In early November I went to Washington DC to visit some family and friends. I had visited DC and the surrounding Maryland/Virginia area previously as a teenager, so it had been some 10+ years since I was on the East Coast. It was my first time experiencing fall in that area since my previous visits were always in the summer. Needless to say, I found myself scrambling for some weather-appropriate layers. Here’s what I ended up doing + snapshots from my time in the Capital:

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My redeye landed at 4:50 am, so Dulles was a ghost town. I was somewhat delirious from lack of sleep, so when I came out of the gate and saw this the first thought in my mind was: “Multipass?” (from the movie “The Fifth Element.”) The Star Trek-like font on the sign that says “terminal” reinforced my somewhat fanciful belief that I was not actually in Virginia but rather some futuristic fictional advanced city. I Β stumbled into the shuttle bleary-eyed and giggling quietly.

One of the first things I did was walk around the National Mall.

Glorious foliage!
Glorious foliage!

Some of this happened:

Teehee.
Teehee.

Made a quick pit stop for an iconic meal:

Standard cheeseburger, fries and a coke. I get a standard order whenever I try a new restaurant to see whether they can make basics well. Verdict? With a touch less salt, this burger could be better. Maybe my cook had an off day, but the patty was too salty!
Standard cheeseburger, fries and a coke. I get my favorite order whenever I try a new restaurant to see whether they can make basics well. Verdict? With a touch less salt, this burger could be better. Maybe my cook had an off day, but the patty was too salty!

Here’s what my wardrobe-in-action looked like with the blue REI fleece as a focal point:

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Used gray and black as neutrals for the cerulean/purplish-blue tones of the fleece jacket. The blue brochure is from when I was able to observe the US Senate while in session, sitting high in the visitor’s gallery.

Not shown in the photograph: I wore Uniqlo Heattech shirts and socks throughout my entire trip. Total lifesavers! If it weren’t for the Heattech, the wind cutting through the fleece would have completely done me in. As it stood, I was only cold when I stood in place and as long as I was outside. Still, I envied the other women in cozy down jackets and wool coats. Almost impulse-bought a down parka in Nordstrom Rack but I didn’t want to lug home more weight.

One full day was dedicated to visiting the Capitol area.

Didn't even realize this was the back of the Capitol building. I was excited because there was hardly anyone around and I wanted a tourist-free photograph. No wonder I got my wish.
Didn’t even realize this was the back of the Capitol building. I was excited because there was hardly anyone around and I wanted a tourist-free photograph. Well, I got my wish.

I saw the US Senate in session! Pretty neat, and completely free–you just need to get a pass and check all recording devices at the cloak room. There were no photographs allowed in the Visitor’s Gallery, but I did get to hear California state senator Barbara Boxer speak about late-term abortion and the woman’s choice (I think it was another reproductive bill being debated on the floor.) I don’t remember the exact argument anymore, but I was really glad to see the democratic process being applied. However you feel about an issue–your power lies in your voice and in your vote. You can’t help but feel pretty damn patriotic after visiting the Capitol. America!

After lunch, I took the Capitol tunnel to the Library of Congress. I knew it would be a photographic smorgasbord, but I really underestimated the place. I could have easily dedicated a whole day to just sitting in the Library staring at the walls and columns and artwork.

loc collage
I could stare at this for days. I didn’t want to leave.

The Library of Congress is not a standard library–you can’t take books out of it; and only adults 18 and over may apply for a library card–usually those who have true academic research needs. But fear not, a lot of its collections are accessible online for free. Amazing place and I highly recommend the tour. There is a preserved Gutenberg bible on display in the public areas, not to mention the several small exhibits regarding the Library’s massive collections on the second floor. This was one of my favorite stops on my trip.

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I took a night off to go see one of my favorite guitarists/soloists live in concert. I also tried DC Brau’s Corruption IPA. I’m not a big drinker (at all!) so I can’t tell you how it was compared to other beers. I liked it. I sat at a table with several other couples and a few people who attended solo. It ended up being a pleasant time and I even got to meet Andy McKee after the concert.

amckee
A charismatic and incredibly skilled performer. I babbled some nonsense at him to encourage him to play more, and tour out in CA sometime. Fangirl status, but who cares? I love this guy! Check out Andy McKee if you like acoustic guitar.

Oh, and the outfit above is exactly what you see here:

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Bringing two “coats” was a huge hassle and I won’t do it again, but it did allow me to have two different looks during the trip.

Again, cute but it hardly did anything against the cold. After the concert, I went outside to walk back to the bus stop to go back to the hotel. I didn’t last long. The wind and the drop in temperature from low 60s in the morning to high 40s at night cut right through my paltry layers. I ended up cabbing it back home because I didn’t want to wait for the bus another 10 minutes in the wind. Hence my “on the hunt” post for a true cold-weather jacket and why I’m waiting for another Heattech sale so I can buy all the shirts and socks. Coldproof all the things!

The rest of the trip was filled with more architecture:

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Old Post Office Pavilion

I love seeing cool architecture. These locations were off-beat attractions suggested by friends who lived in the city. I wanted to go to places that had no admission fee and where you’re welcome to sit and hang out for as long as you’d like. It was an exercise in patience and mindfulness to choose to sit still in one location, to let go of that “fear of missing out” anxiety rampant in this generation. I use photography as a tool to help me slow down, stay put, and just enjoy what is in front of me and not worry about rushing somewhere else.

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National Building Museum. Fortunate are the residents of well-preserved historical cities!

And more monuments:

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Since I traveled the weekend before Veterans Day (Nov. 11), there were respectful tributes to fallen soldiers such as this wreath that was laid along the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

DSC_1563 ed
This is my favorite memorial because it is one of the simplest and most powerful. The black Β gabbro stone’s mirror polish reflects your image atop the names of the fallen. It is a moving, humbling experience.

My last day was spent visiting with friends and getting to know this adorably handsome young fellow:

At lunch in one of the Smithsonian museums, he  attracted the attention of two cute young women at the table next to us. When they left, they couldn't help but gush about his smile to his mother. Already breaking hearts at 1.5 years of age! Kids these days move too darn quickly. :D
At lunch in one of the Smithsonian museums, he attracted the attention of two young women at the table next to us. When they left, they couldn’t help but gush about his smile to his mother. Already breaking hearts at 1.5 years of age! Kids these days move too darn quickly. πŸ˜€

It was a really nice trip and I’m so glad to have witnessed part of an East Coast fall. In my corner of California, there’s no beautiful foliage, but there are 75-degree temperatures up until mid-November. The visible change in the seasons is a novelty for me. I also learned a lot about selecting the proper items for a cold-weather wardrobe–I lack a lot of pieces like a good serviceable coat and lined gloves to keep the wind and cold at bay. I can’t wait to go back or at the very least visit another location on the opposite coast. Back to scheming and plotting for next year’s adventures!

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10 thoughts on “Uniformly Dressed in Washington DC

  1. Looks like you had a great time! Love seeing the photos of my city. Also, I bought my first heat tech shirt at Uniqlo this weekend. It’s been keeping me warm on my bike rides into work. Thanks for that suggestion, I need more now, too!

  2. Happy to hear that you had tons of fun. DC is up there as one of my top places to live in the US if I ever stay. I hear rumours that Uniqlo might be coming to DC someday which is super cool if it ever does.

    1. It makes me sad to think you wouldn’t be in the US! Whatever life brings you, I hope you can visit/try other places to live. (like California, cough cough)

      I can’t wait to go back to DC. 5 days was way too short; I didn’t even leave the Downtown area! And/or really DO the Smithsonian Museums…ach! Must. go back.

  3. I truly enjoyed your photos and your insightful analysis of your recent east coast adventure! This anxiety of wanting to take it all in runs in all generations. One does need to develop more mindfulness. I think that photography allows one to cover more ground
    because one knows there is something to review to re-live the experiences.

    1. Photography is a mixed blessing. You take home the memories, but sometimes, in recording them you miss out on the rest of the sensory experience that is traveling. So I try to challenge myself now to give the camera (and my mind) a break and just sit and be in a place in its entirety.

      Can’t wait to find a new place to go.

  4. Love the first photo – little you infront of the mahoosive Capitol building. And you sound like you could have really done with a good winter coat. Shame it’s taking you so long but good that you managed to hold out so you can really think about what you’re looking for.

    BTW, the Uniqlo in the UK have an offer on the heattechs!

    1. I had a good laugh after finding out it was the BACK of the building. πŸ™‚ I learned so much about layering and my outerwear needs in one trip!

      I’m going to be posting soon about some coats I’m test-driving, so stay tuned for that.

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