(do click on pics to expand – most pics taken with a Motorola Atrix 2 phone)
So… after my face finally tried to explode then got better, I jumped on a 747 for DC, thanks to finally having a decent Dentist and his assistant. Into Dulles and transport into DC was straight forward: for the exact fare of $6 (no change given) the 5A bus on the far right of the upper level gets you to the Rosslyn Metro Station… for the Blue and Orange Metro lines..In my case, I was heading to Foggy Bottom and where my first frustration of DC took place. My sense of direction is good in the very worse case… so how did I end up outside the Saudi Arabian Embassy? :(
Well DC Metro could better their “You are here” directional maps and maybe even put a North, East, South, West mosaic on the pavement outside the stations – because it seemed every one was getting lost lol….
Kit dumped, and off in search of food, beer and delights that this city had in… which yielded results in the form of Marshalls Bar and Grill – wonder why I chose that place lol.
The Following day, sunshine was gone and in its place sleet and snow and the presence of the one I’d come to trip up – @gabsatrucker on the 36th USMC Marathon… Then on to apparently pick up what they call “The Packet” in Marathon circles – aka sign in, get your t-shirt and loads of freebies. This took place right across the other side of town at the Stadium Armory.
And what a Marathon…. 30,000 people willing to suffer, including a load of guys from 3 Rifles and 16 Air Assualt..
The 16 Air Assault guys were staying at the same hotel and the locals were bemused to see 12 guys getting ready to run 26 miles with beers and cigarettes… I pointed out that it was just the way things are in the British Army, if you can’t run a marathon drunk – where’s the fun of running a marathon at all ;)
Washington DC is a bland city in many respects, there aren’t shops obviously located, Malls are so hidden, you walk right by. If it wasn’t for the amazing monuments and its historical and political heart, I fear it’d be boring…
But amongst the bland grey limestone, DC is incredibly colourful… with autumn kicking in fast, the sun rising and illuminating the features of a city known throughout the world… it was a majestic sight and a place of real presence.
The Marathon was getting underway, and the sheer numbers were impressive if not retarding by the sheer mass. In fact I would say that because of it, no one could seriously consider making a good time. The amount of people out cheering was stunning and the support, totally outstanding.
I headed from Arlington Cemetery across the Arlington Memorial Bridge to the Lincoln Memorial…
Cheering crowds behind me I started to come across memorials which for some reason I thought were elsewhere.
First was the Korean War memorial… the statues here tell their own story, and while fantastic to see in this light, I kinda wish there had been a ground mist or mild fog to enhance the atmosphere of it… Awesome…
So I walked on and came across the one memorial you can’t not have heard of… The Vietnam War Memorial.
With so few people around I took my time, looking at the simplicity of this slit in the ground, bearing witness to a hard fought fight for what many believe was a bullshit war… So much so, the veterans had to fight tooth and nail for this memorial and the fact that this place exists at all. It is witness to the determination of those whom witnessed this war first hand and knew it must not be forgotten.
Here the names mean nothing to me at all… (other than the names of the 7th Cavalry) here, a monument that had nothing to do with my own nation and a war that has seen the inside of Hollywood and the butt of much sarcasm… but I can’t help but say that when I drew close to the centre of this place, I became choked…
It’s powerful to stand in the shadow of monolithic black slabs bearing the names that few truly care about.
It’s a message as well as a remembrance… and one we today are so ready to ignore…
The Nam memorial to me – was indeed a moving experience and something a nation should be and is proud of… for every name, there is deep suffering, and you start to feel it standing there. As many of my regular readers may have noted, I have immense respect for the retired Lt General Hal Moore… It is through his experiences and the testimony of his men that I have come to learn so much more about this war and what it was truly about. Yet I cannot, not even for one minute, imagine what these men went through, or how the living must feel when standing here.
On then… and walking east I noticed that in the sun it was warm and in the shade – bloody freezing.. And if I stayed in the sun in any one place too long, I suddenly got cold again… the reason was this…
I never really thought about how big this sucker was – but it’s Bloody HUGE!!!!!
Also with the help of a park ranger we managed to hold my new phone steady enough to zoom in half a mile to grab a pic of the White House – so I didn’t have to walk the mile there and back to get it ;-)
Back to the Marathon and noticing that the USMC really like to fly their helicopters low – at tree top level (especially when it’s a Huey)…
The stream of colour and encouragement that was the marathon, was broken intermittently by the hard punching sound of rock in the form of live bands and on this occasion – the School of Rock itself.. In other areas, there was Blue Grass and just about every style of music being performed live!
Another pic I only just got was of two marines running, one was blind and being chaperoned by his buddy – that to me is dedication and the force of will to carry on, be a part of society and something I just felt moved by.
Gabby stopped by for a photo opportunity (show off) and I headed towards the Metro…
Seriously… The DC Metro, dark, dingy and VERY badly sign posted and probably the worse ticket machines on the planet – lol… If you go, here’s the trick – shove your cash in first ;-)
Off to the finish line where I met loads of amazing people, most looking salty and crusty… I spoke to one guy who was trying to stretch his muscles out. He had come in from Nashville for the race and the night before had proposed to his GF, who also came over – now having a “Just Engaged” label covering her back… Of course as a guy I do know to ask to see her ring ;-) and frankly I can honestly say I really don’t think I’ve seen a rock that large that wasn’t fitted to a royal crown… I can only assume that guy owns a carrot farm ;-)
With @Gabsatrucker finishing I couldn’t help notice the sheer number of US Marines limping…. But being fair, they were accompanied by 30,000 others whom all seemed to have learned the same dance – this is apparently called the MCM Shuffle :-)
One thing I will also add, the Medal for this Marathon was stunning!! Seriously!! even the little blue globe thing spins around – other marathon organisers should take note!!
Well the numbers were large, the organisation was good, the long walk around the Pentagon to the start line yielded some things of interest… a couple of Osprey’s flew over and everyone took pics. It was all very Sci-Fi really with a thought of – that’s the future of modern policing right there..
Another thing was, they apparently don’t like you taking pictures of the Pentagon.. except from the memorial side… But the thing is, no one went past that side and we were far enough from the building to honestly state that all sides look exactly the same – but apparently it’s ok to to take pics of the prime area of where terrorists prefer to attack…
Basically, in Washington I became all too aware (as did some of the 16 Air Assault guys) that they are paranoid about security and frankly know fk-all about it… I would elaborate, but that would be just wrong.
But in no way is this a whinge, DC is great… the people are fantastic and true to fine American hospitality at its very best; Gabsatrucker got booted and suited after the Marathon and took me to dinner and showed me around and got me to see and do all I wanted.
A great weekend, good to catch up with Gabby again (after all, she bought the food – yet…. no cake) and the one thing i’ll remember is DC is a city of bright colours :-)
Back to Dulles for me, sit staring at the BA 777 until such time to board… It turned out we had a helluva following wind and hit London in 5.5hrs!! doing 760 mph only to sit in a stack for what seemed like an eternity…
I was brought to the attention of this when I heard someone state “but a 777 can’t go this fast” We soon reduced speed – but it left me wondering what the structural limit of the 777 truly is.
Hey ho, life’s like that lol…
Especially after Gabby posted this picture of me looking bewildered around Rosslyn when I really try to stay anonymous ;-)