I’m just back from Washington D.C. and Baltimore on a sightseeing trip. It was my first time ever to Baltimore and first time to Washington since the early 1970s. On that trip, I was drinking heavily and chasing girls (yep, girls), and the only “landmark” memory I have is of being on the National Mall.
I was so out of touch with the historical importance of D.C. that I didn’t even remember the relative positioning of the Washington Monument and the Capitol.
But after three full days of navigating the streets and landmarks of D.C., I now have a beautifully full perspective of what’s there and what’s where.
I also know that I’ve never seen traffic like that anywhere else…I’ve never driven the streets of New York, so I can’t say Washington is the worst anywhere, but it’s really bad.
On Friday, after a heavy, early-morning rain, it took us a about 90 minutes to go about five miles on 16th Street, as we drove south from Silver Spring toward D.C. Exasperated, I had my traveling companion drop me off at Dupont Circle and took the Metro into town. He headed off to the National Air and Space Museum’s exhibit at Washington Dulles International Airport, and I got to the Voice of America building at 3rd Street and Independence Avenue about noon.
Now, you might be wondering, “JimmyC, what the hell are you doing driving in D.C., when you should be taking the Metro rapid transit system?”
Well, yes, renting a car (a ridiculous, two-door Mustang convertible) was unwise…but necessary. My companion has a bone-on-bone right knee, and he was only good for about 100 yards at a time walking. Problem was he didn’t realize how bad his knee was until he got there and started walking around. Thus, I did a lot of dropping off, parking and picking up.
We stayed in Silver Spring, which is about 10 miles north of D.C. and home to an old and dear friend, Ernie Torriero, a reporter for The Kansas city Times from 1981 to 1985. He’s now a Web editor at the Voice of America. VOA is a massive operation, which purveys news around the world in 44 languages. It’s got the equivalent of several metropolitan-daily newsrooms. The different “desks” look just like newspaper newsrooms, with employees sitting in cubicles, tapping away at keyboards.
As I said, we also visited Baltimore, spending the first and last days (Wednesday and Sunday) in the Baltimore Harbor area.
In contrast to Washington, Baltimore’s tourist attractions are relatively accessible by car. One of the highlights of the harbor area is Fell’s Point, a historic waterfront neighborhood along the harbor’s north shore and east of the Inner Harbor, a big tourist area. With its cobblestone streets, brick sidewalks and rows of bars and restaurants, Fell’s Point has “the air of a seafaring town,” as Wikipedia describes it.
Another great harbor attraction is Fort McHenry, home of “the-dawn’s-early-light” bombardment by the British in the War of 1812. (My knowledge of U.S. history is about as deep as a teacup, and at the fort I learned that neither side really won the War of 1812. Rather, the U.S. “won the peace,” holding off those nasty redcoats in their campaign to retake America.)
Well, enough narrative and historical reflection…On with the photos!
This is the first photo I took on the trip, after we missed a turn and ended up in a decayed row-house area in Baltimore.