This wraps up the last full day of my D.C. trip – spending July 4th at the nation’s capital. Although there were other destinations we had in mind planning the trip, Captain and I finalized with D.C. because it would be truly memorable to spend it in Washington D.C. Despite the hot weather and a bit of my health issue, I cannot complain all that I was able to see and done my short 3 full days thanks to awesome planning by the Captain (aye aye sir!)
We started July 4th with a nice brunch at Le Pain Quotidien. In case you’ve read my recent Chi post, we actually attempted to get brunch at the same bakery/restaurant across from the Bean but the service was horrible and nowhere to sit. This time though, the shop by Embassy Row is much bigger so we were able to find a nice spot to dine. I tried the brioche French toast I had my eyes on in May with banana and maple syrup. Would’ve been extra awesome if the brought the strawberry jam I requested… 😦
Captain and I enjoyed our brunch and was ready on our way to Mount Vernon – spending day time of 7/4 the very classic way!
1. Mount Vernon
We got an uber ride to take us to Mount Vernon since it’s kind of out of the way. Captain did some research beforehand and knew there are some special events going on at Mount Vernon to celebrate July 4th! One I immediately saw was a special naturalization ceremony. It must be a very special experience to get naturalized as an American citizen not only on July 4th, but also at Mount Vernon!
When we exchanged our Explorer’s pass, we were told that the earliest we could see the house was the 2pm tour, so we had a lot of time to kill browsing around. If it is in the spring or autumn I probably have no trouble browsing around and enjoying myself at the estate, but wow, in the summer, it was quite miserable – no shade, no cool breeze, just humidity and sun. (I am very interested to know if Washington kept a journal documenting his daily life at the estate… was it also this hot back in the days? What was their method to cool off the heat?)
While we waited for our time, we saw the slave quarters that I am not sure if it’s only the summer or the way the quarter was built… extremely humid and smelly. We also see some performance, music, as well as day time firework! I have never heard of day time fireworks until the day, so I wasn’t sure what exactly to be expected – it was pretty cool! Washington and Martha also ‘came out’ to give us a nice welcoming speech to spend the 4th with them, which I have to admit I didn’t pay any attention since I was sweating like a pig only wishing for the firework to start so I can find some shade to cool off afterwards 😛
Photography is not allowed inside the building, and it’s very much a “I’ve seen it and done it check off the list” experience for me. Washington was a modest person so there wasn’t anything elaborate about the rooms or decorations. I do very much like the design of the large back patio where they can over see the river. Must be quite a view to spend time reading and gazing at the view back in the days.
After the short housing tour, we went to pay tribute at Washington’s tomb. It’s interesting to find out it was Washington’s wish to be buried at Mount Vernon, but during the time there were many people trying to bury him somewhere else since he was such an important and great figure founding United States of America. I am sure he is happy to be resting at where he wanted to the most.
My favorite, and most unexpected part of my trip at Mount Vernon is the Washington museum towards the end of the tour by the exit. I believe it’s a new addition to Mount Vernon. The museum is excellent! I learned so much about Washington. I highly recommend everyone to spend less time outdoor, but more time learning all the interesting facts and researches about Washington. I came to Mount Vernon not knowing much about General Washington except the things we learned in school, but after this museum trip I was able to discovered a lot of cool information about the time, his personality, etc.
The researchers put a lot of effort figuring out how Washington would look at different stages in his life – it was cool to find out Washington actually only had 1 tooth left in his mouth and rely heavily on dentures when he was 50, or around the time when he became the first president of the United States. This is something I found interesting because throughout the years when the person is a great figure, it is common for people to over-glorified him/her in paintings, portraits, descriptions. I really appreciate the team of researchers spending all the time examining documents to re-create and show us nowadays who Washington really was – his height, figure, etc.
I was able to go to many museums this trip to D.C. and I really enjoyed this one! I am glad I decided to spend sometime here even though I was very hungry – I would regret so much if I just walk straight out to the exit door to find food. The hunger can wait. History stuffs are always fascinating to me 😉
I didn’t get anything from the gift shop at Mount Vernon, but had to take a photo of this porcelain. My brother came to D.C. for his junior high graduation trip. This is the same design he got me as a souvenir. I thought it was funny after maybe 10 years later I was able to find the exact same thing still available for purchase at the store! Not to mention, I am actually here seeing all the interesting things he saw 10 years ago! Time flies!
Although it was included in the Explorer pass, Newseum was not part of our original plan. We wanted to use it to take the boat ride to Mount Vernon only to find out the time wouldn’t work in our favor. Instead, we uber to give us more control of time do spend our time in D.C. effectively. The trip back from Mount Vernon was bad traffic, so unfortunately, we made it to the Newseum with only 30 minutes left before it closed. Luckily, Captain has been to the museum before so we were able to see the highlights of it – would’ve been nice to spend more time but I am very happy and satisfied I was able to see a lot during our short 30 minute there.
Remains of the Berlin Wall.
I have seen a piece of this at the Ronald Reagan library in California when I was a sophomore in high school. Even so, seeing them in front of me again and the contrast between the pure white side and the side of graffiti… We should all be thankful to be living in 2017. I mean there are still bad things going on, the world is not really ‘prettier’ but we’ve gotten a lot more than people back in the days cannot dream of.
All of us have heard, saw, and witnessed via different media 911. It was a day no one will ever forget. Years gone by, we think about it, but the emotion was real when you saw an actual piece of the fallen World Trade Center in front of you. It was a truly emotional moment reading the newspaper clips from all over the world – almost like refreshing your memory of what happened that day. I was only in elementary when it happened, and now in 2017 I am able to perceive and look at it differently since I was only a kid.
Some of the other cool things we were able to see at the museum were the suit OJ Simpson wear at the court, a special exhibition of the first family puppies (cute photos!), the power of media, old reporter equipment, etc. Additionally, there is also a location on the first floor or second floor where you can try to be a report live at the studio! I know Captain was tempted to try it but we ran out of time
The Newseum also offers the coolest and most on-trend souvenirs in my opinion. Remember Trump’s twitter post? Yup, you can find the shirt as a fun souvenir only here at the Newseum 😉 I would probably get one for myself but too bad it was so popular only XXL was available.
I wasn’t expecting much of Newseum, which is why it was not even really on our travel list in the beginning. However, I really had fun here! If you have an explorer pass like us, make sure to stop by this place. You get to learn a lot about the modern things, the power of media, and very cool souvenirs. I am very glad even though we only had 30 minutes to rush through the perks of the museum we were able to do it. It was remarkable!
3. The Capitol & Fireworks by Washington Monument
It started to rain for a bit when we got kicked out of the Newseum, Captain and I decided to uber back to the hotel to clean up a bit, get some dinner, and venture out again to the Capitol’s concern, as well as the big event of the night… Independence Day fireworks!
I can’t remember the exact line up, but it was fun seeing Beach Boys live, and some other singers I do not recognize the name but have heard of their music before 🙂 Great fun! Although being a shortie kind of sucks a bit since I could barely see anything on the stage 😛 I was also very surprised to be able to get close to the Capitol building, it has to someone who has connection or something like that… there were actually police checking your ID / invitation if you want to get in. A little disappointed! I was not able to get close to the Capitol or the Congress Library. I guess a little regret now means an excuse to return in the future?
Captain tracked the time pretty well, when it was about 8:45pm we left the Capitol building area and returned to Washington monument – on our way there we confirmed with the police the fireworks will happen exactly at 9:01pm! (Why not 9pm sharp eh? haha) The fireworks lasted for a good bit.. over 25 minutes I think! I LOVE fireworks, it was very special to see it on July 4th in Washington DC with the best travel buddy ❤ It may not be the fanciest fireworks I’ve seen, but it was an amazing moment I will not forget.
On our ride to the Capitol we passed the Chinatown. I’ve heard it is actually not very impressive but still would love to swing by for a photo or two. After the fireworks, captain and I decided to avoid using expensive uber and walked back to the hotel instead. It was a long and far evening walk, but I am glad we were able to pass by Chinatown! I got to take the photo I wanted of the symbolic gate 🙂
Everyone was right though – Chinatown itself was not impressive, just a bunch of shops with Chinese characters. I heard the good Chinese and Taiwanese food are actually closer to Maryland.
Thirsty from all the walk and talk we did over the evening, I expressed to Captain how it would be PERFECT if we could end the night with a cup of boba milk tea. I was hoping I could magically find some… and I did!
In all honesty, it was not good. I don’t really understand why instead of regular milk tea they used condensed sweetened milk to make the boba milk tea?! However, I couldn’t complain too much when I was craving badly and that was the only shop I found that offers it.
Thanks Captain to help fulfill my craving! The walk back to hotel took maybe an hour, but it was very much worth it enjoying last bit of DC together joking and talking with icy cold boba milk tea in my hand.
I don’t know when I will have the opportunity to return to DC again, but this trip, just like the one I did in Chicago in May, will stay in my heart and my mind for awhile. Especially when I know the DC trip can be considered as the final chapter of my time on the East Coast for a bit – moving back to California the beginning of August!
Cherish this very moment,