Note to travelers everywhere: Never try to find a hotel vacancy at the nation's capital on the same night that you need it. The worst rooms in D.C. share the distinction of being among the most expensive in the U.S. I had already made a back-up reservation weeks before at the Crystal City Hilton, because I had no idea what to expect as far as accommodations in the D.C. area. But, I cancelled it in favor of keeping my job. You see, Truckin' may be our parent company's No. 3 magazine in terms of gross revenue, but that doesn't mean that I can justify a room that costs $295 a night. After settling into a hotel that fit my budget, I sat by the window at midnight and stared at the Section 8 housing next door, as I ate a cheese sandwich for dinner. A rattling air conditioner kept me company.
Wednesday: Not Much To See HereNothing but the typing of a busy editor.
Thursday: Party At The PentagonThe Pentagon belies its status as the largest office building in the world. In fact, if it weren't for the sign on I-395 that reads "Pentagon," hinting that it must be nearby, hayseeds like me would never recognize the massive complex. From ground level, it lacks the five-pointed majesty evident in overhead photos. On the inside, however, it looks more like a bustling, well-appointed airport designed to keep bad guys out and good guys in. But, unlike the Microsoft campus, where perks such as free super-caffeinated sodas keep busy programmers chained to their desks, the Pentagon offers employees its own shopping mall.
I met truck owners Dale and Connie Ison, truck builder Jon Watt, Mickey, and the rest of the Heroes truck gang in the outdoor, grassy courtyard at the center of the Pentagon where people can take a break and buy pizza and hot dogs at two lunch stands. The casual atmosphere contrasts starkly with the submachine-gun-wielding guards, buzzing Blackhawks, and multiple ID checks at the front door. A short ceremony in this courtyard celebrated two paintings donated to the Air Force Arts Program by Mickey and his son Matt. After remarks by Mickey and the Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force, General Michael Mosely, the Heroes truck was unveiled.
The pickup captured everyone's attention. More Pentagon employees filtered out to the courtyard as word spread about it. They ogled the Heroes truck for hours.
Friday-Sunday: Heroes WorshipEach year, the Department of Defense puts on the Joint Services Open House at Andrews Air Force Base, located in Maryland about 15 miles from D.C. It's essentially an air show that showcases aircraft flown by the Army, the Air Force, the Navy, the Marines, and the Coast Guard. The event draws around a quarter million spectators.