Over this past weekend, a group of friends and I took a trip up to DC. Part vacation, part business, part activism this trip quickly became one of those experiences I knew I would never forget.
For our trek up to DC, we rented a Chevy Volt… yeah, I know, the trip is already awesome. We were so excited to drive an electric car for our trip, since after all we were going to an environmental conference. Just like any other group of college students going up to DC for activism would do, we decorated our car with posters on climate change, sustainability, and the environment. We were ready to go.
I volunteered to drive most of the way up to DC and ended my shift around 1am, still three hours out from the city. Around 4:30am, we rolled into the quiet but magnificent National Mall and Capitol. One of our friends from school recently took an internship with the Sierra Club in DC and gracefully allowed us to stay at her place on Capitol Hill. We parked the car and zombie-walked our way to her house. At 5am, we finally tried to get some sleep before we had to move the car in the morning. As expected, 9am came really fast; way too fast.
Back in the City
Over this past summer, I did a short internship with Greenpeace at their office in DC. Although it had been a while, DC still felt like home and it felt so good to be back, especially with a group of awesome friends. After eating breakfast, we made our way to Union Station. An old, but modernized train station, Union Station is a sweet place to hang out and eat. We took the metro to the Smithsonian stop and walked out of the station and right into the middle of the National Mall. First stop, Museum of Natural History.
Out of all of the cool Smithsonians, this is one of the most famous and most legit. Walking around the museum presents you with almost too much to take in. Since I was on the trip with three girls, the upstairs part of the museum was a little rough for me; a massive gem collection and the Hope Diamond. I made it through though. It was cool to see everything again from last time, but there was also a couple of quality new exhibits.
Afterwards, we headed over to the American Indian museum for lunch. The food at the Smithsonians is incredible.
The lack of sleep plus a full belly meant nap time was to follow before we could go anywhere else. We then headed over to grab coffee and make our way to the Capitol and the US Botanical Gardens. Along the way, we ran into a group of students that looked like they were on the Amazing Race or something. We found out that they were actually in town for the rally and the SNAC (Greenpeace student activist) conference! Instant friends. They were all the way from UC Santa Barba. We decided to go as a group to the Botanical Gardens.
The gardens are in a great location, just in front of the Capitol, and always have some really cool exhibits going on. One of my favorite sections is the medicinal plants greenhouse. Everything from ginger to maca powder to quinine and a ton of others that I haven’t heard of.
We then headed behind the Capital and took some pictures before walking over to the Library of Congress. I didn’t know what my friends would think of the library, but surprisingly it turned out to be one of their favorite places on the trip. Just like last time, I found myself spending most of my time looking at the maps section (they had the first complete map of North America) and Thomas Jefferson’s library. Legit.
With that, a full day in the Capitol was complete and we hopped on the metro for our final stop of the day…
Love this place. Everything about Greenpeace’s office in DC is so inspiring. At the heart of the organization though, is the incredible people that run campaigns and grassroots organize. We walked in past the bodyguard and hit the webcam to get access to the elevator. As we walked through the office, so many memories came flooding back and it wasn’t long before I ran into the other guy that was part of the Greenpeace semester over the summer.
We made our way down a level and found the pre-conference party. I quickly found Dan Cannon, the national organizer that helped us with the SSI, and caught up with him. David Pinsky from San Francisco and another one of my friends from the summer was there aswell. I couldn’t believe I was back at the GP office.
After an hour or two of hanging out, we grouped up and headed out to a place called Busboys and Poets. Not only was the food incredible, but the atmosphere was classic DC as well. It was one of those places you could hang out all day with friends.
Once supper was over, a quick metro ride was the only thing that separated us from sleep. Tomorrow was the first day of the conference and we wanted to be ready for it.