Wednesday, October 7th
We got dropped off at the Amtrak train station on Cabarrus Street in downtown Raleigh by Karisssa as she was on the way to work. The train was scheduled to depart the station at 8:45, but it was late in arriving. We departed around 9:30 am, heading to Washington, D. C. It was Dustin's fall break from the year-round school. He being just turned twelve,
we thought it would be a good time to visit. We had taken Karissa when she was ten.
At lunchtime we went to the dining car and got hot food from the fast food area. The train also had a more formal dining area, the next car up. Unlike airlines, the seating was spacious and there was a variety of scenery all along the way. Some time I wish there was more train service to places and they were convenient to access; as it was fifty to 75 years ago.
We arrived at Union station just about on time; which was about 2:45. The train obviously made up time along the way. We were planning to leave our luggage in some lockers in the train station, as we had done with Karissa over 25 years earlier. After storing the bags, we would have taken in a few of the closer museums. Since 911, there are no lockers available in the terminal.
We left the station with our luggage trailing behind us (thank goodness for suitcases with wheels). Our first stop was to get a picture of Dustin on the Capitol steps. We then headed over to the Smithsonian Air and Space museum. We weren't allowed in with our bags, so one of us had to stay outside with them. I went in with Dustin. I pointed out the Wright Brothers plane and the Spirit of Saint Louis plane. Downstairs, there were flight simulators and he was all in for some hands on action.
Back out front, we headed for the metro station at the L'Enfant plaza. Before leaving home, I checked to see what was the nearest stop to our hotel in Alexandra. It was Braddock Road Station on the yellow line and was about six blocks to the Holiday Inn and Suites. When we crossed the Potomac River, I asked Dustin did he know what river we were crossing and of course, he did not know. I told him it was the Potomac and asked him again each time we crossed it as we went back and forth into DC.
After checking in, we went across the street to a nice little grocery and deli. They had an extremely nice, well-stocked salad bar. We each fixed a salad the we way we liked it, got a hot roasted chicken and headed back to our room. After supper, we located the swimming pool and Dustin spent time at one of his favorite activities.
The next morning, we waited until the biggest part of the morning rush was over before heading out. We discovered that the hotel had a free shuttle to the Regan International Airport where we could could catch the metro down to the mall and avoid the six block walk back over to the Braddock Road Station.
We got off at the L'enfant Plaza stop and headed to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing so Dustin could see paper money being made. Afterward, we walked out to see the Washington and Lincoln Monuments. While out on the mall we saw a couple military helicopters take off from the White House grounds and wondered if it was the president. During the afternoon, we visited the National Science and History museum.
After our return trip from DC to the hotel, we checked the information provide by the hotel and found there were several small restaurants near the hotel. We chose a small Asian place down near the river. It was quaint and had good food. We walked around the riverfront for a bit and then returned to the hotel where Dustin went back to the pool.
Friday morning, Dustin and I took a couple of the loaner bicycles out for a ride. The Mt. Vernon trail was only three or four blocks from the hotel. The18 mile trail is one of the Washington, D.C. Metro area's most popular trails. Just across the Potomac River from D.C. in Virginia, the trail links Theodore Roosevelt Island Park with George Washington's Estate in Mount Vernon. The trail follows the course of the Potomac, passing through parks, yacht clubs, wetlands, neighborhoods, towns and wooded acres. We rode up to Regan Int. Airport at Crystal City and back. I wanted to go further, but Dustin wasn't interested. After we got back to the hotel, I left him and rode south down to Jones Point Park at I-495 (the Woodrow Wilson Bridge). It is a trail I'd like to ride from end to end. It connects to the W&OD and the Capital Crescent Trail to the north.
When Karissa and Sammy arrived, Rhonda and I moved to another hotel about five blocks down the street. Before going to supper, we rode through the downtown part of Alexandria where the most of the shops and restaurants were clustered together. We looked around for a place to eat, but parking was limited and everything looked busy. We found a very nice place back closer to the hotel on the corner of Madison and Asaph called the Royal Cafe and we all enjoyed a great meal.
Saturday morning, Rhonda and I went by McDonald's and picked up breakfast items and carried them to Karissa and Sammie's room. After breakfast, we took the hotel shuttle to the Regan Airport and caught the Metro to the mall. We spent the morning in several of the museums (American history, natural history and the American Indian) and had lunch at McDonald's in the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum. We finished the day with a visit to the National Botanical Garden. There had been a light rain falling most of the day, so the museums were a good place to be.
By now, we were getting tired from all the walking, so we retraced our route back to the hotel and rested before going out to eat. We checked out the restaurants around us, but decided to go back to the Royal Cafe since we knew it was good, reasonably priced, and knew what was on the menu. Back at the hotel, Dustin headed back to the pool and everyone else relaxed and watched tv.
The next morning, we packed up and headed out after eating some items we had brought. Just before lunchtime, we stopped south of Petersburg and had a good lunch. We arrived back in Garner, mid-afternoon. It was a good trip and hopefully a fun and educational experience for Dustin. I have visited Washington and the Mall several times and always enjoy seeing it and visiting the museums.