We had a terrific ten days in Washington, DC and Annapolis. Drew’s cousins Courtney and David Yarkin and their kids hosted us for the whole week. We got to trick-or-treat together, go to sports games, eat in, eat out, and just generally have fun. We miss them already!
Drew’s parents flew out to visit on Tuesday, so while the Yarkins were at school and work we explored DC. Courtney’s mom Margaret arranged for us to take a Capitol tour, which was fascinating. Did you know that the Capitol dome is, in addition to being the center of the building, the geographic center of Washington, DC? There’s a compass rose inlaid in the crypt floor below it. Apparently George Washington was supposed to be buried there but his wife vetoed that plan.
At the end of our tour we were able to visit both the House and Senate viewing galleries, a first for all of us. The House was voting on a slew of amendments to the transportation bill so the chamber was packed with Representatives. They strolled about chatting and glad-handing — or in the case of one group, having a pretty spirited discussion. Now and then a Representative would amble over to a vote-counting device mounted to the back of a bench, slide his or her ID badge into it, and press a colored button to vote. You could see the tallies and each Representative’s vote projected on the walls above. Paul Ryan came in at one point — it was his third day on the job as Speaker.
Meanwhile, over in the Senate, various Senators took turns giving speeches for the official record and C-SPAN. Although lit up brighter than daylight for the TV cameras, the rest of the chamber was empty, save for a row of bored-looking pages sitting on the carpeted dais, the President Pro-Tem and a couple of stenographers. We heard a long complaint about the new EPA clean water rule, then a several-minute acclamation of the Kansas City Royals for their recent World Series victory. (What a team.)
Margaret is a trustee of Newseum and was kind enough to get us tickets there too. If any of you are ever in DC, do yourself a favor and GO. It was terrific. We learned about the history of journalism from a “4D” film (fourth dimension = moving seats), got to practice being TV reporters, and spent at least an hour playing a game based on ethical dilemmas in journalism. That might sound like watching paint dry but some of the questions were hard and the kids really got into it. Great stuff.
We were also lucky to join Drew’s parents when they visited Sally Jewell, the Secretary of the Interior. (Early in her career she was hired by Drew’s dad and they’ve remained friends ever since.) She met us at her office and took us for a walk around the Department of the Interior building, which is massive — it spreads over two city blocks. The halls are decorated with WPA murals, Ansel Adams photos, and Native American artifacts. There are also some pictures of Sally in the line of duty — this one shows her at the very tippy top of the Washington Monument when it was being repaired after the 2012 earthquake (cue vertigo):
We then decamped for wine and snacks with Sally and her husband. The kids were fascinated with her Secret Service detail, who shadowed her throughout the building and then drove her home in a big Chevy Suburban (aka the “Fed Sleigh”). One of them even ran ahead of our rented Ford Focus as we crawled down a back alley to show us the way to Sally’s carport. Felt like I was on the set of that Clint Eastwood movie In the Line of Fire. (Yes, I’m a dork.)
Thanks to Sally we also visited the Monument. It was a beautiful fall morning and the views were incredible. DC is looking lovely these days.
We got to see our great friends Jay and Una, Matt and Erica, and Caroline (minus Pat, sadly), plus all their kids. We gathered at Jay and Una’s for dinner on Friday night, a long-overdue reunion, and then most of them came out to the boat in Annapolis on Sunday. We crowded around the cockpit table for a long lunch while the kids tumbled around above and below decks.
Also visiting was EXIT’s previous/honorary skipper, Drew’s uncle Gene. He joined us to see the boat on Thursday, along with Drew’s parents and Gene’s friend Charlie Calhoun. We tried to sail but were socked in with fog. At least everyone got to see EXIT’s new bare-aluminum livery.
What else? We went to the National Archives and saw the Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights, plus one of four existing copies of the Magna Carta. We poked our heads in the Library of Congress and saw a Gutenberg Bible. We visited the Air and Space Museum (Soren’s pick) and the National Zoo (Elsa’s — massive panda cuteness, especially when little Bei Bei climbed up and then tumbled out of a tree).
Phew. That sounds like a lot of things. It was. But well worth it, reconnecting with everyone. And we can’t thank the Yarkins enough for hosting us this whole time.
Now we’re basically running from winter as we head south to Florida. Our goal is to get to Fort Lauderdale by mid-December. We’ll be taking the Intercoastal Waterway (ICW), which is a collection of natural waterways and manmade canals that extend from Norfolk, Virginia all the way to Miami. It allows boaters to travel through the Southeast in protected waters, since the Atlantic can be treacherous in parts, like around Cape Hatteras.
All of this visiting with friends and family, plus getting waylaid in Cape May for a week, means we’re a couple of weeks behind schedule. November is when winter sets in so most boaters using the ICW are well into South Carolina by now. We’re hoping dearly that we can outrun the first frosts or, heaven forbid, snow. More to come ….