Our trip to Magnolia Plantation knocked our schedule back farther than we anticipated, so we found ourselves leaving for D.C. at around 5 o’clock – much later than was wise.
Charleston -> Washington, D.C.
Distance: 531 miles
Driving Time: 7 hours and 59 minutes… but with the weather it was more like 10!
Just as we crossed the boundary of Charleston and entered the highway north, we caught a rainstorm that followed us the entire drive. That wouldn’t have been such a big deal under normal circumstances, but within an hour of driving, there was so much whiteout that I was doing 20 on the highway in order to see. It was scary, and the rain just wouldn’t let up.
Exhausted after three hours of downpour driving, we pulled off the highway and stopped in a teeny town called Lumberton, North Carolina. In the parking lot of the small Waffle House our red Mini Cooper was surrounded by SUVs and stood out like a little sore thumb. We ran from the car with our jackets covering our heads and opened the glass door to find fluorescent lights casting an otherworldly glow on all the patrons. They all slowly turned to look at us as we entered. “You’re not from around here,” said the waitress, standing in the center of the restaurant, holding a half-full coffee pot. Jon and I looked at each other. It was like a scene from a movie.
“Why you out in a tornado?” she asked. Well that was news, I just thought it was raining very hard. I suppose there was a lot of lightning.
After some coffee and hash browns (Jon’s favorite) we hopped back in the car and did the next several hours of driving through torrential rain.
As we approached the outskirts of D.C. the sky had calmed but we were quickly overwhelmed by the sheer number of intersecting highways. Despite having Google’s all-knowing directions, we made several wrong exits before finally getting to our distinguished destination: The Hay-Adams Hotel.
Pulling up at 3 a.m. in a rain drenched Mini to a grown-up D.C. hotel definitely turned some heads. The hotel was what you’d expect, classic American architecture, a block from the White House, full of important people and very overpriced. But it was only one night and the $60 overnight parking was worth the Lincoln bedroom experience. After the white-knuckle ride, it was good to go to sleep.
The next morning there was only one destination: The National Air and Space Museum, open free to the public.
We spent hours wandering through the massive halls, full of flying machines.
We then wandered over to the Lincoln Memorial because…you know…it’s D.C.!
And then the afternoon came, and it was time to get back in the car one last time. Washington D.C. was the last stop before our final destination: Montclair, New Jersey!
Want to follow along from the beginning? Check out my first road trip story here!