Side Trip – Washington DC

Washington DC is 104 miles up the Potomac River from the Chesapeake Bay. That’s two long travel days at our speed.

This side trip has been on our wish list forever and we consider it a real blessing that we were able to do it. Brenda has been numerous times to DC, mostly for work, and Lance accompanied here there on one of her work trips. We wanted to do some of the tourist things together.

We waited in Solomons Island several days for the weather to clear and once it did we headed out. Solomons Island is in the next river north of the Potomac, so it required heading south on the Chesapeake for a couple of hours before making the turn west and north into the Potomac.

The Potomac reminded us of Puget Sound, in terms of size…both distance across and distance to our destination. It is huge. There are places where you cannot clearly see land across the river.

We saw a surprising number of bald eagles on the Potomac

We anchored out mid-way-ish, both going up and coming down. Both were very pleasant rural anchorages up creeks that flow into the Potomac. We had to dodge a jillion crab pots once we left the shipping channel and started towards the creeks. But no snagged crab pots, so that is a win.

Early morning departure from anchorage

We passed Mt. Vernon, George Washington’s home, as we were getting close to Washington. It was very exciting to see it come into view. We considered stopping by the Mt Vernon dock on the way downstream, but by the time we were actually in a position to do so we found we were quite museumed out and needed to make time to get to our destination before dark.

Mt. Vernon from the water

In Washington DC, we stayed at the Capital Yacht Club which is in an area known as the Wharf. It is in a prime location very close to the National Mall and the memorials. It has recently (in the past few years) been redeveloped and is full of pedestrian friendly walks and piers and trendy, spendy restaurants and hotels.

View out the back of our boat in DC. Public pier, mega yacht, and sunrise.

The yacht club was also spendy, but sometimes it is worth a splurge. When you think about it in terms of value for money, it was absolutely worth it.

The first night, there were fireworks just a block or two down the waterway. We had a wonderful front row seat for the entire show.

One of those moments that make great memories. Sitting on the bow of the boat in comfortable weather listening to and watching the fireworks.

The first full day in DC we made our way, via Connector bus, to the Lincoln Memorial, then walked (along with scads of middle school tour groups) along the Reflecting Pool to the World War II memorial. From there we walked past the Washington Monument to the Museum of American History. After a few hours in there, including a delicious lunch in the cafeteria, we made our way to the metro and took it to Arlington National Cemetery.

We keep running into Abe Lincoln. First at Gettysburg and now here. Go figure!
Reflecting pool. Nice day for a stroll. Before the day was done we had accumulated 18,000 steps.

We joined one of the hop-on-hop-off trolley tours within Arlington cemetery and went first to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, where we watched the changing of the guard. Such precision! I wonder what is running through their heads to make them always exactly the right number of seconds to march from one end to the other.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Arlington National Cemetery

We hopped back on the trolley for the ride up to Arlington House, where we saw the home of George Washington’s grandson (?) whose daughter married Robert E. Lee. It is a lovely old house. Then, finding that the trolley was easier to hop-off of than to find one to hop-on, and finding that we were in the highest point in the cemetery, we walked back down to the entrance, stopping by the Eternal Flame at the John F. Kennendy gravesite.

The next day, we had tickets for a 9am tour of the Capitol Building. It’s a free tour, but tickets are required. We took a Lyft to get there as we weren’t sure if the busses would get us there in time. We were early, so walked over to the outside of the Supreme Court building to take some pictures.

Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) building

The tour of the Capitol was wonderful. The guide was very sharp, as DC young people tend to be. They handed out headsets to everyone so we could all hear what the guide was saying.

In the Capitol Rotunda. Tour guide in red.
The dome, way up there.
Close up of the fresco at top of dome. Apparently the artist had been working at the Sistine Chapel previously, thus George Washington seated as God.
Brand new name plate for new Speaker of the House. This was Friday after he was selected on Wednesday.

After the Capitol tour, we walked several blocks to the National Law Enforcement Memorial. This memorial lists names of law enforcement who have lost their lives in the course of duty. In 2022, one of our young friends, a friend of our son, who had attended youth group at our church, lost his life in a SWAT incident and his name is engraved in the memorial. It was very moving to see his name there, and quite sad to think of his life being cut short. We are very glad we went. A great-great-uncle of Brenda’s also had his name there, and amazingly, we found it just a couple of panels over from Dom’s.

Lance pointing out Dom’s name.
Dominique B Calata. An exceptional young man. I always thought he would end up in DC in congress, after having been an elected head of the sheriffs department.
Tipton M Simmons – brother of Brenda’s great-grandma. Killed in the line of duty.

From the National Law Enforcement Memorial we walked through an almost dead retail section of DC to a Walgreens to pick up a prescription. For our trip, we transferred our prescriptions to Walgreens, as they are available most anywhere around the loop. This was our first try using the Walgreens app to manage the pick-up and it was just moderately successful. On the app, they kept delaying pick-up, but when we actually showed up in person, they got right on it and filled it.

From Walgreens, we picked up a Lyft and spent a couple of hours at the Museum of the Bible. It is very well curated and has displays from antiquities to the history of Christianity in America to the impact of the Bible on society.

Ten Commandments (I presume) outside the museum of the Bible. (Although, now that I look at it, maybe it is the printing press from a Gutenberg Bible?)

That evening, a former colleague of Brenda’s picked us up and we went to a Nepalese restaurant across the river in Alexandria. It was wonderful to catch up with Eileen and the food was good, too.

Eileen with Brenda and Lance.
Very tasty Nepalese food

The next day, we took a free shuttle from The Wharf to L’Enfant Metro station where we took the orange line metro to the end of the line. Robin, another former colleague of Brenda’s, had us to brunch at her house. Again, it was wonderful to spend time with friends and the food was delicious.

Taking the metro
Brunch with Robin and her husband Alejandro

Besides a few boat chores and Amazon deliveries, that pretty much covers our time in DC. This trip was a definite highlight in our travels so far.

On the way back down the Potomac, prior to entering the Chesapeake we stayed for four nights at Olverson’s Lodge Creek Marina. It is the home port of one of the associations we belong to, so we get one free night a year there.

It is a very rural, family owned marina, which is a big contrast to the DC location. Both are totally appropriate for their settings. Olverson’s has a courtesy car that we took out a couple of times to do shopping, for Lance to get a haircut, and for some sightseeing.

Olversons Lodge Creek Marina
Cut-off socks 🧦 on the flags to stop the flapping in the high winds
Courtesy car which we used to do errands and sightseeing. The geography around here is interesting with all the creeks forming “necks” of land. What is just a few yard over water may take miles to drive around in the car.

Three of the nights were to wait out wind storms. The last night was because it was going to get close to freezing and we wanted to have electricity to be plugged in for heat. Sure enough there was frost on the boat and dock the next morning, so we waited for it to melt before heading off down the river. Walking around on a slick boat deck or dock is a disaster waiting to happen – slip, splash!