Wild Wheels in Washington DC

As you may well suspect there’s lots of wheeling and dealing going on in our nation’s capital, Washington DC, but on this visit I am mostly looking for deals on two wheels. If you ask me that has got to be the best way to explore this city! Biking just seems like it would be so much more efficient than walking everywhere. 

There’s a few things I want to do in Washington DC, on this my fourth time here. Several months prior to our trip I had tried to get tickets for the White House and a tour of the Treasury. I got declined for the White House tickets, probably because the application asks where you are staying, and for a joke I put down that we will be at the Trump Hotel in DC. The person that chooses who gets tickets on any given day probably voted for Hillary. Or maybe they were a Bernie supporter. Either way, if they were a Trump supporter they would have immediately given me the tickets when they saw where I claimed to be staying. Mind you, of course we did not plan to stay at the Trump Hotel, although it looks very lovely, because we are budget travelers, and we have our free accommodations on the Patuxent River at my daughter Jasmine’s house. 

To add insult to injury, good old John McCain didn’t bother to answer my request for tickets for the Treasury tour, even though in every speech he claims to be my friend. So there you have it…. the two places I really wanted to see during this visit to Washington are not happening, so I have to come up with another strategy. 

We head into Washington DC early so that we can try to get tickets to the Bureau of Printing and Engraving…. in other words the place where they print Monopoly money. They offer first come first served tickets every morning. We manage to get tickets and even have a chance to sneak into the Holocaust Museum beforehand, for which we got tickets online early this morning. David and I have visited Dachau and the holocaust museum in Israel, but these kiddos have never been to any museums remembering this tragic historical event.

Before long we are viewing the many Holocaust displays in the museum along with swarms of other tourists. It’s dreadful. How can one human being treat another in such a fashion? Think of the lives ruined, families torn apart, dreams shattered! It’s actually quite disgusting when you think about it. 

This is an artist’s rendition of people entering the gas chambers. How did they get away with this? It’s beyond my comprehension. The scary thing is that all this happened not that long ago. We like to think that today we are far wiser and more sophisticated, that such things could not happen again. But really, are we? We are just one crisis away at any given moment, if you ask me. 

I find this map interesting, as it depicts all the territory that Hitler controlled at one point. It even includes Finland, my motherland. In actuality, Finland fought with the Germans to fend off Russia. Later they drove the Germans out. My father was raised near the Russian border and has very vivid memories of the German soldiers, and he even learned to speak German. 

You have to understand Finnish culture to understand this, though. You may know that the Finnish culture is really into saunas. It’s quite normal to go skinny dipping or rolling in the snow in association with sauna bathing. One day my father had hitched a ride with some German soldiers. During the ride they happened to drive past some Finns who were out in the buff cooling off after the hot sauna. The German soldiers were so shocked at the sight of the nude sauna bathers, that the driver accidentally drove right off the road and into a snowbank! But I digress. 

A train car similar to this would have been used to bring Jewish people into captivity and to the gas chambers. 

I remember so vividly our visit to the Dachau Concentration Camp in Germany some years ago. We had toured the camp and were approaching the building that housed the ovens where bodies of the deceased victims of Hitler’s cruelty were created. It wasn’t what we saw inside that building that was nearly as disturbing as what we inadvertently happened upon behind the building. There we found two more ovens, but these ones seemed to contain some smoky remains of the victims. We could smell that intense odor of burning flesh, as though it were happening in front of our very eyes. The breeze picked up for a moment, and light ashes lifted into the air and wafted towards us, tickling our noses, making our stomachs churn in disgust. How vile to think of how mankind can treat one another!

This replica of the ovens brings that memory flooding back into my consciousness. I cringe. 

We take out time at the holocaust museum to watch a short video. I have to say that I am not impressed. It doesn’t take long before the narrator is accusing certain other religions, specifically Christians, for perpetrating Hitler’s horrors. To be fair, I think the narrator forgot that it was people of other religions who fought to free the Jewish people, for in their state of affairs the Jews were clearly unable to fend for themselves. They were entirely dependent upon the sacrifice of others. Many Christians died to liberate the Jewish people from the persecution and heinous treatment under Hitler’s reign of terror. Countless Christians and people of other faiths helped by providing hiding places, shelter and food for the Jewish people, all the while risking their own lives and well being. This video does not mention that, but actually tries to depict Christians in a bad light, which admittedly leaves a bad taste in my mouth. But, I suppose it fits the modern Christian bashing narrative. 

Oh well, I guess this applies as much today as it ever did. I think we should all speak for what we believe, before that right gets taken away. 

Well, it’s off to the printing presses….. money printing presses, that is, at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. This is a pretty cool place to tour. It’s free. It’s fun. It’s interesting. You can watch the whole money printing process from a hallway above the factory floor. The only downside is that you can’t take any photos of the printing presses cranking out tons and tons and tons of cash…… all to pay for what? Endless wars? Wait….. didn’t the holocaust teach us anything? Stop the madness!!  Love thy neighbor, I implore you! 

I will take a couple of these! 

Oh well. I need some fresh air. We walk on over to the Washington Memorial for a quick patriotic picnic lunch break. How can one not feel patriotic when surrounded by a circle of flags? 

It’s actually very awe inspiring! 

“Well, son, maybe someday you will be the President of the United States of America….”

That was a good joke! 

Meet the future president! 

After lunch we head off towards the north, but we don’t get too far. I have to tell you that when David and I visited Washington DC a few years ago we rented these Capital Rideshare bikes, and it ended up being the biggest ripoff you ever heard of. We didn’t realize that you have to return the bikes to the bike stands every so often, or else you get charged ludicrous sums of money (like well over $100). I don’t really care how much it costs today, though! I want to ride bikes in this town! Other bike rental locations aren’t terribly convenient, nor are they cheap. 

David is a little hesitant, thinking it will cost about $600 for our crew of six. Annika is eager. Yep! We are gonna do it! You can only take two bikes per credit card, which is a pain in the neck. Oh….. and the riders are supposed to be over 18……

“Annika, are you 18?” 

I dunno she is 13 going on 30….. that works!! And Bjorn is so tall he can easily pass off as a 20 year old. 

We hop on our bikes and pedal like mad. Somehow it’s so liberating. Soon we find ourselves in front of the White House, which unfortunately we were denied access to today. Oh well, gives me a reason to come back to Washington DC again. I have gotta come back before Trump’s term is up though, ’cause I have some things to tell him when I get inside the White House…… oh, it doesn’t work that way? 

Look at this weird dude! I wonder who he loves and who he hates? I am sure he has no feelings of ill will towards anyone in this world! He probably even loves the guy in the White House! 

Ok. All in a row…. are you guys ready? 

Here’s the most gorgeous cyclist ever seen in Washington DC. 

Followed by the cutest 15 year old, Kristoff…..

….. and 30 year old Annika….. 

….. and 20 something Bjorn……

….. and beautiful and happy Aundrea, who is the best singer in the entire world….. who bikes to school every day in Finland in rain or snow or sunshine…..

It doesn’t take us long to zip up to the Capital from the White House, although this town doesn’t really have the best bike paths known to mankind. In fact, it’s kind of dangerous. 

We discover that if you ride a bike on the street in DC, you have to watch out for all the older-than-dirt US Senators who might mow you down. Based on the bills that they sign into law it’s pretty evident they can’t see much of anything, so if one of them happens to be driving around here you’d better watch out. On second thought, if any senators are out for a stroll this afternoon maybe they should watch out, lest one of us wild hooligans runs them down accidentally with a Capital bike! These things are heavy duty! 

Honestly, riding on the sidewalks is no safer than the roads, because you have to dodge swarms of schoolchildren and tourists. 

Kristoff is annoyed at me because I don’t let him ride the bike down the US Capital steps. 

This huge magnolia tree catches my attention. 

This is one way to smell the flowers….. 

We walk past a construction site. You may notice that the freeway runs under the building on the left. There’s a random local man next to us watching the workers, and he starts telling us a little about the project. I ask him if this is Donald Trump’s project, and he sneers at me and becomes visibly angry.  Oops, I guess I won’t make any friends in this town with my hilarious jokes. 

Next up is the train station. 

And yes, we dine at the Shake Shack. It’s that whole budget tourism thing. 

We hop on the bikes once more. This time we are riding all the way down to the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials. Watch out, Washington, DC!! Crazy cyclists coming down the sidewalk. 

I said no riding bikes down staircases!! Okay, mom! Seriously! 

I should heed my own instructions. Quite unfortunately, albeit intentionally, I ride my bike down off a curb. I don’t know if you’ve ever rented one of these bikes, but they are quite heavy and have no suspension whatsoever. When I ride down off the curb, the bike kicks back at me, and I can feel my ankle take the brunt of the impact! It’s got me hobbling! I hope I didn’t fracture the darn thing!

I love this cool shot of my cycling fam bam at the Lincoln Memorial! 

Wow, check this out! When we cross a bridge over the Potomac River we stop to look at this bird. Looks like it caught itself some dinner from the river! I can’t believe I was able to snap a photo so quick! That’s the beauty of bicycle touring. You get to see many things you’d otherwise miss!

Wise words on the walls of the Jefferson Memorial….. inalienable rights…. pursuit of happiness…. 

Look at my prized possession! This is truly the pursuit of happiness personified! 

It’s time to leave. If you’re curious to know, our bike rental for 6 people costs $150, or $25 per person. That’s not too bad! I guess we could have just walked and saved that money, but it was so much fun! Other rental companies would charge about $40 per person/day. 

On our way back to Jasmine and Tristan’s home we make a quick stop in gorgeous Georgetown. I love this place, but for the fact that I could never afford to live here. 

David and I were here once for our anniversary, and we happened upon this restaurant called Martin’s Tavern. As we stood outside the door deciding if we should have our anniversary dinner there, a woman approached us and asked if we were planning to eat at Martin’s. She then told us to go inside and ask for Booth 3, which is where Kennedy proposed to Jackie Onassis. We went in, and when I asked for the booth the receptionist looked at me in disdain and asked if I had a reservation. When I said I didn’t, she said it’s always reserved every day, but she would check just in case. Well, guess what? The booth was available, and we had our 27th anniversary dinner right here in the booth where the then future President Kennedy and Jackie got engaged! 

Do you want to hear the rest of the story? I was like really amazed to be sitting in such a historically significant spot, and was quietly relishing the moment. I hear David say, “This is what it comes to. Twenty-seven years of marriage and you don’t say a word at the dinner table!”  Oops! We did both smile for the camera! And we did have a delicious dinner. And we did make fabulous memories! What can beat having an anniversary dinner at the same table where Kennedy proposed?  

We aren’t dining at Martin’s Tavern today. We are here just for the super popular Georgetown Cupcake shop on the main drag. There’s always a line out the door. Gotta get some treats here!

Oh, surprise! I picked an extra cupcake for David! It’s Father’s Day next weekend and the kids will be in Maryland at Jasmine’s, and we will be home alone without them. Happy Father’s Day, dear daddykins!

Well, that was delicious! Now it’s getting dark, and it’s time to get back to the shores of the Patuxent River. Until next time, Washington D.C.  I have to come back at least once more to see the inside of the White House, and if John McCain, my friend, will answer my email next time, maybe we can visit the Treasury, too! Oh, and Georgetown Cupcake will be calling….. and maybe dinner again at Martin’s for a special anniversary, should I be so lucky as to have many more of those. 

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