Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Travel - Washington, D.C. : My favorite city

The W.W. II Memorial and Washington Monument in background.
     I consider Washington, D.C. my favorite city in the United States. As a small boy our family lived near the nations capital in Silver Springs, Maryland while my dad was stationed at the Walter Reed Army hospital.
     Though we moved back to Pottstown after several years, Washington left a lasting impression on me and I remember not wanting to move back to Pennsylvania.
     Almost every weekend we would pile in the family station wagon and drive into the city for a day at the Smithsonian. Or run around underneath the cherry blossoms and also to climb the stairs of the Washington Monument which in my youth we were still allowed to do. These days, visitors are ushered into a line to wait for an elevator. Currently the monument is closed after an earthquake caused damage to the stone work and engineers are still trying to figure out how to repair cracks in the structure.
The Vietnam War Memorial.
     Deb and I try to travel to D.C. annually and recently took a trip that included a weekend in Baltimore. There are numerous hotels from which to choose. We have stayed near the BWI Airport at the Hampton Inn. It's ideally located to see both cities. The hotel is close to the Baltimore - Washington Parkway and we can drive twenty minutes to the Greenbelt Metro subway station, park the car and ride the Metro instead of trying to find limited parking in the busy city. On weekends parking is free and the cost of a Metro day pass after 9:30 a.m. is fourteen dollars for unlimited use.
     It's best to get a game plan together for a daily visit as it is impossible to see everything in one day.  My sister and her husband were along and hadn't been in the city for years. Though I like to stop in at least one Smithsonian building, we decided to enjoy the warm December day and stayed outside touring the Lincoln Memorial, walked along the mall and reflecting pool and visited the World War II, Korean and Vietnam War memorials. Comfortable shoes are a must in a city that I prefer to walk.  Without rushing around it took until early afternoon to see the highlights that day.
The Lincoln Memorial.
 The final part was spent taking a Segway tour on a fascinating two wheeled battery powered people mover. My wife Deb has always wanted to travel on a Segway and she was the one who excitedly reserved our ride. We picked the Capital Segway tour located in the 1300 block of I Street NW. The employees were friendly and excellent teachers giving us tips so that we felt confident aboard our unique mode of transportation. You learn skills on how to climb on and off and to keep yourself balanced. You lean forward to move ahead and stand up straight to slow down and stop. Our seasoned tour guide effectively herded a group of  novice riders along bike lanes and paths making it feel like a walk in the park. Riders are comfortable enough after a short introduction to navigate around.
Strick's Pics and family on Segway's in front of the White House.
     Once we took to the streets we rode to a our first stop in front of the White House. The 1600 block of Pennsylvania Avenue is now a pedestrian only area with the roadway blocked off to trucks and automobiles. Police kept a watchful eye as visitors snapped pictures. We had the opportunity to buzz around the street on our machines. People would turn and stare, still intrigued even though the Segway has been around for a number of years.
     We listened on an earpiece as the guide gave an audible description of architecture and facts as we rolled by historic buildings. We completed our two hour tour safely. A half block away from the Segway business was the McPherson Square Metro station making for an easy turnaround to Greenbelt to complete the day.
     There is so much to do and see in the District of Columbia and I enjoy reminiscing about my days there as a boy.  On my list of things I have yet to see is the Smithsonian's Native American museum. Also, as a news photographer, a look at a museum dedicated to the history of the newspaper business named the Newseum.  It's nice to have an excuse to return to a place that I also call home.

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