2008 Jul 10 | Washington DC

We went to M5, a really neat but surprisingly inexpensive restaurant.

This was on a car. I'm not sure if it's a joke or not, but it's weird.

This Chinese buffet had rule that if you don't eat all your food, they charge you 15% more. A family had a couple of kids than brought a bunch of ice cream back to their seats while they still had a lot of uneated food left. A waiter mentioned the policy to the mother, who apparently hadn't read the giant sign above the buffet. For a few seconds I thought she was going to argue about it, but then she just yelled at her kids and said they had better eat everything on their plates because there was no way she was paying extra.

I always used to buy Sixlets on long driving trips. I haven't really had any long drives in the past few years, but now that I am driving more this summer, I haven't seen any at all. Sigh, maybe they don't make them anymore, like purple dots and the mini McDonald's cookies.

I got to Washingon, DC early in the afternoon in the hopes of avoiding traffic, but there was still some. At least I could see the Washington Monument to let me know I was close. The only overnight parking near where I was staying that anyone knew of was the city lot. It was $20 a day, which I guess isn't too bad for downtown in a city. I was a little worried about leaving my car there, but nothing happened to it.

One great thing about hostels, especially Hostelling International, is they usually have at least one free activity per day that you would otherwise have to pay for. They also have free maps, free wireless internet, lots of people who are doing the same things you are and who have ideas of what to see, and other benefits, not to mention how cheap they are.

Then again, you risk being woken up by people coming back to your room at 4am, and you have to try to be quiet for the other people sleeping in your room whenever you're doing anything. I'm sure some people have problems with other aspects of hostels, but those are the only two that sometimes bother me, especially because I usually go to sleep and get up earlier than most hostellers.

The gate to Chinatown in DC.

The Washington Monument with the moon above it.

The Lincoln Memorial across the reflecting pool.

Pilots of a helicopter were practicing landing at the White House. They would fly up, make a little circle, land, and then do it again. They were flying right over us, so I was a little concerned that they might crash on top of us. The I figured that since they fly the president around, they probably already have had tons of flight experience.

Neatly-lit building tops.

The Lincoln Memorial, up close.

And from farther away.

Me in front of the Washington Monument across the reflecting pool.

There are lots of ducks, many with babies, in the reflecting pool.

I didn't see many bums, but this park had a fair number of them.

Any city with the Onion can't be all bad.

Some of the office buildings in the area had all-glass walls.

The same statue is in New Orleans.

A really big tree.

These stickers were on the street in a few places. I wonder what they are for.

The White House. If you want a tour, though, you have to go through your representative a month in advance.

The Jefferson Memorial.

Hostelling International had a free walking tour with Larry Amman, who was a really great guide. I especially liked that he walked pretty fast and really knew a lot about everything we saw. Here our group is at the Franklin Roosevelt Memorial, which has four sections with water.

The Korean War memorial. All the soldiers are looking in different directions, indicating that they could be ambushed at any time, and the ground represents the terrain of the country, which was rocky and bushy.

Part of the Vietnam War memorial.

The wall.

After lunch, only two of us wanted to keep going on the tour, so Larry took us up to Arlington Cemetary, where we saw the changing of the guard.

I like the simplicity and orderliness of the cemetary.

The Hope Diamond in the Smithsonian.

The Capital.

The Kennedy Center has a really nice outdoor patio on the top floor.

They also have free concerts at night.

I had considered staying at Hotel Helix before deciding to go with a hostel. The hotel is really funky, but it was also a lot more expensive, even though it was one of the cheaper motels in the city.

Me in front of the Washington Monument at sunrise. I had to get up at 4:30am to get there in time to see it, but it was really beautiful and peaceful, so it was worth it. I was surprised there were almost no other people around at that time except for a few runners.

There were a lot of squirrels around, but I only saw one white one.

I also went up the Washington Monument. There were a ton of people in line even an hour before it opened, but I had reserved tickets online so I didn't have to wait. I'm surprised anybody stands in line at all, in fact. This is looking south. You can see the Jefferson Memorial.

West, the Lincoln Memorial.

North, the White House.

And east, the Capital at the end of the Mall.

On the way down you could see a few of the special stones that had been given by various states. I would have liked to walk down to see all of the stones, but I didn't think of asking and I'm not sure if they let anyone do it anyway.