ethanol free gas station that I could not find as advertised in Taylorsville. It seems that Kentucky has few such gas stations, perhaps due to the importance of corn to the local agriculture. Undaunted I filled up with whiskey-grade gasoline and headed north until I hit I-64 east toward Lexington and on to West Virginia, a low traffic, beautiful ride through Daniel Boone National Forest and on to the mountains leading in to Charleston, West Virginia. Charleston has a gorgeous domed state capitol building nestled in the mountains by a winding river. It seems like it would be a fun place to spend a Saturday night, but all I can say is if you stop at the exit that has a Knight's Inn and Day's Inn, spend the extra few bucks to stay at the latter. (And by the way, it is no problem to find ethanol free gasoline in Virginia and Tennessee. I especially enjoyed the Patriot stations in Virginia on the trip back, all of which carry pure gas.)
The next day, the 3rd, I drove on into Maryland, again a very scenic and easy route until you get up around the D.C. area, where it gets a bit crowded. I made my way over to the town of Laurel, between D.C. and Baltimore, where I was delighted to find the Quality Inn where I had stayed ten years before, still clean, comfortable, and economical as before, and within a short walk of the train station where you can catch the train to D.C. or to the Metro Station. Here's a tip: leave your car and take the train and/or metro to visit D.C. The train doesn't run on the 4th but it just takes a few minutes to drive to the Greenbelt Metro station where there is plenty of free parking and the fare for an all-day Metro pass was just $9.00. You can take the train all the way in to Union Station in D.C. on weekdays.
By the way, I stumbled onto the best seafood restaurant I've ever encountered right behind the hotel: Bottom of the Bay Seafood. Go hungry. Prepare to encounter a crowd. Don't bother to dress up. It's just long tables covered with kraft paper and garnished with rolls of paper towels where big eaters sit shoulder to shoulder devouring piles of crabs. Personally I did not want to get messy from the crab cracking frenzy and ordered the seafood feast. I could barely walk when I left and could not clean my plate.
my work blog in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History until the crowds drove me back out into the suffocating heat and I had to again seek A/C, this time in the pavilion restaurant at the Hirshorn Sculpture Garden back near the National Archives. The sculpture garden is a must-see. My favorite is the stainless steel tree. Finally after that, I made my way to the Capitol. See those people sitting on the steps? That was my ultimate destination.
From those steps I took this picture later that night. That's Little Richard on the big screen, bringing on the fireworks over the Lincoln Memorial with the Washington Monument in between. I sat with thousands of others at the Capitol Lawn for hours waiting for the A Capitol Fourth concert which was broadcast on PBS. Steve Martin, Josh Groban, and Kelli O'Hara also performed, all of them great, but Steve Martin's fiddle player absolutely brought the crowd to its feet with his rendition of "Orange Blossom Special."
From the Capitol all the way down and past the Lincoln Memorial there were hundreds of thousands of us cheering on the good ol' U.S.A. There was every color of skin and every imaginable language and accent spoken all around me all day. It is hard if not impossible not to be proud of our country in the midst of such an experience. If you have never been to Washington D.C. on the 4th of July, I implore you... do it!