To say my dad is a jack of all trades would be a terrible understatement. In the 25 years I’ve known him — you know, since I opened those brown eyes of mine in the hospital — he has been a positive go-getter the likes of which I can’t describe. Never one to sit still for long, Dad has worked in many fields and never been afraid to expand his horizons — either as an award-winning sportswriter, Realtor or, most recently, tour guide in nearby Washington, D.C.
Dad is a huge history buff, and becoming a tour guide is a natural extension of his love of all things local and historical. Stretching my web skills a bit, I recently built his website — Monumental Thoughts — where he’s writing personal essays about Washington and its people, attractions and quirks. Many of my D.C. photos are up on the site, too.
The city is a lively, crazy and exciting place, and I loved the summer I interned for The Washington Examiner just blocks away from the White House. I never would have made it down there if it weren’t for my parents’ encouragement, of course; my mom has worked in the city for decades and Dad grew up traversing the city streets, visiting often to see the sights and cover sporting events. Keep your wits about you but d0n’t be afraid, they said. Act like you own the place.
And that was sound advice.
A New York transplant, my boyfriend Spencer loves nothing more than hopping on the Metro and exploring the District on a random Saturday. We’ve visited the U.S. Botanic Garden, one of my favorite places downtown, and attended events like the National Book Festival and the U.S. Science and Engineering Festival. We pop in camera shops, grab burgers and meander down side streets filled with museums, statues and government offices.
Growing up, I have crystalline memories of visiting all the monuments with my parents and listening to my dad share interesting tidbits about each location. I’ve always loved the Washington Monument — or “the big pencil,” as my sister and I called it — and still get a thrill seeing it pop into view when we fly home. Dad’s brain is filled with more interesting facts about it and nearly every spot in the city, and I’m proud to see him turn that love into a new opportunity.
The cool thing about cities is the juxtaposition of the old and the new — the recent and the historical — in such small quarters. The boarding house of Mary Surratt, the first woman hanged in the U.S. in association with the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, is now a Chinese restaurant. Near the U.S. Capitol, that enduring symbol of democracy, is an awesome market that draws locals and tourists by the droves — and has since 1873. But there’s a coffeeshop on the corner there serving up lattes, cappuccinos and chai tea . . . probably not favorites of our forefathers.
There’s all of that to see — and more. And if you’re here to see it, my dad would be the one to show you.