Saturday, October 18, 2014

Hello From Washington D.C. - Rural Meets City

Trip planning materials
Many years ago, when our four children were fairly young, we had made several day trips into Washington D.C. to see the sights.  Our stops always included one or more of three very popular Smithsonian museums - The Air and Space Museum, The Museum of Natural History (always gotta look at those dinosaurs and the gem stones), and The Museum of American History.

Recently we decided to travel back to D.C., and this time explore some of the other tourist attractions and less well known museums and sights.  With that idea in mind, I ordered some free travel planning materials from www.washington.org and got busy making our itinerary.

I had also gleened some very helpful RVing advice for visiting the D.C. area from several blogs I regularly read, The RV Goddess and The Travels of Kimbopolo.  So, armed with the visitors' guide and map I had received, along with the blog information and the internet, I put together a one week sightseeing foray into the big city.

Both of those blog writers highly recommended staying at the Cherry Hill RV Park in College Park, Maryland, so I booked a week there.  Apparently this is THE campground from which to conveniently explore the D.C. area.  With over 400 sites, and all the other possible campground amenities available, this campground promises to be "a monumental experience" according to its pamphlet.  Although the sites are fairly close together, we had a decent pull-thru site with all the utilities for a price far less than that of staying in a city hotel for the same amount of time.

Let me just back up and say first that we have clearly learned one lesson.  That is, we will never drive from home into the Washington area again on a Friday evening.  I don't know what we were thinking.  What Mapquest indicates is a three hour trip took us 5 1/2 hours.  And, it wasn't exactly a pleasant, enjoy-the-scenery drive, either.  It was a traffic nightmare - a white knuckle experience of strategically maneuvering a behemoth fifth wheel in 5/6/7 lane Friday night traffic.  Never.  Again.

It's a large RV park, as you can see.
Then, add to that a few troubles upon finally arriving at our campsite with unhitching, rehitching, and leveling.  Whether it was human error or hitch malfunction, we still do not know, but the front end of the fiver crashed down onto the back of the pickup and did some ugly crunching of the back end of our truck.  It was a rough evening all around, and it wouldn't have taken much coaxing at that point to just drive on through our site and head back home and forget all about seeing Washington D.C.

However, a good night of sleep does wonders, and we woke in a better frame of mind the next morning, ready to get moving and see the sights.

We had decided to make good use of the Washington metro transportation system.  Although there is a bus that comes right to the campground and transports folks to the nearest metro station, we wanted to be on our own schedule, and so we drove ourselves to that metro station each day, parked there, and traveled to our various locations throughout the week using the metro system.

On our first day of sightseeing we purchased two metro Smartrip cards for metro fares and parking fares at metro stations.  There are metro fare machines at each metro station that allow you to easily add money to your smartrip cards as needed.

Every evening I would look up our next day's metro fares online according to where we were headed, and then we'd add cash to our cards as calculated.  I'm pleased to say that at the end of our trip we only had $ .95 remaining on each card, and that is only because we traveled back to the RV park before the prime time rush hour fares took effect that last evening.  

It is a good system, and as parking is known to be scarce right inside Washington D.C., and especially around the monuments and museums, it is a convenient and fairly inexpensive way to get around.  I carried my tiny Metro System Map with me at all times, and we were easily able to figure out which lines to take, and how to transfer from one to another line when required.

So those were the basic logistics of our trip, as far as where we stayed and how we got around.  Most of the days we ate breakfast in the camper before leaving, and carried water and a packed lunch in a small backpack along with us.  We generally found a restaurant somewhere for dinner each evening.

Next:  Arlington Cemetary


  1. Any crunching sounds coming from either vehicle are not a welcome sound. Hope you didn't hurt anything, but if you did, hope it wasn't too bad. I have had too many of those crunching moments. . .

  2. We also dropped our fiver on the back of our pick up. Seems to happen to a lot of folks at one time or another. We added a bed saver to our hitch so I could quit worry about it. Have fun in DC. When you see the IRS building - I worked on the 7th floor. Just thought you'd like to know. lol

  3. We also had one of our fifth wheels fall onto the back of our truck. Glad you didn't let it ruin your trip. That's what we have insurance for.

  4. Dropping the trailer on the back of the truck seems like a common problem. What happens is somehow you get out of the routine that is your norm and that is what happen to us.
    Looking forward to reading more about DC as we'll be stopping there again in April.
    Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It's about time.

  5. We live so close to DC and it's been years since we visited. And we don't even need to pull a RV with us. And yes, one needs to plan the right times to be on the road in the DC - Baltimore area. Horrible, horrible traffic.