Saturday, June 4, 2011

Washington, D.C.- the Nation's Disappointment Capital

This past Thursday, I returned home from a trip to Washington, D.C. It was a band trip; we were originally supposed to go to Hawaii this year, but we were invited to march in the Memorial Day parade, which is a pretty hefty deal, I guess. Now, normally, I try to appreciate things like this and avoid an excessive amount of complaining, whining, bitching, what have you, but I had (and am still having) a very difficult time appreciating this trip. This trip, for lack of a more diplomatic phrase, sucked like a Hoover. Confused? All will be explained in due time. I now invite you to follow me into a more detailed explanation of the severe suckage.

·         Arrive at school at 3:45 am. Suckage is fairly self-explanatory here.
·         Buses leave at 4:30 am. I am stuck with the window seat. This seat is only coveted in an airplane situation, as all it means on land is that you are sealed off completely from all other occupants of the bus and are provided with the sole activity of watching the dreary Iowa landscape roll by. Oh, and did I mention that this is an 18-hour bus ride?
·         Frequent breaks at rest stops throughout the day. Normally, this would be quite nice. However, I, much like everybody else, feel compelled to purchase food each and every time we stop, regardless of whether or not I am the least bit hungry. My spending money is disappearing quickly, a sickly feeling that cannot be cured by the sweet taste of my fifth unnecessary Dr. Pepper purchase today.
·         Hoping to make the trip appear to go by faster, the chaperones decide it’s Movie Time. Unfortunately, all but one student neglected to bring movies. And all this student has is the entire Harry Potter series. Normally this would be perfectly fine, but we are all in the mood for a comedy, and watching Harry narrowly escape death again and again grows tiresome.
·         We have finally arrived at the hotel. As we impatiently tap our toes and contemplate usage of the emergency exit overhead, our director drones on and on about, basically, how difficult it will be to have fun on this trip. He tells us that it will be unbearably hot all week, and that everyone needs to be preparing for the parade tomorrow, the hellishness of which cannot possibly be described to you. We all trudge off the bus and head to our hotel rooms, considering the idea of doing something bad enough to be sent home more and more actively each second.

·         After an unfulfilling and questionably sanitary continental breakfast at our hotel, we head over to Mount Vernon, Washington’s childhood home. It’s pretty hot out for being just 8:30, but this is quickly forgotten, as Washington’s home is conveniently air-conditioned. Veddy nice.
·         However, by the time the tour is over, the temperature outside appears to have increased tenfold. It is now teetering on hellish. Of course, it is at this time that my group decides they want to wander around outside and look at absolutely everything. This is the exact opposite of what I want. No matter how hard I try, I just cannot seem to force myself to be interested in these monuments. It’s not that I can’t appreciate the historical significance, it’s just that I don’t care. Whatsoever. Monuments are cool to look at for, like, three minutes. After that point in time, all I care about is the fact that I am sweating like a pig and being fried to a crisp in the sun. A building is a building, and I find it hard to be impressed by architecture or design. I’m more interested in the people aspect of these monuments. For example, inside Mount Vernon, we were shown the bed in which Washington took his last breath. That sort of thing is interesting to me- fascinating, even. In order to be impressed, I need to know how the building or structure related to interesting people. Therefore, monument-wise, Mount Vernon was the most interesting thing we saw all week, in my point of view.
·         After a significant amount of whining and begging, I persuade my group to go inside. It turns out to be a ridiculously long journey, in which the slowest walkers in all of D.C. appear to have been hired solely to mosey along in front of us in lines six or seven people across.
·         We arrive inside at the start of a museum about Washington. This is actually pretty enjoyable, as they have done some admittedly cool things with the exhibits, and like most things in life, was made more fun by our inability to take things seriously.
·         After grabbing some wildly overpriced lunch, we get back on the buses and head to Pennsylvania Avenue to get ready for the parade. Now, the parade experience overall wouldn’t have been half as bad if we hadn’t had roughly an hour and a half to two hours of just waiting around outside. The heat was horrendous even for those wearing only t-shirts and shorts, but we were wearing full wool uniforms and hats. One student was forced to leave the parade on a cart, and at least ten students from our band were treated for dehydration or heat exhaustion afterwards. My brother even saw on a nighttime news report about heat exhaustion that four kids from another band were sent to the hospital. So no, I am not exaggerating.
·         After being taken back to the hotel to shower and freshen up, we were taken to dinner at Phillip’s Seafood Buffet. Questionable cleanliness, but very good food. We were then taken on a walking tour by our ride-along tour guide, John, who amazed us by becoming increasingly irritating, surpassing an irritation level we never even thought possible, throughout the week.
·         We started at the Jefferson Memorial, which I only enjoyed because my brother has seen a news story announcing that it is now illegal to dance there. This is 100%; look it up for yourself. In the video Kyle showed me, a protestor is dancing at the memorial, and a police officer is warning him, “This is your last chance.” The protestor looks the officer in the eye and defiantly does the robot. The officer then grabs the protestor around the waist and flips him to the ground. Needless to say, it’s the best news story I’ve ever seen.
·         We then trudged around the Lincoln Memorial, as well as the Vietnam vet memorial. Did you know the temperature can remain above 95 degrees, even at 10 pm?
  The rest of the week revolved around a similar chain of events: John takes us to a monument and drones on about it, then leaves us there for far too much time. The monuments take longer than expected, so they cut the time we would’ve gotten to spend doing something fun, like shopping.
·         It would be unfair of me if I neglected to mention the one truly fun thing we did all week: the dinner dance cruise. We didn’t have to look at monuments or listen to John talk, and it was air-conditioned. It was bliss. Pure bliss.

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