We headed down to Tennessee and into familiar streets. It was time to visit our friends Dave and Sarah. Dave is the famous hiker Huckleberry that we hiked with in 2000 and who gave me my trail name Cowpie. The last time we stayed at their house in 2000 we were half way through our 1600 miles on the AT and as I recall we sat around for a week and did nothing!! This time we did much the same... haha. It was really great to catch up and we sure did have a lot to talk about. We especially liked the time we spent at the cabin they have in the woods, not too far off the AT. We went for a nice walk on the trail and reminisced about good times 16 years ago. I can say the one thing that has changed with Dave and Sarah is they have new cars... Check out the photos 😀 We did promised them that we would return and we did...
It is a big country so why not have a Capitol the same. Maybe not completely big as in size, but rather Larger Than Life.. DC has a swagger to it. Young people would say it has 'swag'. I am guessing this has come from hundreds of years of hosting the country's leaders. The movers and shakers! When I think of it that way it's hard to understand why most of the architecture is all in an old Roman/Greek style, you know big pillars and all the old stuff. When they were building this place that design was already 1000s of years old. Could it have something to do with the feeling of permanence to the system they created? It wasn't thousands of years old but they built it to last thousands of years and were showing it in the style of buildings? Don't know but it appears to be something that is on going even with newer buildings (although a few modern buildings are around the place). One thing for sure, they are impressive.
It was pretty good to be able to go back to the same place each night after being on the move for months and months. I started to think of the hotel as 'home' which is pretty bad really considering it's a room not much bigger than the king size bed we slept on. Maybe good practice for living out of a car in months to come. The hotel is well positioned next to a subway station, McDonald's and a restaurant row. What more could a visitor want? DC is very different to most places we had visited in the USA. It has had a unique creation being born out of farmland owned by George Washington who had slaves to run it. It is still a city that has an abundance of contrast with the homeless people living right on the doorsteps of the nations most wealthy and influenceable people. When I thought about how much time and money has gone into creating some of the fabulous buildings and monuments here it's a shame that more cannot be done for the down and outs. It's more likely an accurate reflection of a normal free market economy at work. In DC we can very clearly see the very bottom of the structure.
We have spent the last 3 months in New England. Generally, full of educated middle class people. We have on occasion had people struggle with our accent but nothing like the folk of Washington, D.C. I think the city's have a slightly different accent to the suburbs and regions. The subway system here is great with the exception that the language spoken by the driver over the PA is an as yet to be deciphered dialect known to him and the city dwellers. We actually thought it was a private joke until we tried to order food and talk to other people on the street and realized that they really didn't understand us at all! I wondered if it was because DC was a place that had people from all over the country and the city accent was a giant mash up? You would think it make it easier!
The old part of the city is really a series of buildings dedicated to the founding presidents. They are pretty cool. Even as a visitor, I could understand the pride they feel from these places. Growing up in New Zealand, bring part of the British Commonwealth, all the stuff like this that mattered was in England and it didn't instill a 'national pride' thing in me than the Americans can get visiting these places. We had a look around on national Labor Day so the place was chokka. (We were on the steps of the Lincoln memorial with 1000's of people everywhere and Christine spots Rocky, the kiwi we met in Vermont hiking with his wife Ripper... crazy eh! )
Any president these days tries to do a good enough job to have a building named after them. Only 8 or 9 have! (conflicting info on that..) and I think you really have to be popular with the people and the cCongress as I understand they are the ones with the money! The newest one of these buildings is the Ronald Regain building. It too looks old....
So we had a morning to ourselves to do what we wanted. Well to go to a museum of our choice actually. Christine went to the natural history museum and I went to the national spy museum. A slightly controversial choice as her one was free, mine was not. I can tell you, we both learned some things we didn't know before. Who learned about Iceland and the Cold War?
The trip out however was still fun for us both and we went for a wander around before going back to the hotel. The DC subway is a really great system! Backed by by a bus network above ground that takes the same card, getting anywhere is easy. ALL of this made possible because things like Google, hotels.com Trip Adviser and the like are set up to work the best right here in the USA and where best but right in the heart of this place, DC... But really, using google here has been a bit of a revelation. Every building and business is mapped and every street and road is monitored. We used it everywhere we went and often commented to each other how much easier if was to use than in New Zealand or Australia. We are hoping the UK and Europe will be as good!
We did lots of things while we were in DC. The only thing we did again and again though was swim in the hotel pool. Most days the temperature was around 30 degrees and above. Not sure on the humidity but it was hot and uncomfortable for most of the day until we jumped into that pool. The hotel was a Marriott but an older one and not for leisure, but more for business customers. It had an entire exhibition hall in the middle of the 2 wings. Having said that, it was Labor Day weekend so it was full of families taking advantage of the special deal that got us to stay too. It was nice, really nice even though we had to dodge food trays and empty champagne bottles in the hallway all weekend. Even hotel staff have time off?
Then without warning we had to go. Not just to the next town, city or shelter... but we were leaving the USA. Actually we did have warning but I chose to ignore it. The last thing we chose to do in the USA was go on another hike. This was a small one compared to the last two... Just an hour or 2 along the Potomac tow path with our hiking buddy Lumberjack. It was great for a couple of reasons. Good to be hiking, good to catch up with Lumberjack but it was sad to be leaving the US all the same. We have really enjoyed the US and absolutely plan on returning...soon!
it's Our Epic Trip...
David & Christine are from New Zealand and are embarking on a trip around the world the slow way, on foot and by personal vehicle. This could get interesting!