We arrived at BWI on a red-eye, and we sure were tired. After the B30 bus to Greenbelt, metro to Dupont Circle, and D6 bus to Chris' place we were ready to sleep. We didn't sleep right away, because there was no place to sleep except the floor. We're wimps, so we decided to buy something soft to sleep on first. This quest had us walking all over Georgetown, taking several buses, and hitting several dead ends. However, everybody was very friendly and helpful. There's some stereotype on the west coast that east coast people are unfriendly and always in a hurry. It's not true. We finally landed a twin size airbed with a foot pump at the Ace hardware store.
Our triumphant return was dampened somewhat by the fact that it took over half an hour to inflate the thing, but as soon as we laid down we were fast asleep. As an aside, for this trip I purchased one of these sleeping masks, and it works brilliantly. Keeps out almost all light, and is comfortable enough to wear when you're not just lying on your back. We forced ourselves awake after a few hours to not ruin our sleeping schedule too much, and set off for some dinner. After dinner we wandered around the mall a little bit. Watching the Lincoln memorial from the Washington monument, I felt really relaxed for the first time in quite a while.
The next several days, we settled into a routine of wake up late, eat breakfast around lunchtime, dinner around dinnertime, and something else just before we went to bed. We didn't see very many sights, but instead just enjoyed wandering around. Our nicest random discovery was the map room in the National Library. There's a nice little exhibit outside, but apparently the reading room there is for serious research only. So we were told by a friendly clerk who sat at the entrance. But he did take the time to show us around, including the back room where they keep their collection of 7,000,000 maps.
July 4 is, of course, a special day in DC. We attended two events. First was the parade in the morning. I've been to 4th of July parades before, and they are mostly boring. Sadly, the DC parade isn't much different in this regard. They had more and better bands, and one group of people riding velocipedes, but it was not worth standing in the sun in 90-degree heat for. Eventually we gave up and found refuge in the Museum of Natural History's IMAX theater. It was super busy of course, but air conditioned and interesting.
At night we attended A Capitol Fourth. We got to the Capitol about 5:30pm, stood in the security line for about 20 minutes, getting increasingly worried that all decent seats were gone. I think we got what must have been one of the last seats on the steps, and we settled onto the hard marble. Waiting really wasn't all the unpleasant. There were a large number of people to watch, photos to take, and I practiced a little bit of harmonica. Danielle had a book and, importantly, and umbrella. It rained twice while we were waiting. Once for maybe 20 minutes, and once for maybe 10. We managed to stay mostly dry, although some people left.
Luckily, the rain had the decency to stop a couple of minutes before the concert was about to start. We thought we were just in for a classical concert, but instead we good a nice mixture of music. The classical orchestra did play the 1812 overture, and they had some nice big guns set up across the water to join in. We even got a little swing dancing in towards the end when Jerry Lee Lewis was playing. Right during Great Balls of Fire the fireworks started. They were all behind the Washington Monument, which made everything quite pretty. Afterward the hordes of people left, and the metro stations were backed up all the way to the street. Lucky for us, we took a (packed) bus home.
On July 6, the final day in DC, Chris took us to a dim sum place. This was a first for Danielle and I. Basically it's a Chinese restaurant where waiters constantly walk by with small platter of food on carts. You point to what you want, they put it on your table and add a check mark to your bill. Quite fun, and very tasty. We tried a couple of new things. The most exotic thing was battered, fried chicken feet. It really felt like you were just eating the batter and spitting out the bones, but was kind of neat.