Washington D.C. – Day One

Except for the strong head wind, our drive out of North Carolina was pretty uneventful. We had planned on driving through Washington D.C. and into Maryland that first day, but we ended up spending the night in Ruther Glen, Virginia instead. We filled up with fuel and propane at the Flying J, and figured it was a good place to stay. The problem was that we were used to the darkness and the gentle roar of the ocean, and the parking lot was bright and loud as trucks came and went all night. It didn’t make for the best night sleep, but it was free, so we didn’t complain.

We got up in the morning and went the remaining 90 miles to Greenbelt, Maryland where we set up Waldo for a few night’s stay. We arrived early enough that we had plenty of time to drive into D.C. for a little exploration. Our first day was spent walking through all the monuments and memorials. By the end of the day, the Capital Region of our National Parks Passport was almost full.

The Cherry Festival was going on so we had hoped the blossoms would be in bloom, but it had been such a cold winter that they were about a week late. I was hoping they would burst open while we were there, but it was simply not meant to be. I read that there are over 2,000 trees, and I can only imagine how beautiful it must be when they are all in bloom.

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It was an absolutely beautiful day and we could not have asked for more perfect weather. There were a lot of tour buses and school field trips, but it was actually very quiet compared to the summer months, allowing us to enjoy the monuments and memorials at our own pace. Washington D.C. is one of those special places that you can see a million times in pictures and films, but none of it compares with seeing it in person.

After almost 10 miles of strolling around downtown, we were ready to go home. The traffic was insane and it took us much longer to get home than we would have thought. We quickly learned that it does no matter what time of day you are cruising the streets of D.C., the traffic never goes away. Luckily Rob was driving so I just kept my foot pressed down on my imaginary brake pedal and tried not to look as people wove in and out and dodged oncoming cars as they tried to get around people. I felt bad for the semi’s, but apparently they are used to it because they were not a whole lot better than the cars. I think most people drive with one hand on the wheel, and the other on the horn, because there was a lot of honking going on…


We finally made it to Gettysburg, the turning point of the American Civil War, for Rob’s birthday. We spent the larger part of a day there, but it was not nearly long enough. All of our time was spent out on the battlefield, leaving us no time to view the museum and cyclorama. Even with all the time we spent outside, we still did not have time to see it all. We took our time in the beginning, but quickly realized that we were going to have to pick up the pace if we wanted to see as much as possible. I don’t think we had realized just how large the battlefield actually is. There are so many monuments and memorials and we wanted to stop to read them all.

The kids were able to complete the Junior Ranger program, so we learned a lot from that, but there is still so much to see and learn. We are planning on going back, but that visit will probably have to wait until next summer.

This year marks the 150th Anniversary of Gettysburg and I am glad we were able to experience it.