A Great Big Road Trip & Visiting Washington, D.C.
After driving more than a thousand miles, we finally made it to the East Coast, and I am settled into my new home in Princeton! Wahoo! Sorry I haven’t been very active on the blog or my social media sites. These past couple weeks have been a crazy whirlwind, and I’m having a hard time sorting through it all to even know where to start! I think what I will do is talk a bit about our road trip, just because I am quite proud of our navigation and driving skills. (When I say we, I am referring to myself and my friend who road with me out here. We took turns driving the lovely van pictured below.) Then, I will end this post with our day trip to Washington, D.C., and what we were all able to see in just one day. We also visited New York City, but I will do a separate post on that (because we saw A LOT in our time there). I feel like I should apologize as well, for the quality of some photos. I became very lazy about getting the DSLR camera out and many of these are just from my phone! Sorry! (And the majority of the DLSR pics were taken by my friend because, again, I was lazy.)
The van pictured above contained (just about) everything my husband and I own, plus my two lovely passengers who rode with me out here. My husband had the brilliant idea of getting something similar to this Ford F150 Truck for our road trip, but instead, we went for the minivan. Impressive, right? Haha. I never thought I would enjoy driving a minivan, but this was actually a very comfortable ride! (It’s not actually mine, unfortunately. We had rented it from Hertz.) We didn’t have anything planned ahead of time for our road trip. We just threw all the luggage in the car, plugged in the address in the GPS on my phone and drove until we couldn’t anymore. Which reminds me, if you are planning a road trip soon and need some new suitcases, backpacks or any other travel bags, then my friend has recommended https://buyersimpact.co.uk/?to me. The Buyers Impact website is full of all the latest product reviews to help make your next purchase an informed one. Nonetheless, I wish I could say our road trip was incredibly exciting and we saw so many cool things. However, the route from Central Wisconsin to New Jersey is not all that exciting. It’s just a lot of highway and tolls. I think the most exciting thing we saw was a car on fire near Chicago (no one was hurt, thank goodness!). Chicago was also the only area that had much for traffic, too (so, that was good!). Oh, and we ate A LOT of junk food. Haha. But that’s a requirement for a road trip! We took a pit stop in Indiana by Notre Dame’s campus for dinner (which is a beauuuutiful campus) and then drove to just outside of Cleveland, Ohio to spend the night. That was close to a 12 hour day in the van, with only a brief stop in Indiana! The next day we woke up bright and early. We had originally planned on driving to Washington, D.C. that day. However, it was pouring and rather chilly…and everything we planned on doing in D.C. required us to be outside. So, after a couple hours of driving we changed plans and decided to head straight to where my husband was staying in New Jersey. He was very surprised! We spent the next day wandering around by Princeton’s campus, doing a little shopping and trying out some of the restaurants in the area. (I’ll do an actual post on Princeton sometime, but I didn’t get many pictures this day.) I’m really excited to do some more exploring this weekend! It’s a very pretty and interesting area.
Washington, D.C. in a Day
After a bit of deliberation, we decided that driving to Washington, D.C. from Princeton would be our best alternative for the next day. It really wasn’t too bad of a drive. It took us about 4 hours to get there (because an accident near Baltimore had us switch our route) and about 3 hours to get back to Princeton. Traffic wasn’t bad at all (but we had missed rush hour). It didn’t take me long to find a parking ramp (and if I would’ve been any good at parallel parking, we would’ve had a parking spot even sooner!). The picture above is when we had to drive across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. I am absolutely terrified of heights. So, having to drive across this bridge nearly made me pee my pants. Fortunately, the only reason we had to take this bridge was because traffic was so backed up by Baltimore. We were able to drive by Baltimore on our way back and miss this bridge altogether. Phew! We only spent one day in D.C. So, we decided to try to see as many of the monuments as we could in our time frame. Our first stop was the White House. We were all a bit surprised actually, as to how small it appeared. (It looks much bigger on TV, everyone. Haha.) After the White House, we moved to the Washington Monument. We didn’t have tickets (or time) to tour the inside of the monument. We were there around one in the afternoon, and tickets were sold out for the day. So, if you want to tour the inside…it appears you should get there early or reserve them in advance. I didn’t feel as though I was missing out not touring the inside. There were many wonderful views from where the monument is located. (Even if the Capitol is currently under construction and the reflecting pool is currently drained.) Our next stop was the Lincoln Memorial. We didn’t stick around here too long, because it was very busy the day we were there (the weather was gorgeous). But we did manage to snap some pictures of Abe (who I might add, was bigger than I thought). We found our way to the monuments by asking park rangers and by buying a little tourist map (which a bird proceeded to poop on several seconds after we opened it up. Haha.). However, I have discovered a neat app for the National Mall and Memorial Parks. It’s free and will give you all the information you ever wanted to know about what’s going on around the monuments and how to get to them. Click here to check it out, and save yourself $3 on a tourist map. I plan to use this for my next visit. Our next stop was Arlington National Cemetery. We wandered through these hallowed grounds for quite a long time. This was a very emotional stop, and I find myself having a hard time adequately describing what it was like to wander through the gravesites of such brave people in our nation’s history. It’s something that words and pictures don’t seem to do justice. Below, are pictures of JFK’s gravesite and the eternal flame. We were also lucky enough to witness The Changing of the Guards Ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It’s incredible to think the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is guarded 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and in any weather. (Click here to learn more about the ceremony.) We ended our walking journey by passing by the Korean War Memorial and then walking over to the Jefferson Memorial (which felt like a very long walk at the end of our day). After the Jefferson Memorial we were too tired to walk to the Capitol Building, so, we took a cab instead. It cost about $7, if I remember right. We ended our day by hanging out by the White House because the President was getting ready to leave. However, it apparently takes him a very long time to leave. Haha. We only stuck around for a half hour, before heading to the nearest McDonalds for dinner (we were soooo healthy this trip). While we were in McDonalds, we heard the motorcade go by. (Of course!) If you have any questions about Washington, D.C. or have any suggestions of what I should see the next time I go back…please let me know in the comments! I will most definitely be going back when the cherry blossoms are in bloom. I will also be taking the time to go through the Smithsonian and other various museums, but I am still looking for more recommendations of what to see and tour. I will also be publishing my recap of our whirlwind trip to New York next week. So, stay tuned!
Hehe, isn’t it the funnies thing…The Lincoln Memorial statue is comically large while the White House pales in comparison. People are always very surprised about that!
It really surprised me for both of them!
Glad you had such a fun day in DC! It’s one of my favorite cities to visit. I’ve been there quite a few times. it’s even lovelier when the cherry blossoms are blooming all around the city. That has to be my favorite time to visit. Glad you also got over to the Kennedy grave site. He’s one of the loves of my life haha! Can’t wait for your NYC pictures.
Thank you! I’m hoping to return to see the cherry blossoms, the website says they are supposed to be peaking April 11-14…so we’ll see! And the NYC pics should be up before the end of the week! 🙂
It was good reading your adventures in DC.
After I had served 1983 to 1986 in Baumholder, Germany, I was assigned to Fort Belvoir Virginia. It is next door to Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington. I was there 1986 to 1990 and I was assigned to Fort Benning, Georgia. My MOS was a Chaplains Assistant and I was the NCO of Fort Belvoir Main Post Chapel.
It was good being assigned there. One of the exciting moments was the time the Jewish Chaplain asked me to drive him to the Capitol Rotunda to witness Senator Bob Dole receiving the Holocaust Memorial award in 1989. After letting the Rabbi out I parked the sedan and I went into the Rotunda to witness the event. I felt very small in the large Rotunda but proud to witness the event.
Another exciting time was to watch the National July 4th Fireworks from the north lawn of the Pentagon. It was easier to get there and park and watch the fireworks then exit and go south to Fort Belvoir. It was prior to 9-11 and we got to go inside the Pentagon to go to the rest room. I just showed the soldier on duty my active duty ID card.
A pretty drive was to take US Route 1 and Rock Creek Parkway from Mount Vernon to north DC to Walter Reed Hospital. You pass the Japanese cherry trees, Ragen-National Airport, Jefferson Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Watergate, National Zoo, Embassy Row area prior to Georgia Avenue and Walter Reed.
We had MOS training and we assembled at the Arlington Cemetery and ran at 6am by the John F Kennedy grave. It was very humbling and reverent and peaceful. The hill was rough to run up but it was good to see the top of the hill at the chapel where they hold the funerals.
I saw the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, General Lee’s Home, Woodrow Wilson Bridge, Andrews AFB, Fort McNair, drove the belt way all the way, and other attractions.
Oh, wow! Thank you so much for sharing your experiences, David! They all sound incredible. I will have to keep in mind using US Route 1 and Rock Creek Parkway,that sounds like a pretty drive. Thanks, again for sharing your experiences! (On a side note, I could not imagine having to run up the hill at Arlington Cemetery…that was a rough one to just walk up!)
Lindsey, I have been to DC a few times and the Holocaust Museum is unbelievable, so much information there and so hard to believe that it really didn’t happen that long ago. I am not really a fan of museums but I liked this place. That’s my tip on what to check out. Enjoy your time on the East Coast.
Thank you so much, Nicole! I will definitely be checking out the Holocaust Museum. I’m a big fan of museums. Thanks for the tip!