Washington, DC

After riding the Dragon's Tail and surviving the massive thunderstorm, we continued our trip north towards Washington, DC and now Team Berg is officially at the half way mark!! YAY!!!. There were quite a few highlights on the way before hitting the US capital however like the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway to name just a few (http://www.blueridgeparkway.org/map.php).

When we planned the trip ahead the day before, all we could see were twisties galore on the GPS – what we didn't realise was that we were in the middle of the prime holiday season, resulting in heavy traffic along the mountain road in the Smoky Mountains. It was so bad, that our initial plan to return on the same road was quickly discarded once we reached the bumper to bumper traffic in Gatlinburg, TN. Consequently, we made a quick decision and opted for the long way around the Smokies to Waynesville, NC to do the Parkway from there onwards all the way to DC. Amazing scenery and views, and some more moderate temperatures along the elevated ridges – only in the early 30s…The night in Waynesville turned out to be a pleasant surprise. After stuffing our faces with Thai curry (DB was craving curry) we walked into what was a mountain-country music festival complete with street dancing and a banjo band!! It was just so wonderful being a part of a community's celebration of their cultural heritage!

So Washington – where to start? We stayed with one of DBs old school friends from NZ in Gaithersburg, MA – just a skip, hop and a jump away from all the action. First night, we were taken by Dini and her husband Randy to the epicenter of it all – the White House and a yummy Thai dinner (DB's curry craving as crazy), followed by countless monuments, sculptures, museums and parks galore by day and night. Here some of the highlights:

– the Smithsonian (which is actually not a single museum to our surprise instead it is a Trust that is in charge of pretty much EVERY museum in DC) including the National Museum of Natural History (http://www.mnh.si.edu/), the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (http://www.ushmm.org/), the National Air and Space Museum (http://airandspace.si.edu/) which had the actual Apollo pod that went to the moon, replicas of the Hubble telescope and the Wright Brothers plane. However after DB dragged CB into the museum gift shop to buy her must have fridge magnet we discovered the museum's even better companion facility the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center (http://airandspace.si.edu/museum/udvarhazy/) (aka: the coolest museum in the UNIVERSE!) sporting the Discovery Space Shuttle, a Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, a Concorde and the Boeing B-29
Superfortress Enola Gay…we were in heaven!

– the marvelous, Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln memorials by night complete with their most memorable speeches. We sat on the steps of the Lincoln memorial overlooking the Reflection Pool and the Washington monument, one can't help but fall in love with this city on that warm summers' night. A quick look at the map, we noted that the Korean War memorial was just round the corner. The sun was well and truly set however as we approached the memorial we were blown away by what we saw. The Korean War is probably one of the least known and understood wars in modern history, nevertheless the men and women who fought that war suffered the same horrors as the veterans of so many other wars that are commemorated around America. This memorial, even though took over 30 years to be approved and built, beautifully captures the fear and courage those who fought in the war. It is a series of haunting sculptures, especially in twilight, with and equally haunting line "Freedom is not free".

– the Ulysses S. Grant memorial in front of the Congress building – an equally powerful memorial depicting horrific scenes during the American Civil War.

– the National Sculpture Gardens – hours of fun, optical illusions and discoveries!

Needless to say a few days in the capital is not enough to discover all its gems – just the world class museums alone would keep you occupied for a lifetime… Needless to say we will come back for a second serve. We reckon the new tag line for Washington should be "Washington – a hidden gem".

Having also access to a garage at our friends place offered a prime opportunity to give the bikes a well deserved oil change and some maintenance after more than 6,500 miles of hauling their precious payload. They are good as new now, ready for the second half of the trip. Stay tuned as we now are making up the route as we go! (We have decided to skip New York – we can't cope with the crazy city driving in this part of the USA).

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