Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Stadium #8: Nationals Park, Washington, D.C..

Our adventure continues into 2015! We headed to our nation's capitol over Memorial Day weekend to check off two stadiums. Our good friend K lives in D.C. with her boyfriend, M, and we had the best time hanging out with them and enjoying the District!  Read more about our perfect weather weekend with good friends and baseball!

My friend K is a smarty pants and getting her phD in D.C. Prior to grad school she was working for a non profit in Ethiopia where she met her boyfriend who was with another NGO. M is getting an MBA at Duke (our friends are annoyingly smart) but is living in D.C. this summer. I hadn't met him yet and so this summer presented a great opportunity to meet her great man, visit her new city, and see some baseball.  Not only were we meeting M for the first time but we were staying in their 1 bedroom apartment so we were either going to love him or hate him by the end of the weekend. Obviously we loved him!  Our flight got in right around lunch time so we dropped our stuff off at K's place and headed out on foot (these baseball trips always remind me of how badly I wish I lived in a city that was walkable) to Matchbox for some brunch and brews.  The food and company were great and M and K helped us pick out some local D.C. beers.  I was weirdly impressed that every beer we ordered was presented in that brewery's glass.

I love can glasses and really wanted to steal this glass. 

When you live in a huge tourist city it can be annoying when people come to visit and want to visit museums you've already been to multiple times. So when we discussed our plan for the day I suggested the Air and Space Museum with the caveat that K and M could do their own thing and we would meet up later. M was not interested in A&S...and then thirty seconds later he was like YES LET'S GO! So after lunch we took an Uber to the Mall and checked out the Washington Monument. I really wanted to go up to the top but when I tried to get tickets two months in advance they were already sold out. Boo! We settled for a few pics before walking to A&S. 

Cam being a mechanical engineer and M being a dude meant that they were seriously into the A&S Museum. K and I loved all the different planes too but we just weren't as concerned with the mechanics as our boyfriends were. If you'd like to see a bunch of neat airplane photos please enjoy! If not, well, you've been warned. 

This is the Spirit of St. Louis, Charles Lindbergh's plane.  It's usually hanging high up from the ceiling but for a few months they were doing maintenance and so it was front and center in the lobby!  It was really neat to see it up SO close.  It's unbelievable that he flew that clunker across the Atlantic!

M and Cam super into reading every single possible placard.  K and I were more concerned with taking pics of them and giggling like 6th graders. 

M is from North Carolina so I made him pose with Orville and Wilbur Wright

checking out the first flight

Spirit of St. Louis (right) from above

Eagle Squadron plane

Next we walked by the Capitol and took a stroll by Barry and Michelle's and said hi!
It was a bummer that the Capitol was undergoing renovations.  I've seen it before as a youngster but Cam had obviously never seen the Capitol.  

Weirdly we weren't asked in for dinner.  

selfie, behind the scenes.  

White House selfie because duh.  

After seeing the history of aviation and the seat of the presidency we continued onto...Macy's. As Cam hopped into K's car at the airport he tore a nice hole right in the crotch. So we had to make a quick pit stop for jeans HAHA. Then we walked a few blocks to eat dinner at Capitol City Brewing and rest our feet! With beers and eats in our bellies we headed back to K's to relax a little after a long afternoon. That evening we headed out to a bar to meet a few of K and M's friends that they met in Ethiopia. One was a Scottish guy who said he hated the constitution. I suspect he was just trying to rile up Americans. He was hilarious and it was fun meeting someone who K knew during her Africa days. 

The next morning K and M cooked breakfast for us—hosts with the most, seriously! Since it was a day game we drank some champagne/mimosas and headed out in an Uber for Nationals Park. K and M hadn't yet been to Nats Park so it was a first for all of us!

This year was the 10th anniversary of Nationals baseball.  We keep inadvertently visiting teams during anniversary years (20th anniversary for the Rockies and Wrigley Field's 100 year anniversary)!  It's definitely not planned!  I have to give a quick shout out to the Nats.  As I've mentioned on this blog we want nice tickets as souvenirs to eventually frame all 30.  So we don't do print at home tickets because they obviously aren't frameable.  When we bought our Nats tickets there wasn't a will-call option and then when the tickets arrived in the mail they just said "" all over them.  No fancy Nationals "W" or any team logos.  UGH.  I googled around and found the name of the fan services director but not his email address.  I took a shot with his first initial dot last name and it worked!  Within a week he had mailed us new tickets printed on team paper!  Thank you, Nats, for caring about the fan experience no matter how anal it is!

Going to the games with friends mean built in photographers.  K and M did a way better job than the yahoos in Baltimore the next day.  One million points to my beloved for actually smiling widely here!

10th anniversary!
DJ's in the team store!?  So bizarre.

I really really liked this park.  All of the "modern" parks are similar yet they all have their unique touches.  I really liked how open everything was--I didn't feel like anything was inaccessible or too far away.  We had great seats in the outfield.  I had read that Sam Adams brewed a 10th anniversary beer for the Nats that was only available in the stadium so of course we decided to grab a few of those before heading to our seats.  Then when we got to our seats the bar closest to the seats was having happy hour until the first pitch so we sent the boys to get as many beers at a reasonable (for a baseball stadium) price as they could.  Great timing!

Anniversary beer just for the stadium.

The game itself was pretty standard.  The Nats were playing the Phillies who have been truly disastrous this season but it's always good to see a game between two teams in the same division.  There were no homeruns which is kind of a rarity.  Only the third time we saw a game with no one going yard. Bryce Harper was a force on offense and it was fun to get see such an electric young player. The Nats won 4-1 so that improves our home team wins to 6-2!  Just like with C in Chicago it was really fun to have friends with us to enjoy the game and enjoy this adventure!

I sang the Nats' praises but now I have to ding them.  Starting with our first stadium we thought it would be good to get a behind home plate photo of each stadium.  It's the best view in a stadium so it would be fun to compare them all.  When Cam attempted to do it the usher was a real ass about it.  We've never had a problem!  Explaining to the usher that he just wanted to take a quick pic was no help.  So this was the closest we could get.  Cmon, Nats, let some tourists take a damn pic.  

I'm only just now realizing how color coordinated we were.  

I don't think I've seen these custom for-this-specific-park cans before.

lookin' good, M. 

The HUGE REGRET I have is that WE MISSED THE PRESIDENTS RACE.  At the Nationals game they famously have people dressed up as four different presidents and they race between innings and it's hilarious and ridiculous (Teddy never wins).  AND WE MISSED IT.  I didn't really look up when it was but I guess I just assumed it was a 7th inning thing.  Somewhere around the 4th or 5th we went down to the concourse to get food (Ben's Chili Bowl hot dogs which were top notch, by the way!) and we missed it!  So. Disappointing.  It just means we'll have to visit K again so that we can catch them!  The variety of good food was pretty average and I'd say the same about beer.  But overall I liked this stadium a lot!
We did see some of the presidents out and about before the game started, at least. 

"That's a clown question, bro."

After the game it was time for another brew pub! Obviously. We hightailed it out of the stadium after the hometown win and walked a few blocks to Bluejacket Brewery. Half the stadium had the same idea but K and I used our long legs to get our names on the list quickly. We had a beer and only had to wait a little while before being seated. Dinner and brews were yummy!
beer line immediately after the game at Bluejacket 

We headed home for a nap. Well the boys wanted a nap so K and I took her dog to the park. While K and M lived in Ethiopia they adopted their dog, Annie Ambo. There are street dogs all over in Addis but when one had puppies K couldn't resist. Who could?! When they were both headed home the issue came up of what to do. K said that a lot of expats will take in dogs and then pass them onto fellow expats when they return to the U.S. so that was an option. But when she looked into what it would entail to bring her to the U.S. with her she was pleasantly surprised that there weren't too many hoops. So we joke that Annie is a real rags to riches/"started from the bottom" story. She has insane amounts of energy and is adorable and I love her.

so sweet

After dog park/nap time we headed out to a neighborhood dive for a few drinks.  They had one of those old Pac-Man machines and we scrounged up quarters and everyone took a turn.  I was the only one in the group who couldn't even make it out of round one.  WOMP WOMP.  After a day full of drinking and being in the sun I was donezo and so C and I headed back to K's place to catch some shut eye before heading to Baltimore in the morning!
horrible picture but the only one we took while out.  love this girl so much!

The next morning we woke up waaaayyy too early and headed to Baltimore for the day. You can catch up on that crab-filled adventure here

Picking up from the train back to D.C...

We had a pretty long day in Baltimore and had two long nights before the day so when we got back to K and M's we were ecstatic to see them having a chill night. We drank beers and watched the NBA finals and hit the hay. 

The next morning was the day we were going home. As we found in Chicago the double-edged sword of visiting friends who live in baseball cities is that it can be tricky to balance friend time with good old fashioned sight seeing. There are too many museums in D.C. for a short weekend but there was one thing I knew would be perfect to visit just before heading out: The National Archives. My undergraduate majors were history and government and I went onto law school. In all of my childhood field trips I can't remember ever seeing the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution. So Cam and I hopped in an Uber to the Archives to get a dose of history. 

The National Archives

You can't take photos inside the rotunda but man was it incredible! I've read and studied those words for so many hours of my life and seeing the original documents did not disappoint. Of course I could've spent all day in the Archives but we just didn't have the time.  There were a couple 14ish year old boys horsing around shoving each other right in front of me while I was absorbing the Constitution.  The security guard on the wall called them out but not even for horsing around.  He basically said "look at these documents.  LOOK AT THEM.  Marvel at them! I can't have you acting like fools in front of them!"  I loved that security guard, y'all.  We'll definitely be back though so that we can go through the entire museum.  

We carved out a little time to go visit Abe too. It was hot and sunny and we were so close so it was a no brainer. It's just as amazing and awe inspiring as it was when I was a little girl! 

Lincoln Memorial

just wonderful.

We don't make presidents like we used to.

Pretty shocked how good this picture is and how zero people there are when really there were hundreds of people everywhere

It's insane when you think about MLK giving his speech right here.

After getting some wisdom from President Lincoln we strolled down to the Vietnam Memorial. It was the day after Memorial Day so there were extra flags and flowers everywhere which made it even more poignant. 

I loved the Lucky Strikes here.  

We had just enough time to hit up a beer store on the way back to K's in order to bring home some D.C. suds. But it turns out that most of the places we liked don't bottle so we were SOL. They did have Bell's and Hoppin' Frog which we love and don't get in Texas so we stocked up. 

Beer haul.

This was such a fun weekend in the nation's capitol that typing it all up makes me want to go back immediately! This trip was our 8th and 9th stadiums and I'm so excited to hit double digits this year!  Whenever we meet people along the way and they ask us how far along we are it's always deflating to be towards the beginning.  When we were getting our passports stamped in the team store a woman saw us with them and asked us all about them.  She said she was going to get it for her husband for Father's Day because he's been to 25!  It'll be nice to be 1/3 of the way done and feel a little more accomplished.   Every trip has been a blast and unique. This was the second time we stayed with a close friend and it's super fun and rewarding to get to include friends on our journey! Both K in D.C. and C from our Chicago trip aren't particularly into baseball but I know that both loved going to the games and engaging in the national pastime. I'm sure that they could see why we love doing this. 

If you didn't already, make sure to check out the next entry: Camden Yards

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