As the 4th of July fell on Sunday this year, we started the day by going to some of our friend's (from way back at BYU) house for a brunch before going to church with them. After church we relaxed (and even got in a nap). We knew we were going to need all our energy for the evening.
Around 5:30, we drove to the metro stop at the end of the line in Virginia. We got right on the train and even though there were a lot of people we were all able to get seats. As we came to each successive stop, more and more people crammed on. We were glad we had seats. There are about 5 stops on the metro that allow you to see the fireworks. We opted to go to the last stop on our line -- capitol hill south. By the time we got to our stop, the crowd on the metro had slimmed out a little with many people opting for the earlier stop. We got off and walked just about 1/2 mile to a nice spot on the lawn of the national botanical gardens. We were right by the capital.
Although it was warm, we were not too uncomfortable as we had a nice spot in the shade. We were able to listen to the performances at the stage (but we couldn't see them). We grabbed hot dogs from a street vendor for dinner (as hot dogs seem like the perfect 4th of July food) and just enjoyed people watching and listening to the music.
The fireworks started right at 9:20. They are directly over the Washington Monument. We had a nice view of them. They also shot off big cannons and those ended up right across from us -- they were pretty loud and really startled you the first time they went off. The fireworks lasted 17 minutes. (Don't tell the kids, but I was a little disappointed). I know they shoot a lot at the same time but 17 minutes felt like a very short program. (If we can spend trillions of dollars on pork -- can't they find the funding for a longer fireworks show?)
And now the real adventure began. Getting back.
We (and a million or so others) are all headed to the metro station. We got back to captal hill south and realized it would take an hour at the least to get even down to the metro (as the line was already headed way up the street). So we decided to walk an additional mile to the next metro station -- even further away. That was a brilliant decision on our part. We got there in about 15 minutes and had no crowds at all getting into the station and on the train. (If only it stayed that way). As the metro arrived at the next station (capital hill south -- where we had just walked past) the doors opened and people crammed in. We were lucky that we had seats. As the doors opened at each successive station amounts of people that you would not have thought humanly possible crammed onto the metro. The lady standing next to me said it reminded her of riding the trains in China where the police use big paddles to push everyone in the doors. As the number of people grew, so did the temperature. We got on the metro at 10:30 or so and the normal 40 minute ride to the last station took 2 hours. It was the hottest, most uncomfortable, most claustrophobic circumstance I had ever been in.
We finally got back to our friend's house at 1:15 am. Needless to say . . . we slept in the next morning!