I had been planning on taking the guided walk through Georgetown and George Washington University last night but wimped out. Well, I wish I had gone. This morning during a nice long leisurely breakfast, the gang all showed up to eat and share the previous night experiences. They apparently had a good time, whilst I just sat around doing nothing. Oh silly me. Oh well, my loss. But it was nice to see them all and hear about it anyway.
So, Jason, the doctor, a pretty good guy. I had this internal impression of him as a good looking, well educated, well traveled man, a fairly cool cat. In the course of conversation, a passing reference to Star Trek was made, I’m not even sure who it was; could have been me I suppose. Anyway, Jason had one of those lapses of clarity moments and confessed that not only is he a fan, he’s, well, more than that. Conventions, dress up, picture of him with Levar Burton, the whole sordid thing. He proudly informed us that he’s met every Star Trek captain and has his own uniform.
“Oh Jason Jason Jason” I said, “there’s a line see, that you just don’t cross see. I’m a tech geek I suppose and I’m a Star Trek fan, but, you just don’t go beyond that lest ye be eternally branded … a … Oh, I can’t even say the word. And you certainly don’t admit it!” He hung his head in a sort of faux shame, but you know that deep down, he’s still proud of it. He knows he completely destroyed this whole image I had of him, but the thing that hurts the most is, I think he’s OK with that. Oh how will I ever go on? I’ll just have to accept it I guess. I had a good time teasing him about it and he took it well.
Henrik has been threatening to leave for a couple days now, but he’s having a rough time getting a flight to Florida, his next stop. So, we’re all happy to see his smiling face again. I finally got to talk with Steven and Connie, a retired couple from Minnesota. They were on the Library of Congress tour a couple days ago and were at pasta night, but this is the first real chance I’ve had to talk with them. They get out and travel from time and like hostels and we swapped stories of the sights we’ve been seeing. While at home, he’s building a reproduction of a WWI bi-plane, I thought that was pretty neat. Real nice folks.
Today is my last day in DC and I had to check out this morning. I put my pack in a locker in the basement and set out to roam around a bit. I had a little juice left on my latest metro ticket so I zipped over to the Arlington Cemetery stop and began my hike across the Potomac River to the Lincoln Memorial. I roamed around a bit, sat on the steps for a spell and just watched people; one of my favorite pastimes.
I walked on over toward the nearby Viet Nam Memorial Wall and on the way passed a couple of Korean War vets sitting on a bench. Man, you gotta love these guys. I sauntered on over and with a big smile blurted out “Gentlemen, thank you for serving”. They looked up at me and returned smartly with a robust “Yes Ma’am”. As I turned away toward the Wall, the smile on my face fell away as I gritted my teeth, suppressed a gulp and fought back a tear. I just hate that instantaneous emotion, don’t you? A little bit of warning would have been nice.
I got over it and made my way to the Wall and it started all over again. As you enter the walk way, the Wall is a couple of inches high with one name in the first section at your ankle. The next section has two names, the next a few names, and the height of the Wall grows steadily as you go, up to your knees, then your shoulders, then way over your head. As I passed by the 58,261 names on the Wall, I read a few, wondering what they were like. I passed other people who were looking for a specific name and when they found it, some were overcome with emotion, some covering their faces with their hands, others weeping openly and one falling to his knees. Some of the folks were families of the deceased but some were vets looking for those they served with. It was rough seeing them reduced to tears and the shakes upon locating that long lost buddy. I just had to get out of there.
So, I moved on along though the tree lined park along side the Reflection Pool of the Mall. At the other end of the pool is the new (2004) World War II Memorial. After visiting that briefly, I was worn out emotionally, I moved on toward the Washington Monument. I spotted the White House off to my left so I headed that way for a bit and had a look, then got back on track to the Smithsonian’s Museum of American History, my final destination. On the way, I crossed paths with Melanie, my roommate and we chatted for a few minutes. She had already done the American History Museum and liked it and she was on her way to the Lincoln Memorial.
I really enjoyed this museum; it’s well laid out, great subjects, informative displays. I spent quite some time here and even got to see Julia Child’s kitchen. Yes Dorothy, I got pictures for you. And then it was time to go. I, with my newly noticed sun burn, walked back to the hostel and rested for a bit in the common area. Then, I got my pack on, bid farewell to the hostel staff, walked outside, and hailed a taxi.