By Austin Cannon, Eric Anderson, Kylie Jacobsen, and Kati Seeman
On our first full afternoon in Washington D.C., our group, nicknamed Team Victory, ventured out into the cloudy, damp city. We were assigned to take photos of our group at certain points of interest. So, being the college students we are, we decided to take a selfie at each location. A key part of the exercise was “maps not apps.” We were not to rely on mobile direction assistance and instead utilize several handy-dandy paper maps. It was a challenge at times, but we (kind of) mastered the Metro and learned our way around the city. Here’s where we went and what we saw:
One of our stops at the Mall was this Smithsonian “castle,” a very large and prominent building constructed in the mid-19th century. While beautiful architecture is always appreciated, Washington D.C. is filled with gorgeous buildings everywhere. However, the biggest thing that we learned wasn’t even related to the castle; while walking toward the Canadian Embassy, we discovered an old carousel that has a rich and fairly unknown history. This carousel, on the same day as Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have A Dream” speech, ended segregation at a Baltimore amusement park. This ride was relocated and remains open at the mall as a symbol of the harmony, MLK described on August 28th, 1963.
After our ride on the merry-go-round, we walked across the Mall, past a couple museums toward the Canadian embassy. It was easy to spot — a fortress-like building adorned with Canadian flags. It was much bigger than the smaller embassies on Embassy Row. We wanted to go inside, but we concluded that might not be the best idea since 1. We aren’t Canadian, 2. It was a Sunday and 3. We didn’t have much of a plan. There wasn’t much foot traffic around the embassy on the Sunday after a holiday. It made us wonder how much busier that part of town will be when work starts again tomorrow (not to mention the new Congress).
Our maps might have failed us on this one. We got off the Metro at the Eastern Market stop, but we never actually made it to the market itself. On the way, we noticed an older white building with the Marine Corps flag hanging outside. We went to investigate and found out it’s the Marine Barracks, a national historic landmark. A marine was standing outside. His name was Capt. Christopher Jones. He warned us to stay on the sidewalk: “Just don’t jump over the fence, or the Marines will have to jump on you.” He recommended Matchbox, a pizza restaurant down the street.
While walking to lunch, three young girls were hanging out on the street trying to plot a goofy dance attack on the next passer-by which just so happened to be our small group. Noticing what they were up to when giggling together, Kati made friends as they discussed their Christmases, potential boyfriends, and the length of our stay in the area.
Our next destination was St. John’s church, but before stopping there, we took a slight detour and headed south to see the White House. We immediately noticed a fair amount of Secret Security present, as recent security breaches have proved to be quite embarrassing, leading to increased protection. It was pretty clear that no one would be able to jump the fence of the White House ever again. Among all of the tourists, one individual stuck out among the rest. A female protester camped out in front of the White House to protest Israel’s possession of nuclear weapons. When she wasn’t shouting at people blocking her view of the White House, she held up a poster that said “Disarm IsraHELL.” We stopped at St. John’s church, a church famous for its occasional attendance of U.S. Presidents.
One of our last stops took us to Dupont Circle, with our destination being Kramerbooks and Afterwords cafe. This bookstore had nothing that really stuck out to us besides a bit of decorational humor and a peppy staff, regardless, Kramerbooks is a store that will often attract many politicians. I talked to a guy name Emil working in the cafe, asking if he knew of any big name politicians he had met while working. He said he couldn’t remember them all, but he did get a chance to meet Barney Frank, Janet Napolitano, and Al Franken. Kramerbooks may seem like a regular bookstore to the unsuspecting eye, but if you happen to go on the right day, you may bump into one of our representatives.
Chinatown was the final stop on our self(ie) led tour. By this time, even though our feet were sore, our metro performance was becoming flawless as we began to pass through the gates in synchronization. Once again we ventured further than the required Chinatown Friendship Archway to find a crowd forming around an impromptu street performance consisting of a drummer and two battling street dancers. The crowd was in good humor during the performance, but as the street lights came on, we headed back to the metro and hopped on the Red Line like regulars on their daily commute home.