Travel: My Trip to Washington, D.C.

Hereís the story of why and how I went to Washington, D.C., in the summer of 2007. My Aunt Laura takes each of her nieces and nephews on a trip the summer after they graduate from high school. Itís her big present to each of them, and itís really cool.

Now, one would assume I would have taken that chance to go to New York City because itís one of my favorite places and because itís where I plan on going to graduate school. However, I wanted to take the opportunity to go somewhere that a) I had never been to, and b) that I didnít think I would ever go to myself. So, after briefly considering a few other places, I decided on D.C. because it has a lot of things I was interested in seeing. Number one on that list: pandas.

The Capitol Building

The United States Capitol building in Washington, D.C.

My aunt and I started our trip at the United States Capitol building. It was pretty cool, the inside part that they show the tourists is really huge. The atrium inside has paintings all over the ceiling and walls depicting events in history, and that big dome you see on top of the building is really intricate and has cool tiles and paintings, too.

There was also this area full of desks (I don't remember what it was called... only that it was historical and desk-filled) but the acoustics were such that there was a specific spot in the room you could stand and hear a person in another specific spot in the room whisper and it would hear like they were right next to your ear. Cool, and creepy.

The Washington Monument

The Washington Monument in Washington, D.C.

We also went to the top of the Washington Monument. Now, I know what you're going to ask, and the answer is no, you don't have to climb hundreds of stairs to get to the top. You actually take an elevator! Genius, I know. The elevator itself is cool and really huge, and it takes you up to this observation floor at the tip tip top of the monument. From there you can see so much; I took a ton of panoramic pictures.

We actually had to wait an extra day to go on this tour because there was a thunderstorm the first day and (in case you couldn't tell from its shape) the Washington monument is like a big lightening rod. So they didn't let anyone in and we just waited until the next morning, but it was still awesome.

The Lincoln Memorial

The Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Abraham Lincoln is way, way taller in person.

No, just kidding. I really liked going to the Lincoln Memorial because it's in this area with tons of other, smaller memorials around it, so the whole area is like this big USA scrapbook. We saw the Vietnam and World War II memorials. In front of the big building that houses the statue of Lincoln is the reflecting pool which is actually a really long pond. That's where the infamous rally scene in Forrest Gump is set. I think it would be especially cool with hippies.

The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

The Smithsonian Museum of Natural History

Okay, I love museums, and I love animals, so the Museum of Natural History was completely epic. This is where they keep the Hope diamond, which is this humongous (and supposedly cursed) blue diamond. My Aunt Laura couldn't get enough of it. I think she wanted to steal it.

My favorite hall was the mammal hall. They show things by region and species which is very interesting. I highly suggest you go.

The National Zoo

The National Zoo

Alright, now for the best part. We didn't have quite enough time to go to the National Zoo, but I really wanted to see the pandas, so we went in specifically for that purpose. And they kept them all the way in the back, which I suspect is a ploy to get people to look at all the lesser animals on their way in. Just like how grocery stores put the milk and bananas in the back so you have to walk past all the junk food on sale. But I digress.

The two Giant Pandas we saw were so cute. Awesomedorable as I like to say. I got a ton of pictures and a few video clips. They were hiding in the back of the enclosure, but as soon as I walked up they both came out of their cave and started preening for all the people. This only acts as evidence that I am the panda whisperer.

If you like pandas as much as I do, you should check out the San Diego Zoo's Panda Cam, but--I warn you--it's addicting. More addicting than Facebook.