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11 Things I Loved About Running Around Washington, D.C.
I walked out the door this morning and decided to take my building’s “secret shortcut” to get to the subway. (If you cut through the parking garage instead of leaving through the main entrance, you can shave like 7 seconds off your commute time!)
I got to the parking garage exit and — since it was, oh, 5:45 AM — the gate was down! So I turned back around to go through the building’s lobby, and then on my way to the subway there was a little mouse sitting on the ground. Like, a teeny tiny itty bitty mouse. Not moving. Just planted right in the middle of where I was walking.
The mouse clearly didn’t intend to move, so I side-stepped it. Right into a pile of New York City sidewalk vomit.
But despite the icky start, it’s not a bad day. The sun is shining bright, I started my day (post-mouse-and-vomit-puddle) with some yoga, and I’m fresh off a fantastic family weekend in Washington, D.C.
My entire dad’s side of the family got together for a weekend of sightseeing, VIP touring, and spending solid quality time together. It made me super excited to have everyone together again in September, and further intensified my obsession with my niece and nephew.
Here are 11 highlights from my Thursday-through-Sunday trip to our nation’s capital, in order of how my photos organized themselves on my computer.
1. The family time. This was the highlight of the weekend and the real reason for the trip. When your family is spread out along the east coast — from New Hampshire to Boston to New York to Philadelphia to D.C. to Baton Rouge to Fort Lauderdale to Cousin Jeffrey representing Texas — it’s not easy to wrangle everyone for a weekend.
The single best moment of the entire trip was when my family got to the hotel Friday. My parents, brother, and sister-in-law were piling into their rooms with the kids, and I stepped out of our room (Brian and I had arrived on Thursday night) to go greet them. Tyler spotted me from the other end of the hall, and ran his little legs past all 15 or so family members in his way to get to me and to dive into my arms for the biggest hug ever. He is my favorite person.
2. Waking up early each morning to see the city “my way.”
I ran all three mornings I was in D.C., and by “ran” I mostly mean I would run to a monument, stare at it for a while, and then run to the next one.
As much as it killed me to drag my sleepy butt out of the big hotel bed each morning while the rest of the family slept, I loved exploring the Mount Vernon trail (we stayed in Alexandria, VA, so I ran along the paved path to get into downtown D.C.) and then running around all the monuments before the crowds picked up.
3. Exploring the monuments! I’ve been to D.C. five times now (and I’ve run two races there — my fastest half-marathon and my slowest 10-miler), and each time I am in such awe of the city’s history and its sprawling monuments and memorials. My favorite is Lincoln.
My second favorite is Jefferson.
My third favorite is Einstein.
My fourth favorite is Iwo Jima. No photo.
4. Getting to sleep in a hotel bed. Brian and I have officially outgrown our not-so-spacious one-bedroom apartment, and getting to escape for a weekend to sleep in a big king bed (that we didn’t have to make in the morning) was a treat. I need a king-sized bed stat.
5. Spending a whole day out and about in the city and not feeling filthy at the end of the day. If I walk around Manhattan for eight seconds in flip flops, I have to scrub my feet for 12 hours just to feel moderately clean again. But D.C. is so clean. I don’t understand where they put all the trash if it’s not just piled up along the sidewalks!
6. So much Tyler and Abby. They were both so good the whole weekend. Like if I were almost three years old and my family was like, “Let’s go on a cool historical trip and not let you swim in the Tidal Basin or run off by yourself in the Library of Congress!” I’d throw all kinds of tantrums. Hell, I threw a tantrum on Sunday when someone tossed around the idea of “not getting lunch.”
But Tyler and Abby were both incredibly pleasant and well-behaved, and Tyler is so so so funny and Abby completely stole Brian’s heart right out of my hands.
7. Getting to tour the White House Garden. When our informal itinerary said we had tickets to the White House Garden Tour Saturday at 1 PM, I did not understand why this was cool or something we would spend our time doing. Now I get it.
Well, first, I didn’t realize how special it was! The garden is only open to the public twice a year — one weekend in the spring and one in the fall — and it happened to fall during the weekend we were all in town. So my cousin got us tickets and it was so cool! It was a self-guided walk around the south lawn of the White House, and it was very interesting seeing the outside of the Oval Office, the Rose Garden, and the podium where the President gives so many of his speeches. We didn’t venture into the Vegetable Garden because the line was crazy long and someone (me) was getting hangry.
8. Getting a private tour of the West Wing. It’s good to have friends or relatives in high government places. I can’t tell you more than that! But basically we were able to get a VIP-level tour of the West Wing (at the same time as Lucy Liu!). We saw the outside of The Situation Room (there was a “situation” going down on the inside so we couldn’t go in), and got to see the Oval Office!
Looking into the Oval Office, I so smartly remarked that, “It’s so weird looking at it, because it looks so different than on ‘Scandal’ and in movies and stuff! It looks fake!” To which the kind security guard standing by dryly said to me, “This is real. ‘Scandal‘ is fake.” Sassy!
As we were wrapping up our tour, we noticed the atmosphere around the White House start to change. A cameraman dashed by and said, “I didn’t tell you this, but he’s on his way back.” Very exciting!
So we stood outside the White House on the steps of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, perched nice and high, where we could see the Secret Service and all kinds of security guards “at attention,” guns ready, on full alert! We heard the motorcade coming, saw it pull up, and then out came the President, back from his golf game and just in time to get ready for the White House Correspondents’ Dinner! This, my friends, is called being “in the right place at the right time.”
9. Getting to hang out inside the Press Room for a while. Last year I met Katie Couric and this year I got to play in the White House Press Room. It’s safe to say my young journalist dreams have all been realized.
The Press Room — it’s where Abby gives all the press conferences on “Scandal” and where they do press conferences in real life, too — was very exciting. All the chairs have nameplates on them with assigned seating per network/publication. Reuters, NBC, ABC, CBS News, The Associated Press, and CNN are all in the front row. I was pleased to see that the New York Post is not. (You can see the full seating chart here. BuzzFeed has a seat now!)
10. Finally visiting Arlington National Cemetery. This has been on my list for years, and I finally made it there. Visiting Arlington is such an emotional experience. I couldn’t believe how vast the cemetery is. The white gravestones, in such perfect, militarized lines, seem to go on for miles. We saw the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (we got there just in time to see the changing of the guards — that precision is so incredible) and the resting place of John F. Kennedy Jr. and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (there’s an eternal flame at their grave site).
11. Knowing I get to see my whole family again in five months. Feller Family Reunion, NYC Edition — you’re up next!
Thanks for showing all of us Fellers a good time, D.C. I’ll be back soon!