Several Christmases ago my family and I took a trip down to Florida to visit my Grandma Betty and Grandpa Steve. On the way down my Mom managed to convince my Dad to take a side trip to Washington DC for educational purposes. Unfortunately for us this just happened to be around four thirty, right at rush hour. We were moving at less than a mile per hour. It was the worst traffic jam we had ever been in. Then we looked outside. People were sitting on their balconies reading the daily newspaper and watching us inch along ever so slowly. Next we looked at the people in the surrounding cars. They too had newspapers out. Every once in a while they would look up and inch forward a little bit. After what seemed like hours, my Mom and Dad decided we would stop at the Pentagon so everyone could get out of the car and stretch their legs.
At this time they were still making repairs on the damaged side of the Pentagon. All of us decided we wanted to take pictures of the construction. Us children looked up and saw the army helicopters circling the skies above the Pentagon. Meanwhile my parents were arguing about the best spot to take a picture. They must have looked very suspicious running up and down the hill while pointing at the Pentagon. The helicopters began to circle the area where they were arguing. Finally my parents took the perfect picture and decided we could leave.
The next part of the journey could now begin. We had to find a way out of the Pentagon, which proved to be a very difficult task. All the roads around the city were one way streets. We couldn’t seem to find the road that would take us out of the parking lot and back to the express way. The much to my Dad’s frustration, we kept passing the road that would take us out, without even seeing it. Finally we spotted the road and were on our way out of the Pentagon parking lot.
My Mom was still not daunted. Next she thought we ought to visit the Washington and Lincoln Memorials. Almost the whole time we had been at the Capital, my nephew, Tyler, had been worrying that he wouldn’t be able to take his picture of the Lincoln Memorial. By the time we arrived at the Lincoln Memorial, there was just barely enough light to take a good picture. We were finally able to leave Washington DC happy that we had finally taken all the pictures we had wanted to. We were on our way back to the expressway and Florida.
This particular side trip taught us several lessons. First, don’t go through Washington DC at rush hour unless you are prepared to sit in the car in the middle of a traffic jam. However, if you must go through the Capital at rush hour bring something to read or do. Second, you must remember that the majority of the roads around famous tourist’s sites are one way streets. The last lesson we learned was to give yourself plenty of time to go through the Capital.
Before I visited the Capital, I hadn’t really realized how important it was to the nation. I thought, if anything happened to the Capital it would be easy to rebuild it elsewhere. Seeing the work that was still being done on the Pentagon nearly a year after the terrorist attacks, made me realize how impossible my assumptions were. The Capital is the most important city in the US.
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