Yesterday my family visited the Mall in Washington DC with approximately 250,000 other Girl Scouts and their families for “Rock the Mall” a celebration of 100 years of Girl Scouting.
Our day started a little before 4 AM. I felt more than a little cranky at having to get up so early to catch the bus from NC to a Metro Station in Maryland. We’d done most of our preparations the night before, but still had to toss a few things into our day packs. With water, snacks and sunscreen packed, we headed to the car to meet the bus.
We were part of the first group to board our bus, so we had our choice of seats, took some in the middle. I’d have taken a seat at the back, but feared being too close to the bathrooms, plus most of our troop was together in the center of the bus.I’m a big guy, and so while I would have liked to have sat next to my wife, it was far more comfortable for both of us to have me sit next to my son.
We wasted a little bit of time when the bus went to what we thought was our second stop. We were in the middle of a graveyard, and though there was a building nearby we thought was our destination, there were no Girl Scouts to be seen. Driver made a phone call or two, and after about 15 minutes we were rolling again. I began to hope this meant we’d have some extra space on the bus, but when the bus filled up at our next stop, I realized the stop had simply been an error in planning. Don’t think there was even a single seat to spare!
I wish I could say the bus trip was uneventful, but…well, to be honest, our driver scared me a little bit. A few too many lane changes, and a few too many short stops along the way. We even took a ride along the rumble strips for a little while. Scary noise.
And we visited a rest stop about 30 minutes before the end of our trip. At first this stop didn’t make much sense to me, but as I later learned, the bus and Metro stations we visited didn’t appear to have any public rest rooms, and while there was a bathroom on the bus, I think most of the adults were trying to avoid using it. Even so, we went through 2 or 3 rolls of toilet paper for those who did use it (including my son).
From the bus we moved to the Metro. As part of our payment for the trip we’d received all day passes, so we didn’t have to worry about buying them, and once we learned the right way to put the pass into the slot everything went smoothly. Both kids have ridden subways before, so while this is an unusual event for us, it isn’t an entirely new experience. There was some slight confusion when we changed trains at L’Enfant Plaza because we were looking for the Blue train, and because of the Girl Scout event they were running a special train that got us to the Smithsonian Metro station in the center of the Mall. Luckily some nearby folks told us to get on the train that it would get us to the Smithsonian station. Also luckily, they were right.
So after our painless train ride we returned to the sunlight of the Mall, and the HUGE crowds of Girl Scouts. While there was plenty of room to move about, there were groups of Scouts everywhere. Our troop regrouped, and we realized we’d managed to get separated from one mother and daughter.
Would she make it?
Would we find her?
Find out in Part 2!