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It took me several attempts to get this one right. My first trip to Washington DC occurred in early 1994, when I was there for a job interview. At the time, being from various small towns of northeast Texas, I had never really driven in any place large enough to respectfully call itself a "big city". However, I knew enough about Dallas to know that if you miss your turn, don't panic--just take the next exit and go back. That works great here in Dallas, where the roads make sense (though out-of-towners will no doubt disagree :) ). In DC, however, this corrective course of action really doesn't work at all, as I discovered within the 5 minutes it took me to miss an exit on my way from the airport to my hotel! To this day, I have no idea how I managed to get myself so thoroughly lost in so short a period of time. After initially ending up on the wrong road, I began taking exit after exit, trying to find a way to turn back and "undo" my mistake. However, each exit led me, not to a place to turn around, but instead to another road, then another, and another. Finally, as it was starting to get dark, I gave up and asked directions. It took me over two hours to find my hotel on what was supposed to be a 20 minute drive from the Dulles airport. After that, I didn't go anywhere I didn't have to for the remainder of the trip!

I traveled again to Washington DC in late 1994 for training. This time, someone who lived there was supposed to give me the grand tour (which I hadn't dared do on my own the first trip since I had so much trouble driving!). Unfortunately, our schedules really never worked out, and although I saw a few interesting places, it wasn't until my final trip that I truly made peace with this city and decided I liked it after all.

My most recent trip to Washington DC occurred in 1996, about a month before I left for Iceland. This time, I discovered the "key" to this city: "Public transportation is your friend". Although rail systems have never quite caught on here in Dallas, I had no trouble figuring out the one in Washington DC. Finally, at long last, I was able maneuver around enough to appreciate all the many things there are to see here. At the top of my "don't miss" list would be three of the Smithsonian museums--the Air and Space Museum, the Museum of Natural History, and the Holocaust Museum, and, of course, to walk around and look at (and tour if you can get in) the various government buildings like the Capital, White House, etc. One thing is for sure, now that I have somewhat "figured out" this city, I can't wait to go back and show it to someone else. :)
 

Photos Copyright 2006 by Donna S. Duncan

 


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