You guys may need to grab a pot of coffee or energy bar or something because this might be a long one!!
So back in February when I booked our hotel, I thought that the rally was going to start late morning and finish in the early afternoon .. or I thought it was going to be an all day thing.. or I thought something. I don’t actually remember because it was back in February but I KNOW I didn’t KNOW that the rally was only from 10am to 1pm..
I also didn’t know THEN that Chief wanted to leave on Friday night after I close the shop.
He’s worse then a kid at Christmas because when he gets excited about something his tail wags worse then a puppy’s.
There was no living with him if we didn’t drive down Friday night so fine.. it didn’t matter that we didn’t have a room for Friday and even if there happened to be one little room available ( which there wasn’t ) we wouldn’t have been able to afford it anyway.. But being the industrious man that he is *cough* he figured we would just pack a cooler and sleep in the back of the wagon.
Not as bad as it sounds.. We’ve done that before when we used to do flea markets so ok. I was down with that. It’s an adventure right? A one in a lifetime kinda thing? RIGHT???
So he packs a cooler with waters and juices and stuff to eat and snack on and is bouncy off the walls to CAN. WE. JUST. GET. GOING. ALREADY??? so much so that we forgot his better sneakers and my other sandals and a few other things that really did turn out to be minor but we did remember the toilet paper!!
We had been scrambling all day so you know.. we forgot to eat again and wound up driving through McDonald’s at around 8pm and then we were on our way to DC.
One thing I should tell you about Chief .. you know that saying WWJD? What Would Jesus Do? Yea.. well.. I say WWCS .. What Would Chief Spend? .. because he doesn’t like paying one penny more then what he thinks something is worth. It’s a pain in the ass for someone who is just like “… just pay it already!!!!”
That would be me.
So when setting the TomTom, there is a question that comes up asking if you want to avoid toll roads. It’s preset to AVOID TOLL ROADS because the cheap son of a bitch I’m married too can’t part with the 15 cent or 40 cent or OH! MY! GOD! NOT 1.10!!!!!! to get on and off the turnpike!
I really DON’T mind most times because MOST times I’m not driving at night. I hate driving anywhere at night where I’m not familiar because things look differently at night and I don’t see that well. Nice, right?
The first time we got off 95 it wasn’t so bad. We were basically put on a pike that was well lit and I only had two turns to make before getting back on the highway.
But the second time… OMG.. the SECOND time had us driving thru some of the seediest sections of Baltimore late on a Friday night. Now, I’m from Philly originally so there are very few things that will make my chin hit my knees but let me tell you.. yea.. I got re-educated!!
Next time I’m definitely digging under the seat for change to stay on the highway!!
We’re only not even 3 hours outside of Washington so the idea (I refuse to say plan) was to get there around 11, find a place to park the car.. sleep for a few hours.. eat something and then head to The Mall for the rally. Even with the little detour we were on target but that what? Where were we going to park? The hotel we had reservations at charged 42.00 to park even IF you were a guest so that left that out and EVERYTHING in DC is grossly expensive.
Chief wanted to just park on the street but I told him he was out of his fucking mind because there was NO WAY in HELL that I was going to sleep in the car on a street in another city where I didn’t know if it was legal or not.. just wasn’t going to happen. So we drove around and drove around and drove around until we finally found a parking garage that was not only OPEN but had a sign that said $10 Flat Rate.
So we drive in and guess what?
It was an UNDERGROUND parking garage.. I’m thinking it was definitely the third level of Dante’s Inferno because it was soooo freakin’ hot so add that to the exhaustion setting in and it wasn’t a good recipe. So Chief suggests we take a walk down to The Mall.. check things out and maybe find an open air garage where we can move the car to.
I should have known then that he wouldn’t waste the 10 bucks he paid for parking .. but I really wasn’t thinking.. so I set the TomTom to take us to the Lincoln Memorial. One thing that I didn’t consider… the route that popped up was the route we would need to DRIVE to get to the Memorial.. not WALK.
By the time we get to the Memorial we were exhausted and our feet were KILLING us. Neither of us had proper shoes because.. oh.. um.. Tweedle DumbAss couldn’t WAIT to get on the road!!! We plopped ourselves under a tree with the intent of getting some winks. There were maybe about 500 people already there.. WAY more prepared then we were. They had blankets and pillows and coolers and flashlights and entertainment and coffee!!
We just had a bottle of water and my handbag!!!
I ask Chief if he wants to walk back and get out cooler and stuff and he looked at me like I was NUTS. His feet had started to get really bad blisters.. my feet were feeling the walk too but at least my sneakers were a little bit better then his shoes.
Trying to do ANYTHING even resembling a nap was impossible. Personally, I can’t lay out on grass without thinking of that cable “Monsters Within” and being petrified of Bot Flies laying eggs in my ears. Impossible, I know but did you ever SEE that show??
Chief didn’t have any problems falling asleep but he gave me implicit instructions to wake him up as soon as he started snoring. Which he did.. in the first five minutes.. and every five minutes after he fell back asleep so that was usless.
After a while, a guy named George from California joined us. He came by himself, leaving his wife and kids in Cali because it wasn’t financially possible for them all to come. He was almost as bad off as we were but at least he had the good sense to bring an umbrella!! So we talked and shared and laughed and then we were joined by three ladies from Boston.
THEY were prepared. They had blankets and a cooler and again, we talked and shared and laughed.
Then the four woman from Ohio came.. and then the people from Delaware and Central PA. It was like having a family reunion with strangers.. only they didn’t feel like strangers. Everyone shared what they had with each other and someone even gave us their extra beach blanket to sit on.
Around 4am, we were DYING from caffeine withdrawal. If anything, y’all should know by now that me and Chief ALWAYS have a cup of coffee in our hands and the last cup we had had was like.. six hours prior. So George from Cali pulled out his iphone and used an App to find the nearest Dunkin’ Dounts.
According to his iPhone, the DD was less then a mile away and should only take about 15 minutes to get there.
Oh!! No fucking sweat!!!
Chief was reluctant to go because his feet were hurting so much.. you KNOW the man is hurting if he doI wesn’t want to go for coffee. I told him that I would go on my own.. it wasn’t that far and who cares if it was 4am.. there were so many people milling around the streets of DC that I didn’t think it was an issue. George from Cali didn’t want me to go by myself either but I was like, Please!! I’m from South Philly!!!
In the end, Chief came with. I’m still not sure if he was worried about me OR about getting a hot cup of coffee. I studied George’s iPhone map and knew exactly where we needed to go. Easy, right?
Have I introduced myself to you yet??
We walked WELL past where the Dunkin’ Donuts was pinned on the iPhone map and nothing.. we walked further.. nothing.. we asked security guards and other people.. NOTHING!!
When we first passed the vending truck, Chief wanted to get coffee there but I was like “… NOOOOOOO!!! I want a CHEDDAR BAGEL TWIST!!!” and so this man who loves me forged ahead on broken feet while I trailed behind swearing that my ass better raise 2 inches with all this uphill walking.
When we figured out that the damn iPhone app was wrong, we made our way back but took another street hoping that maybe the pin had been in the wrong place and we would see the purple and orange glow of their sign.
So we made our way back to the vending truck.. which was deserted when we first passed.. to find a line wrapped half way around the corner.
So we waited and got four cups of coffee ( literally the size of a demi cup).. 2 soft pretzels (which were so hot that it made you believe that they were fresh until you unwrapped the tin foil that was literally STUCK to it and found that they weren’t fresh.. they were stale and just stuck on a steam table to keep them soft until the unsuspecting customer bought it and let the air hit it. I may have broken a tooth trying to gnaw away at it.) .. and 1 skinny grey thing that they SWORE was a hotdog.
Total was 17.50
I kid you not.
We made it back to our spot through hoards of people screaming WHERE DID YOU GET COFFEE?????????????? and settled back in with our new found family.
When I tell you EVERYBODY was friendly… EVERYBODY was polite.. people were sincerely interested in each other.. where they were from.. what they did for a living.. what brought us all here. It was nothing short of amazing.
If you were there, then you know the feeling.. the vibe.. the spirit.. or whatever it is you want to call it that seemed to just hover in the air. I really have no words to describe it.
The people who took buses in started arriving around 7 and they kept on coming.. and coming.. and coming.. we literally watched the whole mall fill up as far as we could see.
By the time the rally started at 10, you could forget about your squatting rights. There was just way too many people with no where to go. And even when our little area became standing room only .. there was no way you could plop on the grass anymore.. and the sun started heating everyone.. people were still mindful of who was standing around them.
One older guy broke through our little group complaining that he felt like he was going to faint. He must have been in his early 80’s. He was there with his daughter who looked to be in her 60’s and she was in a virtual panic. Bottles of water came out from every direction.. someone offered him their lawn chair.. a young guy came through saying that he was studying to be a nurse and how could he help. No one was obnoxious.. no one pushed back.. no one was annoyed even though the rally had already started and people were straining their necks to see the stage or the jumbo-trons.
The speakers were amazing… the message was inspiring.. and even though I’m not going to go into the whole Martin Luther King, Jr. controversy here, I can tell you from someone who was in the thick of it.. that there was nothing said other then committing ourselves to the core principals of Faith, Hope and Charity.
After it was over, people started to leave and believe me.. if you’ve ever left a sports stadium after a game.. imagine that crowd times 10. But there was no pushing or rushing or shoving. Everybody just.. well.. walked.
Our adrenaline started to deplete.. coupled with sore feet, aching bodies, exhaustion, no food or anything to drink. We felt like shit! But we couldn’t do anything walk (again) to find the garage where our car was.
Do you know who Quasimoto is? The Hunchback of Notre Dame?
That was us.
All we needed to do was start yelling SANCTUARY!!! as we walked. We looked like two broken down cowboy hunchbacks after a really bad rodeo.
And of course.. we couldn’t figure out how to get to the damn garage.. because if Washington is anything it’s badly planned!! LOL!!
So we walked.. and walked.. and walked.. and walked.
And we walked some more.
I think we only stopped once.. across the street from the White House’s Rose Garden but it wasn’t because we wanted to SEE it.. we just didn’t want to collapse in front of it!!
But starting to walk again only made our feet feel worse so we plugged on and on and on until I saw the blinding glow of the Golden Arches.
I told Chief we should go into McDonald’s and ask them for directions. He said he didn’t realize how hungry he was until I pointeen d out the Mickey Dee’s. So we dragged ourselves in.. ordered food.. and then had to CLIMB A FLIGHT OF STAIRS to the seating area. The looks on our faces when we found that our were probably priceless.
But we forged through and sat.. taking off our shoes so that our feet could rest on the cold ceramic tile.
OMG I know what heaven is now!!!
We finished eating and still had about 8 or 9 long.. long.. LONG blocks to go.
Finally we made it to the car and if you ever hear me make fun of my wagon again, please knock me upside the head!! We sat in the wagon and just melted.
But the journey isn’t over yet.. because NOW we had to drive to the hotel which was about 8 blocks away ( actually it was ohsoclose to the McDonald’s we were at ) and before Chief could even THINK about the 42 bucks to park at the hotel, I told him that there was no way in God’s green earth that I was walking anywhere other then to an elevator.
He had the good sense not to argue.
So we got to the hotel and checked in.. made our way up to the room which had a bed that was made from a cloud.
No.. in all seriousness, it was a really nice room with really, REALLY good sheets and pillows and feather top mattress.
He just peeled off his clothes and fell out.. I wanted to take a shower first but then I did the same damn thing.
I don’t remember anything until about midnight when I woke up to Chief staring at me. “.. I’m hungry” he said jumping up and down like a freakin’ monkey in a cage.
My WTF???? expression made him tell me that it was a hotel room bed so of course you had to jump around on it like a freakin’ monkey in a cage.
I was hungry too.
All the sandwiches, potato salad and lunch meat we had brought didn’t hold up to being in the trunk of a hot car in the basement of a parking garage over night and the one bag of potato chips and Welch’s White Grape Peach bottle wasn’t going to cut it. It was too late for room service and neither of us could even dream of walking anywhere so what to do? Go back to sleep, of course.
One thing I need to mention here is that we stayed at the Capital Hilton. I made the reservation and paid for the room via Obitz so I really didn’t know what I was getting into. First of all.. there was no free WiFi. They charged 15.99 a night to access it. Everything on their menu was OBSCENELY priced. Like.. 9.75 for a bowl of oatmeal. 22.00 for a hamburger. 7.50 for a cup of coffee. I hadn’t realized that this was a dignitary hotel and that generally the people that stay there could care less how much anything was. Plus, it was an international menu.
So back to sleep we went and when we got up the next morning, we decided that it was just better off checking out then waiting.. hungry.. until noon. I did.. at one point.. BEG Chief to order room service because I was beyond starving but even I couldn’t justify spending that much money on something that we weren’t even going to be able to split.
So at 8am we checked out and made our way home.. finding yet another McDonald’s where we had breakfast.
I swear I have NEVER eaten McDonald’s so much in my life!!!
Because it was early.. we had nothing but time in front of us so we made our way back ( again detouring through the seedier side of Baltimore and even continuing the tradition of turning the wrong way down a one way street because of the TomTom ).. we stopped at a fantastic reststop on I95 that was ( and had bad coffee ) .. found an unbelievable flea market in Nottingham, PA that was in an old barn and had really neat stuff.. we drove the back roads through Maryland.. over the Conowingo Dam.. may have found a place to move to in Darlington.. wondered at Havre De Grace.. checked out used RVs ( come on.. you have to agree that we need one! ) .. drove through a covered bridge and wound up spending a few hours sitting on a rock and hanging our feet in Brandywine Creek watching people drift by on inner tubes with their dogs swimming along side of them.
We finally made it home feeling that after not really doing anything this summer.. doing EVERYTHING.
It was probably the best weekend I’ve had in a long time.. even with the blisters and aches and everything else doing all that with my best friend was awesome.