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A mummy-hand holding, (former) biker gang affiliating, hippie influenced semi crunchy granola mom's ramblings and reminisings on an off-kilter life

Monday, June 11, 2012

Travel to DC

My Trip To DC

Lincoln Memorial was actually really cool.
First night in DC and we’re starved so we go to the nearest town, Oxon Hill MD for a bite to eat. It is almost 11pm (remember, to us it is as if it is 8pm) and few places are open, but more than one would expect. We see a restaurant in a dingy strip mall, one of many like it, and see that it is really a one-stop shop. They have the following items plus more of similar types: pizza, fried chicken, sub sandwiches, gyros, burgers, fried seafood, Chinese food, onion rings. We order through bulletproof glass when I assure Mike that we’re ok, when we stopped for gas down the road earlier, I paid through bulletproof glass so it at least was the norm. See, the entire back wall is bulletproof glass and you order through the metal talking screen. The cashier/cook cannot speak English as her Chinese accent is the thickest I’ve ever heard. In college I had room mates from Asia and also tutored students from Asia so it is not an unfamiliar accent. But this lady would say “schw” for shrimp and “fi-a” for fried rice. So we order God knows what for a horrendously expensive price of $25 for three to-go containers- two rice and one meat-veggie combo. (random statue I saw)
So I go home and google the neighborhood and cannot figure it out. Median household income ois $60,000 which is $15,000 higher than Yucaipa, which is a nice middle-class town. Hmm…well-to-do middle class folks shopping through bulletproof glass? There seems to be an in-congruency here. Poverty level is 8.8% (Yucaipa is 10), Oxon Hill has 17.5% of residents with a BA degree (verses Yucaipa at 9%) and so I am clueless as to the unsafe, creepy looks and feel of the place.
One clue: The shopping centers “attract neighborhood customers as well as shoppers from nearby Southeast Washington, D.C.” So I research nearby neighborhoods and ponder upon Washington Highlands, 3 miles away. 33% are below the poverty level, median income is $28,000, and “Washington Highlands is among the most violent neighborhoods in the District of Columbia. Approximately one third of the city's 181 homicides in 2007 occurred there. On January 2008, city officials discovered that Washington Highlands resident Banita Jacks had been living for months in her row house with the bodies of her four murdered children in advanced states of decomposition upstairs.”
Ahhh….bullet proof glass mystery solved. Especially when you see that Washington Highlands does not have a grocery store, and only one restaurant (Mc Donalds) so they all go to Oxon Hill to shop and eat.
Yesterday as you know we went to the Washington Memorial in the 95 degreee, humid sunshine. After about 2 miles of walking we gave in, but did get to take a quick picture of the WWII memorial and Lincoln memorial in the distance. It looks close, kinda...but is about a mile from the WWII memorial.
We went to Arlington, well....kind of. We pulled in, parked, and it began to pour rain, really really pour. so we left to go buy an umbrella and got distracted because Mike's shorts looked like hobo shorts so he went and bought a new pair and I went to Ross to get a pair of capris. Ross was a unique ethnic experience as I was the only non-muslim there. Really. Not that I care since Kimo(remember him, Hajnalka's murdered boyfriend) was muslim. But it was just different to feel like I was somewhere else. I even saw a woman in a full burqa, which I have never experienced.
The rain ceased but it was tooo hot to go back to the cemetary, will have to return later this week.
We went back to Washington DC at night, about 9pm. It was still 91 degrees out, yuck. We walked through the WWII memorial which is much more beautiful at night, as there are lit-up dancing fountains, and each country and state that fought has an archway that is illuminated, and it is arranged kind of likeStonehenge.
We walked by the reflecting pool which is quite murky and stagnant. I got attacked by a swarm of mosquitos like no other, and even gave a girly yelp which even surprised me, but they were swarming in my EAR and buzzing and as I batted them away it felt like I was drowning in sand!
So we took the outer trail around the pool, lined in old elms. The coolest thing was the fireflies. They would light up yellow for maybe 3 seconds as they flitted around amongst the undergrowth and it was magical, like a fairytale.
We walked the mile to the Lincoln Memorial which is quite an amazing building and the statue is huge. There are very amazing inscriptions engraved on the walls, ones you'd have to find and read to know about but they were powerful and humbling, I recommend every American read them.
We walked back to our car, probably 2 miles away, but stopped at the Vietnam Wall. It starts teeny, maybe an inch high with one name and the names are no more than an inch tall, and it grows, up a slope, to be almost two stories tall...and then back down again. Too many names, really sad. The wall at night is barely lit, so we had to use a flashlight to see anything! But I saw some carnations stuck between the cracks, by names, and it really brought tears to my eyes.
Traveling outside DC
Traveling outside DC is pleasant, half an hour out is still city but less confusing streets and just a nicer looking area. Let me explain the streets in DC though.Every street is under construction, and it mysteriously has a ratio-to-center effect- the closer you are to DC, the more road work…thanks Stimulus plan, hard at work for the politicians to see. Also the streets in downtown DC are one-way primarily, but don’t connect in any fashion that makes sense. Then the freeways are no better. 295, 95, 395 and 495 all intertwine but don’t tell you when, so you can be on one and suddenly the other without notice- which results in no troubles for you if it ends up back on the intended route, or a half-hour diversion as you circle your prey in search of an exit ramp to enter back where you need to go. Either way it doesn’t tell you. The freeways also follow a circular pattern, so North for example can really be going south at one point, so let’s pretend you want to go North towards Baltimore, well you can go any cardinal direction and get there….at some point, maybe hours later, and maybe the least sensible direction is the right one.
Now let’s say you found your North-South-East-West 495/95/295/395 route needed and all is well- the 295 North. So now you need to exit on (fictitious names inserted here) Main Street. Well Main Street is also called Route 5 and Highway 17. Ok, enough to remember, I’m good and I’m exciting but wait…my exit turned into a three-way crossroads, one without a sign, one saying Main Street but it turned towards the entrance back to the freeway, and one without any mention of Main, 5, or 17. Hmmm. And remember there isn’t a stop sign here so you must make a split second decision. Let’s say you by rare chance made the right decision, let’s say it was the un-named road. You travel to your destination and now want to get back so one would assume you take the un-named road to the 295 North right? Wrong! To get back, travel the opposite direction in the un-named road to highway 31 South and then take that to the 95 East which will magically, if you’re in the correct lane and don’t blink, take you onto the 295 North even though you’re really driving West.
So back to the outskirts of DC. Once past Rockville MD, you’re in a less populated area although still quite urbanely suburban…but tolerable. Once you’re an hour from DC, you’re in the country! If you’ve ever seen a painting by Grandma Moses or other American Folk Artist, you can envision rural western Maryland (and adjoining Virginia, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania).

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