One more thing I did last Monday: As a followup to this, I checked out the reopened Washington Monument area.
The layout of the grounds is much improved over the somewhat haphazard arrangement of asphalt walkways that previously overlaid the area. A circumferential path, bordered on its inward side by the security wall, circles the foot of the hill, with curved paths ascending obliquely through the wall to the Monument, forming an overlapped figure-8 when seen from above. The plaza around the Monument itself — still fenced off to the public when I checked — is no longer paved with asphalt, but with much classier granite, and the standard short wooden benches have been replaced with long, white marble benches. Hopefully it’ll still be skate-friendly.
Here are a few panoramic photos: (Click the thumbs for the Flickr pages, and click ALL SIZES to see the full size panoramas)
(By the way, I do not recommend rollerblading around Washington, DC on the Fourth of July. It’s never a good idea to be on unsteady wheels on bumpy roads in a spot where about half a million tourists are converging. I passed through five different checkpoints and ran into any number of fences and Jersey barriers blocking my regular skating routes. If I’m still in DC next Fourth of July, I’m retreating to the peace of the Rock Creek Park forest trails.)
Update, 07/06/2005: I’ve just jogged down there and back, and the Monument plaza is now open. It’s a much wider circle around the base than it was before, and the new marble benches are great. Much more grandiose, but still friendly to tourists, bikers, and skaters. No pictures right now, though; I don’t normally bring my camera when I run.