Saturday, October 2, 2010

Spending 9/11 in Washington, DC.

View from Ft. Meyer-Henderson Hall.

Living in the DC area isn’t what you would imagine. You don’t always go into the city even though you live there. And you don’t think of driving a few miles to a hotel as much of a vacation.

But it can be.

We hadn't intended to spend the weekend in the city as politics gets on my last nerve, and we figured that the 9/11 weekend would be freighted with babbelry and nonsense. No self-respecting politician would miss an opportunity to opine to the throngs, even on what should be a sacred day. This being the distinguishing feature of politicians in general, a decided lack of reverence for all things we citizens hold dear.

Still, the nice weekends of the year were dwindling and the weather was beautiful, so we decided to go for it and put on our political blinders.

Alexandria is a beautiful setting from which to visit the city. You get to sit across the river from the pundits and still enjoy the view…can’t hear the foolishness…not even an echo, and it's a quick metro ride to the Mall.

You forget that American does have beautiful architecture, large boulevards and that old country charm. Getting away from it all can be as simple as driving across the bridge to Alexandria and finding that quaint get-away.

Lucky for me, as retired military, I have the advantage of booking in to military lodging. It isn’t cheap, but it is very private, quiet and relaxing. We stayed at Henderson Hall, and as you can see from the picture, it is completely devoid of the cold and modern new-mellenia stylings of today's buildings.

That is exactly why I love it.

A glass of Harvey’s on our second story veranda in the evening was so enjoyable as to make the whole weekend a delight. The setting is that idyllic.
Then, of course, there is the obligatory trapsing to the Smithsonian, the White House and other attractions. You think it will be boring and that because you've been there before and done that, that somehow you will be woefully unimpressed. What a delight to find out that it is as thrilling to visit the Smithsonian (any part of it) on subsequent occasions as it was (or will be ) on your first.

They say familiarity breeds contempt...I'm inclined to believe that this premise holds true only if the thing you're becoming familiar with was contemptible in the first place.
While politics and those who practice it may fall from our favor, grand cities are a joy forever. and Washington, DC is no exception. For the mix of charm and grandeur, I rank it up there with other cities I have visited; Heidelberg, Berlin, Paris.
And while it is true some parties I won't mention (whose initals start with "T") did try to comandeer this solemn weekend, they were unsuccessful. Nature and good sense conspired to deminish their effect and appeal. Raining at the right moment, and becoming cloudless almost on cue, as crowds failed to gather. In fact, there wan't even a mention on the news. And though the entire Mall had been set up and prepared with tents and porta Ps, only a handful of people actually showed up.
Maybe Americans are more politically savvy then they get credit for. I was happy to see that the crowd was smaller than my Christmas party last year. Well done America. Maybe if we ignore them, they will go away.
One can only hope.
As for our weekend, it was a great success.  Just the right mix of relaxation and tourism.

I  almost forgot. No vacation is complete without a picture of the dog.