The 4th on National Mall and other DC and DE points

Published: July 25th 2010
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After years as a writer, you'd think I be more entertaining on my travel blogs, especially capturing the "sturm und drang' that always happens with travel -- too lazy these days, apparently. (Sorry).

Thursday, July 1, 2010
We got a bit of a late start leaving the bank (payday) at quarter to 11. Beginning odometer, 2786 miles. We went up 26 via Johnson City to Bristol and up 81. Lots of trucks on the highway, pretty high traffic level. We discovered at a rest stop that there is now a drive-through “Safari” near Natural Bridge, so we did that ($26.00 for one senior, one kid and one food bucket) -- haven’t ever had food for the animals at one of these before -- it creates some interesting large herd animal roadblocks along the drive -- I had to push (with my hand) a young elk out of the way. Lots and lots of rheas, with many chicks, Asian spotted deer, and assorted other ungulates (deer and antelope, etc.). A few zebra, llamas, with their noses in our windows (they recognize the sound of a window going down, also had to push a llama away). Sam (aka DGS, dear grandson) didn’t want to feed any of the large ones, so we still had a fair amount of food in our bucket when I decided to try one of the big camels -- they were contained by a drive-up-to fence. It was a handsome camel, with reddish hair that was “glowing” in the sun. I opened the side window and he slobbered into the car and on his second bite, he took the whole bucket out of my hands and DGS freaked out. As we finally drove away, bucketless, the camel was chewing the small white plastic bucket up in his mouth - he had emptied the contents into his mouth previously, so I figured it was not the first time. That was toward the end of the loop anyway, not a great loss (am pretty sure the camel was just fine). We were too late in the day to go around again, or to feed the giraffes, but it was a fun stop.

We ate at an O’ Charley’s in Harrisonburg -- really enjoyed it; had a great server (Adam) and food was pretty good. Got to Luray and checked into Best Western before dark. Am still having some trouble following the GPS -- it doesn’t always go the way I want to go, and DGS really wants to follow what it says. Sometimes it directs a turn that doesn’t look like a proper turn to me.

Friday, July 2, 2010: DGS got up before I was awake Friday morning, so we got a good early start. Good, cheap breakfast food at the BW‘s restaurant, and an early entry into Luray Caverns. Still love going there. It is no longer guided which works better for me; they have audio players that are good. Price has gone up of course, but it was worth it (includes the fun little car museum and a couple of others that we didn’t go to). “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” -- DGS has just learned how to say that and is repeating it endlessly (also used awesome and beautiful a lot). It is a wonderful show cave. The organ is now a “music box” -- the hammers still move, but it seems recorded. Left Luray at odometer 3170, 11:25 a.m.

We proceeded on into DC via 211 (which the GPS didn’t like) and got to the hotel a little after 2, but room not ready and no valet parking available. We drove around down toward the White House and around the Mall, by the Washington Monument, toward the Capitol, and by Smithsonian museums, and eventually got a rock star parking place next to the Air and Space Museum (50 cents for 8 minutes parking -- needed lots of quarters). Wandered around in it for a little over an hour and then returned to hotel -- another GPS nightmare, dealing with it and Sam and the rotaries. Got checked in, but they assigned us to a regular double bed room with no kitchen, so had to deal with getting that fixed -- ended up with a king room with a kitchen, similar to the reservation. It is sectioned off some at least, so DGS and I have sort of separate spaces (he gets the couch). Good thing Rebecca (DD) is spending Saturday night at her BFF's (from high school). Had to park in a garage in the next block that will be locked up until Tuesday -- they are closed for the weekend, apparently including Monday. Seemed risky, but I wasn’t expecting to use the car again until Tuesday anyway. I mentioned that at the Bell Desk, and he said they had a key, so it would be okay if I had an emergency. So, we settled in for the evening. Very uncomfortable beds.


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