For the first time this trip, I've had more places to stay than my time would permit me to take advantage of. I wish more of my stops were like that.
Quite different than when I was backpacking in Europe last Summer, here on the road in the United States I'm spending the majority of my time with people I am already friends with. In fact, the route I took was based on a connecting of the dots between a country sized constellation of friends I already had. I merely had to plug the gaps in between with camping, couch surfing, and occasionally sleeping in my car, and voila: I had my itinerary. While making friends everywhere I went in Europe was wonderful, it did eventually become a great emotional strain to day after day invest myself into intense, albeit brief, single serving relationships. While I'm making plenty of new friends now, it's been awfully rewarding getting to reunite with so many old friends - skipping introductions and just picking up where we left off.
Though, perhaps "single serving relationships," aren't always so doomed to expire. The first person I stayed with in D.C. was someone I met backpacking in Florence, Italy. The second, a girl I met at a concert in Chicago. And a third, I made friends with while in D.C. After a stay in Pittsburgh, I'll be in Toronto with a couple I met at an Animal Collective show in Paris. It's strange; even if I've spent no more than an afternoon with someone I've met on the road, when seeing them again, I feel like we're so much closer than an afternoon of friendship should permit. This, I guess, is due to Facebook. Even if I'm not physically in someone's life, I do from time to time get to see their face, what they've been working on, and even what little things they find worthy to complain or get excited about enough to share with the internet. A time-sink it may be, Facebook has been completely invaluable to me as a traveler in the States and abroad.
No, my beard doesn't grow that fast. That's last year in Florence.
Driving in and around D.C. has more than its fair share of absurdities. There are lanes that change direction depending on the time of the day, there's often no prior warning before you're thrust into a left or right turn only lane, poorly marked one-way streets make it easy to be staring down oncoming headlights, the secret service can relocate your car if they deem its location inconvenient (and it's up to you to find it afterwards), everyone's aggressive, and nothing's very consistent. It's stressful driving, but fun at the same time - though usually I took to parking far away and relying on the metro to get around.
I wasn't sure how I was going to fill my time in D.C., but I guess I didn't count on the Smithsonian Museums being free - they are world class and there are a lot of them - and I didn't count on having so much fun with the people I met (or spending as much as I did at bars (bars are a bad habit for the unemployed)). I could have spent the whole stay at the museums in the mall and still not be finished there, but I did make time to visit Baltimore and Annapolis, see127 Hours in theater and Scott Pilgrim on DVD, help a friend with a photo shoot for his new business, sing along to Bon Jovi and Katy Perry in a Jewish/Irish bar, get lost in Arlington Cemetery, eat at a cafe serving only food available to Native Americans prior to colonization, dance to the beat of street performers, and simmer mulled wine with some lovely locals.