The West Wing

Trip Start Apr 14, 2010
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Trip End Apr 16, 2011


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Flag of United States  , District of Columbia
Monday, October 17, 2011

Our good luck with the weather continued as we headed south from Maine for what we'd thought was a short drive to Washington. Will we never learn?!  Of course, for anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of US geography (which we really should have had by now!), it’s far from a short drive.  In fact it was over 500 miles.  Luckily we were listening to an engrossing Ken Follett audiobook and the day flew by.

Our first visit in Washington was to some old family friends in one of the many Springfields of the USA who live in an American-style retirement village.  Wow, that is the way to do it.  They had several restaurants, on site spas and medical centres and even a TV studio.  We were quite tempted to stay ourselves.

After a lovely lunch it was time to head into the big smoke itself.  We’d heard from a few people that Washington DC is the most London-like city and were surprised to find ourselves agreeing.  It wasn’t just that there was a Pret on every corner, there was just something about the buildings and the narrow streets with cars parked on both sides that felt very like home.   We spent the afternoon doing a longer-than-intended walk round the main sights and down the Mall, sadly not spotting Barack.  The White House was smaller than we’d expected (even accounting for the fact that everybody says it is smaller than you would expect), the Capitol buildings more impressive and the Mall and reflecting lake disappointingly muddy as the whole area was being returfed and re-built. Gordon decided not to exercise his Constitutional right as an American citizen of going in to the Capitol buildings to find his Senator and instead we admired everything from outside.  We were also a little gutted not to be able to go up the Washington monument which had been damaged in an earthquake just a few weeks before but in retrospect also quite pleased we weren’t up there when it hit.

Our hosts for the evening was our friend George from university and his wife Constance and their gorgeous baby Juliette who had moved to Washington a month earlier.  As we were squeezing the Tank into their underground parking space, conspicuous amongst the rather nicer cars around us, George confessed that they were looking for a cheap car to buy.  With 2 days to sell the Tank before our flight home cars don’t come much cheaper but we weren’t sure that she was quite the ideal family runaround.  Especially as by now three of the door handles were broken, which meant that we had to operate a one-way system in the back; you had to get in on the left which only opened from the outside and out on the right which only opened from the inside.  As we also still needed to get all our stuff back up to New York they decided in the end that they’d look for a more practical car and so it was into the Tank with us for our final drive in her up to New York.
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