A Capital Fourth: 4th of July in Washington, DC.

My alarm clock went off this morning for the first time since Thursday. And with that the long weekend was officially over. I know, I know, I have every Monday and Friday off. But Graham doesn’t. So him being off Friday and Monday as well made my days off extra fun. We took the dog to the beach, we spent all day Monday riding roller coasters at Busch Gardens, we ate a lot of peach cobbler and we took a day trip to DC.

Back in 2007, my college boyfriend and I spent the week of 4th of July in Washington, DC. It’s one of my favorite American cities (Boston is #1, but it’s a much, much further drive) and the perfect place to spend America’s birthday. As soon as I found out we were moving to Virginia I got so excited about the fact that we would be able to spend the 4th in DC, and have been looking forward to it since last summer. My mom & her man friend were supposed to come with us, but Hurricane Arthur kept them in Charlotte. So, Graham and I got up Friday morning and headed out. I’m guessing the hurricane screwed with a lot of other people’s plans, because we didn’t hit any traffic until we got to the Pentagon and it didn’t seem as busy as it was seven years ago. Also. The high was 81! It still was hot in the sun, but oh my gosh… we couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day!
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IMG_2071The past few times we’ve been here, we’ve gone to Arlington (it might sound morbid, but it’s one of my favorite places in the city), but we’ve always just missed the changing of the guard. So, we made sure to get there in time for that on this visit. I know the men who do this volunteer for this and it’s a great honor, but I don’t see how they do it. I mean, it’s hot. And those uniforms aren’t exactly cool and breezy.

2014-07-04 16.42.06 So, one thing you may or may not know about me is that the X-Files is one of my favorite shows of all time. I can’t walk past the J. Edgar Hoover Building without taking a picture of the corner of it. The corners of this building were always featured on the show, so I have to pay tribute to Mulder, Scully, Skinner & the rest of the gang and take a picture of it. Sometimes I’m really dorky and take a picture in front of it, with a ridiculous smile on my face.

The White House was completely blocked off. We found out after the fact that the Obama’s were hosting an event for military families. I think our invitation must have gotten lost in the mail…

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By 6:00, my feet were killing me and all I wanted to do was sit down. So, that’s what we did. We collapsed in the grass in front of the Capital Building. I would have been content to stay there for the rest of the day, but Graham was restless and itchy, so we got back up and walked around some more. We walked over to the Capital, to see what the set up was like over there. The concert started at 8:00, and you kind of have to choose between the concert or a pretty view of the fireworks. For the most part, it was impossible to see the Washington Monument from the Capital, since the trees were in the way. I cared a lot more about the fireworks, so we walked back to the parking garage, got Hermione’s dog blanket out of the car and went back to our spot in the grass. We people watched, took selfies, talked and just relaxed until it was time for the fireworks, and the fireworks were truly spectacular. Besides the impressive, traditional fireworks, they also had some that made hearts, smiley faces, and the letters “USA”.

It was also entertaining listening to the drunk people behind us singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to America during the fireworks.

IMG_2097Funny moment of the day: Graham was wearing his Carolina Panthers t-shirt. I wore my New England Patriots one. These two teams played each other in the Superbowl about 10 years ago. The Panthers lost, and their fans still hold a grudge. I honestly hate football, but I wear this shirt for two reasons. 1) It irritates Graham. 2) Like I said earlier, Boston is my favorite city. Anyways. Two people commented on the shirts and asked us, “didn’t they play against each other in the Superbowl?” I was pretty amused, since we’ve gone out wearing those a lot and that’s never happened before.

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It was a great day. And I have MAD respect for the police & the sanitation department there. There were so many people and so much trash everywhere… As soon as the fireworks were over it was like the floodgates were opened and everyone had the same goal: get out of the city as quickly as possible. We both thought it would take forever, but it actually only took about 20 minutes to get back on the interstate.

And here are a few tips if you ever plan on spending the 4th in our Nation’s capital:
1) Be sure to use the bathroom before you get to the Mall. Seriously. The port-a-potties had ridiculous lines, and by the time we walked back to the car, the smell was God awful. I had to pee for like 4 hours, but there was no way I was going into one of those. Most of the museums close at 7:00, so stop in one of those for clean facilities before staking out a spot in the grass.

2) Don’t be like Graham. Remember sunscreen & a hat (if needed). He has a shaved head and we were in the sun all day. According to Google, we parked 3.9 miles from Arlington National Cemetery. Not wanting to walk back to the car to get a hat & sunscreen, he stopped and bought what he needed. So, we wasted $20 on a hat he didn’t even want and sunscreen.

3) A parking deck is your best friend. Parking in DC sucks. It always has sucked, and always will suck. I don’t care for public transportation (we had a scary incident in Chicago), so I wasn’t crazy about riding the metro. After driving around for about 20 minutes looking for street parking, we found a parking deck literally right across the street from the Capital Building offering all day parking for $15. I hated paying for parking, but I also had peace of mind that our car wasn’t going to get towed, and we were parked in a safe place.

4) Bring some type of water bottle. It’s hot, you’re out in the sun all day, and hydration is important. There are plenty of people with coolers trying to sell you water, but why pay a $1 for a bottle of Deer Park when you can bring your own and just refill it throughout the day.

2 thoughts on “A Capital Fourth: 4th of July in Washington, DC.

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