Travel

D.C. Trip with Guest Blogger Bennett Poss

Over a month ago Bennett and I went to D.C. to visit some of our friends and explore. D.C. is one of my favorite places but Bennett had never been there before. I was so excited to show him all of the reasons I love it so much. I asked him to write about our six favorite places for the blog since it was all new to him. I bring you D.C. by Bennett. 

*Note - This trip was documented by our iPhones as I forgot to bring the charger for my nice camera. This was also before we either of us had an iPhone 6. It was slightly tragic. 

 

1. Tour of the Capitol

The capitol is pretty cool. They have bills and representatives and senators and old artwork and flags and such in this building.  I think the president has even sat in a chair at times in the building.

While we were there, we got a personal tour by a very nice intern through representative Dave Loebsack's office. We got to see live debate in both the House and the Senate and that was a treat. The House was discussing the contentious and interestingly bipartisan bill about authorizing funds to aid Syrian opposition to ISIS. It was a rare moment where votes did not fall along party lines and both sides disagreed/agreed with it for separate reasons. It was satisfying to see reps speak about an issue using their own reasoning instead of party talking points. The Senate debate was just two dudes talking about how much they loved mountains and trees and why they should approve a national park bill. I just imagined how jealous everyone watching C-Span was that we were there LIVE.

2. Library of Congress

The Library of Congress was basically the most majestic place you could think of to waste time on the internet while you avoid working on that important assignment (which you may or may not be doing now). It just feels like you would get a ton of work done there. Fun fact, the LOC (as the kids say) is the second largest library in the world, behind the blandly named British Library. Another fun fact is that if you took the time to read all of the books in the LOC it would stretch from Earth to the Moon six times, weigh more than 8 blue whales, and you would die at some point before you accomplished this (Poss, et al. 2014).

3. Supreme Court Tour

The Supreme Court was rather imposing. It was built to be a "temple of justice" and they definitely hit the mark with the building design.  We got to see where court was held and hear dandy little tidbits about how the court functioned. For example, the majority of cases submitted each year to the court are from prisoners appealing their sentence. You know the old saying, you lose a 100% of the appeals you don't file. Also, when the justices discuss cases amongst themselves, no one can speak twice until each justice has spoken once. I don't know how they enforce that.

4. Monument Bike Tour

It was my idea to try using bikes to explore the monuments. Allison was concerned because (allegedly) she had not ridden a bicycle since she was 10. We threw caution to the wind and she biked it like a natural. She didn't even run into a pedestrian or Thomas Jefferson or anything. It was a nifty way to get to around the monuments and experience the natural beauty around them. The monuments are actually part of the national parks system and they have rangers at each one to give an informative and inspiring speech about them. One of the rangers just kept telling us we were the only ones who could prevent forest fires. Weird.

5. Newseum

There is an endless supply of excellent, free museums and national treasures on display in D.C. A group of people got together and decided to buck that trend by making a museum that actually cost a little scratch to get into. And they did a bang-up job. The Newseum has very compelling exhibits and reminders important historical events and how media coverage of them has informed us and shaped our understanding of them. It is a unique project that explores an interesting space between spectating, participating, creating, reporting facts, disseminating opinions, and the increasingly blurry lines between "social media" and "news", "history" and "current events." Plus, it had like roughly 10,000 units of old Anchorman 2 promotional stuff. I couldn't tell if this was a commentary on society and consumer-culture, or just a surplus of leftover swag. Probably just swag. 

6. Eastern Market 

It's Allison again, I couldn't talk Bennett into writing anymore. The Eastern Market is always one of my favorite stops in D.C. because I love any place where I can buy a vintage brooch and have a cup of coffee in the same place. Al, my good friend of Her Bearings recently moved to D.C. so I was lucky enough to spend time with her through the week and have a shopping partner at the market. 

 

Etc. 

Bennett and I fit in much more. We went to lots of museums, went floating, hung out at trendy Whiskey bars, played Skee ball, went to art galleries, drank lots of coffee, and saw really important things that you can't take photos of like the Declaration of Independence. Special thanks to Anne Pick for letting us crash at her place and being our tour guide for the week! 

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See you soon D.C.! 





Camera Roll Highlights - My version of an excursion

Bennett and I had a plan to go to Punta Cana and just lay by the pool. But when we got to the DR I really felt the need to learn about where we were at. It felt odd just flying in, going to the resort, and never leaving and seeing what was around us. We booked a cultural excursion trip for one of the days that we were there and it was awesome. It was a day long trip, led by a guide that showed us what life was like in the DR. We toured various landscapes including a bat cave and tours of a coffee and sugarcane plantations. We also went to a cigar factory where a man named Leo showed us how to roll cigars. His grandma taught him how to do it when he was seven years old. We ended the day riding horses. Below are a few photos of our day and a short video of what the streets looked like as we were riding to our destinations. 

A few interesting facts we learned: 

  • People that live in the DR love bright colors. As a Christmas tradition, they paint their house a different  color each year. There were houses that were even rainbow striped! 
  • About every other building had a sign with the word Banca on it. These were not banks but places to buy lottery tickets- they love the lottery.
  • The public university is about $100-$120 per semester. Yup. 
  • The tour gave a lot of natural medical remedies that the people use. Everyone raved about a natural drink called Mama Juana that is made by soaking rum, red wine, and honey with tree bark and herbs. It is said to be a flu remedy, aid in digestion and circulation, be blood cleanser, and kidney and liver tonic. We tried it hoping it would cure us of everything but couldn't get past the taste which is similar to cough medicine. 

Camera Roll Highlights - Punta Cana Nirvana

Bennett and I booked a trip to Punta Cana for Spring Break this year. I had a week off work so Bennett took off the same week when he started working so we could plan a getaway. When deciding what to do we settled on going somewhere to sit by a pool and do nothing. We did do a little exploration of the city (which I will blog about separately) but overall I think we met our goal of doing nothing and attempting to just relax. 

Punta Cana is a city in the Dominican Republic. The Dominican Republics shares an island with Haiti and is near Cuba. Going there we had a direct flight from Chicago that was a little over 4 hours, it is easy to get to. 

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We stayed at the Dreams resort which was all-inclusive. There were a ton of restaurants on site and fun shows every night. Plus pink flamingos and peacocks lived there and just walked around which was impressive. There was a long pool that led to the beach. In the pool there were these yellow mats that we would just lay on and float around in. It was glorious. here are some camera roll highlights.