Posted on October 6, 2016
Edit: this post was written last week. Since then Hurricane Matthew has crushed Haiti and is headed for the US via the Bahamas. We are safely hidden up a creek in the Chesapeake, and plan to wait for Matthew to go offshore before heading south.
We had to pull ourselves away from DC.
It is a wonderful place to be a cruiser, and a great place to visit with kids. Our spot in the Capitol Channel used to be wide open for anchoring, but development has curtailed that to a small spot near the police dock; our spot in the 6-bouy mooring field was serenaded each morning with construction and low-flying helicopters; but we were only blocks from the National Mall, two blocks from a great grocery store, and had access to the finest laundry and showers in all the land.
We started off our time just getting oriented–hiking the path from Air and Space, just north of our marina, all the way to the Lincoln Monument. It takes longer than you’d think. Fortunately–as we’d established in New York–our kids were built for walking.
All of the museums here are free, but as in New York, it’s easy to get overwhelmed; we had to be selective about what we’d choose to see. We already had our White House tour set up, as well as our Capitol tour; we decided to add to our list the Air and Space Museum, the National Archives, the National Museum of the American Indian, and the Library of Congress. We also had to add in a few days for groceries, laundry, and relaxing; and visiting with Michu’s dad was high on the list. Honestly, we could have used two weeks, but even with an affordable mooring and free museums, being in a city is just inherently expensive. Oh, the coffeeshop temptations! Pizza, delivered to the marina! We are weak. We spend the money. So one week was our limit.
F has told us repeatedly that all she wanted for her birthday this year was a tour of the White House. It’s been one of our top priorities for the trip, and we’ve been managing our time carefully to make sure we didn’t miss our date. The tours are not easy to set up–you have to ask for one via your congressional representative, and your date isn’t confirmed until two weeks before the tour. There’s also a security check; I spend some cellular data inputting everyone’s passport info from our anchorage in Harbor Springs to keep our application moving along. Fortunately, we made the cut, and now we obviously don’t have to do anything else for F’s birthday.
The tour was restricted to the public rooms of the mansion, and is now self-guided–we think to allow more people to go through. F was thrilled. We did not see Bo.
I was more impressed by the National Archives, which contained not only the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, but one of the original surviving copies of the Magna Carta. Rare documents: we are all about it.
Michu’s dad is a curator at the National Museum of the American Indian, so he was able to give us a personal tour of the museum, including an exhibit he curated on the Inka Trail.
T’s top priority: Air and Space. Michu’s too, probably. It’s an amazing place–so much of the history there is recent, that they’re able to have the actual vehicles used in some of the first moments in flight. The actual airplane flown by the Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk; the command module from Apollo 11; one of Amelia Earhart’s planes. Not to mention a fragment of moon rock that you can touch. There was so much awesomeness, we had to go twice.
We missed out on so much of the city: the National Gallery, the Natural History Museum, the Supreme Court…not to mention the new Museum of the African American, which is supposed to be amazing (and which we hear is booked through about April). But we’re headed down south–unwinding our route through the Potomac, checking out the southern part of the Chesapeake, and making our way to Norfolk.