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


10 thoughts on “D.C. in a day: a how-not-to

  1. Autumn says:

    It looks like you had a good time. I haven’t been since 6th grade and my daughter’s never been. I’ve been considering taking the Amtrak up but I have quite worked up the nerve. Where did you park your car?

  2. Rafael Barker says:

    I used to go to DC and Baltimore once a month during my undergrad years at Shepherd. It’s a nice thing, too, because several of my friends live there now, which makes finding a place to stay (and park the car) much easier. The weekend trip for me was quite relaxing, even with 6-mile Jog in Fairfax County, the long walk through downtown (checking out my friend’s TV studio, grabbing some gluten-free pizza and beer, and going slowly through the Holocaust Museum)… Did you get to check out Adams Morgan while you were there? We went to that part of town for jazz and Indian food one of the evenings. Glad you had fun. If you’d ever want a travel buddy again, let me know! I’d go in a heartbeat!

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