Amtrak Adventure, 11/9/2014 - DAY TWO

When last I posted it was 6am and we were sitting in Richmond, VA waiting for fuel. That took a bit longer than expected, and we ended up arriving about 2 hours late to Washington Union Station. Which was okay with me, since there's not a lot to do at 7:30 am on a Sunday, even in our nations capitol. When we did arrive, I quickly found Bike and Roll and rented a bicycle and headed out to explore. One of the things I discovered as I was planning this trip is that Bike and Roll will store your bags if you rent a bike from them. Bag storage at Union Station would have cost about $36, and a day long bike rental is only $40, so...

It's been 10 years since I visited D.C., so the World War II Memorial is new to me. I headed there first. Of course I passed the Washington Monument on the way, which I circled, taking pictures, making sure I got the good side. Oh, and all those Smithsonian venues lining both sides of the Mall. Took a few pics of some of them, but didn't go inside any, as I was attempting to cover some ground.

I was impressed with the memorial, but struck by the contrasts between this one and the Vietnam Wall. While the Wall is bleak and heart-wrenching, and the people around it subdued, almost prayerful. The World War II Memorial on the other hand is grand and boisterous and the mood much more celebratory. As though people instinctively realize this war was fought by big people, over big ideas, and was won in a big way. In contrast to Vietnam which was an exercise in stupidity by small men for no reason and with no real conclusion.

And you'll all have to forgive me, if you came today for the humour. Somehow this town and these monuments and memorials bring out my serious side, always. For the most part they are reminders of how much we have lost and how far we've backslid as a people. And the World War II Memorial is a pretty nice reminder that every American military action since then has been, essentially, pointless and petty in comparison. Ditto the monuments to men like Washington, Lincoln and Jefferson which are a pretty good reminder of just how small our leaders have been for the last couple generations.

But I digress. After the WWII Memorial I pedaled on down the Mall to the Lincoln Memorial, snapped a few pics. Then over to Rock Creek Park Trail to the Jefferson Memorial. Things were getting crowded by now, and the pedestrian/bicycle/seqway conflicts were intensifying. The Jefferson Memorial is one of my favorite. I love the waterfront location on the Tidal Basin. Got myself a few Selfies With Tom, then over to the nearest refreshment stand for a hydration stop. Next stop was Arlington National Cemetery, by way of the 14th St Bridge and the Mt Vernon trail. This part of the ride was a lot hillier than the other side of the river, and by the time I got to Arlington I needed the break. The last leg of the ride was back over the river and over to Pennsylvania Ave and the White House.

But a funny thing happened...just as I was feeling a little hungry (it was 1pm by this time), I saw a Sabrett hot dog stand and stopped to grab a Polish dog. As I was munching contentedly on that, I looked over and saw the Albert Einstein Memorial. Now, I don't know exactly how many times I have walked in and around Washington D.C., looking at all the sights, but its at least a dozen. And I have never, ever seen this statue until yesterday. And I love Einstein. And I love this statue which really captures his essence in a humorous way (It's basically a large bronze of Albert, all sprawled out and slouchy on the steps, reading a paper). I just had to get a Selfie With Albert to go with my Selfie With Tom. That right there made the day worthwhile.

Anyway, back on the bike and over to the White House for a couple more pictures. And now the uphill is really starting to get to me. Adding it up, it was about 11 miles of bike riding over a 3. 5 hour period, so, not exactly a race. But add all the hop on/hop off and walking at the various stops, and I'm calling it a workout.

I took the bike back to the rental kiosk, where I ended a perfect little day tour by unsnapping the bungee cord holding my backpack and having it embed itself about 3/8 of an inch into my palm. Because arterial bleeding is always a good way to end a tour. And I hadn't broken a laptop or anything stupid in well over a day, so I was overdue. I proceeded to check my bag thru to Chicago and find some grub before boarding. Randomly chose a Roti Chicken place, mostly because it was uncrowded (unlike Chipotle, which had a line out the building, something I only ever see in places outside the Southwest, where we know those things they serve bear only the faintest resemblance to a burrito). Good Call! RECOMMEND! I ordered something called the Sultan Sandwich - a laffa wrap (also available on pita bread), stuffed with curried chicken, vegetables, spices, a dill/yogurt/cucumber dressing. Just fabulous. And pretty huge. I barely finished it. All for only $7 (train station prices, even).

And now it was time to get on the train for Chicago. Which I did. Uneventfully until I went to the lounge and ran in to a drunken immigrant ISIS recruiter. I'm not sure I am even up to telling the whole story this early. Suffice it to say, they haven't put him off the train yet, but he is being watched.

And besides that, it was a fairly restrained evening in the lounge.

Now it's almost 8am, we are still on schedule to get to Chicago on time (fingers crossed), and I am signing off til later.


oh, and btw - if you are ready to book your Amtrak Adventure, Fort Lauderdale Holiday, or any other travel needs, CALL ME, Dave Holman at Holman Travel. 760.265.3687. or if you're shy, email me at daveholman@verizon.net

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