Armed with a new interest, we started to talk quite a bit. Luckily I already purchased an unlimited text message plan. We talked about how great a time we had before, that perhaps this could turn into something. But how exactly could that happen. It’s not like she was right down the road and we could go out. Not to mention, her family didn’t really want us to see each other anyway. While I was there, they grilled me on why I was in VA Beach, and just couldn’t believe that I came up there just to see Mylene. Their parting words were much more Nice to see you have a good life, than It was good to introduce you into the family hope to see you again. With growing frustrations by not only that, but other things going on, she looked at other options. She had some family in Florida she could stay with who were already wanting to meet me. She talked with them a bit about moving down there, as they didn’t have a problem with Mylene and I but I had to explain that Florida was much farther away than Virginia and that just wouldn’t work. Finally, she ended up moving in with some family in Maryland, just outside of Washington DC.
Apparently my birthday was coming up and we decided that I’d make the trip up to DC to meet her and the new family unit. I planned out some activities since I’d be there during the July 4th celebration also. I started out at about 9am on the 3rd to a strange new land for me. I had been up to DC about 4 times in my life. Once in elementary school for a field trip. A few times for some training classes, and once with my friends for a weekend romp around town. I hate driving in traffic, and DC is no short amount of traffic. I broke out the GPS again and set it to her new home. 5 hours it said.
Notable moments during the journey include driving down some interstate road that apparently goes right through some military base. On the side of the road are road signs that you can not stop there. I assume because you may be run over by a passing tank. I tried arranging with Mylene the meeting place and time, but she was way up in Baltimore visiting the aquarium. I pulled over at an armory guard thing and she finally asked if I could come up to Baltimore which would add another hour onto the trip according to GPS. I went on the way again, and as crossing the border from VA to MD I went over the Potomac River, and hence the Potomac River Bridge (Also called Harry Nice Bridge) which is the fucking scariest bridge I can ever remember driving over. You cant tell by this pic, but the bridge goes straight out over the water for like a mile, then straight up in the air for like 3 miles and straight back down again. Plus, it’s only 1 lane each way, and the big ass transfer trucks don’t mind flying down the narrow road at 70mph. Ok, maybe I’m exaggerating a little, but I try to avoid this route from now on. On the Maryland side, traffic soon came to a stop. Not stop and go but stop. And this is the reason I hate traffic. I sat in traffic forever it seemed, and I could only watch the time of arrival on the GPS increase. I had no lunch, and was just so pissed off at everything I just wanted to get where i needed to go.
Finally just after 3:30pm I get into Baltimore. Driving over the very large highway bridge horizoned the skyline which was pretty impressive, but that quickly faded once I realized it immediately threw me into downtown, and apparently rush hour traffic as I sat in front of the huge buildings in bumper to bumper 4 lane traffic that I needed to be on the opposite side of. Mylene was no help in telling me where she was, and I finally pulled into the first parking deck I could get to, gathered my GPS, and started walking. I waited on the sidewalk as her family drove around and spotted me. I got to say as much as Hi to them before they kicked her out of the car, left Mylene alone with me and drove off. Both of us in a new unknown city, and we were left to ourselves to enjoy. We decided to start walking back to where she had just left from, which was around the harbor area. We finally made it that general direction, after passing what seemed to be the red light district to the harbor. She had bought a sandwich for me during her lunch, kept it in her bag for like 3 hours and gave it to me to eat. So not only was it cold, but also smooshed, and it obviously didn’t start out as anything great to begin with. But I thanked her for her gesture and ate the majority of it. We wandered around a bit, but she already spent all day in this area and I didn’t know anything about where I was to suggest something to do. She wanted to go across the water to some big hill with a swing we could see in the distance. It was way to far to walk around, there were ferries for hire, but they were quite expensive. And I really just wanted to get back to where I thought I should be. By then, her family had already left Baltimore to go back home and said we could just meet them later.
By this time it was nearly 5pm and I hadn’t even found my hotel yet. I ended up booking a hotel quite a way from where she was staying. All the reviews of hotels I read near her house were terrible. I didn’t feel like fearing for my life and belongings as the reviews said so I picked one across town. Not that her house was in a bad neighborhood. It’s more that I couldn’t seem to find any decent hotels at a decent price near her house. Besides, we were in Baltimore. My hotel was in the southern part of DC, in Alexandria. I was still very hungry and ready to be somewhere I was supposed to be. My original plan was to go into DC that evening to do some sight seeing. So, we drove back to find my hotel, checked in about 6:30pm and I finally got to relax for a bit. I hooked up my laptop, loaded Google Earth and did a search for some nearby restaurants. Found some sort of asian restaurant on there, and we took off again. Outside in the parking lot however, Mylene wanted to impress me with her new driving skills. My car had a vacant spot on one side, and another car on the other. She hoped in, as I stood safely outside the car, and proceeded to back out of the parking space. To which she confused the brake and gas pedal and slammed the gas down as she started to back out with a hard turn. The front end of the car whipped around as expected and I just knew a bunch of shit was about to happen. Somehow she whizzed the front of my car past the back of the side car without hitting it. I guess she realized what was going on and she stopped the car just before rear ending another set of cars. It was at this moment she learned the look of me being pissed the fuck off as she exited the car. I jumped in as she sat in the passenger seat and quietly entered our destination to the GPS.
When we arrived the place looked like a dump so I continued driving and pulled into the first shopping center I could find to which was a treasure trove of international restaurants. I’ve never seen so many nationality restaurants together, not to mention any restaurant ever of some of the nationalities. Japanese, Chinese, Mexican, Thai, Vietnam, Salvador …there were like 10 different ones. We looked into each one and finally decided on the Thai restaurant. To which ended up being I think the best one there, the food was good, although the service was lacking. I was also able to fulfill my several year long search for Thai Sweet Tea, that Mylene didn’t care for. After dinner, it was too late to go into town and do anything meaningful, so I just took her home.
It was late like 10 or 11pm or something by this time, so I didn’t want to disturb everyone but Mylene insisted I come in. I don’t remember exactly who I met this first time, I think it was Vicky, Ruben, and grandma and grandpa, but it was a completely different welcome than the previous set. I sat on the couch and think I even napped for a bit as the day had turned out to be quite more hectic than I anticipated. They welcomed me into their home and tried to make me feel comfortable, despite me not being comfortable in a strangers home. We didn’t talk much, I wanted to head on back to the hotel as the next day would be even more hectic.
The morning of July 4th, I woke up and went back to her house to pick her up. Met more of the family, and attempted to plan the day. I already knew I wanted to watch the fireworks over DC, but the rest of the day was up in the air. Since my hotel has a free shuttle to the metro, I figured it would be best to go back to the hotel, then catch the shuttle, then metro into town instead of trying to find somewhere to park. Once at the hotel, it was about lunch time so I decided to use the kitchenette included and impress her with my cooking skills. The previous night we found a grocery store in the same strip the restaurants were in so we went back there and picked up groceries. I cooked spaghetti, to which she was quite unimpressed since it wasn’t her sweet style spaghetti. After lunch, we headed out and waited for the shuttle for like 30 minutes. Finally it shows up and we were the only passengers all the way to the metro. It was way too far to walk. And I also learned that they have parking there as well. Oh well, the shuttle would be there to pick us up later.
We purchase tickets and having already rode the metro quite a bit already she lead us into the city. We exited the station into a rain we did not expect. People were hiding under the metro shelter, smart ones brought umbrellas with them and walked around freely. She decides for us to go to the old post office building. Here we could go to the top of the bell tower and get a great view of the city widely regarded as the best in town. It wasn’t far so we started the journey in the on and off rain.Passing, some seemingly homeless looking guy was on the street corner selling umbrellas for 5 dollars. I wanted to buy some, but did not have change and didn’t want to take the chance of pulling out my wallet and the guy taking a $20 and running. I noted his position and we ran inside the post office. Inside, we took the elevator to the top, and got screamed at by the park ranger or whatever standing guard telling everyone not to touch the wires. The wires are in place of any fencing or window at the top to allow a free view, but also so you don’t throw yourself out the tower. Reading the reviews above, this is a normal occurrence to be screamed about the wires there. We then exited downstairs into the food court area. There were lots of people here, and needing change for the umbrella dude I stopped at Ben & Jerrys there to get some ice cream and change. To which I would never recommend doing as I stood in line for like 20 minutes and was completely ignored. I eventually exited the line and chose another place across the food court to which I was greeted with a smile and prompt service. With milkshake in hand and change, we set outside again. It had stopped raining by this time, and the guy selling umbrellas was gone.
We walked towards the general direction we thought the July 4th festivities were going on. The streets were quite crowded, and everyone was walking the same direction so we followed and entered into a security checkpoint setup on the street. A guy behind us became very loud when the guards asked him what he had in his cooler. He opened it up and proudly exclaimed that he had crabs. And crabs he did, as they stunk like hell causing everyone in the general vicinity to gasp for clean air. Even the guards were quite amused that he was proud to tell everyone of his smelly ass crabs. The whole Mall area closed to vehicle traffic, and was filled with tents, vendors, and all sorts of things. There was some sort of international festival the Smithsonian was putting on that week also. By this time, they were all closing up shop so we didn’t get to see many of the activities in the festival. We continued walking towards the Washington Monument to hopefully get a good seat for the fireworks.
It looked like the whole area ahead was a sea of people so we chose a nearby grassy knoll to settle down on. Without fancy accessories such as chairs or blankets, we sat on the grass and waited for the show. After some time, it became pretty clear that either night was coming early, or clouds were rolling in. Next thing we know a few sprinkles start, and then finally the whole downpour that had been saving up all day. We got absolutely soaked, and with no umbrella could do nothing but sit in it. But I dealt with it, and she with me, and just hoped that it would stop sometime relatively soon. No one else even noticed us, considering the canvas of umbrellas and contraptions the smart people brought with them was blocking their view of us. It eventually did stop and she attempted to use her small handkerchief to dry us both off. I pulled a deck of cards from my backpack, we played some simple card games, and I impressed her with my find your card in the shuffled deck magic trick.
Drying off, we waited until the show began and the fireworks lit up the city lit sky. Having the backdrop to be the Washington Monument was a nice touch, but we were too far away from the main party location at the white house where they had live bands playing as background music to the fireworks as well. The show was nice, but can’t say that it was any extreme greater extravagent than the local shows seen around my home. I’m not sure how far away we were from the shooting location, and perhaps that would change my judgement as some of them were quite huge, seemingly as tall or taller than the monument before us.
After the fireworks, we headed back towards the capitol building along with the crowd to find a metro. It started to drizzle more, and people were breaking out the umbrellas. The walk back gave a good opportunity to capture the area with some night shots. The streets were still closed, and full of people. We were in the middle of a mass crowd all heading for the nearest metro. We figured after the fireworks we could stop somewhere for dinner, however there wasn’t anywhere obvious right on the mall for anywhere to eat, much less anywhere open. It started to rain in a pretty good downpour, but luckily we were close to a metro station. We thought. We kept walking following everyone else also thinking they were heading towards a station. We encounted a road block, where police were forcing people left or right, and informing us that the nearest metro station either way was several blocks away. We eventually found the station, and unluckily so did about 500,000 other people. The line stretched out into the street. You’re not even seeing all the people filling up the stairs underground in the 4th pic below, and the huge train station underneath the city. We joined a large group of people who huddled under a building’s overhang to escape the pouring rain. We decided to wait a bit to see if the rain would stop and the crowd to die down. It didn’t. We made the decision to continue walking to wherever the next station was. Mylene mapped out the course while I took some pictures.
Eventually a security guard came from the building and kicked everyone out. By then, the rain had turned to a mist and our course was set. We started walking into the streets, and past the area where everyone was waiting for the metro the streets were empty. Eerily empty. We did find a few people gathering at a rolling grease pit, and decided to stop for a few hotdogs before continuing on the journey. The station was numerous blocks away and we got lost a couple of times. Mylene pulled out the map and walked down the street holding it out in front of us. Tourist trap disaster. The streets were empty, except for the very few lohe people just standing against random walls, or homeless people sleeping on the bench. I made her put the map away and we eventually did find the station. We walked right into the station, and right onto a train. The train however was absolutely full, but we managed to squeeze in. We stopped at several stations on our way back to the hotel where no one could get on because it was so full.
At our final metro station stop, way outside of DC in Arlington, we exited with the few people left on the train. By this time it was 11pm, and a national holiday, and coincendently the causes of our shuttle not running from the metro back to the hotel. Not quite anticipating this, we decided on a cab. Outside this metro station was a drop off area for cars and buses, then the taxi line, and also car parking. The taxi line had about 10 cars in it and were rolling in and out as fast as people could hop in. We had to walk down the line about 5 cars to get an empty one that had not begun to pull out yet. We hopped in the back seat and I pulled out the hotel business card I always pick up upon registration for the address. This moment was actually my first cab ride, ever. The driver pulled out and I brought out the camera to take a pic of us. The green autofocus light lit up the entire car and I thought the driver was going to have a wreak from whipping around to see what it was.
Luckily the hotel wasn’t too far, the fare was about 10 bucks, and I gave a few bucks tip also. We went back to the room to clean up, then had to go right back out again to take her the about 30 minute drive to her home. I’m not sure what time I ever got to bed, but it had been quite an exciting July 4th. I was going to write up the whole DC trip in one posting, however this has turned out quite long, taken me like 2 weeks to write, and I’m tired of seeing the same text over and over. I’ll stop the trip report here, and say Stay tuned for my continuation of the trip, featuring Tomorrow, July 5th, my birthday!