D.C. in a day: a how-not-to

If road trips are fun, spur-of-the-moment road trips with friends are even more fun. That’s why I’m glad my buddy Michelle agreed to come along with me this weekend on a whirlwind trip to Washington D.C.

I had not visited the Nation’s Capital since my fifth grade patrol trip and Michelle hadn’t been at all.

It’s about a seven-hour drive from my home in Charleston, W.Va. We left Sunday afternoon and stayed the night with my aunt in Canaan Valley, W.Va., which is on the route and about four hours away from the city.

Here are a few takeaways:

  • Pro tip: If you’re staying with family, be sure to change your alarm ring tone from “Blurred Lines” or don’t rely on the snooze button. Otherwise, Robin Thicke will yell “I know you want it,” over and over in your 70-something aunt’s otherwise serene mountain home at 5 a.m. while you shower because you forgot to turn it off. Yes, this happened.
  • The best part of the drive to D.C. is without a doubt, Canaan Valley and the surrounding areas in WV.  Thomas, Davis, Elkins, Hampshire County. All beautiful.

wv drive

  • When someone says hey, let’s go to a major city hours away from us and try to take it in in one day: don’t do it. Technically we did it in two days, but we still were in the car about 10 hours altogether Monday. We were on the road from Canaan Valley at 6 a.m. and on the D.C. Metro by 10:30 a.m. We saw the Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Memorial, the White House, Washington Monument (from afar, as it’s under repairs because of earthquake damage) and the Holocaust Museum but could have used more time to see the other museums and sights. And it would have been nice to see the downtown section of the city, not just the tourist traps and monuments. 


  • Growing up in Appalachia prepared me for a lot of things, but using public transportation is not one of them. I spent hours the day before I left trying to plan and get over my apprehension about taking the Metro. Michelle and I didn’t have any trouble (save for a taking a long while finding a place to park my car) taking the Metro into the city. Coming back, though, we went to get on a rail car and got separated. I was two steps behind her and she had made it on when the doors began to close. I had my arms through and, had I left them there, I’m sure I would have lost them because there was no stopping or reopening once they were closing. All I could do was watch as her train car pulled away from the station. Don’t panic,. Don’t panic. Don’t panic. Her phone was going dead and there was no service anyway so I didn’t even try to call or text her. Luckily I caught the next car and we met at the station where we had parked.


  • I wonder what Abraham Lincoln would think, all these years later, if he knew that we honor his memory by taking selfies in front of a huge marble statue of him.
Michelle and I do a selfie in front of the Lincoln Memorial. September 2013

Michelle and I do a selfie in front of the Lincoln Memorial. September 2013


Life’s a beach (or 3 things the ocean taught me about life)



Sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean in Kitty Hawk, N.C.

  • What a good friend recently told me about life is true: sometimes when a wave is crashing down on you, the best thing you can do is stop fighting and let it wash over you.  Every wave runs out of energy. Sometimes they will even knock you toward the shore where you’re safe.
  • If you build your castle too close to the waves, they will destroy it.
  • Sometimes the really cool shell you think you found while digging blindly in the sand and surf is actually a crab with claws. And he isn’t happy you disturbed him.


The strange incident of the tongue-clicking man

Last week I went on vacation with my family.

I, my sister, brother-in-law, two young nieces, mom and dad all stayed in a beach house a block away from the Atlantic Ocean in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

As expected any time a family is in close quarters for an entire week together, hilarity ensued.

We stayed just down the road from Kill Devil Hills, where Orville and Wilbur Wright took the first flight more than a hundred years ago.

The day we visited the Wright Bros. monument, I saw a couple do a strange thing.

We had walked the hill to the top where a massive concrete monument protruded from the ground, marking the spot where the first plane flew. (By the way, why are all the monuments in this country shaped like penises?)

A man there had started to walk away from (who I presume was) his wife. He got maybe 20 feet away and she was still sitting, probably resting from the hike to the top. He turned, looked at her and sort of clicked his tongue. She came to him like he had whistled to a dog. Not a word passed between them. I recounted this story to someone who suggested that maybe the man had a speech problem and could only communicate this way. Perhaps, but I saw no evidence of that.

It was so strange that I told the story to my family. In a rare but misguided attempt at multicultural understanding, my dad (wrongly) assumed I was speaking about one of the few Indian couples that were on the hill with us.

“Well, that’s probably just their custom,” he surmised.

“Dad, it was an American couple,” I said.

He then spent the rest of the day clicking his tongue at us. No one felt compelled to follow him, though.