My flip flopped feet dropped out of the driver’s side door onto the gravel pavement in the parking lot. We were here at Stop One- Washington D.C. I stood up on the edge of the car and looked over the roof at my two travel companions. Tom was already snapping pictures and Joey was looking out at the new scenery that surrounded us. First on the agenda was monument hopping. Like pinballs in a machine we quickly walked from the Jefferson to the Washington to the World War Two to the Lincoln to the Vietnam to the… well you get the drift. This morning once our feet hit the ground our cameras were up and monuments were in front of the lenses. I called my parent’s from the steps of the Jefferson Memorial.“Hi! Where are you?” My mom answered.“Hi! I’m calling from the steps of the Jefferson!”“How long have you been there?”“Five minutes, stop one at stop one!”A huge smile spread across my lips and I looked out across the mall at the Washington Memorial and I suddenly felt totally thrilled.
Last night and this morning Joey and I were frantically packing up the remains of what we didn’t realize was so much stuff in our apartment. This trip was weighing heavily on my mind because I was wishing I had more time to pack and prepare. We did really well last night packing up the car and getting mostly everything out of the apartment, the only problem was there was no room for Tom’s stuff or for that matter Tom himself! We were going to have to do some rearranging. We were finally ready to jump in the car and get going but I thought I should do a quick once over of the old place. The last three things in the apartment were a tapestry over the smallest window in the living room (I call it the gun turret window), a busted lock from when we locked ourselves out and Joey removed the door handle (after a while of other attempts at getting in…) and a life sized sticker of Master Chief. This random selection is the product of living with a self proclaimed pack rat. Anyway, that stuff went straight to the dumpster and we got in the car and got on the road.
We pulled up to Tom’s and I was immediately relieved that not only did he have a huge smile on his face but he didn’t mind that we were half an hour late and he laughed out loud when he saw the state of the car and helped us move stuff to his car which will be meeting us in Portland in a few months time. I drove first, and honestly didn’t feel any real waive of excitement at first. I was just driving along thinking about all the extra stuff we had, how little sleep I had gotten, how I felt bad for Tom because the back seat is basically a cave of backpacks and other assorted stuff, I was looking for some kind of fast food to get Tom some breakfast (Joey and I had already eaten), I was trying to remember where my GPS charger is (I still don’t know), I was watching Joey try to hook up the internet and laughing at Tom who was giving him a hard time for not having it done five minutes ago… it really didn’t hit me that we’re on our road trip until my feet hit the pavement and I could see the monuments in front of us. This is it America, no turning back now!
We found all-day parking near the Jefferson Memorial
, and made our way around that monument and toward the more easily visible Washington Monument
. Tom made good use of his new tripod, eliminating the need to tap any strangers on the shoulder to take our picture, while we pose and quietly wonder if they're going to steal our camera.
As we were walking over to the Lincoln Memorial we ran into our first random “hey we know you!” person. Anthony Unger, one of Joey's fraternity brothers from college, crept up on Joey while riding his bike and gave us all a laugh. Tom documented the moment with a picture. We visited the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial for a somber reading of a medal of honor award for a fallen soldier. We followed with the Constitution Gardens, then the Museum of American History and finally the Museum of Natural History and by then our feet were achy, we were attractioned out and we were ready for some amazing hamburgers from Five Guys, a local staple of almost-fast food (but much better than your average Whopper). Now, at 9:30 on our first day on the road I’m sitting in Tom’s sister Lela’s dining room table with Lela, Tom and Joey, each of us with a lap top (you kids these days…), each of us clicking away, and I’m suddenly on the trip of a lifetime. Feels pretty awesome. ~Sarah