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Basecamp Location:
Patapsco Valley State Park
Ellicot City, MD

The White House
The ornate ceiling inside of Union Station
The Capitol Building dome
Jefferson Memorial - our third U.S. President and author of the Declaration of Independence
A rear view of the Jefferson Memorial with the Washington Monument in the background
The George Mason Memorial - author of the groundwork for what became the United States Bill of Rights
Arlington National Cemetery
President John F. Kennedy's grave site
Senator Robert F. Kennedy's grave site
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Changing of the Guard ceremony
Tomb amphitheater for official gatherings
Korean War Veterans Memorial
The Lincoln Memorial - our 16th U.S. President
Inside the Lincoln Memorial
The 19 foot tall marble statue of President Lincoln
A view of the Washington Monument from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial
The Washington Monument - our 1st U.S. president
Someone important leaving Capitol Hill
Not the President we were told because we wouldn't be allowed on the street

We very naively thought we could just drive into Washington DC and park in the garage next door to the Trolley Tour office and go see the sights. The night before our intended visit I did my homework, we are 37.5 miles north of DC and Google estimated it was a 45 minute drive. We wanted to be at the Trolley Tour office at 9:00AM when they opened, so with that information we set our alarm clock for 6:30AM and went to sleep.

The next morning we woke up, showered and we're on the road by 7:00AM. A quick stop at Dunkin' Donuts just outside of the campground for some breakfast wraps and we're off on our adventure. At 7:15 we plugged my cell phone into the truck to use it for navigation and that same 45 minute drive late last night was an estimated 2 hour drive this morning, and it's only 7:15AM. Nearly 45 minutes later at 8:00AM we are still 15 miles from DC and the traffic is really starting to come to a slow crawl.

One other thing I did late last night was to research the Washington DC Metrorail System. For almost exactly the same price as the downtown parking garage was going to charge we purchased 2 round trip tickets and paid their all day parking fee and didn't have to fight the traffic the last 12 miles into DC. So when I saw the exit for the Green Line's Greenbelt Metro Station we left the traffic behind and pulled into the station. Like I said we naively thought we could just drive into Washington DC.

Arriving at the Trolley Tour office at 8:55AM I thought all of our troubles were over. They were not, but I'm not going to go into that now, however we were off on our Washington DC tour by 9:20AM. We like to take these "hop on, hop off " tours around one complete loop before getting off so we get an overview of the city. Today about halfway around the loop there was an opportunity to transfer to another shuttle to go visit Arlington Cemetery. With the temperatures already in the high 80's and the forecast was for the mid 90's we decided to do this sooner than later in the day, we were glad we did.

At Arlington there are three must do items. First is to visit the grave site of President John F. Kennedy and The Eternal Flame. One thing I did not know is that 30 years later his widow, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis, would be buried by his side along with two of their infant children. Just a few yards away is the grave site of The President's brother, Senator Robert F. Kennedy.

The second must do item is to witness the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. This is a very solemn ceremony that is performed every thirty minutes, every day, rain or shine, during hurricanes and even during September 11th, 2001 when a plane was crashed into The Pentagon only a mile and a half away. The ceremony involves three Marine soldiers, one guard to officiate the ceremony, one guard being relieved of duty and one guard starting his turn at standing guard. The Tomb of the Unknown's actually had four soldiers buried there. One from each major war, World War I, World War II, The Korean War and Vietnam War. In 1998 the Vietnam War soldier's body was exhumed and identified, soon afterwards it was decided to leave that grave site vacant.

The third item on the list is to visit The Arlington House, but it is closed for renovation at this time and is not expected to reopen until some time in 2019, so we only got to travel past it and see it behind a construction fence. There are many other notable people buried at Arlington, some Civil War generals and some past/present day celebrities who served in the Armed Forces, but we didn't have time to stay and explore any of that. Afterall, there are over 400,000 grave sites here and to try and find the one you're looking for isn't easy!

We took the shuttle back over the Potomac River from Arlington, VA to Washington DC to complete our the second half of our first loop. Since the shuttle delivers you back to the trolley stop at the Lincoln Memorial and The Korean War Memorial we decided to explore these two before reboarding the trolley. We later found out The Vietnam War Memorial was also within walking distance. By this time it was noon and the outside temperature was 94 degrees with a heat index of 105, I guess we were just looking for an excuse to find air conditioning when we decided NOW was a good time for lunch. Back on the trolley we went to complete the loop and travel to Union Station, the second largest train depot in the United States, only Grand Central Station in New York is larger. One good thing about Union Station is they have a Food Court, about four times the size of what you find in most shopping malls, and the selection of fast food chains was never ending. We like to try new things when we eat out so Johnny Rockets is where we ended up. Now I know cheeseburgers, fries and milk shakes are nothing new to us, but we've never had one from a Johnny Rockets. I must say the Chocolate Banana Milkshake is my new favorite, the rest of the meal was good but nothing notable.

After lunch it was back on the trolley to whisk us over to the Jefferson Memorial. It is located on the other side of a tidal basin all by itself, far away from all the other Memorials, which are located near The National Mall and the center of town. We had a long 30 minute wait out in the sun to get back on the trolley here and we were hot and running out of energy. We decided to call it a day and head back to the Metro Station. Earlier we noted the last stop on the trolley tour, #25, was actually closer to the Metro Station than stop #1, where we started this morning. So at stop #25 we disembarked for the last time today, made our way down to the subway and headed for home, or at least back to the truck, to drive the rest of the way home. Oddly enough when I put the keys in and started the truck this morning I noted it was 7:02AM and when I shut off the truck and pulled out the keys it was exactly 7:02PM. Either way that was a very long, very hot day.

STATS FOR TODAY - 11,965 steps or 4.2 miles

Until next time

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