Take two right turns out of the hotel. My breath catches. Am facing the capital building. Smile hugely. Techno music on the ipod. The sun is shining and it is muggy. Negotiate the sidewalks and cross streets. Arrive at the Capital Mall.
Reminds me of the big track around the Tour d'Eiffel. The vast open spaces are great for running. Try to get lost but can’t because the monuments are everywhere. Like giant compass markers. The Washington Monument is the first one in line. It is tall, white, solid, symmetrical. Massively Pristine. Run around it, looking up but decide better keep eyes on the ground. Lots of ruts in the path.
Groups of students congregate and wander around. Each group wears the same colored t-shirt. Tourists with cameras snap memories.
Arrive at a small fake lake/large fake pond. It is vivid green with algae. Ducks and geese waddle around with their new babies. The sound of machinery interrupts the fairly quiet mood. A block size portion of the grounds has been denuded. Maybe it will be another monument. Think on that for a while as traverse the unassuming but poignant Vietnam War Memorial. Wonder if one will be built for our never ending war in the Middle East.
Run this way and that due to detours from sidewalks being closed to accommodate whatever they are doing to the grounds. Am at the Lincoln Memorial. Run up the stairs like Rocky. Stop midway – sign says no running. Walk up the rest of the way and have to pause and take it in. This is the best, the most human and hopeful of the memorials. Sign be danged, run down the stairs.
Loop around the fake lake/pond. Am thinking about the symbolism of the memorials and realize – how peaceful and quiet everything is. Why so orderly in DC. Compare it to Paris – roving army soldiers with their oozies out. Hawkers taking up half of the sidewalk space – shouting over each other to make a sale. Realize – no guns or hawkers here. A quite nice formula actually.
Have handy pocket size running map from hotel but don’t need it due to Monument Compass. Make it back without getting lost. A first.