Hop on Hop Off Washington

Remember I told you we had our kitchen redone?  Remember I said I was going to post pics?

This isn’t that post.

This is the day trip we took for “vacation” – since we couldn’t afford a big budget vacation after the kitchen makeover.  I’m certainly not complaining — we had two weeks off, and that’s always the main thing, right – no work!  Which for Joe and I means no criminals and no jail, definitely a plus.  And, we went to the beach for a few days, took a day trip to Leesport, saw a few movies, and spend the day in Washington.  We took Amtrak very early in the morning (easy peasy, a little expensive – probably gas and parking would have been less, but part of vacation is also minimal driving), and then we bought Hop on Hop Off Big Bus Tickets.

Have you ever done the hopping thing?  If you’re not driving, it’s a pretty decent way to get around.  The stops are pretty clearly marked, and the tour is pretty good (better when you get the bus with the live tour guide as opposed to the canned audio recording).  The only snafu we really had was me not anticipating D.C. traffic for our trip back to Union Station – we cut it really really really close, but we made it,

So, here’s a little round-up of our trip – in somewhat the same order as the hopping on and off.

capitalFirst stop, the Capitol Building – of course, under construction.  We were lucky, though. The rotunda was still open – but I think it closed on 7/29 for the rest of the summer.  To tour the Capitol, you’re supposed to book tours ahead of your visit with your state rep., but there are nonreserved tours if you’re there early – and we were there early – like when the doors opened.  So, we toured the Capitol, but opted not to visit our local congressmen to get passes onto the House floor.  Congress wasn’t in session –  and there was more history to soak up.  Before we got back on the bus, we gazed at the hallowed halls of the Supreme Court.

supremect That’s about as close as I’ll get to THE bench.   I was sorely disappointed that I couldn’t find a Notorious RBG shirt at any vendors anywhere.  Drat.

Back on the bus. We looped around the Washington Monument, passed the Smithsonian and the Federal Reserve to the Jefferson Memorial.jefferson


And then we walked along the riverbank, passed the FDR Memorial and the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, over to the Lincoln Memorial.  Of course, more photos of the Washington Monument were taken:




And then I made a miscalculation – we got back on the bus, thinking we’d be able to go over to Arlington, and then back to the WWII Memorial – but the route was detoured because of construction on the Potomac.  So while I enjoyed the ride across the river, passed the Pentagon, and into the parking lot of the Arlington National Cemetery and back again, Joe thought it was a big waste of time.  I thought it was a nice ride with a nice breeze on a 90+ degree day.  And then, instead of getting dropped off at the WWII memorial, we had to walk back from the Washington Monument – and we totally missed the Vietnam Memorial because that would have meant walking nearly all the way back to Lincoln.  Anyway, at some point, the Hop On Hop Off becomes counter productive – you’d have to do the entire loop including the trip across the bridge to go back and see something you missed.  But here’s the WWII Memorial:


And then we walked to the White House:


You can take a tour of the White House, but unlike the Capitol, there are no walk-ups – you need to schedule the tour through your state reps office ahead of time.

And then, we were beat.  We had lunch outside at a fancy hotel, and then we walked way across town to the Fallen Police Officer’s Memorial.  And then, we went to the fairly new International Spy Museum – which I found fascinating, but I don’t think Joe was too intrigued until we got the Bond Villain exhibit.

And then it was back to Union Station, and Philly.  And, as I mentioned, don’t forget the traffic – we took the Hop on Hop Off to Union Station, and from where we got on, it was only 4 stops – but it took forever, and Joe was fuming because he had wanted to take the Metro.  Shoulda listened to the hubs.  Oh well.

And by the way, not only did we take a gazillion photos of the Washington Memorial, like all good tourists, we took a selfie (no stick!) at every stop:

Ta Da! A successful day trip!


Basic CMYK

Post o’ Panda – San Diego Zoo 2009

Many people wondered why Joe and I got married so quickly; we were engaged in August and married in November. Luckily, this isn’t the 50’s — people weren’t huddling in corners, and whispering in hushed voices, “Is she pregnant?” – no I just got straight forward questions – are you knocked up? The answer to that would be – no.


The real answer is that we already had a vacation planned in November – a trip to San Diego to see the Eagles v. the Chargers at Qualcom Stadium, and we planned around what turned out to be a lovely preplanned honeymoon. The answer to why Eagles v. Chargers is a more complicated question, actually. My dear husband, even though a lifelong PA resident, somehow emerged a Chargers fan. Something to do with Dan Fouts, something to do with the West Coast offense – I don’t know.


So, over the next week, while I will not attempt to explain my husband’s Charger nature, I will try to blog about our trip. Today’s post is my favorite part of our trip – besides being with my new hubby, of course.


Joe’s not really a zoo enthusiast, but after seeing his team win on their home field, it wasn’t too hard to get him to go to the San Diego Zoo, and spend some quality time with their Pandas.


The San Diego Zoo has been home to at least 2 Pandas since 1987. Now, they have a whole family of Pandas. The women in the family are not camera shy, and can be viewed sleeping and eating – it’s nice to be a Panda. The new baby Panda can be observed on a monitor, and you can watch him coo and wriggle all day long – and if Joe hadn’t pushed me along, we probably would have been there all day long.  503

When we were there, this new little guy didn’t have a name, but on Tuesday, he had his naming ceremony, and he is now Yun Zi, “son of cloud,” which is appropriate since his mommy’s name is Bai Yun, “white cloud.”



 Yun Zi’s daddy, unlike his mommy, is camera shy, and I got the impression he is never available for viewing.  Apparently, Pandas are not the little sweethearts that they appear to be, but rather are creatures who have little patience, and do not, under any circumstance, want to be interrupted when eating.  Lemon will not be playing with any Pandas any time soon.


The other somewhat disappointing Panda fact I learned is that their fur is not soft at all – in fact, it’s coarse, and much like steel wool.  Now, I’ll never wonder why we don’t knit from Pandas, like we do from Alpacas, or LLamas, or sheep.  No Panda sweater for me.


So, here are the pictures I took of the two lady Pandas – Su Lin and Zhen Zhen.



I probably took a gazillion pictures of the pandas, and I don’t even know if these are the best ones. But, here’s a video Joe shot – I think this is Zhen Zhen-

Of course, Pandas are not the only highlight at the zoo. While I think Philadelphia can go toe to toe with San Diego as far as variety of animals, and attempting to create the most natural environment for the creatures, San Diego definitely has the upper hand when it comes to surroundings and layout – the zoo is, after all, in the middle of Balboa Park, surrounded by a harbor town and neighboring foothills.  There’s a 30 minute guided tour bus, and the footpaths glide easily up and down sloping hills, adjacent to animal habitats.  The newest exhibit is called tIMG_1230he Elephant Odyssey, and while the main attraction is the elephants, its supposed to be an archeological stroll through California’s indigenous animal population.  Within this exhibit, there are not only elephants, but a few lions, and a jaguar – so close behind the glass you can almost smell the carcasses they’re chowing down on. 


Anyway, I won’t post all 30 billion pictures I took at the zoo – but you can see some of them here


And, of course, I did come home with my Panda t-shirt.  But, riddle me this – why, in this new world of souvenir t-shirts, am I a size large child or an size x-large woman?