Posted by: capitalgirl | September 6, 2009

Capitalgirl About Town

Georgetown, that is! Having arrived and settled in to my lovely apartment with my three lovely roommates, I decided to get out today and see some of the District. I got to take advantage of an excellent walking tour around Georgetown, so I busted out my fancy new running shoes, made sure I had my camera (by which I mean my phone) in my bag, and headed out.

The Waterfront

The Waterfront

Georgetown is absolutely gorgeous, full of lovely old historical buildings, great stores, and some really fabulous spots to eat. Actually, after the walking tour, I stopped with some friends at a burger place called “Five Guys”. Remember that photo op with Obama and Biden eating burgers? That was at Five Guys. This place was so cute – they actually have a sign up on the wall that they change every day, letting you know where the potatos in your fries are from. (In case you’re interested, today our fries were from Sugar City, Idaho. Sugar City, you produce HIGHLY DELICIOUS POTATOS.)

To get back on topic, we started off the tour at Old Stone House, which is one of the most literally named landmarks I have ever encountered. It was, in fact, an old stone house, dating back to 1765. They had furnished it with period items, which were pretty snappy, particularly the old spinning wheels and other knitting acoutrements. I geeked out a little bit at that.

Afterwards, we headed towards the waterfront, which accorded an excellent view of the Potomac River, the Key bridge (named after Francis Scott Key, composer of America’s national drinking song “The Star-Spangled Banner”), the Kennedy Centre, and the Watergate Hotel. We stayed long enough to snap some photos, then moved on to a more pop-culturally relevant photo spot.

The Exorcist Stairs

The Exorcist Stairs

To the left, you can see me standing beside the stairs from that scene  in The Exorcist. In case anyone cares, it so happens that there are 75 steps here, divided into three groups of 25 stairs, with two landings separating them. There’s also a chin-up bar to the right (which you can’t see) because the Georgetown athletic teams like to run the stairs for training. No one threw themselves down the stairs as we walked up them, nor did we encounter any priests on their way from performing an exorcism.

Once we’d made it up the stairs, we stopped in Francis Scott Key park (yes, the same Francis Scott Key) for a breather, then headed off to Georgetown University. Apparently it’s the first Jesuit university within some geographic boundary or other. Though I can’t remember specifics, I can readily affirm that it’s much fancier than the oldest Jesuit university in Canada, which happens to the the one I attend. Seriously, why doesn’t my university have chandeliers in the hallways? (Probably because I don’t pay insanely huge numbers of dollars for tuition, so I guess it’s okay.)

Our last stop on the tour was outside JFK’s residence, which he lived in while serving as a senator. It’s now privately owned, so we didn’t see anything more than the outside, but it’s a neat piece of history and was nice to see.

After stopping for lunch, I headed off with a new friend to tour Arlington National Cemetery. I hadn’t made it out there the last time I visited D.C., and he’s a big liberal who wanted to see Ted Kennedy’s grave.

Arlington National Cemetery

Arlington National Cemetery

Some fun facts about Arlington:

  • About 320,000 people are buried there
  • There are between 25 and 30 funerals held there every day
  • The cemetery was originally a plantation owned by the family of Robert E. Lee’s wife
  • There are a standard set of religious symbols used to designate religious affiliation on government-issued tombstones
  • For atheists, the symbol is a stylized atom

The Arlington Cemetery is a little bit overwhelming. It’s hard to take in the meaning of the endless rows of tombstones and other memorials. There’s so much political and historical context to all of that loss, and in some ways it seemed a bit tacky to be wandering around taking pictures. I clearly wasn’t the only one having trouble reconciling the commemoration of loss with the tourism, considering the couple I saw arguing over a photo of Ted Kennedy’s grave or the woman talking loudly on her cellphone at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The fact that the cemetery is also an enormous  tourist destination left me conflicted, and I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about the experience.

Regardless, I did see some super interesting things, including the Kennedy graves (JFK and Jackie O, along with two of their children who died young; Robert Kennedy; and Ted Kennedy), the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (which involved three guys who I think might have been robots, considering their coordination and unbelievably strict movement), the memorials for the Challenger and Columbia shuttles, the memorial for the individuals who died during the Iran hostage crisis, Arlington house, and the monument for women in the military. There were also, obviously, some interesting people buried there, including Pierre L’Enfant, the Frenchman who designed the layout for D.C.; President William Howard Taft; and the last five-star general in the US military.

Canadian Cross of Sacrifice

Canadian Cross of Sacrifice

As a shout-out to my Canadian peeps, I’ve also included a photo, to the right, of the Canadian Cross of Sacrifice. It’s pretty crappy, because I only snapped it as we were driving by and the bus was going pretty fast, but it’s a neat monument. It was donated by Mackenzie King in 1927 to commemorate the contributions of Americans who served in the Canadian Forces in WWI, and since then has also commemorated Americans who served in the Canadian forces in WWII and the Korean War as well. It’s got a big sword on the front, which you can’t really see in this picture, and it’s large and impressive and a nice piece of Canada in a quintessentially American place.

I couldn’t fit nearly all the pictures I took today into this post, but I’ve set up a flickr account in case anyone wants to take a look at my photos. I’m doing that instead of loading them on Facebook because it’s WAY more convenient for blogging, plus this way I can keep my real name private. Anyways, enjoy the photos, and my boring touristy account of my day!



  1. Hi Devon: I enjoyed reading your blog and seeing the pictures you posted. You must be very excited about this great opportunity. I’m sure you will give us some idea about what you will be doing in an average day. I wish you well–and I will keep reading the blog to find out more.

    Aunt Cheryl

  2. Hi Aunt Cheryl! Glad to see you’re enjoying the blog! I’m going to try to post at least a few times a week so that I can remember all the fancy things I’m doing.

    Thanks for reading!

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