The Washington DC Spring Break Extravaganza - Day 3

March 29, 2013

We noticed this morning an unfortunate trend. Or at least an unfortunate trend for Elias. My head hits the pillow at the end of the night and I pass out as if someone pounded me on the head with a mallet. Elias...not so much. He's been dealing with restless sleep and waking up early. Poor kid. It will always catch up with you...

Since Elias was up early (which meant I would be up early), we were able to get ready for the day pretty quickly. Brunch wasn't until 1030a, so we had to figure out how to kill some time beforehand. A little digging and we decided to tour around George Washington University.

GWU was one Metro stop from our hotel, so it was wildly easy to get to. The problem with touring a college is that if you don't plan ahead, you don't get to see anything, because you just don't know where to go. We found a map on one of the streets and we tried to find a place to go...a place that might have a bookstore where we could get Elias some swag. As we were looking at the map, a kid (probably in his mid-20's, so still...kid...) came by to ask if we needed help finding anything. We politely declined, but it was really nice to see that people were helpful.

We eventually found a food court and bookstore, where Elias picked out a shirt and a spiral notebook to prove we were here. I was stunned at the food court. Just so many options. I mean, I know Drake wasn't the biggest school in the world, but come on...

We met Erin and her boss Art for breakfast. Founding Farmers was her first choice for us for food today. And we weren't going to complain (though they were out of tea. Or at least the tea I was going to drink. Uncool, Founding Farmers). My disappointment was short-lived as plates of food were ordered for the table. Fluffernutter sandwiches and Beignets started our meal. Elias went with chicken and waffles (always his choice when we go out for breakfast at this point). I ordered (due to peer-pressure) a vanilla cream stuffed French toast. Holy hell, it was good. I probably should have gotten something a little less carb-y. Especially after the beignets. But it was so good. No regrets.

As we left the hotel, we had a decision to make. Find the Metro and train-it to where we knew we wanted to end up, or walk. Surprising to both of us, we decided to walk. It was a lovely day and we had several hours before we were due at the Capitol for our tour. So we walked. And walked. And walked. And you know what...it was the best decision we could have made. Our walk took us past the White House (again...and this time, I did see it before wondering where it would be) and some of the monuments from the previous day. And we ended up in the National Mall.

During our walk through the Mall, we had some decisions to make. Like, where to go to the bathroom (answer - Smithsonian Castle)?? Or, should we get in the line for the Air and Space Museum (answer - nope...the line was too long and we didn't have a ton of time)?? And, should we stop and help the two people take their picture in front of the Capitol?? Well, on that answer, we basically got bamboozled into helping. Then again, they wanted to do a "silly" picture and I had to "guide" their hands into the right position ("Now shape your hand like you're holding a Macaron!!"). It was quite funny, so that one was fine.

We ducked into the National Gallery for a while and sure, it was a lovely museum, but there wasn't too much special about it to keep our interest for too long. I did like that they had all kinds of easels and people came in to recreate artist's work. That part was cool. We hung on a bench for a while and finally decided to make the journey to the Capitol for our tour.

The Capitol is one of those buildings that seems close, no matter where you are in the city. But as you walk towards it, you find you're walking forever. Our tour was at 245p. I set up the tour with my congressman, Bill Foster. We gave our names and social security numbers and apparently were cleared, so we got the spot. My guess is I'll get lots of calls and e-mails now. Meh...at least they won't be from Judy Biggert. In the instructions from the office, it said to go to the Longworth Building 15 minutes prior to our tour start. Longworth Building. That's the important part of this story.

We had plenty of time before our tour, so we had plenty of times for photos and hanging around. As we got close to the Capitol (and the tour), I looked up the Longworth Building. It was off to the right. Then, I saw the signs saying "Tours - Off to the Right." So I felt we were going in the right direction. And we were...we just veered off to the wrong area. There were many stairs and winding roads. We waited in line, got screened and ended up inside the Capitol. Which was precisely where we shouldn't have been.

Turns out, you can go on a tour of the Capitol if you don't go through your Congressman. But you get the extra special tour if you do. But you kind of need to go to the right location first. I called the Congressman's office and told the kid we were on the way. So Elias and I hoofed it quickly across the street to the right place. I won't deny, I was kind of dragging Elias along behind me as we raced to the building.

I didn't realize the Longworth Building was where the Congressmen's offices really were. We went to the second floor and kept walking to find Bill Foster's office. As we walked by every room, we saw names of Congressmen and Congresswomen. The first room we saw was Paul Ryan's. He had a giant seal on the door (unlike anyone else...our guide later said that seal cost his district a big chunk of money. Ahhh...democracy at work...). It made me like him even less. And I didn't think that was possible. After a while, we got to the office, dropped off our crap and hung out in Bill Foster's office for a few minutes. Cool.

Our tour consisted of six people. There was one family of four and the two of us. Our guide was Gary, a young kid who is on the bottom rung of the DC world (his words, not mine). We made our way down to the underground tunnel that connected the Longworth Building and the Capitol (among other buildings). Ok, this keeps getting cooler...

The Capitol Tour was really interesting. Mostly because we had a chance to see things that were only seen on TV before (like the rotunda - gorgeous). We also were able to see where all of the action takes place. One area off limits to the "regular" tour was the Speaker's Balcony. Seriously. There was an American Flag draped from the ceiling, blocking a certain area. And we walked through that area. On the other side of the flag was the office of the Speaker of the House. We walked through a different door and ended up outside. On the balcony of the Capitol. With the best view of the city I think we would see. Ever. Off to the left were a number of chairs. And that's where you know Boehner and his cronies would sit and make deals. At least on warm, summer days. Maybe not so much in the winter. Really cool.

I was surprised at the number of statues (lots). Every time we turned around, there was another statue dude staring in your general direction. There were a handful of lady statues, but the statues were definitely populated by white dudes. The last statue that was added to the Hall of Statues was Rosa Parks. I don't remember when Rosa was added, but it was definitely recently. And the crowds really did surround her. Which means I didn't get a great picture of her. Too bad. The other cool thing in the hall of statues is there are plaques on the floor saying where the Representative's desks sat "back in the day." Again, we saw hints of Abe. Sometimes the history of this city makes me pause...

After a while, it was time to go back to the Congressman's office to pick up our stuff. By this time, it was nearly 430p and we hadn't eaten since the gigantic breakfast. So we both thought we should have a cupcake break. Unfortunately, there aren't cupcakes near the Capitol building. Art and Erin mentioned a place in the vicinity (or at least a mile away) and we went looking for it. Red Velvet was in the Penn Quarter area of the city. We grabbed a few cupcakes and went next door in the frozen yogurt shop to sit and take a load off. This was totally allowed. The cupcakes were mighty tasty. They were a little on the small side, but they had a good flavor and texture. I could have eaten another one. Easily.

On a side note, we noticed DC seemed to be a town where all of the runners congregate. Every time we turned around, we saw people running. Which...god bless 'em. The best sight though was three dudes running. One with a pair of Lieutenant Dangle running shorts. Elias and I laughed at that guy for a long while. Not to his face, of course. We're not monsters.

Before we went back to the hotel, we stopped across the street at the Hotel Monaco. Erin mentioned this morning that the hotel was where the zip code was created. So there was that. It was obviously "Free Wine Happy Hour" at the hotel. If I had been there with Adele, we would have totally crashed the Happy Hour. But as it was...not an option this time.

After a Metro ride to our hotel and a quick freshening up, we jumped into the car and made our way for dinner. Ray's to the Third was always on the list of places to go for dinner. I had read an article saying Obama went to the original Ray's Hellburger, but that the specific location had closed. Luckily, less than a mile away from our hotel, there was another location. We had a bit of problems finding parking ($5 parking garage...yeah...I can't even pay $5 for 20 minutes at home. I'm down with $5), but we figured it all out. After a bit of driving. Stupid driving.

We were seated after a handful of minutes. No worries. At the table, we figured out what to eat. After a bit of looking, Elias declares he is going to get the roasted bone marrow burger. What?? Seriously. Seriously. The size of the bone for the bone marrow was stupidly large. He scraped the bone marrow off of the bone and spread it on the burger. Within minutes, the half pound (or more) burger was nearly demolished. I mean, if you put the burger down, it will fall apart. A few minutes after that, Elias was scraping any molecule of marrow off of the plate. It was moderately disgusting, but I have never been prouder of Elias than I was at that moment. Yes!! He also took a gigantic shake to-go for the road. I won't deny, I did end up with the foie gras burger, so I didn't do much better.

Yeah, that was the progression of the Bone Marrow Burger. Notice the lack of any food particle on the plate on the last one...

The hotel's bed was calling my name. Elias was still having problems sleeping, so hopefully the walking today would help with that. Tomorrow is our last full day of touring. And we had to make the last day count.

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