Thoughts on D.C.

Got back recently from a nice little trip to D.C. Here are some thoughts:

• Love the 2 hour 15 min non-stop flight from Des Moines. Really easy to take the metro from Reagan International. I was also surprised how close Reagan is to the mall (close enough that we actually biked right by it later in the trip)

• The city is a bit of a paradox. On one hand, it is quite compact and walkable, and on the other hand if you want to walk everywhere, your legs will fall off. We took the metro a lot the first day, walked the next couple, and biked the last couple. Biking is a lot quicker, provided you can weave through traffic and fellow tourists.

• There is a lot of construction going on all through the city, including the reflecting pool on the mall. It probably has more construction going on than any city I’ve been in. Nothing much to add to this thought, except all the construction makes it feel like it is very much ‘improving’ itself, although it is already quite a clean and vibrant city.

• The ‘locals’ seem very full of life. If you live in D.C., you’re probably already a pretty motivated and active individual to begin with. There was a lot of jogging, biking, soft ball playing, and generally enjoying all the restaurants and things to do.

• The Smithsonian Museums were all impressive. The Holocaust Museum was probably the most impressive. The building itself, from the main lobby to the elevators, is designed to make you feel like you’re in a concentration-camp-esque facility. They prime you on the elevator ride up with a short video, and you feel like you are stepping back in time when you start your journey. The special exhibit on propaganda was amazing as well.

• The city needs better bike signage. Des Moines has done a good job letting you know where the bike paths are and where they are going. In D.C., it is illegal to bike on the sidewalk in certain places. There are bike paths throughout the mall area, but you have to guess which is a path and which is a regular sidewalk. The result is quite chaotic. Even when we were biking into Arlington, we weren’t quite sure what path to take and if we were even on a bike path or a sidewalk.

• Where are all the grocery stores? I don’t expect a big ol’ Hy-Vee in the middle of town, but we didn’t come across too many places to buy simple groceries for lunch. Aimee found a VERY crowded Trader Joes, but it seems like the city could use more places to buy foodstuffs.

• I love cities/states with pedestrian crossing laws. In D.C., as in a lot of European cities, cars are very aware of crosswalks. They will immediately slow down and let you walk across. Meanwhile, back in Des Moines, we have to wait for 10 cars to pass standing in a painted crosswalk with flashing lights above it.