Last week I went on vacation with my two favorite people, my partner and my sister. We went to Washington DC for five days. We arrived Tuesday afternoon by Amtrak train at Union Station (50 Massachusetts Ave NE). Sure we could have drove in roughly the same amount of time but I wouldn’t drive in DC for all the front row Madonna tickets in the world. Each train seat had spacious leg room and no need for bathroom breaks with one located in the rear of every car. We could have flown quicker and got felt up by TSA agents but we’d have to worry about delays or cancellations.
Getting to DC in a timely fashion was of the utmost importance because we had evening plans. At momentous times in a gay’s life, when the moon and stars align just so, one must make the pilgrimage to far away lands to witness the world wonder that is a Cher concert. Cher was performing her Classic Cher show just over the border at The Theater At MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, MD (101 National Ave). From our front row balcony seats Cher graced us with her presence decked out in a variety of sequined outfits and a voice from the heavens. Classic Cher was exactly that, an instant classic and more than just a show…it was a spectacle.
Wednesday we awoke in our Airbnb needing to stock our kitchen with the necessities from the Trader Joes a block away…bagels, vegan cream cheese, oranges and water. A perk of Airbnb is having a kitchen you can stock. It’s like visiting family, except better, the only family is who you bring. Since I have zero directional skills and my sister had never been to Washington, my partner (a teacher that chaperones a class trip to DC every year) was in charge.
First stop, The National Archive Museum to see the original Declaration Of Independence, Constitution, and Bill Of Rights. Upon entering we were corralled into a roped-in area, instructed to not take pictures anywhere in the building, shown where the documents were kept, and when the guard told us to “go” we stampeded forward, elbowing our way through the dimly lit room for a peak of these historic treasures. It’s cool to say that I saw them but, spoiler alert, they’re just old pieces of paper under glass that are too faded to read.
We then walked to The National Museum Of American History where Judy Garland’s ruby red slippers from The Wizard Of Oz and Farrah Fawcett’s bathing suit from her infamous poster are on display. That’s my type of national history. Being a friend of Dorothy, how could I not go? Unfortunately Farrah’s bathing suit wasn’t on display and Dorothy’s footwear was being restored. As a consolation prize, we got to walk through the First Ladies inaugural gown exhibit.
After leaving we strolled through The National Gallery Of Art Sculpture Garden and over to the Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden. Normally I like modern art but the Hirshhorn was a little too funky for me. Paintings of naked people were hung upside down setting off my OCD tendency to want to straighten them. My sister got too close to a piece she was trying to understand, she set off an alarm and guards yelled at her, “TOO CLOSE!”
Thankfully the night didn’t end with my partner and I having to bail her out of jail, instead we went to the Rock & Roll Hotel to see Alex Lahey in concert. It was a late show with two opening acts. We didn’t show up at the standing room only venue until 9:45 and Alex came on at 10:00. She’s got a great energy, an enthusiastic audience and a loud sound. Cher was my favorite part of the trip and Alex was my partner’s.
My sister’s favorite part was touring The Capitol. She wrote a letter to her state representative who arranged a tour of The Capitol Thursday and The White House Friday. Our Capitol tour was for 2:00, so in the morning we took a hop on/hop off bus tour with Old Town Trolley Tours. The route’s loop took a few hours to complete. It was informative and the only bus to tour Arlington National Cemetery but not a reliable form of transportation. We were told a bus would arrive every half hour but at one stop we were told the wait was an hour and a half. Needing to be at The Capitol, we called Uber to the rescue.
Capitol tours overlap throughout the day with groups swarming everywhere. The tour’s first portion is a movie explaining The Capitol’s history and purpose, a good refresher for those of us who have been out of high school for a few decades. Then we were given a guided tour by a well informed guide. With head-sets on, we were able to hear him over the other tours happening.
From there we went to the Smithsonian Institution Building which displays a taste of what’s in each of the Smithsonian museums and then to The National Museum Of African Art. It was my favorite museum with no crowds and low lighting. It’s attached underground to The Freer Gallery Of Art and Arthur M Sackler Gallery that houses impressive Asian art.
After a day full of mental stimulation it was time for a night of mindless fun, a booze cruise (minus the booze) on the Potomac River aboard the Boomerang Party Yacht. My partner found this gem on Groupon for only $16 a person. It was a comfortable evening with a beautiful sunset and romantic music. Well romantic if you enjoy a rapper rhyming lyrics to “fuck it” or rapping sweet nothings to his ho graciously offering to let her taste him. The girl with the skirt short enough for her thong to show, seemed to enjoy it as she gyrated and took selfie videos.
For our final full day we visited The National Museum Of Natural History with it’s extensive gem exhibit including the Hope Diamond. Diamonds may be a girl and gay’s best friend for a few hours but we had our White House tour to get to. Along the way we checked out a hidden gem called the Clock Tower Museum (12th St NW). It’s entrance is tucked away in the rear of the former post office that is now the Trump International Hotel. Two elevator rides up and we found ourselves in an observation area with spectacular views of Washington.
Leaving the Clock Tower, we continued to The White House. We arrived 20 minutes early, thankfully, since my sister was permitted to enter but my partner and I got detained by Secret Service. They made us sit in the waiting area of the entrance tent while ironing out the problem. As our 1:00 tour was about to start, we were informed that when we submitted our personal information weeks prior, they reversed our last names but we could now join my sister for the tour. The “tour” was self guided through a few permitted roped-off rooms. For such an infamous building it was quite unimpressive. Then we Ubered to lunch near the Friendship Arch (H St NW & 7th St NW) in Chinatown and walked over to The National Portrait Gallery where I discovered my favorite piece of art the whole trip, “Behind The Myth Of Benevolence” by Titus Kaphar.
For our last night we took a twilight/evening walk by some of the monuments. We started out at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial (1850 West Basin Dr SW) that disappointingly didn’t have it’s fountains working, then around the Tidal Basin with some picturesque views of the Jefferson and Washington monuments, into the Martin Luther King Jr Memorial (1964 Independence Ave SW) with him forever memorialized in stone.
Then over to the World War II Memorial (1750 Independence Ave SW) with it’s impressive fountains and state pillars, through the Korean War Veterans Memorial (900 Ohio Dr SW) with it’s soldier statues making their way eerily through the terrain, past the Vietnam Veterans Memorial (5 Henry Bacon Dr NW) wall engraved with all the names of the veterans who lost their lives in the war.
Up the steps to the Lincoln Memorial (2 Lincoln Memorial Cir NW) where a step is engraved with “I have a dream” where Martin Luther King Jr stood to give his historic speech, and finally across the road to the Albert Einstein Memorial (2101 Constitution Ave NW) where tourists were patriotically giving him lap dances.
As we ended our time in Washington we checked out of our Airbnb at 10:00 and had until 12:15 for our train to depart. My sister suggested we squeeze in one more museum since The National Postal Museum was right next door to Union Station. Museumed out, my partner offered to hang back in the station so my sister and I could have a suitcase free tour. It was the least impressive of the museums but it was a good time-suck. In my gay opinion, Washington is a great place to visit for a short period of time and can be done relatively cheaply. Airbnb is a great option for bigger parties, Uber is the best way to get around, and you can’t beat the free admission to the majority of the museums.