A field trip to Old Town Alexandria and celebrating Independence Day

I really liked the bedroom in Washington, D.C. that I had sublet. It was very comfy and overlooked the back porch of the house. The landlady lived in the house with her family and I enjoyed chatting with her – she had been to Singapore several times and had friends there – it was going to be an interesting five weeks in DC.

The house was in the Adam’s Morgan neighborhood, which I liked a lot. Self-contained, with a Safeway supermarket and CVS pharmacy, as well as a Chinese takeout restaurant, a Starbucks four minutes from the house (absolute bliss). The metro station was just a 10-minute walk away and it was close to the Boston University Center, where my political journalism class was going to be held.

The professor leading the five week-long class was Michael Scully. I had taken his news writing class at Ithaca College. The first week would be an intro to Washington and finding out what makes the city tick as a tourist destination. Scully gave the class a lowdown about past US presidents and the Constitution, about Washington, about the Civil War, about Republicans and Democrats, about how Krispy Kreme is allegedly related to the KKK and the state of Tennessee, about Martin Luther King’s speech at the Mall, and the Washington Post and the Watergate Scandal. There was a lot of history to cover and I was glad we got it out of the way at the first class. Of course, Scully peppered the lesson with anecdotes that made it a lot more fun.

That week saw us taking a field trip to Old Town Alexandria, our first stop, the George Washington Masonic National Memorial. We later walked along King Street till we reached the Potomac River, taking in the sights of historic buildings and cobblestone streets. We also visited Carlyle House and Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary, both from the 18th century and maintained till this day.

George Washington mural | Alexandria, Virginia

Old Town Alexandria, Virginia

Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary | Alexandria, Virginia

Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary | Alexandria, Virginia

Potomac River | Alexandria, Virginia

The class also met that week to celebrate Independence Day by camping out at the Marine Corps War Memorial (also known as the Iwo Jima Memorial) to watch the fireworks over the Washington Monument. The memorial is in Arlington, beside the Arlington National Cemetery, and judging by the crowds gathered, is a popular spot to celebrate the Fourth of July. Before we entered the memorial grounds though, we were thoroughly searched by police stationed there.

Celebrating Independence Day at Marine Corps War Memorial | Arlington, Virginia

It had been a good first week and introduction to the capital. I was really impressed with how organized and clean Washington’s streets were. There was a sense of efficiency in the air and I knew I was going to have a great five weeks here.

  • Frank Scheer f_scheer@yahoo.com November 12, 2008, 6:05 am

    If visiting the National Postal Museum, take time to browse the Railway Post Office exhibit. The history of the Railway Mail Service and Postal Transportation Service were particularly fascinating –sorting mail at 60 mph and catching it on the fly!


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