Before I forget...
I'm not a fan of Spring because the insects return and Summer is just around the corner. That's when the depression kicks in and I don't want to leave my home. I just want to stay in the air conditioning and pray that the wasps don't enter my house. Nobody cares, so I'll belt up.
I'm finally getting a chance to write about my long, strange trip to Washington DC. I have mixed feelings about our nation's capital, and I'll get to that in a moment. I will say it is something everyone should do once. If they are made of money. And healthy.
As most trips go for us, they are required to start out with a bit of drama. We ALWAYS have drama with the rental car company. We thought we could avoid it by using the same company we used last time, but it didn't pan out. They changed the rules since we last rented a car from them. We tried several others, which put us hours behind, so we finally had to take our car, which is on its last legs. I must say I'm proud of how well it did!
They're telling the truth. It Hertz to rent a car from their company!
The day we left was my nephew's fourth birthday! (This is also my cousin Heather's birthday and PI Day, 3/14.)
My sister-in-law Stacey made this collage of Pauly's birthdays!
I can't believe he's four now!
The trip up went well. It was beautiful! I saw real mountains! (They call WV the mountain state, but do you know there are actually no mountains there?)
Some of the views we witnessed on the way to Washington DC.
There are a lot of rowhouses in DC, but don't let the outside appearance fool you.
They're spacious and gorgeous inside!
Meeting the paternal side of the family was the highlight of my trip to Washington DC. They were such nice people, and they treated me like one of their own. I also found out that I have two die hard fans of my book, Dormiveglia. That means so much more to me than the money I've made thus far. We had pie. One of them was "pi r squared", which made me giggle. We spent the majority of the evening visiting with them. I had the best time!
The next day, this is where the trip gets complicated, we slept in. We were exhausted. Washington DC should come with a warning label. There are things no one will tell you about visiting the nation's capital, so I'm going to be nice and give you helpful hints, tips, and advice. You may plan to go there, and you may not, but at least you will know in advance.
How to Properly Visit Washington DC. Tip #1:
NEVER SLEEP IN.
I'm totally not teasing. If you sleep in, you will miss passes to EVERYTHING!
The plan was to go to the United States Holocaust Museum. Both entrances had lines longer than any I'd ever witnessed at King's Island. I'd be willing to wait in a line at King's Island now. Maybe not, but it certainly made the lines at the amusement park look small!
This brings me to my next point.
How to Properly Visit Washington DC. Tip #2:
HAVE A METRIC CRAP TON OF MONEY.
The good news is that most places take plastic, so you don't have to carry tons of cash on your person in the middle of a crowded city. That was convenient. Doug doesn't like to carry cash unless he needs to use it.
This brings me to the next point.
How to Properly Visit Washington DC. Tip #3:
REALIZE THAT THERE ARE NO PLACES TO PARK EVER. AND THE LOTS AND GARAGES WHERE ARE YOU CAN PARK ARE BLOCKS AWAY FROM MONUMENTS, ATTRACTIONS, AND MUSEUMS, AND THE MINIMUM COST IS $22.00.
I wish I was joking, but I'm not. By the time we found a place to park, the line at the US Holocaust Museum was gone. We decided to go in and check it out. We had to go through a metal detector and and there was security everywhere, but I can totally understand and agree with that.
Most everything, aside from parking, is free in Washington DC. The problem is that if you sleep in (See point #1) by the time you get to your destination, they're out of passes. We saw a couple of exhibits that didn't require a pass, then we walked to the Washington Monument.
This was the one of the only monuments we saw.
Our first day was just lousy. It was supposed to be fifty degrees. I don't think it ever made it past forty, and the wind was 40 mph. No matter what direction we were walking, it was hitting us, pushing us back, and merciless. The best part was even though it was hitting us, no matter what direction we were in, my hair was in my face. I had to look at Doug's shoes so I could see to follow him! It was ridiculous! I was cold and tired and annoyed. To make matters worse, the monuments are miles apart.
And here we are at the next point.
How to Properly Visit Washington DC. Tip #4:
YOU MUST BE YOUNG AND HEALTHY TO PARTICIPATE IN SIGHTSEEING.
Again, I'm not joking. You can be older, but the point is that you have to be healthy. You have to be able to walk a minimum of ten miles without breaking a sweat. I am not young. I am not healthy. I thought I was doing pretty well until this trip. Then I was reminded that I'm not in the best health or shape. It was a revelation I didn't need. (It's not like my self-esteem needed more kicks to the head.)
Doug wanted to walk to the Lincoln Memorial. We couldn't even see it from where we were standing! I decided to give it a try. We made it to the World War II Memorial, and we could finally see the Lincoln Memorial in the distance. It was still too far away. I shook my head and I told Doug I had to make a choice. I could either make it to the Lincoln Memorial, or I could make it back to the parking garage. I couldn't do both. So we went back to the car. The wind was whipping around us. I actually got shoved back against the curb and almost fell into the street as we were less than a block from the parking garage. The wind was getting worse and worse as the day progressed.
The fountains weren't on while we were there.
The World War II Memorial.
Can you even see the Lincoln Memorial in this picture?
That's how far away we were!
I'm assuming this is the view from the Lincoln Memorial.
I wouldn't know. I never made it there.
This shows just how far away it was.
The reflecting pool was empty during our trip.
Everyone knows that Huntington WV is Barboursville WV's parking lot, but after my first day in DC, I have a little more respect for the city made almost entirely out of parking lots. (This city has torn down nice buildings to make parking lots! I used to HATE them for it!) You never have to walk far. You pay a minimum of five dollars to park.
We returned to visit the family, which again was something to which I greatly looked forward. On the short drive there, I fought to pull my purse sized compact brush through my wrecked from the wind hair. It took me the entire trip. By the time we got there, the wind had stopped. Ironic, huh?
We had dinner with my new loved ones, which was spectacular! I finally got to do something on my bucket list. I got to try scotch. I think it was fifteen year old Glenfiddich. My wanting to try it has to do with my career. I try to experience things that my characters do in order to properly write about them. I had a teeny tiny glass. I took two sips and I do not understand how my fictional character Peter drinks it! (I think he drinks Glenlivet or Laphroig, but I could be wrong. He prefers twenty year old scotch too. I can only imagine how strong that is!) It was so strong, and it burned! It is definitely an acquired taste. My fictional character must have no taste buds, or maybe he can just handle it better than I can, but kudos to him for being able to drink it!
Glenfiddich Scotch Whisky.
We visited after dinner, and had more pie and coffee for dessert. Then we had to call it a night. We took pictures and said our goodbyes. It made me sad to leave them. I would love to go visit them again. I'm even willing to brave the trip and DC just to see them again!
We returned to the hotel, where I proceeded to crash and burn. We had to get up early the next morning and try to make it to the US Holocaust Museum before the passes were gone. I could barely move when I woke up the next morning. I kept limping around, trying to get ready. Standing in the shower was fun. I would have had a bath, but I was afraid I wouldn't be able to get out of the tub!
We left early, but not early enough. (See point #1 again.) The garage we went to the day before was full. (See point #3.) And we had to find somewhere else to park, which was farther away. (See point #4.) Thankfully it was the same amount of money to park there.
I felt like sobbing as we walked to the museum, because my hips felt like they were going to break or dislocate with each step. We made it to the museum. There were passes still available, thank God. We sat and waited for our turn.
Before we were taken up in the elevator, we were given a small booklet. In the booklet was a name and a picture of someone in the holocaust. They were given according to gender. A woman who worked at the museum talked to us before our elevator went up to the exhibit. Her parents had both survived the holocaust, which was why she worked there. Then we were sent upstairs. Did I mention I'm not a fan of elevators? I'm even less of a fan of crowded ones! But it was a very short trip to the next floor, and we were not packed in like sardines like we were in King's Island's Eiffel Tower lift.
The first part of the exhibit was encased in glass. We stood in a long line and read the descriptions. There was so much reading, and I wore my contacts, which was a bad idea, but it was sunny and with my wonderful severe light sensitivity issues, I knew I would need to wear sunglasses while in the car. Halfway through the exhibit, I was going cross eyed from all of the reading and straining to see through the glass cases with the reflections of people in the glass behind me. I gave up and began reading what was important. An hour of our time was spent trying to read everything.
No matter how many books I've read, pictures I've seen, and stories I've heard of the holocaust, they are still shocking to me. It's something to which I have not built a tolerance, or to which I'll never grow accustomed, desensitized is the word for which I'm searching. It just amazes me that one person started the hatred of a religious and ethnic group that carried on for over a decade. One person. That's all it took.
Another thing that is rarely mentioned about the holocaust is the fact that the Jewish people were not the only ones persecuted. Political prisoners, homosexuals, and the developmentally handicapped where tortured and killed. The homosexuals were forced to wear a black dot or a pink triangle on their clothing. Lesbians were punished to a lesser extent.
The pink triangle that gays were forced to wear.
While none of these groups deserved torture or death, I think what upsets me the most about this was the killing of the developmentally handicapped. People who hurt the developmentally handicapped, children, animals, and the elderly are just the lowest of the low in my opinion. It doesn't get any lower than that.
By the end of the first exhibit, we found benches, thank God! I had to sit. My body was screaming at me at this point. Once we rested, we went down a two mile long hallway, part of it was a sunway (for lack of a better word) of sorts, a hallway surrounded by windows all around. We ended up in a hall of pictures of those who were in the holocaust. Some of the pictures were so high that we couldn't see them. At this point, we had been in the museum over an hour, so I was thankful that there were restrooms along the way. Another mile long hallway took us to a more interactive exhibit, where we saw the replicas of gypsy wagons (gypsies or Roma were another group persecuted by the Nazis, as were blacks) and even a cattle train that shipped two thousand people at a time to the camps. Patrons could walk through the train. It was so small, I doubt two thousand people could fit comfortably in one of those train cars. I can't imagine how horrible it was.
Another mile and now a staircase (oh goody) took us to another part of the exhibit. Then another mile and another staircase and another mile, and more stairs, and so on and so forth, and my body was less than thrilled. There was so much to see. One area had thousands of shoes encased that where taken from the Jewish people. And the exhibits went in order for the most part, except for the first room. You had to read to figure out if you were going in the correct order. They were oddly placed.
There were also rooms with short films about the holocaust. We didn't go into any except for one, because they were all crowded. The one we watched was awesome though. One female survivor shared a story that made me cry, about how she met her husband. He was an American Jew who came to rescue survivors. He found her. She was with a group of female survivors. He called her and the other female survivors ladies, a term none of them had heard in years at that point. Doug already figured out that the man and woman sharing this story would end up married, but it was a surprise to me. Another guy, I can't repeat half of what he said, was part of the resistance. He was found out to be Jewish in a very crude way, again I'm not going to repeat it. But he survived. He was definitely a tough guy. I wouldn't mess with him!
And just when the end of the museum seemed so far away, it was over. Doug and I read our booklets. We both ended up getting stories of survivors! I had really hoped for a survivor, but for us both to get one was the best part!
The person in my booklet hid in the woods until the holocaust ended. She and her family actually hid underwater when the SS came to take people to the ghettos and the camps. Her mother disappeared. The story never went on to say what happened to the rest of her family, but it was written that she never saw her mother again. She hid in the woods and survived.
Doug's person worked with jewels, diamonds predominantly. He and his family were taken to a concentration camp, and he and his father were separated from the rest of the family, who were taken straight to the gas chambers. He and his father were kept alive in case the Nazis needed diamonds. They were liberated from the concentration camp in 1945. We were both elated to get survivors, as the woman who spoke before we went up the lift said many of the victims perished.
The US Holocaust Museum was the one place I wanted to go, so I'm thankful we finally got to do that. What I was not prepared for was all of the walking. I used up all of my energy fighting the wind on the first day, so we kept having to stop and rest along the way, me mostly. Doug kept wanting to get through it faster, but it was all I could do to get through it. I hope to go back some time when I have more energy to see everything, but I did see a great deal of it.
After we were finished at the museum, Doug wanted to go to some monuments, but I couldn't do it. All of the monuments we hadn't gone to were too far away. He wasn't thrilled, but I just couldn't do it. After he perused our options, which we could have taken a bus tour, but in order to catch the bus, we had to walk something around fifteen blocks, and I couldn't do that either, we headed back toward the car. As I stopped to rest, we saw a Starbucks, so Doug took me in to get coffee. We sat there for a couple of hours, drank coffee, and I rested. Then we made it back to the car.
From there, we had to find a store so Doug to get a few things he either forgot or didn't have at home when we packed, so we found a Walmart. Then he had to go to Office Depot. I was exhausted, unhappy, and hungry. I thought I was going to throw a party when we got back to the hotel. We had dinner and crashed.
The next day, I went to the mall. I bought books and sunglasses, my go to items. I was too tired to try on clothes. That just wasn't happening. Then we made the drive to visit my mother! That was the second highlight of my trip! Seeing my mother! I refused to be a little over two hours away and not go see her and Arlene. It was totally worth the extra trip. We had a nice dinner and visited before we had to leave for the hotel. Then we met her for lunch the next day. We went to a place called Pure Bread. They had soups, salads, and sandwiches named after dogs. *lol* Hence the name Pure Bread. (I looked for the Johnny sandwich, but I couldn't find it! Johnny is my favourite canine cousin!) It was packed. We had lunch before my mother had to return to work, and we had the long drive back.
It was sad having to leave her. I know, I'm in my thirties, and I still can't watch my mother drive off, or I'll sob uncontrollably. That has happened since I was three. I made the mistake of watching my father, with my mother in the passenger seat, back out of my grandmother's driveway and drive off, and I sobbed, and my grandmother had to call them to get me to calm down. And I loved staying with my grandmother and Janet, but watching my parents leave messed me up! I know better than to watch her leave now. I didn't have the energy to cry as it was.
We made it home around 9:30. One of our loved ones was kind enough to stay with our kitties, give Moo Bear his medicine, and just watch the house. It was like a vacation while we were on vacation! (I thank God for this person!) We visited for a bit before returning them to their home. Then we crashed and burned! I am still exhausted. I need a vacation to recover from my vacation!
Let's sum up what we've learned today!
- Washington DC is overrated, but everyone should visit once.
- Washington DC is a city for young, healthy rich people with tons of energy.
- I do not fit into the young, healthy, or rich categories.
- There is no parking, and what parking is available is expensive.
- Monuments are no less than ten miles apart.
- Museums are free, but you have to get there at the crack of dawn to get passes.
- West Virginia is referred to as "The Mountain State" but there are actually no mountains.
- I miss my mother, Arlene, and Honey. (Honey is my canine sister.)
- If I ever visit DC again, it will be to see my new loved ones...
- Unless Doug can carry me around to the monuments.
- I miss my new loved ones.
- I'm still exhausted.