I met several people over coffee in the morning, attended a session on Metadata, then enjoyed lunch with the GITCO bunch (my boss is the chair, doncha know) at the Thunder Grill, Union Station. Trying to shake the odd feeling that I was in a Texas restaurant in DC, I ordered the portabello fajitas, which were fantastic, and thoroughly enjoyed the conversation.
Back at the hotel that afternoon, I met Alex, who grabbed some lunch at the Billy Goat, and then we trotted down the Mall for the next six and a half hours. As we walked toward the Washington Monument, I mentioned that I had only recently learned that it had an interior that you could tour, which was news to Alex. Upon finally arriving at it, we discovered that tickets had to be purchased in advance at an office located elsewhere, and all tickets for that day had already been distributed. And then a gracious tourist with two extra tickets provided them to us. It was a killer view out every window, and Alex went a little mad with the camera.
We saw the Washington Monument from almost every location we visited in DC, until it took on the aspect of a celestial fixture, like the sun. And if you had the desire and time to look through the 400+ photos we took in this single day, you’d see that over half of them feature this distinct architectural landmark, in a variety of lights.
Once past this monument, we were awed by the World War II Memorial, which was gorgeous and huge and breathtaking. The bronze plaque devoted to airmen featured a man in the center that look just like my grandfather did in the 1940’s, and when we visited the computer kiosk near the memorial, we looked up his name in the WII registry.
I was freezing by the time we were walking toward the Lincoln Memorial, but the gorgeous fall color everywhere kept me moving. Alex and I got our pre-planned photo of a penny back, and once inside, I geeked out at the amazing ceiling, of which I took an obscene amount of photos. As we left the memorial, we were greeted by a sunset that had enflamed the surface of the mall with brilliance.
We headed hotel-ward by way of the Vienam War Memorial, a stark contrast of beautiful design and tragic significance that left us mute. As we walked back through the Mall, we filled the camera with even more images of the Washington Monument–reflected, lit up, behind tree branches. Our photos begin to exhibit the blurred quality of the tripod-less-shot from here on out, save for a few clear images of the Capitol.
We made it to Union Station by about 8:30, just in time to share some dinner at the Center Cafe and commiserate about our tortured feet. From the second tier of the restaurant, we watched the traffic of Union Station pass by, trying to discern a person’s personality or their destination by the amount of luggage they hauled. After another chilly walk back to the hotel, we indulged yet again in a pint of ice cream, and fell asleep in the 7th inning of Game 3 (which I discovered the next day had been won by the Cardinals, to my delight and Alex’s dismay). Alex rooted for the Tigers both for their decade-long underdog status (although not applicable this year) and ultimately because they are American League, a loyalty that is legendary in his family. I chose the Cards in the end because I’ve rooted for them in the past, and because Detroit is the ugliest city on TV and the movies that I have ever seen, and my aesthetic sensibilities have thus prejudiced me against the Tigers, despite my soft spot for underdogs.
And if that’s not the least American reason behind watching America’s Favorite Pasttime, I don’t want to know what is.