Today we are going to Muse about our trip to Washington, DC over Spring Break. If this is your first visit, welcome to Musings. If you have been here before, welcome back. Over time we are going to talk about many things: the past, the present, perhaps the future, travel, art, society and more. Wherever my musing takes me. I hope you will come along with me.
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Jeanette and I own a time share with Wyndham Vacation Resorts. Every other year we have points available that can be used to book time at their various properties. It is done on a first-come first-served basis. Last year I got to thinking about how we would use our points this year. Jeanette has many friends in the Washington DC area, having lived and worked there for many years. And, of course, there is much to see and do in DC. So, we decided to invite my sister, Susan, and her daughter to join us. It would be a good chance for Catherine, age 12, to see the Capital and the Smithsonian.
In June I contacted my sister. She liked the idea and thought that Spring Break might be a good time. Catherine being off from school and the Cherry Blossom season just seemed to be a fit. In July I contacted Wyndham. It turned out that the resort in Alexandria was booked already for Spring Break. However, there was a resort at National Harbor with availability. We made our reservation.
We filed our plans away and let the time pass on by, nine months.
Now the time was upon us . . . Spring Break!
We decided to drive up to Washington DC. I have a show coming up, opening in April, at the Ellis-Nicholson Gallery in Charleston, South Carolina. Driving up would allow me to deliver the paintings for the show, avoiding shipping issues, and it would give us mobility in the DC area. Jeanette got busy and mapped out our hotel stays and planned a series of get togethers with friends. We were ready to go.
But the weather was not. After a warm winter cold and rain, possibly snow, were forecast. Bummer!
Off we go
Friday we dropped the dogs off at the veterinarian and headed out toward Charleston, our first stop. That is a long drive, 525 miles, about nine hours. As we neared Charleston, the traffic had picked up. It was heavy and fast. And just then our GPS system stopped working! I missed our exit, adding about 50 miles to our little drive. Nasty is probably the proper word to describe my mood at that point. Fortunately Jeanette figured out the GPS in her I-Phone and was able to guide us into Charleston and our hotel. Dinner and several drinks improved my mood.
The next day, Saturday, we delivered the paintings to the gallery and headed out to Richmond, our next stop.
The GPS decided to work again. Huzzah!
Crumb! It was raining. Hard driving!
By the time we reached Richmond we had out run the rain but it was still cold and dreary.
Sunday was a short day. National Harbor was less than two hours away and check-in time was 4 PM. We decided to take the time to visit The Museum of the Confederacy.
It is right downtown.
What impressed me the most about the exhibit were the size of the uniforms. There were many, mostly of officers, and for the most part they were small. I would guess the average height would be less than 5 feet five inches.
Times have changed.
Off we went, arriving at National Harbor at 4PM.
This was the view from our room an hour later.
No Cherry blossoms showing around here!
The next several days were spent dealing with transportation and health issues.
Transportation was an issue because the metro lines do not come out to National Harbor. We did not know that. That meant driving into the city or taking a shuttle in and back. I preferred to use the car because I could control when and where I went, but parking in DC is scarce or expensive. $22 for three hours. Hmm! Growl!
Monday Jeanette wasn’t feeling well and she stayed at the resort during the day while the rest of us went into the Mall area.
My sister, her daughter and I went to the Holocaust Museum. It is sobering of course and there is airport like security as you enter. It was very crowded. I could hardly move. As you see here, parts of the museum are narrow and you are required to move forward in a single direction. To me it was claustrophobic. People cheek to jowl, pushing, standing, some with baby carriages inching along. I didn’t like it. I pushed my way through and left as quickly as I could. Later I was told the museum was designed specifically to evoke the sense of being herded and pushed along.
The next day Jeanette and I went to the American Art Museum to see a current exhibition of art from the Civil War. It had a number of paintings by Winslow Homer and other artists. There were also war-time photographs. If you enjoy history you would like this exhibit.
That is Jeanette ahead in the black coat and the entrance to the exhibit behind her.
This exhibit is worth seeing. The whole museum is special.
Jeanette went off to have lunch with friends and I stayed at the museum. Two museums share the building: The American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery. The latter is also worth seeing.
The Portrait Gallery has portraits of all the presidents of course, but it also has portraits of nearly anyone who has ever had their “fifteen minutes of fame”. There are portraits of theater people, sports people, business people, social activists, scientists, poets and more. Going through the galleries teaches a great deal of history.
Further, the portraits are not all traditional paintings which makes it interesting. For example, look at this portrait of Rosa Parks.
The following morning Jeanette was really not doing well. She stayed in bed most of the day and I stayed at the hotel with her. My sister and Catherine went off on their own. A friend had planned a dinner for us. She had invited other people to be there and meet us. We had to cancel. Not Good.
And then it was time to start the trip home. Our plan was to drive to Charlotte, about 380 miles. That would be about six hours. But we didn’t plan on the traffic.
It was horrific. The backup sometimes ran over twenty miles. It took nine hours to go 380 miles. That is an average speed of 42 miles per hour. But there were large spans of time that we went much slower. Just exhausting!
The next day we planned to go from Charlotte to Jacksonville another 380 miles. The drive was a repeat of the day before. It took nine hours also. Just unbelievable.
Coming south on the I-95 through the Carolinas there is no alternate route. All the traffic uses that corridor. And, the Interstate is only two lanes wide in each direction. The traffic would come to a complete stop and then start to move, slowly at first and then normal speed followed by red lights and a complete stop. Over and over for hours. It was not accident caused. There were just too many cars.
Fortunately when you reach Georgia the Interstate becomes three lanes in each direction. That made a huge difference.
It has been a long time since either of us thought about Spring Break! It did not register with us. All those people on the road. Too many people.
We won’t do this again.
More to come
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