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Steps of the supreme court.

My husband, as part of a year long leadership course with his job, had a trip to Washington DC scheduled in mid April. I hadn’t been to DC since I was in the 8th grade, and markets haven’t started yet. We were in between babies (lambs, turkeys, rabbits) being born and mostly out of the frost worries, so I decided to go with him (we got a farm sitter – yes, its hard to go out of town when you own a farm, lol).

For the first three days, Michael was in meetings and doing his own tours (Pentagon, behind the scenes at the Smithsonian, Congress – COOL!) so I was left to my own devices. Because I didn’t want to double up on things I knew he wanted to see (Natural History Museum, Air and Space Museum) I made an effort to do the less obvious stuff (though I did go to the Lincoln memorial twice – once on my own and once with my husband). We didn’t have a car, but I did have a subway pass, and we were fairly close to the National Mall, just north in the China Town/Penn Quarter area. I put 22,000 steps on my Fitbit the first day. We missed the Cherry blossoms by about 2 weeks.

Impressions of DC

It’s younger than I expected. Yes, there are a lot of old white government guys in suits, but for every one of those, there are probably 20 staffers, most of which are 20 somethings just out of college, fill of idealistic zeal and hip eating and exercise habits.

As an aside, my husband bought a suit for this trip, and when they were tailoring it, the question of leg/cuff length came up. Evidently the more conservative the look, the longer the leg. So I spent a lot of time noticing young 20’s somethings in suits with shorter legs on their suits.

There is a lot of ethnic diversity. Through pure accident on my part, I’ve always lived in places that were mostly white with some Latinx and in San Jose, a lot of people of Asian/Indian descent. But not black. DC has a large black community, and is home to Howard University, a predominantly black college founded in 1867. It’s always interesting to be aware of your own personal impressions and biases in this situation, and then look deeper as to where those feelings come from.

There were not a lot of homeless. Walla Walla is having a bit of a homeless crisis, and of course Seattle and Portland are really struggling with this, especially since the opioid epidemic. I was surprised at how few homeless people I saw given the size of the city. This could just be that we spent most of our time near the Mall. We DID see a very large police presence, and heard sirens day and night (SO many sirens. I’d forgotten what that was like). DC does have a strong program to end homelessness by 2020, so maybe its working.

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Eastern Market on a Tuesday. If only I’d had access to a kitchen. I did have a nice bagel. 

The food was AMAZING. My rule when traveling is to eat foods I can’t get at home. We ate Peri-Peri chicken (African by way of Portugal), Ethiopian, Arepas Venezuelan, Spanish Tapas (the highlight of all of the meals), Chinese with on-site made noodles, an amazing house-made charcuterie breakfast with tasso ham and chorizo and awesome Atlantic seafood. And we probably had 20 additional fabulous options within waking distance of our hotel. All normal eating patterns are suspended when I travel. I even had a custard/mango ice dessert one night. (And then come home to eat a LOT of vegetables!)

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If I remember right, this was the National Museum of Art.

The buildings are HUGE. Just HUGE. My god. EVERYTHING looks like the Parthenon. Clearly its all built to impress and project longevity, and has been from the beginning, when the city was laid out by L’Enfant in 1791. And I had to wonder. What must it be like to work in those buildings. Do you feel small, dwarfed by the grandeur and gravitas? Or do you feel special and important, as if the building you walk into every day confirms your value to the world? That you are somehow marked for greatness? Either way, one can not discount the impact this architecture must have on those who work in this city.

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Eastern Market subway exit.

Public transpiration was good. We rode the subway from the airport to a few blocks from our hotel, and I took it out to the Eastern Market as well. We rode the Capital Bikeshare bikes out to Arlington National Cemetery, and used an electric scooter (there are at least 5 different companies from what I could tell – scooters have a somewhat limited range, and we saw a lot of dead ones on the bridge going out to Arlington, and a late night service van driving around the mall picking them up for a recharge – hello resume job).

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There’s a reason they call it capital “hill”. It’s on a hill. You can see it from all over the area.

Congress is a LONG way from the White House. About 2 1/2 miles away. Which isn’t much in this day and age, but think about it in the 1800’s on a horse. They took that separation of powers seriously.

 

The Smithsonians are amazing, and unique. Founded by an illegitimate child of a wealthy Englishman who never set foot in the United States, and funded both by federal dollars and trust/non-federal funds (the legal funding history is actually kind of fascinating). This too must make a psychological impression on those who work in our nation’s capital. How can being surrounded by an agency who’s purpose is the increase and diffusion of knowledge not have an impact? There are 17 museums and a zoo. Admission is free! 154 million artifacts, works of art, and specimens in their collections (most of it in natural history). Only a small percentage on display at any one time. The natural history museum had an exhibit called “Objects of Wonder” which I tongue in cheek retitled “cool shit we found in drawers”. And it was, indeed, very cool. To be able to walk into a museum for NO charge and see an original Van Gogh or Renoir or Monet, meticulously preserved and stunningly lit. Just mind blowing.

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St Mary Mother of God Catholic Church, Chinatown DC. Full Moon.

On Easter, the Roman Catholic Church across from our hotel let us know that “He is risen” by ringing the bells at midnight…when we had to be up in 4 hours. But it was worth it. Even though we don’t celebrate Easter. They also had a French flag hanging from their door, in solidarity with Notre Dome after the fire.

Not a lot of dogs. Saw very few people out walking their dogs.

A lot of fit people – even the tourists. Maybe its all those 20 somethings, or all the walking that visiting the national mall requires, but it seemed like the whole country had lost weight.

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National Mall, plants growing under trees.

Nature finds a way. Under the trees ON the national mall, I saw a lot of my old plant friends, from wild onions, to chickweed to plantain, wild violets and dandelion. Not sure if this was due to budget cuts, or if its just not worth bothering. The area IS a National Park after all, and given the foot traffic, I imagine its really hard to spray weed killer. Regardless, it was nice to see that I could go forage for dinner if necessary. Grin.

 

Profound, lovely and funny signs abound. If this is too hard to read from a phone, they are: In Essentials, Unity; In Non-Essentials, Liberty; In All Things, Charity. (I swear this was on a national GRANGE building, of all things). Golden Haiku: spring rain, a tire swing, full of tadpoles (this was a student submitted contest winner). Pedestrian: The Musical! And from the Hype Cafe: Good communication is just as stimulating as black coffee, and just as hard to sleep after.

 

 

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Part of the Dutch masters art hall. This painting was from 1660! It looked like it was painted yesterday.

 

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Union Station, Washington DC. I’m always a sucker for old train stations. This one dates to 1907! 

It was an AWESOME trip, and totally recharged our batteries. Markets start THIS Saturday. Woop!

© 2019 Miles Away Farm, where we’re miles away from wanting to live in Washington DC, but it sure was an awesome 6 day visit.