Surprisingly, I woke up at about 6:30, 3 hours before the alarm was slated to go off. I tried to go back to sleep, but couldn't. I also didn't want to get up, so I chilled for about an hour watching TV before I finally jumped in the shower. Packed up, checked out, and headed down the street to Manhattan Bagel (http://www.manhattanbagelvienna.com) for what became "my usual" this week. A "Whole Wheat Everything bagel with bacon, egg and cheese." It's really tasty. I had this all but three days this week. The first two days I ate the crappy continental breakfast at the hotel, and one day when the line was out the door at Manhattan, I had a steak and egg breakfast burrito at Anita's (http://www.anitascorp.com). The burrito was pretty good, the tortilla seemed homemade and was very tasty, and the eggs were cooked well (I'm picky about eggs and hate fake eggs) but the steak was a bit greasy and the burrito was a bit much in the end.
So, anyway, I decided last night that I would visit the zoo and see whatever else I might have missed near downtown, maybe the National Geographic museum or the Old Post Office Pavilion. I drove to the Huntington Avenue MetroRail station to drop off the car, and then jumped on the train. Headed right up to the zoo, and got there just after they opened everything up. Many of the animals were just being released into the exhibits, and others that were in their exhibits all the time were still asleep, or barely awake. It was neat. It's not the greatest zoo that I've been to, but it's pretty decent for being in the heart of a big city and completely free. They have one animal exhibit I've never seen before, Giant Pandas! Soo cool! I got to within about 15 feet of one of them, and got some cool pictures of him grubbing on some shoots. Very cool! I spent about 2 hours in the zoo, finally becoming quite fazed by the crowds, sun, and lack of water. I ended up splurging on a $3 bottle of Dasani (don't even get me started on Dasani, I hate it), and gulped it down. It was nearing lunch time, and while I was not hungry yet, I knew that the Post Office Pavilion would likely be crowded with dinners, and I also decided not to spend any money on exhibits today, so I ruled out the NatGeo Museum. I decided to simply head back and grab the car, and spend some time south of DC for the remainder of the day. I drove for a little while, and debated about getting something to eat.
Spending time in zoos always makes me feel bad about eating meat, and while I enjoy the taste of meat, especially experiencing the variety of meats across different cultures, I was not at all in the mood to eat any at the moment. I finally saw a Chipotle, and since we have none in Nashville (or none that I know of) and hearing Cartman rave about it, I decided to give them a shot. It's a basic burrito place, but I always like those. On top of that, they are, at least somewhat, eco-logically friendly with in store recycling, organically sourced meats and veggies, etc. I got a basic veggie burrito, and it was pretty taste. The white corn, and the lemon-cilantro rice really made it nice. Coupled with an Izze Blackberry drink, it totally hit the spot.
I had several hours to kill before needing to get to the airport, so I decided to drive to the end of the Mason Neck peninsula on the Potomac. It is a very nice area. There are a few state parks and a large wildlife management area, as well as some very quiet, and surely expensive, residences. It's an interesting contrast to the hustle and bustle located just a few minutes away. I drove down to the end of the peninsula, but it's all on private property, so I couldn't get out and take pictures. The Potomac is WIDE in this area though, although partially due to flooding at the moment. I turned around and decided to drive back up to the two parks and check them out. As an out of state visitor, I was required to pay $7 to get into them. I turned around at the first one, but then drove up to the entrance at the second one due to them not having prices posted. The girl at the gate let me in to take a quick tour. It was a pretty area, but it was absolutely packed with people. Every single parking space was full, the boat loading area (probably the largest I've ever seen) could not have gotten one more trailer in there, and the camping area was PACKED. I've never seen people camping so close to one another before. Obviously popular, but not my idea of fun.
I headed back toward DC at this point, thinking I could find a nice park to stop and work on my blog for a while. I ended up driving past a sign for a plantation home and a Frank Lloyd Wright house. I couldn't pass that up, but of course, it was $15 to get in, and it was closing in about 25 minutes. I just wanted some pictures of the outside of the Wright house, but I couldn't see it from where I was at. So close, but too far away. Dern. Less than a mill from that was George Washington's former grist mill, so I decided to check it out. I got some pictures of it, but it also was a pay attraction. I ended up heading back toward DC and the Airport, cutting through Alexandria on the way. I had been through it before, but was a little closer to "the olde town." It's a very pretty neighborhood, I can't imagine what it costs to live there. Just north of Alexandria, south of Ronald Reagan Airport, is a very cool public sailing marina. There were TONS of sailboats here, most of them in the 24-38 foot range, but some 18 foot cabin boats, and several 16 foot Hobie Cats. Very neat area, and literally on the south end of the runways. I stopped here briefly, and then decided to head for the park just north of the airport. It too was right on the Potomac, and looked very neat, but everyone was out taking advantage of the nice weather, so there was no where to park. I ended up looping around to try to find a 7-11 (I hadn't had a Slurpee yet!) and ended up driving very close to the Pentagon. It is absolutely enormous. It is so much larger than I expected it to be, and I am very bummed I couldn't take any pictures of it. Very neat to see it. I grabbed my Slurpee (meh, sugar drink, I should have passed) and cruised through a few more neighborhoods looking for something to do. I saw a barbershop, and decided I'd get a haircut. Even better, when I pulled in front, I realized it was an Arab barber. I read lots of travel memoirs, and one common trend among travelers to the Arab world is the quality of the barbers there. I was not at all disappointed. $16 for a cut (and I had a lot of hair) and a very nice trim with a straight razor on my neck, completely worth it. Took the guy less than 15 minutes, and the entire thing was a scissor cut. I've GOT to find me an Arabic barber back home!
By this time, it was time to start thinking about getting to the airport. I still had about an 2.5 hours before I was to board, so I figured what the heck. Get the car checked in, get through security, etc. DCA is dead on Saturday nights. I got to the airport, returned the car, took the shuttle to the airport, checked in, went through security and found my gate in about 30 minutes. Love it when it's easy. I had some free time, so I've typed this up, and texted with Karen for a while.... Here is my view currently:
More pictures from today: http://s290.photobucket.com/albums/ll256/sandalscout/DC%202011/Saturday%20-%20Day%208/