The plan was to drive down 91 to the Merrit Parkway across the Tapanze Bridge down to New Jersey. Aerith had never driven down the Merrit, so I was really glad to be able to show him how pretty it is in the light. As it started to get dark we noticed a sign that said, "George Washington Bridge, 4 miles." WHAT! We had missed the turn off the Hutchinson. So all of a sudden I found myself driving up to the GW and across it. I was scared, but I did just fine. Got off at the first NJ Turnpike rest stop to switch drivers. There was this really bad smell in the air. Then we realized we were in New Jersey :). Aerith drove down the Turnpike for another hour and a bit. Then we got off at an exit and got a hotel room for the night at around 10:30pm.
Friday morning we got up and went to get breakfast at the Cracker Barrel that was next to the hotel. As we were about to go pay, the line got really really long. We found out that it was TWO tour buses on the way up to NYC to see The Color Purple (the musical!). We got on the road around 9:30am. Somewhere in Delaware traffic slowed down to almost a crawl. We were like WTF. When we finally got a good look at what was stopping the traffic, due to hills, it was 3 cop cars going about 20 mph with their lights on blocking the road. We couldn't figure out why they were doing this. We guessed that maybe there was heavy traffic up ahead or an accident and they had to clear the road and figured that this was very clever. However, a little while after we got past the point where the traffic cleared up we saw 3 cop cars on the other side of the highway. One was weaving in front of traffic while the other two were catching up, probably to do the same thing. Aerith's guess is that they got bored at a coffee shop and decided to mess with traffic :)
Anyway, we get down to the DC area and our direction are that our turn off of the Beltway is slightly after the Emerald City appears on the horizon. Well, you can image our surprise when we saw this on the horizon. We got to alysonwonderlan and darktouch's without a problem. Alyson was there to meet us and she took us out to lunch at the Silver Diner. After lunch (which was very good), Alyson led us to the metro station and we took our first DC metro ride into the city.
Took the metro to the National Mall, which is more like a big strip of lawn. Walked over to the Washington Monument and looked around. Then we went over to the American History museum (part of the Smithsonian Institute...which we learned is in many many buildings). Got to see all sorts of really amazing things such as old cars, Mr. Rodger's sweater, Fonze's jacket, Kermit the Frog and Chef, an Elia Fitzgerrald exhibit, some Stratavarias violins and cellos, some Edison lightbulbs, an old textile machine, and Julia Child's kitchen. When we walked into the technology exhibit we saw old macs and pcs and then there was a PacMan machine...in a museum...I felt old. Then I turned around and was awed to find part of Deep Blue. I wanted to see the Brown vs. Board of Education exhibit but the museum was closing. Oh, and you know you're in a museum when you go to the bathroom and there's a poster about the history of toilets on the wall :)
After that we walked back up to the Washington Monument, saw the most awesome gazebo ever (front, side), and looked out over the White House with a crane visible behind it (it's not the best picture, in the world...). lordaerith and I started talking about the nature of "progress" and "building" in this country. Then as we decided to walk towards the reflecting pool, darktouch called to tell us he was done with work and to meet up with him.
Aerith and I jump on the metro and meet up with darktouch near his work. Walked with him into Georgetown and at at Old Glory BBQ where I tried Fried Green Tomatoes. They weren't bad. Walked around Georgetown a bit more. There were all these college kids in formal wear because of some ball or something. Ended up walking across a bridge into Virginia to catch the metro back to darktouch's. In Virginia we were walking through a little park where we saw an old man with the long white hair and beard on a laptop that was plugged into a lamppost. It was really amusing.
Saturday we got up leisurely and headed back to the Mall area with darktouch. We stopped by the main Smithsonian building, which was really cool. Then we wanted to go to the Air and Space museum, but the line was around the block, so we walked across to the National Art Gallery. I wanted to see the Magrittes, but they weren't up for viewing at the time. :(. We walked around the Impressionist section which was fun. Especially the Van Goghs, Cassats, and Monets. Got a better appreciation for Manet.
Then headed into the modern art building, but didn't stay long. Walked over to the sculpture garden. Got a call from my parents' friends S&F and decided to meet them at the Old Post Office where we could grab a bite to eat. It was really good to see them again. F, who does lots of library work, made me really excited again about library school. Didn't get to take the clocktower tour because we had to take off around 2:30 to be able to make it to the Mad Russian's wedding at 5.
The Mad Russian's wedding went very well. Got to see the Mad Russian's family (who I hadn't seen in ages, my her sister has GROWN) and an old high school friend. It was just what she wanted. Small, simple, and elegant. I wanted to take lots of pictures, but our camera's battery hadn't fully charged, so I was only able to get a few.
The newlyweds with Aerith and me (Aerith thinks he looks like a mobster or something...).
The reception was very nice, even if the caterer seemed a little frazzled, but the food was really good. And everyone seemed to be enjoying the conversation. At one point the newly-weds had to kiss in this Russian wedding custom. Then later I made sure that they followed the American tradition of cutting the cake and feeding it to each other. It was very cute! We didn't leave until almost 10.
Sunday morning we said good-bye to our host and started back home. The drive back was good. We got on the road around 9:15am, actually figured out the Garden State PKWY route, and with a few pit stops and a lunch stop we got back home around 4pm AND we did it on one tank of gas. Pretty good time :)
I checked the milage when I filled up the car again. We got about 28 miles per gallon.