September 18. We arrived in Washington, D.C. yesterday. The ride up the remainder of the Potomac went very well for us. As luck would have it we were able to ride the flood tide for more than 40 of our 50 mile day.
We are anchored in the Washington Channel, which is right in the heart of downtown Washington. We are across from the Capitol Yacht Club which is where we can land our dinghy when we go ashore. Walking the dogs is very convenient on the opposite shore as there’s a park with miles of very inviting grass.
We’ve again run into Jim & Deb on the catamaran Freedom. They’re great folks and we really get along very well. They’ve been here for a week and they’ve pretty much got the lay of the land.
We spent the day riding our bikes around the city. First we went to get tickets to get into the Washington Monument. The monument dominates the Washington skyline. You can see it from our boat in the anchorage and just about every picture you take of anything in the city you wind up with the monument in the background. We got our tickets and had 50 minutes to kill so we rode up towards the capitol building and then turned around and headed back to the monument.
The monument is just over 500 feet tall and is a must see if you’re doing Washington. The view is spectacular; we could easily see Veranda riding peacefully at anchor.
After the monument we headed out across the Potomac to tour Arlington National Cemetery. There are more beautiful white headstones than you can imagine. Every headstone represented a family that had suffered a great loss, it was so sad. We saw J.F. Kennedy’s resting place with the eternal flame. It was so simple yet so powerful. Then we went over to watch the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
I had been there as a child and remembered the guards as being larger than life, so powerful. Yet now when I saw them I was struck by how young they were, barely more than children. It made me feel a hundred years old. The precision and the pride that they display in the performance of this duty is overwhelming. It really is a very special ritual that is repeated every 30 minutes, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, rain or shine. The words “precision” and “pride” just doesn’t do this display justice.
After the cemetery we rode down to see the Korean War Memorial and the Vietnam War Memorial. Each was so different yet both were so moving. The Korean Memorial has a squad of soldiers moving across a field. The detail is amazing and kind of painful. The Vietnam Memorial is beautiful polished black stone and very sobering, it makes you feel like crying would be appropriate.
We also saw the Lincoln Memorial, what a building. So simple yet so powerful. The statue of Lincoln seated looking out over the reflecting pond is very cool as well. The artist who did the statue studied every picture of Lincoln that was available, even his death mask. He decided to depict Lincoln as the man who had preserved the union by means of the Civil War. He looks almost slumped in his chair, exhausted yet resolute.
We’ve been to a lot of very interesting, very cool places but Washington makes them all look like a waste of time. The city is beautiful, spotless, we saw a movie being shot, we saw a protest about reforming the green card process and rode past the White House like it was just another house on the block. It’s been an amazing day and tomorrow promises more.