Friday, October 05, 2007

Planes, trains, buses, taxis and automobiles

That was literally my day on Wednesday. Except the order was automobile, plane, bus, train, taxi. Whew.

After a few minor panic attacks and a little weeping, I got on the packed SW Airlines flight to DC. The flight was fine - I had a window seat and was able to knit and read and listen to my iPod in peace. It was such a treat to only have to worry about entertaining myself instead of also having to deal with the kids. There was a family across the aisle that had two kids, one of whom did NOT want to be there. I felt bad while simultaneously rejoicing that it wasn't me having to deal with a wiggly one-year-old.

Mom and I met up without a problem at the BWI airport. We found the right bus to the Amtrak station and got there just as the MARC train was leaving for DC. So we bought a ticket for Amtrak and waited half an hour for the train to show up. I just want to say that I think trains are a lovely way to travel - you sit back and watch the scenery go by, no traffic, no red lights, you just hum along merrily. Plus, our car was a "quiet car," meaning no cells phones or loud conversations allowed. Other than the smell, it was quite nice.

We got to Union Station, and that's where the fun began. We had to queue up for a cab, which took about 15 minutes, then we were treated to a rather harrowing ride to the hotel. People drive differently in DC than they do in Austin, and I don't think I'd be good at driving there. First, they honk, a lot. If you don't hit the gas the second the light changes, you get honked at. If you don't run the orange light, you get honked at. If you don't plow through an intersection filled with pedestrians, you get honked at. If you stop your car in the middle of traffic to let people out, you get honked at. In addition to the honking, people don't seem to believe in driving in one lane at a time. Our driver veered from lane to lane and sometimes drove right up the middle of two lanes. I was white-knuckled most of the way.

Fortunately, the hotel was lovely and close to what we wanted to do. Mom and I walked past the White House and muttered bad things about the current occupant. Then we headed down to the Mall for a while. I had hoped to make it to the Air and Space Museum, but it was too long a walk and too close to closing time. I would have had time to sprint in, look at Lindbergh's plane and leave. So instead I wandered around for a while as mom sat on a bench overlooking the World War II memorial and watched the world go by.

Dinner was absolutely wonderful. We at the Occidental, which is next to the Willard Hotel - very famous place, or so I'm told. We got to sit outside, within sight of the Washington Monument. The weather was perfect, the scenery was great, and the food sublime. It was a very nice way to end the day.

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