If you're staying at the Ritz Hotel in Pentagon City, this next advice is important so pay attention. Do what we did: check out of the hotel, check in your bags with the front desk, and request a late departure for your car (you have until 5:00 to get your car before they charge). Got it? This is important because you don't want to hassle with a car AND you know your luggage and car are safe! OK? OK!
So today's agenda: American History Smithsonian, Natural History Smithsonian, Arlington National Cemetery. Bring the action...
The last time Super Hubby and I were in D.C., it was way before Kiddo was born. When we visited the American History Smithsonian we were privileged to witness the careful repair work going on by skilled seamstress historians on THE Star-Spangled Banner: the actual flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write our National Anthem. Back then, it was out in plain view as they worked on it, but behind glass walls. Times have changed and it seems an upgraded level of protection has been paid to Old Glory.
Now, to view those "broad stripes and bright stars", you'll have to see it in a darkened room, behind glass protecting the wool and cotton fabric of this 200-year old flag, no photography. It's simply astonishing to see this flag in person, knowing it was flying high during the War of 1812 at the Battle of Baltimore, 1814. It's dirty with smoke from cannon fire, it's torn and tattered, and it's even missing 1 of its 15 stars. Why? A soldier decided to cut it out as a souvenir from the Battle.
The flag originally measured 30 x 42 feet. Now, it measures 30 x 34 feet because many soldiers snipped off the edge of the flag, also as a memento. The flag measured so large, the woman that made it had to rent a brewery across the street as the flag was bigger than the footprint of her house! Mary Pickersgill had help (about 4 extra people) over the summer working on this famous flag and was paid $405.90 (not bad in those days).
This exhibit is by far my most favorite in the American History Museum (can't you tell). We moved on to see many President exhibits. My favorite was the First Lady dresses - so awesome! The thing I love most about the Smithsonian is the "originalness" of it all. You're usually seeing the real thing, not a reproduction. It's quite spine-tingling (I'm such a geek).
We ate lunch at the American History Musuem and I highly recommend it. The food is quite tasty, for sure, and a great variety to choose from. At the time of our visit, the other half of the museum was closed. I could see why. The museum looked a bit "tired" and is in need of a renovation. Those changes are scheduled to be completed by 2015.
|The Hope Diamond|
|Kiddo loves his rocks, gems, and geodes!|
Before heading back to the Metro, we took some more pics on the National Mall. Note to self: do not where beret with hair back in ponytail. Not a good look! The only thing I'm missing is a paintbrush!
|I can laugh at myself.|
Once at Arlington National Cemetery, park in their lot (super cheap). By getting the car first, it places you in a better position to get out of D.C. easier and back home. We were racing a snow storm to get home, so we needed to utilize our time wisely, but couldn't leave until we saw Arlington. Remember, it closes at 5:00.
Is there any other place in Washington that holds your respect for our country more than Arlington National Cemetery? If you can think of a place, then you must not have witnessed the Changing of the Guard ceremony that happens every hour, on the hour, at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. You stand in solemn silence, perched up on a hill overlooking the seat of America's democracy, and you look on in awe. The precision and exactness of this military ceremony is stunning. No words can describe the witnessing of this sacred act.
We left D.C. around 4:00 and managed to stay right ahead of the storm. When things work out that well, it's a sign to me that this trip was meant for us. It was not planned, it was not scheduled, we just decided to go and we went. When a trip is that smooth, it's meant to be.
Washington, D.C., is a must-see in your lifetime. Where else can you show your child the highest forms of all branches of government all in one place? Where else can you teach your child American history as he looks upon real, original artifacts from the past? Where else can you show him where laws are created, those laws we live by daily? And, where else can you have the strongest impact on your child when he sees miles of gravestones in a cemetery that honors the fallen and their families? Washington offers real history lessons, and gives you the tools for your explanations to the youth.
Our time in D.C. was short, but we saw a lot and it was great to get away, just the 3 of us. I hope you've enjoyed our experience. If you'd like, check out Day 1 and Day 2, just click.
|What we woke up to the next day at home - Lucky!|