Over the course of my travels and day-to-day life, I see a lot of planes flying in and out.
During our softball games, particularly when we're playing close to the Potomac River, a steady stream of aircraft fly past on the sometimes-harrowing approach to Reagan National. For much of this week, I've spent a good chunk of my day at Redskins Park in Ashburn, which is on the descent/takeoff path to Dulles.
I know it probably makes me look like a dork, but I usually look up to see them fly by. (Truth is, I have a little air transit geek in me anyway.)
When I see those planes (especially the ones arriving at National), I always wonder how many DC newbies are on the plane. Given Washington as a tourist destination, I figure there are at least some on every flight that lands there. Maybe it's a family taking a summer vacation from Wisconsin.
Mom and son, sitting on the right side of the plane, catch a fleeting glimpse of Arlington National Cemetery. Dad and daughter, on the left side, get an even better view. They're pointing out the window, remarking about the Lincoln Memorial and the Capitol and the Washington Monument.
Departing planes are equally fascinating. I always wonder where they're going and if it's someplace I've ever been. Like the fictional family on the inbound plane, I wonder about the stories of those on board the outgoing plane too. (I wonder similar things when I'm driving, like if I'm at some spot on I-395 and could somehow stop the next 50 cars passing me in the other direction; where are they going, and why are they going there? What an interesting portal into the lives of others. But that's for another discussion.)
Maybe there's a vacationing family returning home with fond memories of their trip to the nation's capital; the chances of that increase dramatically if they weren't mugged on the Mall.
This area has some cool stuff, like the Capitol and all the monuments and memorials. But it's stuff that anyone who's been here any amount of time is used to. I drive past the Jefferson Memorial on the way to softball, where we (sometimes literally) play in the shadow of the Washington Monument and within an Ichiro throw of the Capitol. No biggie.
Perhaps that all plays into just how different my life is now compared to how I grew up.
But that too is a discussion for another time.