With considerable doubt, I’m not sure there’s a possibility of seeing “It All” in DC. Yes, there is THAT much to see.
So here’s how we started.
Note: We have these old friends from Texas teaching days who are now tour guide specialists (is that the right term?) I could NOT have pulled this together without Melinda’s help. Seriously. If you EVER NEED a large group travel expert, she IS the lady. Just contact me and I’ll get her contact info to you. You cannot do better!!! She’s the best!!!!!!
I spent days, no weeks, making phone calls and surfing the internet. Timing was everything. First priority was establishing our departure date, which hinged on the date for the boy’s last day of school. (We left 2 1/2 hours after they closed the school doors for the summer.)
I kept a little notebook at my side so I could juggle schedules, tickets, reservations, flights, hotels at any given moment. That didn’t mean that when Big Boss asked over lunch vittles, “Now when are we seeing the Capitol?”, I knew what I was talking about. No way. Pretty much everything hinged on when we could get to our Senator’s office. It was our central event and everything else circled around that.
Once the Capitol day and time was established, all other events fell into place. Sort of.
At the top of our Must See List was the one thing that Big Boss and I missed on our first trip to DC; the Holocaust Museum. The lines were mind-boggling back in 2009. So I was smart this time. I went to their website to get advance tickets, thus eliminating one line. The tickets are free and you can get timed tickets, which I finally figured out as tickets that allow you to enter at such and such time but you can stay as long as you want.
Note: The secret is…don’t wait until 2 weeks before your trip to get the tickets for the Holocaust Museum OR the National Archives. You’re already too late. Do this early. Like 2 months ahead. I tried to get our tickets at the end of April and middle June was the earliest date I could get tickets for. Lesson learned!
Our flights were great, using United going and US Airways coming…I got one way tickets from home to DC then we rented a car to go from DC to Williamsburg and Jamestown and eventually to Richmond, where we flew home from.
Note: Enterprise will come pick you up at your hotel, take you back to their office for paperwork and then you’re off for your road trip. This was important because many hotels don’t have shuttles and ours was one of them. Actually, I found very few that did run shuttles and those that did, were miles from a sub station.
But back to the trip report. Our flight to DC was delayed by 30 minutes, which some would consider a rocky beginning, but since it was a non-stop, therefore no tight connections to worry about, we were cool. I assured the boys that all was well. We arrived about 5 minutes ahead of a big, black, nasty storm which meant we ran to our Metro bus.
Note: about the running thing,..I have a bum knee thanks to a skiing accident 3o years ago. Doc scoped it out 10 years ago to buy me time. However…it had been sending nasty signals lately, mostly pain signals. I called the Doc and he suggested a cortizone injection to get me through the trip, snidely noting that I was overdue for a replacement. (“Later”, I replied.) The shot was probably the smartest prep I did for the trip!
Additional Note: I didn’t realize that our luggage would be stored in the lower section of the bus which meant that some of our cash left our sight. Not smart but it was one of those situations that I hadn’t planned for. Even though we had nothing but carry-on that never left our control, the bus thing wasn’t anticipated. But all was well.
The Metro bus took us to the nearest Metro sub station which took us to our hotel. I was able to get a decent…no, great…hotel ONE block away from a sub station…majorly important for transportation reasons. A short 5 minute walk to our station and within 20 minutes we were in the heart of the DC Mall…or wherever!!
Note: When in DC and using the subway system…listen to this…get the Smart Trip tickets. It’s very confusing but grab the nearest Metro Person and have them explain the stupid machines to you. Do it.
We stayed at the Courtyard Dunn Loring Hotel and it was wonderful! The only thing they didn’t have, was a breakfast included in your stay. We solved that by walking a block to a Dunkin Donut shop where breakfast is served with great coffee! And next door we found the hands-down-best hamburgers EVER at the Black Finn restaurant, which by the way, has the best service I’ve ever experienced in a restaurant, not to mention great food!!
So, every day we got up and got ready, walked a block for breakfast, walked back to the hotel to get backpacks, etc., walked a block to the sub station, got on the Metro and headed for our destinations for the day! Easy. Peasy.
To be continued….