Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Hiking in DC

Ought not be done in 95 F heat, let me tell you. We survived, though. As regular readers know, our Daughter is away in Germany with her church youth group. As preparation we decided to go to the Holocaust Museum before she left. Now- several years ago I used to regularly park in Ft. Myer and walk this hike when the older kids were elementary school age. No one had serious problems with the distance & the youngest was pushed in a stroller. We walked through the Museum of choice and walked back through Arlington National Cemetery to the car. We always enjoyed our little outings and I didn't remember the walks as being arduous. So we figured, "Hey. The kids are older now, the HM doesn't look too far up the Mall. Let's just walk this one."

Fast forward past a few years. The route follows. If you have DoD stickers on your vehicle, it is possible to drive onto Ft. Myer, park, and walk through Arlington National Cemetery and walk across the bridge (with an enormous half nude female statue at the end- which grossed out Son #2 no end let me tell you). Once you're over the bridge you're near the pencil (otherwise known as the Washington monument), the shell and the tidal basin edged with cherry trees. Walk a few blocks to the right, when coming from Arlington, and there's the HM. Near the Mint. By map it looks to be a relatively reasonable walk. It is a relatively reasonable walk- as long as you're not in a hurry and it is cooler than 95. I also recommend the ability to walk a minimum of 5 miles at a single stretch.

Anyhow- ANC, like the Zoo, is built sloping down a hill (or up the Hill depending on where you start from). Following the roads (as required; no shortcutting through the actual grave sites) it is roughly three quarters of a mile from where we parked to Memorial Dr. which leads you over the bridge into DC. From the edge of the George Washington Parkway over the bridge to the opposite shore is approximately a mile. I'm guessing here, but I think the distance from the DC side of the bridge to the HM is roughly another mile- lightly shaded. I was able to measure distances up to the DC side of the bridge, but not through the Mall to the HM. So- round trip our 'little walk' turned out to be 5 1/2 miles!

The National Park Service has installed water fountains every couple of hundred feet along the pathways, so we didn't expire from heat exhaustion. Luckily Husband had purchased to large cups of ice from the HM cafe, so we had plenty of cold water to drink along the route back to the car. The problem is, The Graduate has a long looping stride which comes naturally to persons well over 6'2", the Daughter has short quick strides and likes to keep up with Graduate so they can share earphones & moan about how bitchy mom really is. And Husband? As a nurse he regularly zooms all over his assigned floor for 12-14 hours a day at work.

Where does this leave Son #2 & me? In the caboose. Waaaayyyy waaaaayyyy waayyyy behind. I'm not normally a slow walker, but I wasn't about to leave poor hot whiny "OMG mom are we there yet??" Son #2 in the caboose alone either. So every once in a while the Husband would slow down and wait for us or the older kids would stop to wait for directions or wait at a fountain for us. "Jeez mom! You didn't used to be so SLOW~ what's the problem? Are you getting old?" Thanks a lot guys. I feel so much better now.

The Son #2 and I- we survived. I kept hearing that old disco song I Will Survive in my head as we trudged uphill back through Arlington Cemetary. We made a little game of trying to spot the oldest year on the tombstones as we passed. We walked by a judge who presided over the Nuremburg trials. A fresh turned grave with a tiny palstic marker at the head. Watched the caisson roll by over the hill in the distance. Heard taps. Every time we go to Arlington I hear the echoes of tears and the sighs of those finally at rest. They remind me that all of the little trials we go through every day won't mount to a hill of beans (to paraphrase Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca) in history.


Tara Marie said...

Holy Cow, I'm hot just thinking about it your little walk :)

We didn't go to Arlington when we were in DC a few years ago. Not sure I could visit with crying.

CindyS said...

The heat will do me in faster than anything else. I was able to keep up with the ladies on Saturday because there was a breeze and it was about 23-25 Celius. Anything more than that and I start to wilt so I would have been hanging back with Son#2 and rivaling him with my whining.

I have never been to DC but I would so love to go. Bob went a few years back and said it was fantastic.


Bookwormom said...

Tara- Yeah it was a little toasty that day. LOL

CindyS- The kid and I were defintiely on the wilty side. Next time they want to bring lemonade.

Suisan said...

Heat. Hate heat.

I like walking, but 5 1/2 miles when I wasn't ready for it would have effected me too.

Have I mentioned that I don't like heat?