Sunday, July 08, 2012

The 4th of July


 Daniel and Kelly were married in Iowa, which is quite a long ways from Arlington, VA.  We had decided even before they were married that we would load up our car in Iowa with their wedding gifts and then go visit them in Arlington.  We thought that going down for July 4 would be great....they'd be back from their honeymoon and we could see the parade and fireworks in Washington DC.

The day they arrived home they were without power due to a storm and they were without power for over 48 hours.  We decided to stay with the plan even though when we left Ohio they still didn't have power.  Thankfully it came on before we got there.  But they hadn't had a chance to get organized or unpacked or even to buy food.  In fact, they ended up throwing out everything that they did have in the fridge because it went bad.  They hadn't even stayed in their 3rd floor apartment because it was too hot.  For anybody reading this who doesn't live in the eastern part of the United States, this past week has been HOT....even by Niger standards.



We felt bad about arriving when they hadn't had a chance to even live in their apartment yet.  But they were gracious and we had a great time!  When we arrived we walked down the street to a restaurant for supper, then we went grocery shopping. Later that evening
Daniel's cousin, Jacob, made this plaque.
they opened their wedding gifts that we had brought them. This is the quilt I made for them and got finished just in time.

The next day we took the Metro in to Washington DC.  We got off at the Archives stop and went and found a place on the steps of the National Archives building from which to watch the parade. It was a pretty good parade, but it didn't have a lot of floats or anything.  A lot of high school marching bands were in it, which would be a huge honor for any high school.  This was one of my favorite things in the parade. These men stayed motionless all the time and you could hardly tell that they were real people.

Did I mention that it was HOT?  We had taken two large bottles of water and some Gatorade and had drunk all of it before the parade was over.  But no problem.....men were pushing carts up and down the street selling cold water.  This man was so funny. He'd say things like, "Stop your crying.  Just buy cold water."  or "You'd better buy now because I won't come back."  But of course he'd come back.  The man to the right of him was a little nuts.  He would go up to random people and just start talking to them, but he was obviously trying to start arguments.

After the parade, we went to the mall and found a shady tree to have our picnic lunch we had brought with us.  We were out of water so we bought Cokes from a nearby vendor.  They were $2.50 for a 20 ounce bottle.  Ridiculous, but it sure tasted good!

From there we went to the National Arboretum and explored there for awhile. We just took our time and sat on benches whenever we found a cool spot.

The Arboretum is right by the Capitol building and when we went out, we discovered that Philip Philips, the recent winner of American Idol, would be in concert there that night.  We didn't know when it started or anything, so we went through security and went in to the cordoned off area in front of the capitol.  We discovered the concert would be later that evening, but we got to see him practising one of his songs. Since were were there we sat under a tree for awhile.  We also got some bottles of free water they were giving out.  Did I mention that it was hot?
  
Soon we decided to go to the area in front of the White House to find a place from which we could watch the fireworks.  On the way there we went past this mister truck that was spraying mist in the air. The looks on the faces of people when they saw it was great.  You could see, "Ahhhhh, relief!" written all over them.

We sat in the shade for awhile....it was hot, remember?  Then Daniel and John went off and bought us some hot dogs for supper.  After we ate, Daniel and John decided they wanted to go see the World War II memorial, so off they went.  Before long they were back saying they couldn't get to it because that was where they were shooting off the fireworks from.  But they said we should go through security and get into the area around the Washington Monument that was cordoned off.  So we moved again and found a pretty good spot.  Later when I went to the port-a-john I discovered that there would have been an even better spot where we could have seen the Lincoln and Jefferson monuments as well as the fireworks.

The fireworks were spectacular and a lot of fun to watch.  At the end especially, when they did the grand finale, you could just feel the fireworks booming along the ground and right through your body. 

The next adventure was to take the Metro home.  We went to the nearest station and tons of people were already thronging around it.  They would only let in a few people at a time, so the "line" was really a throng of hot, sweaty people.  There wasn't much air moving, so we were getting hotter and sweatier by the minute.  Every time they would let more people through, we would move forward three to five steps.  At one point people jumped the line and jumped over the turnstiles.  The police got them and sent them back out.  The crowd cheered when they got sent out!  Finally we got into the station and down to the trains.  It felt so cool down there!  But every train that came was packed.  I don't know where the people had already gotten on at, but there was no way we could get on.  Finally a train came that had a little room the four of us could squeeze in.  Every time the train stopped, only a few people would get off and a ton more would get on.  I can not even describe how awful it was.  We were standing body to body, there was no AC or if there was you couldn't tell, sweat was pouring off of everybody, and it felt like a heat index of about 130 degrees.  I don't know how it was that nobody passed out.  Most people were joking and making light of it but then a lady and her 9-year old son got on.  I told them there was no room, but her husband made her get on and said he and the other son would meet them at the hotel.  They were panicking and getting everybody uptight.  The boy kept saying, "I'm going to kill myself."  How sad is that?  Where did a 9 year old boy get that from?  At one point more people were trying to get on and she said, "Don't let anybody else on!"  I just thought, "Lady, you got on when there was no more room and now you don't want anybody else to get on."  I was SOOOOO happy when we finally arrived at our stop.  It took us an hour and a half to get from the Washington Monument area back to Pentagon City.  Once there we had to wait for a bus.  It was taking an awfully long time to come, so we decided to walk home.  It was midnight before we got home, took showers, and dropped into bed exhausted.

It was a great day, and aside from the train ride, a lot of fun.  I'm glad I was able to be there for the fireworks, but another year,if it were me, I'd go to a parking lot we found near their apartment that has a perfect view of where the fireworks would be.

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