This post has nothing to do with lyme disease, anxiety or digestive issues, but yesterday was such an extraordinary day that I wanted to share.
My daughter and I decided to make a last minute trip to DC before she goes to college in a few days, so I packed up my liquid “food” and off we went. Yesterday was our first day here, I and I will take you through it as it happened so you can experience it as we did.
The day started out ordinary enough. Since it was Sunday, and many museums were closed we decided to make it a “Monument Day”. We were lucky to find a parking spot close to the Lincoln memorial, so we began there. Such a stunning sight.
Then it was on to the Washington Monument.
From there we strolled down the mall along the reflecting pool, and stopped at the World War II Memorial.
Even though we now live in Virginia, we will always be Minnesotans at heart.
At this point, we decided to walk toward the White House. As we walked, we came across a few people carrying signs, such as these:
As we walked further, we came to what was a relatively small gathering organized to protest the one year anniversary of Charlottesville. I thought it was a great opportunity to show my daughter free speech in action, so we hung around a bit, and then continued on our way toward the White House.
That’s when things started to get interesting, as we basically wandered into a major protest, and a situation that felt like a police state.
There were groups of police and secret service like this EVERYWHERE.
It turns out the “Unite the Right” group of white supremacists that was responsible for the Charlottesville riot had a permit for a rally in front of the White House. In response, thousands of counter protesters from various groups showed up.
And we found ourselves right smack in the middle of it all.
First, there was the burning of a Confederate Flag.
Then the Antifa group showed up, and that’s when things started to feel a little scary.
It’s not every day that you come across a group of people dressed in head to toe black, with their faces covered. At this point, we were staying very close to the police officers, which were there in abundance.
When the White Supremacists arrived, the atmosphere changed. There was a charge in the air, and things began to get very heated in spite of the fact the police had created about a two block neutral zone between the opposing groups. At that point, we decided it was time to leave. I wanted to give my daughter a civics lesson, but she saw enough, and we had to put safety first.
By now, we had been walking quite a bit and were far from our car. So, my daughter had the big idea to jump on the Bird electric sharing scooters. If you are not familiar with how it works, it’s simple. Bird scooters are placed all over the city. You locate one on an app, then walk up to it, scan the barcode on the scooter, scan your drivers license and credit card, and you are off. When you’re done, you just leave the scooter wherever you want, and somebody else will eventually grab it. Brilliant.
Here is my daughter on her Bird on the outskirts of the protest. This is where things became extremely surreal. Here is the situation: the streets are closed for a few blocks on the perimeter of the protest area. The sky is darkening as a storm rolls in. There are police helicopters circling overhead. There are clusters of police officers everywhere we look. We can hear the chants from the protest in the distance.
And in this environment, my daughter and I are on our scooters, cruising down the middle of closed off streets in downtown Washington DC. Surreal is the only way I can describe it.
We passed many intersections that looked like this. They were closed off in this manner in order to prevent truck bombs.
Oh, and there were multiple snipers visible on the roof of the White House.
When we had enough of the protest scene, we decided to scooter over to the Supreme Court. About halfway there, the sky opened up, so we dumped the scooters under a tree and jumped into an Uber.
And things got interesting again. It turns out we parked our car near what turned out to be the staging area for the white supremacists, so numerous streets were closed, and the Uber driver ended up going around in circles trying to get us closer. Finally, he gave us an umbrella somebody else had left behind, and let us out several blocks from our car.
Fortunately, pedestrians were allowed on the closed streets, so we huddled under the umbrella and hustled about half a mile to our car. We had plenty of our own umbrellas in the car, so when we arrived there, we handed the Uber umbrella off to somebody else who looked in need. It was that kind of day.
Once in the car, we realized how hungry we were, so we headed to our vacation “restaurant” of choice. Yes, Whole Foods. I forgot to take a photo, but I had a very paleo meal of steamed vegetables and chicken.
After dinner, the rain had cleared out, so we decided to press on. And we had a glorious night. The storm passed, the light was beautiful, and there were hardly any people around, so we enjoyed a near private visit to the supreme court and capitol buildings. The stillness and quiet and the sense were are nearly alone in the world were absolutely lovely.
A few shots of the Supreme Court in evening light. Above and below.
We ended our epic day with a walk around the outside of the capitol.
We took one last view of the Washington Monument from the Capitol before heading back to the car.
What a day.