Our last full day in DC started with a relaxed morning before we picked up our hire car and drove out to Lake Accotink in Virginia to meet our friend Lisa and her lovely family; after days in the city, it was great to get out into the open countryside. The boys played mini golf and Nick took them out on the lake in a pedal boat. It was decided that Alex needed to stay next to Nick but since his legs were too short to pedal, the older boys would have to do the work at the front, ensuring that they were worn out by they time they returned.
As evening approached Nick and I foolishly mistook the boys’ languor as an opportunity to see the sites of DC by night. Regular readers will know that I am not particularly keen on driving overseas and in all likelihood Nick will do most, if not all of the driving this year which leaves me the position of co-pilot/navigator/on-road photographer. Thankfully, the car we have hired has a satnav since the one we brought with us doesn’t seem to cope in areas with more than one tall building and doesn’t help with lane suggestions when the roads are wide, which has proved very useful. So, satnav programmed, we headed back into DC.
It turns out that rush hour in DC isn’t really the ideal time to go for a nice drive. Poor Nick was still getting used to which side the instruments were on and, though the windscreen wipers were automatic, it took until the following Friday to figure out how to speed them up. So there we were, ignoring the exasperated instructions of the satnav trying to get us directly back to the apartment, driving in circles, looking out for the many famous landmarks that were “around here somewhere,” cursing the one way streets and apologising to the other cars for the odd driving miscalculation. Armed with a long lens camera in my hand, it was clear to the irate motorists around us that we were from out of town. I must have taken dozens of photos before Nick pointed out to me that they might come out a bit better if I’d just wind the window down. Really though, it was very difficult to concentrate on the business of taking well composed pictures when every turn felt like a white knuckle ride and every manoeuvre had me apologising in that most self deprecating way that us Brits can’t help. By the time he suggested I use the zoom on the lens I was losing my sense of humour and praying for the whole thing to end but, no, we were going to drive past the White House at night even if it killed us and, more than once, I thought it might come to that.
There are not many roundabouts in Washington but we found one next to the Lincoln Memorial and circled it many times until the traffic lights allowed me to get the photograph Nick wanted.
This was the night of the latest super moon/lunar eclipse/blood moon/whatever you want to call it, which meant that this photo opportunity wasn’t likely to arise again for a ridiculously long time, like forever or even longer, and consequently there were lines of professional photographers with their tripods set up for the perfect shot of the moon over the Washington Monument. No pressure then.
We pulled up alongside a number of other opportunists in a no stopping zone, wound down the window, and at that moment Alex awoke earlier than he was ready to and immediately started sobbing loudly. As I tried to calm him, Nick pointed the camera in the right general direction and hoped for the best before speeding off again to the barking commands of the satnav. That’s right, by this time, he was doing the driving and taking the photographs.
Finally, we went for the money shot; the White House lit up at night in all its glory. Sadly there was no stopping on the road this time so it was down to me to do the business and I’m thrilled to report that I got it! Taking our lives into our hands, this is it:
Wait for it…
I know; we should have stumped up for that bus tour!