:: DC & NYC Trip - June 17 - June 26, 2005 ::

This is the record of my trip along with Timber and J&R to DC and then New York City in the mid to latter part of June, 2005.
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The view from our Airbus.
Tom and Timber in front of the White House.
Carpool you Nazi!
A look at the Lincoln Memorial at night.
J&R sitting on the steps at the Lincoln Memorial.
A look at the skull of a T-Rex held at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.
The Hope Diamond which is on display at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.
A view of the many planes on display at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.
Cool NASA stuff.
A look at the Capital Building while we wait in line.
We are from the west side.
One of the many statues inside the Capital Building.
The Iwo Jima Memorial near Arlington National Cemetary.
They were not kidding when they said we could have the whole pot of soup.
Timber and Jenny in Times Square.
Tom and Timber at the top of the Empire State Building.
Manhatten Island at night.
You're Fired Biyatch!
Tom standing in front of the Statue of Liberty.
Tom and Timber at Ellis Island.
A cool display inside the museum at Ellis Island.
I bet people would break into this car just to see if they are telling the truth.
You're in Little Italy now.
A hearty welcome to all Italian Grandmothers.
Our ride back to the West Side.

:: Friday June 17, 2005 @ 11:00 PM::

We met J&R at the airport, in line, getting checked in. After we got our tickets we worked our way toward our gate and saw that we had plenty of time to kill before having to go through security so we decided to start our vacation on the right foot which meant a trip to the bar. We each had a drink, and Timber got a blue monkey (long story) and then headed for the security line. The trip through security wasn't too bad and then we walked to our gate. We still had a short while to wait, so we read and did other things to pass the time. Eventually we boarded the plane. All of our flights this trip were going to be via Independence Air. They use Airbus planes and I had never flown in an Airbus before. The plane was not very big, but it was clean and well lit. All of the seats were leather and it was no frills for the most part. The funny thing was that it was a red eye flight but there not a single blanket on the entire plane. We left the ground a little behind schedule but the pilot said that they were going to try to make up time in flight.

:: Saturday, June 18, 2005 @ 9:00 AM::
Unbelievably, our plan actually arrived at Washington Dulles airport early. I think this is the first flight that I've ever taken that showed up at the destination early. We got off the plane and wandered over to the baggage area. Independence Air has a guarantee that your bag will arrive at the destination with you or that leg of the flight is free. It didn't take long for us to get our bags and then we had to figure out how we were going to get to our hotel which was in Dupont Circle. We ended up taking the bus and then taking the Metro to Dupont Circle. Once we got there it was a short walk to our hotel.

:: Saturday, June 18, 2005 @ 4:00 PM::
We were able to drop our bags off at the hotel and get started. We hadn't really gotten much sleep from our red eye flight out to DC, but we figured we would make a go of it. We went back to the Metro station and then headed over to the White House. The White House is smaller in person than it seems on TV, and you can't even really get close to it unless you are lucky enough to get in for a tour. We stood by the fence and took some photos and then moved on to check out the Washington Monument. There was a lot of construction going on all around it, so we could only take pictures from a little ways off. After that we headed to our first museum of the trip, the Smithsonian Museum of American History. The notable sights in this museum were the actual desk on which the Declaration of Independence was written and the top hat the President Lincoln wore the night he was assasinated. History becomes even more interesting when you get to see such great artifacts.

:: Sunday, June 19, 2005 @ 4:00 AM::
After our long and relaxing nap we headed out into Dupont Circle for some food. We settled on a Thai Place called Sala Thai. I can't really say that the food was that great, but I have more to say about it here. After eating dinner we had to walk around for a while to work off the food. In our walking along store fronts near Dupont Circle we found a place called Cosi. We decided to get the smores for dessert and have some tea. Afterward we decided that we would go check out the Lincoln Memorial. We caught the Metro down to the Washington Memorial, got off, and trekked to the Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Memorial, and Korean Was Memorial before deciding to head back. We took a few wrong turns on the way back and as a result nearly missed the last train back to Dupont Circle. As we got back to the room I realized that there was no way that we were going to be able to get up early the next day.

:: Sunday, June 19, 2005 @ 12:00 PM::
Of course we got up much later than we had planned, but once we were able to drag ourselves out of the hotel we went downtown for lunch. We ate at a place called Harry's and it was not that great. After lunch we headed to the Smithsonian Castle and then we went on the the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.

:: Sunday, June 19, 2005 @ 10:00 PM::
At the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History we limited ourselves to the Hope Diamond and the T-Rex fossil. There were other cool dinosaur fossils to check out and we invariably spent more time there than we had intended. After that we headed off to the main attraction in my mind, the Air and Space Museum. That place rocks! I knew that the others would not be able to keep up with me in the museum, so I told them that I would meet them at the exit at closing time. We parted ways and then I was like a kid in a candy store. I went through each section taking pictures and reading everything I could as fast as I could. I stared with the top floor and even had time to check out a show at the Einstein Planetarium. After the show I worked my way downstairs and finished off the museum at full speed. Among the notable exhibits were the plane used by the Wright Brothers, the Apolo 11 Space Capsule, and the Lunar Lander from when Neal Armstrong took his first steps on the moon. After having a slice of heaven we headed to Union Station where we had a bit to eat at Thunder Grill. After that we headed on to Geogetown to walk amonst the yuppies and check out the shops. After that we headed back to and collapsed in our hotel room.

:: Monday, June 20, 2005 @ 2:00 PM::
We had to get up early in order to make it to the tour of the Capital Building. They don't take reservations and it is first come first served. So, along with other relics of the 20th century (Amusement Parks, DMV, etc...) we had to rush so that we could stand in line. They opened the line at 8 AM, and we got there closer to 9 AM. I was starting to worry as we worked our way back to the end of the line, but soon after our arrival a bunch of tour buses showed up and I go the feeling that we would get tickets for a tour of the Capital Building. We did end up getting tickets and had to come back for our tour at 10:10 AM. We had a little time to kill, so we headed over to the House building. Unfortunately our congressmen were not in town at the time, so we couldn't go chill with them. :-) We had some food in the cafeteria and then headed back to the Capital Building for our tour. The tour itself did not take all that long. We started out in the main dome where we had the paintings around the room and the artwork in the dome itself explained to us. Then we moved off to another room that had quite a few statues in it. Apparently each state gets to send two statues to be displayed in the Capital. One of the statues sent by California is Juniperro Serra. I didn't know it at the time, but he was the priest that oversaw the expansion of the Spanish missions in California. It just goes to show that I'm an ignorant immigrant. Not long after that, we ended our tour of the Capital and headed for Arlinton National Cemetray.

:: Monday, June 20, 2005 @ 10:00 PM::
It didn't take us long to take the metro to Arlington National Cemetary. We checked out headquarters and got tickets for the bus tour and then headed out into the cemetary. The tour bus announcer seemed to be in a really bad mood because she never smiled and made lots of snide comments at several of the tourists on the bus. We toured around the cemetary and checked out Kennedy's Grave, the changing of the guard, and Robert E. Lee's old house. Afterward we checked out an exhibit paying tribute to all the men and women who have lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. Overall it was a very somber place, but it does make you feel pride in the fact that all of these people gave themselves to a cause that was bigger. After checking that out we decided to hike mile each way to see the Iwo Jima Memorial. It was set in the middle of a city park, and the size of the memorial was impressive. After getting back to DC we went to a mexican restaraunt near our hotel. It ended up being the best food we had our entire time in DC.

:: Tuesday, June 21, 2005 @ 12:30 PM::
We got up later than expected and had some kkd on our way to the Holocaust Museum. I think everyone, at some point in their lives, should check it out. It is not a happy place by any stretch, but it does send home the message the people can be very cruel to each other, and if we understand that we can fight against it. We left the museum, picked up our bags at our hotel, and headed for the airport.

:: Tuesday, June 21, 2005 @ 8:00 PM::
The flight to NYC went pretty well. As had become the standard with Independence Air, we took off late but got to our destination early. They must have really conservative estimates for their timetables. Once we got to JFK we picked up our bags and got a car to take us to the apartment we had rented. I'll say this now and not again in the trip report. We stayed in what felt like the ghetto. As we drove to our apartment there must have been some kind of basketball tournament going on because everyone was at the basketball courts and the streets were filled with people. As we got further away from the activity, on our way to our apartment, people just seemed to be hanging out on the streets. At one point I was tempted to roll up my window because I wasn't sure what was going to happen. At any rate we made it to our apartment where we met up with the guy that rented the place out to us. We got situated and then we went to grab a bite to eat. We ate at what must have been a touristy place near Time's Square, but the pastrami sandwich that I had was pretty good so it didn't matter to me.

:: Wednesday, June 22, 2005 @ 12 PM::
We woke up later than expected (again), but hey, we're on vacation. We dropped off some clothes to have them laundered and then headed to the Empire State Building. We had to wait in line for a while to get to the top, and once we got up there we didn't have a whole lot of time to snap photos and check out the views before the thunderstorm rolled in. Once it got close they got everyone out of the viewing deck and we had to take the stairs down a few floors before we could take the elevator down to the ground level. There was a Walgreens inside the Empire State Building, so we bought some cheap umbrellas there and then headed out on the streets to do more touristy stuff.

:: Wednesday, June 22, 2005 @ 10 PM::
After wandering around being tourists for a while we worked our way over to Battery Park near where Rong's friend had an apartment. Once we met up with his friend and his friend's wife we went out to dinner with them and their two children at a Spanish restaurant named Flor De Sol. That had to be the best restaurant of our entire trip. We had lots of different tapas along with paella and sangria. They also had flamenco dancing. It was excellent in every regard. After dinner we dropped them back off at home and the proceeded to check out the World Trade Center Site. There is a lot of construction going on right now. They are building the foundation for the Freedom Tower and other buildings that will take the place of the twin towers. For anyone that doesn't believe that 9/11 happened, they should really go check out ground zero. It is amazing. After spending some time there we risked a subway ride and walk through the ghetto to get back to our apartment for the evening. One thing about our place is that people just hang out on the street, even at night, and talk along with play really loud music. In a few instances I wanted to yell down at them to shut up but I didn't want to get shot.

:: Thursday, June 23, 2005 @ 2 PM::
We woke up earlier than on previous days, but we still didn't meet our target. Upon leaving our apartment we headed for Central Park and grabbed lunch from a place called Pax Wholesome Foods which really wasn't all that wholesome and also kind of sucked. We took our food into Central Park and had a bit of a picnic. After finishing our lunch on a rock while watching horse drawn carriages take people around the park we left the park and headed towared 5th Avenue. We were planning on doing some shopping, but once we saw the stores there and the prices of the items in them we decided to pass on the shopping here and go elsewhere. Times Square, or the area just around Times Square would do nicely for our purposes. While Timber and Jenny set to work shopping and finding something nice to wear for our evening Broadway show, Rong and I headed for the ESPNZone to have some chicken wings and beer.

:: Friday, June 24, 2005 @ 12 AM::
After we had finished our chicken wings and beer we went to find the girls. They had done themselves up quite nicely for the show. We went to watch Avenue Q. I don't want to ruin it by saying what happend in the show or write about the storyline, but I would suffice to say that it is an excellent show and I would highly recommend it. After the show we were a bit hungry and decided to try a Brazillian restaraunt that we had seen earlier in the day. The food was overpriced, sucked, and the service was bad. Overall it was a loser of a restarunt.

:: Friday, June 24, 2005 @ 12 PM::
We ended up going to the Statue of Liberty first thing. We wanted to get it out of the way early in the day. I'm glad we did because by the time we got there we had a long line to stand in, but luckily not long enough to last all day. After we got our tickets we waited in another line to get on the boat that would take us to the Statue of Liberty. While we waited, we were entertained by a contorionist and a gymnist. The were obviously trying to entertain people enough to get money out of them. That didn't work on us. :-) We did finally get on the boat and headed toward the Liberty Island. Once we got there we basically just walked around the entire island and took pictures. I had been here once before, but there were some things that I noticed this time that I did not notice before. For instance, the crown has 7 spikes which signify 7 oceans of the world. The torch represents enlightenment and the chains underfoot signify liberty breaking the shackles of tyranny.

:: Friday, June 24, 2005 @ 4 PM::
After we finished at the Statue of Liberty we headed for Ellis Island. Ellis Island is where a lot of immigrants first landed in the United States. A museum has been set up to commemorate that. Overall I would say that it is a very happy place because people really wanted to come here and had hopes and dreams as they came through this island to America.

:: Friday, June 24, 2005 @ 11 PM::
Once we got back to the mainland we headed for Little Italy to grab some pizza. The pizzeria that we went to advertised themselves as the oldest pizzeria in America. The pizza was excellent. After lunch we headed over to SOHO so that girls could do some shopping. In addition to the shopping we also saw the SOHO Apple Store. While we were walking around we got into Chinatown and found a nice little place to have some ice cream. They had wasabi flavored ice cream among the other weird flavors. After the ice cream we checked out other parts of Chinatown and Little Italy. After checking out various restaurants, we decided to go to Canta Naplo Trattoria. The food was good and we also saw two Italian mafia grandmothers. They were pretty funny to watch because they were drunk. After dinner we grabbed some canolis on our way back to our apartment.

:: Saturday, June 25, 2005 @ 4 PM::
We didn't have time to do anything today. All we could do was pack our bags and call a car to come pick us up out of the ghetto and take us to JFK. As our car was looking for our location I told the driver to park near the red minivan that had all its doors open and loud rap music playing. Once we got in we started our escape from the 'hood. My eyes were doing backflips from all the bullets flying by, and then... sorry, that's another story for another time. The traffic was pretty bad at times, but our drive kept us entertained the whole time. Our flight left JFK and then flew to Washington Dulles in the Independence Air tradition. We had a short layover, during which we grabbed a bite to eat, before jumping on our plane to take us to SJC. Once we got to SJC Timber's dad picked us up and we made it home a short time later.

:: Aftermath ::
Overall I had a blast on our trip to DC and NYC. I wish I would have had more time to see the sights in both places. Places I specifically want to come back for in DC include the WW II memorial, FDR memorial, Thomas Jefferson memorial, Native American Museum, and the hangar for the Air & Space Museum. I'd also like to go back to some of the places I visited in DC and spend more time in them. For NYC I would go back for the food and to check out some of the museums. NYC is always a cool place to check out. I would not, however, go back to DC just for the food and service. The food there was mediocre at best and the service was terrible. The baseline for servers was that they were generally slow and bitchy. They did not seem to care about giving good service in order to get a good tip. The service and food in NYC on the other hand was excellent for the most part. I think part of it comes down to competition. NYC is notoriously cutthroat when it comes to restaurants, so the food has to be good and the service has to be prompt.