America’s capital city is beautiful in the daylight, but it sparkles at night. This was my feeling as I departed a dinner and walked seven looping miles around the National Mall back to my hotel instead of using Uber. Some of the employees of Washington, DC disappoint Americans all the time, but its not the city’s fault, it’s those darned politicians, lobbyists and bureaucrats. The walk was magical, with a little drama mixed in for good measure.
The walk began with a quick stroll to the White House, or rather, as close as one can get to the White House without a pass. For this walker that meant Lafayette Square, directly across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House. Unfortunately, world events had that location full of Palestinians protesting boisterously, with a line of police officers lining Pennsylvania Avenue between them and the President’s place of residence. Not to be deterred, I found myself a spot between the protesters and the barricades to snap a picture of the White House and quickly got myself out of there.
After deciding it was impractical to head towards the US Capital I headed directly for the big Presidential Memorials: Washington, Lincoln, and Jefferson. Each is impressive, with the Washington Memorial the appropriate central point of the National Mall and the Lincoln Memorial the Daniel Chester French masterpiece must-see with the crowd to show it. I can’t come to Washington, DC and not visit Abe. Lingering a bit, I take the time to read the Gettysburg Address engraved on the wall. If I did nothing else in Washington I would visit this place whenever possible.
After Lincoln there’s a lovely photo opportunity at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool with the Washington Memorial rising behind it. Nearby are the Vietnam and Korean War Memorials, both striking at night. I paid my respects to an uncle who’s name is engraved in the latter wall and moved on to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial overlooking The Basin. Not far from this is the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial. It’s quietly impressive at night, with the bare minimum of lighting and cascading water filling the senses.
The Jefferson Memorial is quietly impressive, but it’s no Lincoln Memorial. One must commit to visiting it, especially at night. The walk along The Basin at night is dark and lonely. As a tall man I don’t think of myself as vulnerable in situations like that, but I maintained situational awareness nonetheless. The National Mall area is generally pretty safe but one must always be aware. I would need that awareness again later in the night, but that’s a blog post for another day.
There were several other Memorials and Monuments skipped on this walk depending on the path chosen. The World War II Memorial is particularly impressive, and some other sites were just far enough off course to warrant a visit another time. But the highlights were covered on a wonderful walk in America’s capital city.