Day 19: October 17, 2015--Washington, DC, to Atlanta, GA

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A recognizable residence

We saw a ton of stuff today--mostly on the outside--as we walked around downtown D.C., "Our Nation's Capital." And also a cathedral, and an old friend. Also, remember a few days ago, when I said that The Joud staff had "saved my bacon," however reluctantly? That happened today.

We started out by packing up our bags and checking out of the Joud Residence. Because we would be moving around quite a bit before catching our 6:30 PM train to Atlanta--and because we would be passing near the hotel again--we opted to leave one bag each at the front desk, just carrying our day packs.

So off we went by bus to Lafayette Square, on the north side of the White House (which "has been used as a racetrack, a graveyard, a zoo, a slave market, an encampment for soldiers during the War of 1812" per Wikipedia). Seeing some statues (dating to the 1930s), I stopped, set down my bag, and took out my camera. We shot, and a few minutes later, I opened my bag again to take out my "selfie stick" and shoot the White House over the crowds. (We bought it in Albuquerque, and after testing it, I don't think we ever "selfied" with it again.)

So we saw the then-home of President Obama, I put away the selfie stick, and we walked around to the other side, shooting the exterior of the ;Treasury Building (1836 and later)along the way. We took a break at the Ellipse Visitor Center (south of the White House), where I discovered my plastic bag wasn't in my backpack! PANIC!

Let me tell you about that plastic bag. In it was my wallet with my passport, credit cards, and ATM cards, as well as our train tickets, cash, etc. I mean, everything we needed to get anywhere. (Someone said later, "Yeah, how can you travel without a passport?" and I said, "Travel? I can't go HOME without a passport!")

So I called the hotel, and--trying to control my rising panic--asked them to look in the room we had checked out of less than an hour ago. "Okay, sir," the nice young student worker at the desk replied. "I'll have them look when we clean the room."

"NO!" I replied a little too sharply, then more calmly, "Please have someone check right now." He said they'd call bak, and after I waited the longest three minutes of my life, they did--and started, "Unfortunately..." AHHH!!!!

Then I had a thought. "Could you check the bag I left with you?" After another eternal two minutes, they told me IT WAS THERE!

I literally cried with relief after hanging up. (Lila barked, "Stop that!")

What had happened was, I had put it in the other bag when we packed rather hastily. Look, I'm a pretty savvy traveler, and have traveled in a lot of situations. I walked over 300 miles through Japan--and that was just the first leg of that 10-week journey--and whenever I left a spot I always looked behind me to be sure I hadn't left anything, even after just a pee stop. Furthermore, I've been to around a hundred cities in China. I don't usually make mistakes like this.

So this was remarkably stupid. Can I chalk it up to travel fatigue?

Anyway, after assessing that we could make it through the day on what we had with us, we pushed on.

Our amble took us to the Washington Monument, which we shot the heck out of. After fine dining at a food truck, we walked past the Department of Agriculture Building (1908), then up to, and through the lobby of, the Smithsonian "Castle" (1849 and later). I wish we had had time to look around. Next time.

The U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington Cemetery

To the south of the Castle, we boarded the Blue Line (not the Blue Train) at L'Enfant Plaza Station, bound for Rosslyn Station--one stop before Arlington Cemetery Station because we were headed toward a specific goal in Arlington Cemetery that was closer to Rosslyn Station.

We wanted to see the iconic United States Marine Corps War Memorial, more commonly called the "Iwo Jima Memorial." We saw it, and we shot the heck out of it, too. See the Gallery for more pictures. Again, it would have been great to see the rest of the Cemetery, but we were moving fast.

Sated, we took the Blue Line back to Foggy Bottom/GWU, where we got on a bus (#31 or 33) through Georgetown to Washington National Cathedral. (See also the official site.)

It was getting late--the first time stamp off the bus says 3:20 PM--and freezing cold. We looked around briefly outside, then I tried to talk our way out of paying the admission price. "What?" says I. "Eleven dollars each? Even for a 'cradle' Episcopalian? A former Episcopal seminarian? A former licensed lay reader and Eucharistic minister? A former Episcopal day school principal?" (Yeah, my Episcopal bona fides are pretty good.)

All for naught, though after she explained that the money was "not connected with the Episcopal Church" (?) she did admit that my appeal was one of the best she had seen.

I guess she'd have really loved it if I had dropped the name of then-Cathedral Dean Gary Hall, a high school classmate of my friend Heather that we saw in New York

But that would have been low, even for me.

The Washington National Cathedral (Photo by Lila)

A bus back through the nerve-wracking traffic in Georgetown, a stop for our bags at the Joud (my precious plastic bag included!) and--alas, due to time constraints--a taxi back to Union Station.

Where we not only caught our train on time, but also caught up for an all-too-short half-hour or so with our friend from the Philippines (and moreso, perhaps, from Facebook, though we have met in person a few times), Mr. Ruben Canlas. (We also waved--metaphorically--at his wife Data as we passed through Clemson, South Carolina, around 5:40 the next morning.)

And so we made our penultimate train journey, looking forward to meeting family members in Atlanta the next morning--for the first time in the real world, though some of us had met on Facebook six or seven years earlier.

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