Touring the Nation's Capital
By Michael Butler
For most families, summer vacations are where memories are made. I enjoy getting away and having that quality time together.
This year, we ventured off the beaten path a bit – at least for us. It seems like we’re always going to the beach. I like the beach, but the kids are getting older now, so we changed our itineraries and headed for Washington, D. C.
I had been to the “Capital” once before. I was a college kid, as was my wife-to-be. Her father took the two of us and Pete Cottle to see the sites. It was a good trip.
We visited the memorials and museums. I also remember the miles we walked and how hot it can get even when you’re not in the “Deep South.” On the 11 p.m. news after the story about local raccoon attacks, the weatherman reported the temperature at 89 with a heat index of 100.
Washington has so much to see, so we gave ourselves extra time to do it. We had five days. We walked about eight miles a day. I’m not exaggerating.
All tuckered out at the Library of Congress
As much as you want to see all that you can see, you really have to pick your spots. Taking a tour bus was recommended, so we purchased a two-day pass.
These double-deckers give you the option of sitting in a sweat box with no air on the bottom level or baking like clams with an occasional breeze on top.
For sale: "Make America Great Again" caps
“When do we get to go back to the hotel?” That question must have been asked a hundred times. I’m not exaggerating.
At some point I uttered, ‘Next time we’ll just take you kids to the Tallassee City Pool. It’ll be a lot of cheaper!’
It was our second day on the bus and our next stop was Georgetown’s Washington Harbor. The kids said they would like to take the Potomac River Cruise. After the one-hour drive through traffic and the fifty stops along the way to get there (yes, now I’m exaggerating but only slightly), we finally arrived.
It was past lunchtime. We were starved. Time to fork over more money on another overpriced meal.
There were a handful of restaurants nearby. The one with the most stars according to reviews was Farmers Fishers Bakers. It was a good choice. Yes, lunch was $94 but it was our best meal during the trip.
This place made its own sodas. I found out after freshening up that we had ordered three at $5 a pop. I drank water (it’s still free) but enjoyed a sip, then a gulp and another gulp of the soda water. Refreshing!
We had some pretzel sticks with some scrumptious dipping sauces. The scallops were divine.
We were back in good spirits. Time to cruise the Potomac!
‘Where’s the camera bag?’
You know that sunken feeling you get when something goes wrong? It hit me hard. I was the last one in possession of the bag which was purchased just for this trip. Our camera tucked inside was not a Polaroid. It was a pricey Canon with all the pricey lenses included. They were missing.
I was almost certain I had it on the Big Bus up until our last stop. The problem is there are about 50 of those in Washington.
I called the company. No answer. I emailed them the details of what happened. We awaited for the next bus to take us back. The Potomac ride had been scrapped.
I know that if we go out and repurchase all the items that were in the bag, it would tally more than $2,000. And the photographs… all the memories in pictures – gone.
A lady driver called dispatch and gave her best efforts to locate our loss. No report of a backpack with an expensive camera and lenses. I read the Big Bus policy on lost items. There is no lost and found. Items found will be disposed of.
I was defeated. It was almost a lost cause – almost.
The next day I got a call from a Washington number. It was the Big Bus folks.
‘Did you lose a bag?’
‘Yes I did.’
‘Can you describe it?’
‘Yes. It’s a black and brown backpack.’
‘With a Canon camera inside?’
‘Yes, and camera lenses.’
‘We’ve got it here at Union Station.’
There are still some good folks in the world.
In summary, the trip was long, tiring, hot and expensive. Was it worth it? I think I’ll say yes. We’re making memories.