We woke up the next day, got cleaned-up and made a plan for the day. We decided to head down to the National Mall to see the Washington Monument, US Capital building and check out a museum or two. Since it was Saturday, we knew it would be pure insanity to try to drive into the city, so we grabbed the Metro train at East Falls Church and rode into the city. The train grew gradually more crowded and we soon learned pretty much everyone was on their way to a big protest against the healthcare bill. Listening to the people talk, it seems like there’s a whole social group dedicated to going to protests. Some of us go shopping or attend sporting events. These people protest every weekend.
Once at the Mall, we walked around and could see the protesters blanketing the Mall in front of the Capital. We continued east and headed to the National Air and Space Museum.
Apparently, you need to camp out over night to get into that place because the admission line was out the door. We later learned this museum has a massive annex near Dulles Airport called the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center which is supposed to be almost as good as the one in the city. Oh well, we end up at the National Museum of Natural History where we saw minerals, mummies, bugs, a T-Rex skeleton, 40ft tall totem poles and learned about early Colonial life in the US. Plus lunch.
Back outside, we cruised towards the Washington Monument for some photo ops, then north to the White House. There must have been a high threat condition because there were cops EVERYWHERE and they had blocked Pennsylvania Avenue off from pedestrian traffic. We continued walking north and ran into another pack of police trying to contain an anti-war protest which was rocking along in Lafayette Park. We grabbed some Starbucks at the corner of 15th & I, then headed back to the Metro.
After some mindless driving around, we enjoyed dinner at Pei Wei in Herndon, VA. It was an okay day, but nothing compared to what we were supposed to have done in Argentina: attend the San Lorenzo vs Colón soccer game with our friends. Seeing a Primera División Argentina match was really a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us which United had robbed us of. We were all bitter.
We headed off to the airport for our 2nd attempt to fly to BA. This time, it actually worked. Naturally, it was not without complications. The prior evening, they had re-booked us, but had found us 4 seats in 3 different rows. Very convenient when traveling with children. Luckily, we were able to sort that out. We also met again with our fellow stranded traveler. It turns out he was a blogger and behind the top movie review website in Argentina, CinesArgentinos.com.ar. He had been in the US for an interview with Bruce Willis to cover his most recent film, Cop Out.
Once aboard, I settle in with Erin and Julie with Grace. Julie and Grace soon determined their TVs weren’t working. Naturally, when you’re been assigned to sit in Row 39 of 39 (i.e. steerage), one should not expect the in-flight entertainment system to function. We did depart on time, a pleasant surprise, and settled in for the 10hr 43min overnight flight.