The last time I went on an extended vacation was the weekend before Sept.11, 2001, and we all know what happened THAT day.
That weekend was spent exploring Chicago, and experiencing that singular event known as a baseball game at historic Wrigley Field.
Three years ago my Uncle and Aunt, who I have been very close to for over 25 years, left CA. and moved to VA. to be close to his kids and his grandkids in their retirement, and for sometime I'd been meaning to pay them a visit, thus taking an opportunity to see some relatives I'd not seen since childhood.
I made my initial plans in early Feb, and when I learned it was cheaper to fly home from DC than it was to return the way I'd come I altered my plans.
My 12 day vacation was split in half, with the first 4 days hanging out with the relatives, and the rest making my first exploration of the capitol of the greatest nation on Earth.
A friend suggested I see if my Congressperson could get me a ticket for the White House Tour, and so I contacted the DC office of Loretta Sanchez.
Usually one should put in a request at least 3 months in advance, and so it was no surprise that her office had no tickets left.
The nice lady I chatted with went beyond the call of duty and said she would check other offices to see if any one had any available tickets, and so that's how, with 2 weeks or so before my arrival in town, I ended up with a covetted ticket.
I being a Republican, and Sanchez being a Democrat, I might not have reason to vote for the woman but...if I ever met her I'd shake her hand in gratitude. ;-D
Virginia is not like California...
Among the operative concepts there are "laid back", "rural", "wide open", "culture" and "History".
There, densely packed cities, and suburbs, are not the norm.
There, life moves at a much different pace than a city slicker would be accustomed to. ;-D
DC is different than Virginia and, while familiar in many ways to one from Southern California, different than SoCal as well.
There, the densely packed inner-city, and suburbs, are deceptively familiar, but you no sooner begin to make your way around it when you realize just how different this world is from "fast-paced" LA, and The OC.
The operative concepts there are "power", "politics", "speed", "security" and, yes, "culture", and especially "history".
When it comes to finding a hotel room, you need to do it months in advance otherwise you must be prepared for the fact that being outside your comfort zone starts with your living arraingements while in town.
In DC you can see, smell, and touch (most of it, anyway) the history all around you.
It is inescapeable.
The people, from the poorest, to the richest, the least powerful to the President himself, know it, sense it, and feel it, hell, even the birds, and especially the squirrels do so as well.
They all take it in stride.
The local issues and problems, except for the lack of certain voting rights, and political representation the rest of us take for granted, are many of the same that are part of life in big cities, and their suburbs across the country, only more so, especially those related to crime.
Life is crowded, faster, and often more expensive in DC, yet it is interesting, exciting, beautiful, and emotional as well.
You quickly realize that you will never be able to experience it all in one short visit and, in the back of your mind, begin planning a hoped for return, or many such returns for the future, as you struggle to pick and choose what to experience THIS time knowing it could be the ONLY time.
I began my journey on the morning of March 7th, and ended it on the morning of March 18th, and what happened in those 12 days was recorded in over 80 pages of notes, and 250+ photos.
I have begun to organize my notes and photos, and to think about how to share this incredible adventure here, and on my BikeBlog.
I hope that you will go along, and let me know what you think. ;-D