Last week I had the opportunity to visit our great nation’s capital and really explore the city of Washington DC. I had been to DC prior to this trip, but just in passing. This time around I got to visit some dear friends who live in the city and finally experience Fourth of July festivities at their finest.
Most people visit the monuments during the day; however we explored them at night. The cool evening breeze was much more comfortable and the monuments just look beautiful lit up at night. We saw the Vietnam Memorial which was incredibly surreal. My father was a Vietnam veteran so this was extremely emotional to witness. We also visited the Korean War Memorial which is very eerie at night. Many people forget about the Korean War, but it was filled with so much loss and just as tragic. The MLK memorial is fairly new and done really well. I enjoyed the FDR memorial since it had a statue of his beloved Scottish terrier, Fala. The Capitol building did not impress me much since we have our own here in Austin. Although, out capital building has a more pinkish hue to it. All the monuments are filled with really inspiring quotes that strangely still seem relevant in this day and age.
Not too long ago, I decided that traditional ramen just wasn’t for me. I know it’s the big food trend right now so I bought into the hype and decided to give it a try. I was less than impressed by the ramen I had here in Austin. I had previously written it off completely until our friends recommended Toki Underground. I gave ramen another chance and was thoroughly surprised. The usual wait at Toki is 3-4 hours even on a slower weeknight, but it was well worth it. The vegetarian ramen was really flavorful and the noodles were delicious. If you get a chance to visit this place, I highly recommend it. It’s also right next door to a bar called The Pug and you can’t go wrong with pugs. I’m back on the ramen train guys!
Fourth of July was spent grilling and drinking. I was introduced to my new favorite beverage: RumChata. Horchata flavored rum, what could be more heavenly than that? At night we walked down towards the National Mall to watch the fireworks. It’s as if the entire city stopped for a moment just to watch the glorious spectacle. After the fireworks ended, the whole city of DC erupted into one big party. People were setting off fireworks & partying well into the night and the one after that and the one after that. I did not even know they could sell fireworks that big on a commercial level! It was truly a momentous occasion.
The next day we hit up as many museums as possible starting with the Museum of Crime and Punishment. This was by far my favorite museum! They had so much more exhibits than I ever anticipated everything from medieval torture devices to Old West & pirate memorabilia. The lobby of the museum holds Ted Bundy’s WV Beetle. The very car he used to kidnap women in. We also saw the car used in the Warren Betty/ Fay Dunaway film about Bonnie & Clyde. There was John Dillinger’s death mask as well as the machine gun (his little friend) used by Pacino in SCARFACE. The most fascinating memorabilia were the letters and personal belongings of several infamous serial killers. There was a card from David Berkowitz (son of sam), Jeffrey Dahmer’s intake sheet, a baseball signed by Charles Manson, and John Wayne Gacy’s paint kit and wallet. The most disturbing thing I came across was Gacy’s Pogo the Clown costume. The fact that I hate clowns and that this suit was worn by a man who buried several young men under his house sent shivers down my spine. There was an exhibit about dog fighting and the repercussions of offenders like Michael Vick. As an avid dog lover, I could not bear to look at any of it. As far as I’m concerned, Michael Vick is the poorest excuse for a human being and got off much easier than he should have. If I were ever to see him on the street, I would love nothing more than to spit in his face. The Museum of Crime and Punishment is truly engaging and I highly recommend visiting it if in the area.
We visited a few of the vast Smithsonian museums including the Natural History Museum, American Indian Museum, Air and Space Museum, and American History Museum. One could spend an entire week just exploring the Smithsonian Museums. The best part is that they are free of charge to visit. The natural history museum has some really awesome dinosaur skeletons. Seeing them up close and personal really puts into perspective how enormous these mysterious creatures once were. The mammals section looked exactly like any Cabela’s across the country with its great array of taxidermy. I really enjoyed the American Indian Museum since it actually relates to my heritage. The building itself is really beautiful and the exhibits are incredibly appealing. I thought the Air and Space Museum would be less than impressive since we have our own Space Center in Houston that I just recently visited for the third time. The museum was actually pretty interesting. I saw the plane Charles Lindbergh flew around the world and even a replica of Amelia Earhart’s plane. At the American History Museum, we got to see the actual counter from the famous Greensboro sit-ins. We also saw Dorothy’s (aka Lucille #2’s Mom) ruby slippers, the original Kermit the Frog, and a cassette tape of Pretty Hate Machine that I already have at home.
We got to see the White House, but you cannot get too close for security reasons. I merely wanted to catch a glimpse of Bo. The Washington Monument actually looks really cool with all the scaffolding attached to it to repair the damage done by the 2011 earthquake. I think it looks less phallic with the scaffolding. We also came across Ford’s Theater where Lincoln was shot and the house across the street where he subsequently died. There’s a ton of food trailers around the Mall area. Many of which have old school ice cream like from the truck that would drive through the neighborhood. We need more ice cream carts around Austin.
My second favorite part of the trip was visiting Georgetown. Georgetown is the site of one of my all time favorite films, THE EXORCIST. We got to see the steps where Father Karras fell to his death in the climatic scene. Originally called The Hitchcock Stairs, this famous location is a Mecca for any horror fan. The staircase is rather steep and a little intimidating. There are 75 steps that were padded with a thick rubber when the original stunt was filmed. The stunt was performed only two times. These days, people jog up and down them to feel the burn. I can’t tell you how excited I was to finally see this historic landmark! We also saw the bar from the book The Exorcist and its sequel Legion, The Tombs. Apparently it’s a bit of a frat bar now. Georgetown is just absolutely gorgeous. There’s so much lovely architecture and rich history. We visited a really great coffee shop/bakery called Baked & Wired. They had so many delicious treats that I did not have to wait hours for like at DC Cupcakes down the street.
Overall, I had a really wonderful time exploring Washington DC. I had an even better time visit old friends. I’d love to go back and visit during the Cherry Blossom Festival. Special thanks to John, Erin, and Finnegan for being amazing hosts! I love you guys.