Tuesday, July 8, 2014

A Capital City Encounter

The final hour of driving was almost over, marking our journey's interim end. Exhausted from doing nothing all day except sitting in a car, knocking off the miles, the three of us were impatient yet elated as we neared our weekend destination.

Approaching our country’s capital from the south, eyes scanned the horizon for what we guessed would be the first structure viewed. This was my 10-year-old grandson’s first trip to Washington, D.C. and he was excited, although his tough-guy demeanor found it difficult to admit.

Dusk quickly morphed into near-darkness. Suddenly the Washington Monument emerged directly in front of us. Highlighted by white spotlights, alone in the night sky, the soaring spire captivated. The Capitol building could be seen in the distance, atop a hill – dubbed the Capitol Bump by my son years earlier because he felt the mound did not merit the term ‘hill’.

Driving across the river, the dome of the Jefferson Monument materialized. Government buildings surrounded us, the Classic structures and illuminated columns appearing stately to the eyes of us older folks, and registering a high Wow factor to our ten-year-old passenger.

That enthralling entrance to the magical city on the Potomac set the stage for our weekend. As ruptured and broken as city inhabitants insist on making its core industry of politics, the discord and tension was not apparent to tourists and we three temporary visitors.

I attended the NSNC – National Society of Newspaper Columnists – conference all day Saturday.

Hub and grandson spent the day sightseeing, leaving the hotel at 8:00 a.m. and returning twelve hours later.

The Washington Monument highlighted my grandson’s day. The two guys toured the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum and Natural History Museum. They splurged on bakery delicacies for breakfast and food truck specialties for lunch. Dinner featured sushi. Grandpa and grandson hiked over six miles of city pavement. They viewed the White House. A return trip featuring a White House tour is on our future must-see list.

I spent the day listening to a series of provocative speakers at the NSNC conference, especially enthralled by Craig Wilson, retired USA Today columnist. Amusing readers for years with humorous takes on life’s everyday issues, his entertaining and hilarious presentation did not disappoint.

Thrilled to be in the midst of a group of brilliant, talented professionals, absorbing their words of wisdom, their stories of career difficulties and successes, I met writers read and admired, names previously seen only in print. I was excited and honored when awarded third place in my category in the NSNC column contest.

Before heading home to (finally) enjoy summer at our shore home, we (hub, grandson, me) spent hours wandering around the Smithsonian Zoo. Twin panda cubs playing together while Dad napped nearby was the best part of the day. Actually, the best part was that the zoo was free (parking was not). Our tax dollars are used for a few good things...

Finally the three of us fell into the car, revved up the air conditioning – Washington was hot – and headed out of town.

We will return.

As for the NSNC conference, next year in Indianapolis! Writers, you do not have to attend the conference to enter or win the column contest. Simply write… 


  1. It sounds like it was a very fruitful trip. All that time in a car would have done me in, but otherwise it sounds great. Thanks for sharing it, and congratulations on your win! :-)

  2. It seems as though you have been on the go a lot this summer!