Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Sublime to the Ridiculous: Washington Monuments to Harry's Bar

On a late Saturday afternoon in May, about 4:30 p.m., we set out for the Washington Monument and decided to visit the various memorials around the Tidal Basin. My first impression of the Washington Monument was that it was big, but other than that it did not provoke much feeling for me. However, before the evening was over, after seeing the Washington Monument from many different angles and as a backdrop to many photos, I'd fallen in love with it. 
The World War II Memorial had some nice fountains and a view down the reflecting pool toward the Lincoln Memorial, but again, did not feel particularly significant to me. 

The Washington Monument loomed large above the WWII Memorial. 
The walk over to the Jefferson Memorial was significant. We had to cross a number of busy streets and go some distance, winding around the Tidal Basin. A am a lover of the Jefferson Memorial, partly because I admire Jefferson so much, partly because the architecture of the memorial is so Jeffersonian, and partly because it is plain gorgeous. 

The Washington Monument from the Jefferson Memorial. 
It is another significant walk to the FDR Memorial, although not as long and without as many obstacles. The FDR Memorial is spread-out and less monumental. It is a succession of large blocks, lots of water and lots of green plants. I probably need to go back some day and read all of the signs, but I did not have it in me that evening.
This cute little girl riding Roosevelt's dog was the highlight of this monument for me. 
The Washington Monument from near the FDR Memorial. 
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial was monumental, but did not grab me as much as some others. I have great admiration for King and he deserves his place there, but I felt more of him in front of the Lincoln Memorial, where he gave his "I have a Dream" speech, than in this location. 
The Korean War Veterans Memorial is stunning. The life-size statues walking through vegetation transports you to Korea. One of my favorites. 
The Lincoln Memorial is also beautiful, the inside light conveying a sense of inward purity. Lincoln is revered. Martin Luther King's speech gives that place the memories for me, but Lincoln provided the gravitas for King's speech. 

This view captures the "I have a dream" speech for me. 

It was getting quite dark by the time we hit the Vietnam Memorial. We could barely make out the names on the wall. It was the Washington Monument shining brightly above it that lent its significance to this spot for me. 
This circular trudge around the Tidal Basin was long and tiring, but inspiring. About the time we were back even to the Washington Monument we were in front of the White House, albeit a long distance away. It was illuminated, but it shines less brightly for me these days. By contrast, Washington's Monument seemed particularly bright this night, Washington's greatness magnified by comparison to the current occupant of the White House. 
This picture is appropriately blurry, like the message emanating from the occupant within. 
We walked further along, quite hungry. It was after 9:00 p.m. and several places we looked to eat were closed. We passed Harry's Bar and it was doing a steady business, both inside and out. We stopped as much for a cold drink and to rest our tired legs as to eat dinner. 

I ordered a lobster roll, thinking it might be good given our proximity to the eastern seaboard. I was wrong. The bun was pretty much condiment free and the lobster chunks were very cold and a little chewy. Perhaps the worst lobster roll I've ever eaten and I've eaten another one or two that were pretty bad. The french fries that came with it were also cold.
Judy ordered a salmon salad with avocado, carrots, cabbage and garbanzo beans. It had over-cooked salmon and lots of garbanzo beans, but no avocado, cabbage or carrots. Judy eventually caught the attention of our inattentive waitress and asked her about the missing ingredients. The waitress told her that they'd run out of those ingredients, "sorry." No offer to try and fix anything, no discount, no prior explanation when she brought it to the table. 
One of our worst restaurant experiences ever. Fortunately, it was not enough to take the shine off the sublime of the monuments we'd visited earlier that evening. A walk that helped restore some hope and pride in our nation's capitol that seems hell bent these days to destroy the institutions that have made our country great. 


  1. This is a great synopsis of our long walk. Though I've been to most of these places before (but not Harry's Bar, thank goodness, and never again), I came away with a greater love for our country. I think it was all about idealism, not the phony belief in no problems or issues, but a belief in the ideals that we aspire to achieve. Wonderful.

  2. I've seen all those monuments with the exception of the Korean War Memorial. Washington is beautiful at night.
    I had to laugh at your interesting dinner experience. I guess you need some bad experiences to appreciate the good even more.