We have a family tradition of sorts whereby we visit a random American city every Spring Break. So far we have been to NYC, San Fransisco, LA/San Diego, and now, this year, it was Washington DC.
I chose Washington over Boston and Chicago because my sister Sandy (from Ottawa) was planning on spending their Spring Break there as well.
Washington is a city loaded with museums and monuments. We are not huge museum people though we did venture into the National Gallery (that’s an art place for those of you even more out of touch with this sort of thing than I am), the Natural History Museum, and the Air & Space Museum. The latter two are part of the world-famous Smithsonian, which is actually seven (I think) buildings / museums in one, each of which is massive by any Canadian standard and all 100% free, which is really great.
One annoying thing about museums and many public buildings in DC: the entrance is surrounded by dozens of security guards sporting metal detectors like the ones you walk thru and they wand you with in airports. The amount of money Washington must spend on relatively unproductive (depending how you look at it) things like security must be astronomical.
(My caption for the above picture disappeared. My comment was: WTF, a bank named after a crappy Hollywood goofball? It turns out, Chevy Chase is the name of a (relatively old) Washington neighbourhood, and both the bank and the Hollywood goofball are named after it, not the other way around.)
I think our favorite DC activity was biking the National Mall, which is a 2-mile long, about 2 blocks wide green space with Congress at one end, the White House in the middle, and the Lincoln Memorial at the far end. Along its length there are memorials to… let’s see the ones I can remember… Jefferson, Roosevelt, WW1, WW2, the Korean War, the Vietnam War… I guess there are at least a dozen more that escaped my attention. Lots of memorials!
On the negative side, the most depressing thing about Washington is that it is yet another “foreign” city that is without a doubt more attractive than Vancouver in terms of its streets and buildings (topographically, of course, there is no contest). I hate to admit it but I would say the same of Montreal, Toronto, San Francisco, Chicago, Miami, Dallas, London and maybe even Winnipeg. I guess I wouldn’t say that about NYC (though that is a whole different story of course) and I definitely wouldn’t say that about Edmonton and Calgary. But overall, generally speaking, I conclude that Vancouver’s construction (etc.) is ugly. It’s a good thing the mountains make up for it.
The #1 event in Washington when we were there, the Obama inauguration having ended a few weeks prior, was the bonuses ($175 million) paid to 73 employees (top bonus: $6.5 million) of the much-digraced AIG, which received $170 billion in federal handouts. I really don’t see the problem here. Maybe if they had given out bigger bonuses, they wouldn’t have lost so much money. I hope they pay out their next tranche of bailout money the same way. (Disclaimer: this entire paragraph was written solely to bug my sister Janet).
Must go now. More pictures later, I hope.