-looking man asked me if I needed directions to something (I was more than clearly lost). He pointed me toward the Metro and — finally using the street smarts I inherited from my New Yorker parents — I got on the right train very easily and made my way to DuPont.

Right when I walked up the escalator from the train, I saw Barrett waiting for me. I immediately transformed from a sleepy, confused traveler to an eager tourist. I was so happy to see another familiar face and to have the whole day to explore with him. After a much-needed coffee stop, we dropped off my bags and hit the town.

The area he lives in is spectacular. Barrett has every shop and restaurant he needs within walking distance and the people are all young and energetic. We made our way around DC with ease (thanks to the awesome Metro and our very able feet). Our first stop was the White House. It was at this first destination of many that I realized Barrett and I would be the perfect travel companions. We’re both kind of “no bullshit” about sightseeing. At the White House, we see the sight, take it in for a moment, take a photo, and move on. We repeat these simple four steps at every stop throughout the day. The highlights for me were the Lincoln Memorial, the White House, and the architecture that we got to admire during our lengthy walks across the city.

When Barrett left for work, I was left to wander on my own (possibly my favorite thing to do in a new city). I decided the best use of my time would be spent outdoors. I laid myself in the grass in the center of DuPont Circle and read a book for more than an hour. It. Was. Perfect. I felt so happy. But then…

Wait, first: a relevant side note. I am a HUGE West Wing fan. I have learned a lot about politics and the presidency through the West Wing (and Googling while I watch scenes that I don’t understand) and I was applying that knowledge all day. The cast of the show often mentions DuPont circle during casual office conversations. I was thinking about those references when all of a sudden…

The President’s motorcade drove by! I felt like my day was officially complete. Right after that it was time to head east to meet my brother at a Metro station closer to Annapolis. We arrived at the same time (just another perfect experience on public transportation) and left for his apartment in adorable Annapolis. After a quick driving tour of the city, we went back to his apartment and had a low key evening.

The next day I got to do my wandering thing again while big brother went to work. I remembered that half of the purpose behind this trip was to run a 10K so I decided a run was probably a good idea to prepare for my race. This turned out to be an excellent way to see the city. I ran all over, stopping to take pictures or go into a shop. After my run I hung out with my brother’s halfway friendly cat, Ali, and left to continue my wandering. I loved every moment of Annapolis. Maybe it was being near the water or maybe it was all the beautiful men in uniform, but it was such a wonderful day. After I had enough walking I wandered my way over to a local coffee place with a live jazz band. Other than the hipster philosophy students arguing about obscure books and philosophers, I had a very pleasant hour before I met back up with big brother.

I kindly forced him to play tourist with me for a couple hours. We stopped by a teeny tiny museum with mediocre displays, took a nice photo by the harbor, and made our way to an Italian dinner so I could carbo-load for my race.

The next day I was up at 5am to prepare my body for 6.21 miles in yucky weather. We hit the road by 6:50am to get to DC by 7:30am. I left big brother to do his own wandering, registered for the race, waited in a 30-minute bathroom line, and before I knew it I was crossing the Start Line. My goal for this race was to beat my last race time: 1 hour, 11 minutes. Instead, I beat my fastest 10K time and my fastest 5K time. Not too shabby.

With my energy and adrenalin from the race and some coffee for my brother, we were ready to hit the town for some
touring. It was kind of crumby out, so we just stopped by the Capitol Building for a photo, went to his favorite museum on the mall (The National Gallery of Art), and found a Thai place to eat at (after we got into a cranky, hunger-induced sibling fight). It was a nice day overall and I’m glad I got to spend that time with my brother.

The next thing I really needed was a shower. I arranged to take care of that back at Barrett’s place, so my brother graciously drove me there before he left to go back to Annapolis.

And the trip was over just like that… Or was it? In my next post you’ll read about a surprise (and glorious) ending to my perfect trip.

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