I just got back from a trek across town to get work started on a building permit. It wasn’t until I got home that it dawned on me that I had passed many highlights of a tourist’s visit to my city: Washington, DC.
I began in my neighborhood, in upper NW, and crawled (traffic!) on Mass. Ave., passing the gothic spires of the National Cathedral. The ribbon of cars continued downhill on Mass. Ave., (the Cathedral sits on a high point), passing the Vice President’s house on the grounds of the National Observatory, and a slew of embassies, including the British Embassy and the Embassy of Brazil (two of my favorites, architecturally).
I hoped that the traffic would ease up as I entered Rock Creek Parkway – but construction is making a mess all over the city. It gave me a chance to look up at the cemetery behind Dumbarton Oaks – the cemetery that is the setting for Lincoln in the Bardo. My mom and I walked through the winding paths, up and down the steep incline, several years ago, stopping to read interesting headstones and admire private mausoleums.
The Memorial Bridge is under construction, which caused a major slowdown around the Kennedy Center. It looks like the very modern expansion of the performing arts center is coming along nicely. (I paid no heed to the Watergate, but having taken the route many times before, I know it’s there, overlooking the Potomac River and Theodore Roosevelt Island. I didn’t notice the dog walkers, bicyclers and rowers out on the water, either, but I know they were there.)
Traffic finally picked up and I zipped by the dramatic steps that lead up to the Lincoln Memorial. People like to jog up and down those steps – the thought is pure torture to me. The Martin Luther King Memorial went by in a flash, as did the Tidal Basin and Jefferson Memorial. While stopped at a red light, I did notice paddle boats out on the water on this sunny, almost Spring day, and saw a red haze gracing the edges of the Tidal Basin, a sign of cherry blossoms to come. (I heard a prediction that they would be in full bloom by April 8 – an awe inducing sight!)
Once I was past the Washington Monument and Holocaust Museum, I knew I was close to my destination. I saw the newly renovated Maine waterfront out of the corner of my eye, but then I knew I had to start looking for a parking space, a challenge requiring my full attention.
I had traversed the city from NW to SW on a mission, taking all the wonders of my city for granted.