On the way, I had Dylan start checking prices of motels around DC. Yeah, they're expensive. We are on a serious budget for this trip so it's very important for us to find cheap lodging. Remember, after sleeping in a tent dealing with dirt and bugs and such, even a cheap motel is inviting. We've thrown our need for luxury digs out the window. Dylan found a Motel 6 about 10 miles outside of DC proper in a location called Camp Springs, Maryland which is right across from Andrews AFB. Well, we pulled in and noticed that we were the only white people around. OK, no biggie. Walked into the office to check in and noticed the bulletproof glass with the one-way drawer to exchange money. OK. Paid my $60, got my parking pass and made my way to the room. Noticed a cop sitting in his car in the parking lot. Ok. Pulled into a parking spot in front of the ice machines and noticed a Rottweiler with gnarly spiky chain collar running loose. Ok. Opened the door to the ice room and noticed the lock on the door had been drilled out innumerable times and the window was broken. Ok. All the vending machines had bars on them. OK. Noticed homeboys standing around smoking. Ok. Made our way up the stairs that smelled like piss and excused ourselves as we walked by a homie carrying a baby. OK. Did I mention that we were the only white boys around? This is fun!!! It's like camping in South Central. :-)
Took showers, and prepared for the drive into DC. No big deal but when we got to the Monuments, the NAV chick stated taking us in circles and we ended up looking for parking for about 40 minutes. Literally. Finally found parking and hopped on our bikes. Having bikes to check everything out was a blessing. There is no way we could have seen everything we did if we had to walk. Did all the Smithsonian Museums. The museums seemed to be much more up-to-date than I remember them from my visit back in the mid-ninety's. It was quite enjoyable to see the huge collections amassed by the US government and to know that "we" are taking such pains to make sure that "history" is collected, organized and displayed for future generations to enjoy.
When the museums closed at 7PM, we rode our bikes from the Capitol to the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial...enjoying the sunset and taking pics along the way. It had cooled down quite a bit and was an excellent evening. We finished our tour of the Monuments by visiting the Vietnam War Memorial. Once again, I couldn't help but tear-up. Dylan was quite moved by it also. There was a family who had found the name of a loved one and were gathered around for quite a while. The matriarch of the family had stood up from her wheelchair and shuffled over to the wall to touch the name. The name which was one of tens of thousands. The name which represented a loss of life...a loss of a loved one...maybe a son or brother. She cried as her relatives comforted her. Tourists walked past without feeling her pain of loss from almost 50 years ago. Dylan and I felt her pain. We watched. We were quiet. We showed respect. It was very emotional.
We walked up to the directory of names to see if, by chance, there was a Lochridge listed. There was and he was from Olympia, Washington. My family is from Washington. Oh geez. Dylan and I found the name....Robert Eric Lochridge. I don't know him but, chances are, he is a relative. We share the same last name so both Dylan and I felt connected to this man who gave his life fighting a war in some far-off land. Dylan sat down and touched his name. I touched his name. We gave our respects to a distant relative who died for our country. We sat there with him for a while. When we left, we walked past the family who was still paying their respects to their family member. War sucks.
We made our way back to the truck and noticed that it was almost 10PM. Dylan and I were hungry and I had promised Dyl seafood so I decided that I would get us lost and then ask the NAV chick to find us some seafood. We ended up at this gas station across a bridge, bought some Gatorade, then asked the NAV chick if there were any restaurants on the way back to the motel. It seems that there were quite a few not too far away. We turned left and withing about a 1/4 mile, found ourselves on a very cool street of 200+ year old refurbished buildings that had been turned into trendy shops and restaurants. We were in Georgetown!!! Found a parking spot and made our way to Bodega which was a very nice Spanish restaurant. Dylan and I were both amazed at all the hot chicks out and about. Dylan immediately professed his love for Georgetown. Dinner was great and we made it back to the 'hood with no problems.
Off to NY tomorrow.