The National Mall is a National Disgrace.

natl_mallWe visited Washington D.C. for the first time this summer. It was exciting to visit all the places I had seen on television.

The White House, National Cathedral, WW II Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, National Archives, the Watergate Complex… the list goes on and on (by the way… 4 days isn’t long enough to visit Washington… you need about 87 to see everything).

I have decided to leave Ford’s Theater out of the discussion because I’m still trying to get the whole Hard Rock Café fiasco out of my head.

These places are so common to me because I have seen them a thousand times on the news, in history books, and even in movies.

Before I stepped foot in Washington, I had a picture in my mind of what things would look like.

Everything would be perfect.

With all the visitors that come to Washington, the monuments and memorials in our nation’s capital would be in the best possible shape.

I figured the government must pour millions of dollars into their upkeep.

I was wrong.

Everything wasn’t perfect. And it retrospect it couldn’t be.

The pictures I had seen over the years were taken to put everything in the best light (so to speak).

The buildings came the closest to being what I imagined. The National Cemetery in Arlington and the National Cathedral were even more impressive than I could have imagined.

Then there was the National Mall.

I was looking forward to seeing where they hold the Independence Day fireworks and all of the other great yearly events.

When we made our way to the mall, I couldn’t have been more disappointed.

To put it kindly, it’s a dump.

Trash, dirty bathrooms, stagnant water in the reflecting pool, and dead grass. If there is grass at all.

More like dead mud.

There was also a certain smell I couldn’t put my finger on. Not that I wanted to put my finger on it.

The Mall just wasn’t what I expected.

I guess I should’ve had lower expectations.

Especially since our legislators are in charge, and I figure they are hesitant to give money to the District of Columbia when they can ship it back to their home districts for very important projects (note to reader… this is sarcasm).

The mall hosts millions of visitors a year. You can’t have that many people walking around and expect it to look like a golf course.

I get that.

On the other hand I don’t think the National Mall should look like the grounds at the county fair.

Since it’s our nation’s front lawn, I think we should take care of it.

The least we can do is pay a high school kid $20 to mow it (or smooth out the mud).

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President Lincoln was Shot Where?

Traveling is always interesting. Sometimes too interesting.

When I’m on the road and go out to eat, I’m not looking for drama.

I want to dine in peace.

And not get in the middle of an international incident.

I am pretty sure the guy at the Subway in Chinatown was cursing the customer before us… but I will never know (I think he said “I am going to strangle your fish with a bar of soap if you get Sprite instead of water!!!”… but it was hard to tell… angry Chinese man spoke very quickly).

Chinese Subway.

Chinese Subway.

While I’m not sure what he said exactly, there was definitely a tone.

And almost an attack. Not sure who was going to attack whom, but it was about to happen.

I don’t care what nationality you are, if someone in your restaurant orders a water then fills the cup up with soda… you’re going to be angry.

Turns out, very angry.

Screaming and pointing angry.

Willing to do bad things with Lava soap angry.

Saying 14 consecutive Chinese curse words in a row angry.

But, lesson learned. Stay on the good side of the Chinese Subway owner.

And if you order water, get water (also, don’t eat items in the grocery store… the grapes aren’t free…).

My day in Washington D.C. started off innocently enough. The evil spawn and I were wandering the streets looking for a McDonald’s.

Since we aren’t completely stupid, we started heading in the opposite direction of people we saw holding McDonald’s sacks.

The good news is our plan worked. The bad news is it took us 40 minutes.

After we ate (if you consider “eating” at McDonald’s eating…), we again headed out into the city.

I think we were headed south, but just like with the Chinese cursing I may never know.

Before I knew it we were standing directly in front of Ford’s Theater.

As anyone who passed (or didn’t) junior high social studies, we all know President Lincoln was shot in Ford’s Theater.

It was a very surreal moment because while I have studied and taught this fact, I never expected to be standing directly in front of where Lincoln was killed (especially when I was basically lost and in a food coma from way too many hash browns).

As I glanced across the street, I could also see the Peterson House where they took the President after the shooting.

If I remember my history, I think he died there the next morning (I also remember something about a Cabinet Meeting being held there, but I digress… and possibly bore…).

As I stood next to the theater, I was torn.

Being excited to see where someone died seemed a little morbid.

But it is history, so I wanted to document our experience.

What better way than to take a picture of my daughter. As I focused the camera, I noticed something.

And once again (don’t forget my time at the Alamo!), I became disappointed in seeing history up close.

For you see, Ford’s Theater… where our 16th President was assassinated… is next door to…

… the Hard Rock Café.

You Can See the Hard Rock Flag Next to the American Flag.

You Can See the Hard Rock Flag Flying Proudly Next to the American Flag.

That’s wrong.

Just wrong.

That fact that you can see where Abraham Lincoln was shot… and then walk 20 feet and see a pair of Mick Jagger’s pants is just not right (picture will be added when I get home… or when my wife finds the camera cord…).

It gets better… or odder… across the street from the Hard Rock… the FBI Building. Somewhere, J. Edgar Hoover isn’t happy. Happier than the Chinese Subway owner, but not happy.

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