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September 28, 2023

My journey to the ultimate destination: D.C.’s Wawa

By CATHERINE PALMER | March 15, 2018

B2_Wawa Wings
COURTESY OF CATHERINE PALMER The goose wings of the Wawa logo welcome customers.

My family has never put much stock in planning out trips. We almost always arrive at our destination barely in time to eat dinner, despite agreeing the night before to arrive at lunchtime. We also like relaxing, so we never create full daily agendas. We just wake up and see where the days take us.

Following that trend, when my dad came to visit me last weekend, we planned a day trip to Washington, D.C. with only one goal in mind: to go to the new Wawa. 

Yes, you read that correctly. 

In Philadelphia, Wawa is not a convenience store. It’s a lifestyle. Wawa is the place my teammates and I would go to after school, dreading the start of swim practice. It’s the place my family and I stop at on our way home from anywhere just because. It’s the first place I drove to after I got my driver’s license. 

I know what many of you are probably thinking: First, this girl sounds pretty weird. That is accurate. 

Second, isn’t Wawa just 7/11? No, and that’s offensive. 

I certainly have sentimental ties to Wawa, but it’s also objectively on a totally different level.

Wawa has made-to-order breakfast bowls and sandwiches, hoagies, paninis, quesadillas, flatbreads and soups, as well as a variety of hot, iced and frozen drinks. 

They also have Wawa brand ice teas, lemonades, cookies and soft pretzels, in addition to every other brand of iced tea, juice, soda, chips and candy you could possible hope for. Pretty great, right?

In pursuit of such amazingness, my dad had agreed to catch an 8:45 a.m. MARC train in order to avoid D.C. traffic. Naturally, we ended up leaving at 9:30 a.m. by car instead. 

We arrived in D.C. at 10:30 a.m., and a mere two hours later, we arrived at our destination. I had assumed we would just park and walk around until lunchtime and then go to Wawa. But we drove into just the right section of D.C. to be trapped by a marathon. 

In the end, we could have driven to a Wawa in Philly in less time, but the complication made finally arriving at the new D.C. Wawa all the more exciting. I still wanted to rep Philly, though, so clad in my Eagles jersey, I ordered a chicken cheesesteak without cheese, because I don’t really like cheese on sandwiches.

(We already established that I’m weird, remember?)

Anyway, after my dad and I had a sit-down lunch — most Wawas don’t have seating areas, so that’s all the more reason to go to the D.C. one — we decided to walk to the National Mall. Our first stop was the White House, which in person was less impressive than what I was expecting, though I was surprised by how close we were able to get.

The Capitol Building, on the other hand, looked even cooler up close. After theorizing to my dad that the best way to get past security would be to use a grappling hook to scale a wall shielded from view by trees, I suggested we hit up the National Museum of Natural History before heading back to Baltimore.

As we were walking, the sidewalk was blocked off by a sign that read, “This area is being used to film a television program for ABC Studios.” TV expert that I am, I figured it had to be either Scandal or Designated Survivor, but I doubted we would really be able to see anything. We crossed to the other side of the street, thinking we were getting out of the way and instead ended up walking right into a shot that they were setting up. 

As one of the crew members was telling us about a location we could watch from, making her way across the street toward us was none other than Kerry Washington. 

Unfortunately, all I could do was grab my dad’s arm and repeatedly whisper, “Oh my god, that’s Kerry Washington!” 

She was busy getting ready with an entourage anyway, and I didn’t want to be that annoying fan. So we moved out of the way and stayed for a solid hour, watching as she and co-star Tony Goldwyn filmed about three short scenes. I don’t even watch Scandal, but as an aspiring TV writer, I was entranced.

We did stop by the Natural History Museum for about five minutes to go to the gift shop, my favorite part of any museum. 

I would’ve been happy just to go to Wawa and walk around for a bit, honestly. But because we didn’t plan ahead or worry about sticking to a timetable, my dad and I had a much more exciting adventure. So next time you go on a day trip to D.C., don’t make it jam-packed. Just go, and see what happens. 

And of course, eat at Wawa.

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