I always knew that arriving here would be bittersweet. The goodbyes were a lot harder to say than I had hoped and the departure more abrupt than I had previously been used too.
While previously we have left directly from our home, and slowly pulled away from the country (and eventually continent) that we had grown up in, this was the first time that I was to board a plane, knowing that in a matter of hours and for a few years, I would be a whole ocean from those I care about most.
As well as this, writing from a campsite 10 days into the trip, I had not realised, but doing things this way, the trip has seemed like a series of false starts. We drove the vehicles, fully packed and ready to go from our home over a month ago, loaded them onto a ship in Antwerp and then flew back for a few weeks. Upon arriving here, we had a week to wait before the cruisers arrived stateside. Upon finally receiving the vehicles it became apparent that a number of mechanical issues that we had known about with the older of the two would need seen too as soon as possible. So now, a month from sending the vehicles and having been in the USA for 11 days, we still feel like the trip is yet to begin in earnest.
However, while all this may be true, we have still had a superb time, and fuelled by pre-trip optimism and a massive amount of not being able to believe that i’m in the USA with my dog and my cruiser and all my worldly possessions, we have managed to see, do and experience an awesome selection of things:
I flew Icelandair to get here, as they very graciously took the dog for free, and were courteous and kind with him and myself, making the whole journey a breeze. Dee, and our two new travel companions, Reece and Nancy, flew WOW air, an Icelandic Budget airline that was less that half the price. I arrived one hour after them in Washington, which gave them the perfect amount of time to rent a car and drive down from Baltimore and collect me. The plan went off without a hitch, I was still reeling from how easy it had been to transport the hound (while congratulating him for seeming relaxed and having managed to not soil his cage in the 14 hours since i had last seen him), when they pulled up to collect me.
Having crashed almost immediately in the hotel we had booked for the first few days in Washington, and with the time difference on our side, we attacked DC sightseeing with vigour.
Our plan to drive into the centre backfired as we spent the first hour pulled up to allow passage of what, for the purpose of the story i am going to call a ‘presidential’ motorcade – honestly i have no idea who it was, but the reams of black cars with tinted windows and US flags on their bonnets, as well as the heavy police presence holding us off the road, makes me confident enough to be certain that “presidential” was certainly a fair possibility.
This, coupled with the distinct lack of parking in central DC, pushed us back, and we ended up managing to find a good park spot and somewhat accidentally through this made Roosevelt island our first stop. Not a bad place to reward a hound for having just bossed his first transatlantic flight:
That afternoon, as the clouds burned off DC, we decided it was finally time to celebrate our arrival stateside in the best way that English twentysomethings abroad know how. Drinks in the sun. We found a cool little bar, (with an all afternoon happy hour – vital to offset the otherwise high prices of the capital) looking over the river in Georgetown, and settled in for a long one.
Waking the next morning, we decided a long walk was the best way to power through the hangover. We were positioned well for this, with the hotel being situated in Arlington, and a short walking distance from the eponymous war memorial graveyard.
We took a long walk from here and across the memorial bridge into central DC. A great experience, crossing the wide straight of the Potomac as the famous landmarks of DC reveal themselves across the skyline.
While Enjoying the sights, many people took the opportunity to greet the hound, most being amazed the he had came all the way from england (well, Macedonia) and the story of his life and rescue always makes for a great conversation starter. One woman, however, took it upon herself to voice her strong disapproval, calling it ‘animal cruely’ that I would force him on a plane. I did my best to explain, that while it was not ideal, he is a hardy stray hunting dog, and is seldom phased by anything, what is more, through one unpleasant day, he is getting two years of living the best life a dog could. She vocally disagreed, and left, shaking her head and muttering under her breath.
Walking down the mall and trying to heave the hound from trying to run up trees after every squirrel he saw, we arrived at the Washington monument, which was hosting a kite festival, as if laid on, just to make our day that bit more special.
Having lain on the grass and enjoyed the sights and sounds, we decided to round up the day of classic sightseeing with a trip to the White House.
It had never occurred to me that there might be protests, demonstrations or rallies, but i have subsequently found out that these are are daily occurrence in one form or another. When we arrived, it was a Legalise Marijuana Rally that had the most feet on the ground, but dotted between them still stood the hate preachers, evangelicals and Anti-abortionists. The juxtaposition and energy was feverish and raw, one man on a soapbox with a T-shirt that read “Homosexuals and Jews belong in Zoos” bellowed that we were all going to burn in hell, while being assaulted back with a barrage of logic and reason from the majoritively left-wing crowd.
We were loving the energy and enjoying watching the back and forth, not to mention bubbling over with thoughts and arguments of our own to engage with those we disagreed with. Unfortunately, logic and and reason do not stand up in the face of unfounded and uneducated hatred, and our points fell on deaf ears and apparently I am going to burn in hell for eternity for that most heinous crime; Rational thought. We left, as it became tiring and somewhat upsetting.