Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Washington Vacay: Day 1.5 (or how to see D.C. in 2.5 days)

Empty flag pole means Congress is not home.
We've arrived in D.C. and are staying at the awesomest of awesome hotels. Want to catch-up? Click here. Onto our one and only full day in D.C. Get those walking shoes on your feet and head to the Metro - Blue Line - get off at Smithsonian.

Between the Washington Monument and The Capitol, the distance spans 1.9 miles so, to say walking shoes are imperative is an understatement. You want to start at The Capitol and work your way to and beyond the Washington Monument, ending with the Lincoln Memorial just beyond.

We arrived at The Capitol about 10:00 in the morning. To enter, you must go around to the front of the building. That would be the side NOT facing the National Mall. Upon entering you'll get in the line of non-reserved tickets (we never get tickets because we're too spontaneous on where we end up). You'll get a sticker that designates when your tour will begin (don't expect the time to be any kind of guarantee).

The tour begins by watching a video about the history of our country and how The Capitol fits in. It talks about the building of it, the burning of it, the rebuilding of it. Honestly, the video is very well done and you do have a sense of patriotic pride before going on the tour. It fills your heart, for sure.
The Capitol tours are so sophisticated. I remember when Super Hubby and I took the tour back in 1999, the tour guides would yell facts and stories at you while trying to be heard over the other 5 tours being given at the same time, in the same room. Not these days. They've come a long way, baby! Now, each person receives a headphone set where you can perfectly hear your own tour guide clearly and without the yelling. It's fantastic!

There gazes George Washington upon democracy in the Rotunda. He is flanked by ladies representing liberty and freedom. Continuing around the circle are 13 ladies, representing the founding colonies.
 At the base of Ronald Reagan's bronze statue, embedded right under the statue's base, are pieces of the Berlin Wall. Nice touch!
 Around the Rotunda is a pictorial history of America's progress. The original artist wanted to carve the images into the material but the government said they didn't have the money for such a proposition (ah, what we could learn from those that came before us). So, the artist decided to paint the history looking like it had been carved. The picture to the right starts with Lady Liberty, then Christopher Columbus. It took 3 artists to finally finish the painting, but not before mis-measuring and coming up 300 feet short of getting back to Lady Liberty. It took 3 artists to finish because they had to wait for more history to happen! The final and third artist ended with Orville and Wilbur Wright at Kitty Hawk (the picture to the left).
The Capitol

At the time of our trip, Congress was not in session. Even if you didn't know that, you could tell by the outside of the building. The middle of The Capitol always carries an American Flag. When the House and the Senate are in session, an American flag would also be flying high above their respective areas of the building. There was only the center flag flying, hence, The House and The Senate are not at home (see the empty flag pole in the first photo above).

2013 ornament?
We stopped at The Capitol gift shop and purchased a Christmas Ornament representing the year. This will probably be the only vacation we take this year, so Kiddo's first time in Washington is pretty significant. I'll hand-stamp "2013" on a sterling silver tag and attach it to the ornament. I love that it signifies the Cherry Blossoms since it's around the time we visited. They weren't all in bloom, but a good many were.

After the gift shop we took the indoor tunnel to the Library of Congress. Wow! Only those seeking special research with special credentials are able to enter the Library. And, did you know that nothing is allowed to be removed from the Library, either?!?!?

Library of Congress
Next stop: Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. It's in the middle of the National Mall. As a former rocket scientist, I can appreciate all the Air and Space Museum has to offer. To be honest, if you're really looking for an amazing historical depiction of the aeronautical arena, I contest that our visit to Dayton's National Air Force Museum blows the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum out of the water. Just my opinion. We got a quick bite to eat here, and headed on down towards the Washington Monument.

The Washington Monument is not open to the public since the earthquake that hit D.C. a few years back. In fact, I don't think they even trust the building to stand on its own since you can't even get near it. The damage caused by the earthquake is pretty severe and making repairs isn't something that ends up on the top of the budgetary agenda. They are working on it, just very slowly. It could be our luck? The last time Super Hubby and I were here, the Monument was closed for cleaning. That time, the scaffolding completely surrounded the obelisk all the way from top to bottom.

Moving past the Washington Monument, we got to the World War II Memorial. It is a beautiful tribute, even without the water fountains running during the winter time. That's the thing about visiting so early in Spring. You miss out on the full affect of all the memorials because the water features are drained and turned off for the winter.

Super Hubby explained a lot to Kiddo and I think he started to see how much sacrifice goes into keeping freedom and liberty for our country. It got to be quite somber once we made it to the Vietnam Veterans Wall Memorial. So many names, so many families leaving remembrances behind at certain areas. The flowers, letters, notes - it all places a reality on the matter. It reminds us that those names belong to families: to mothers, sisters, fathers, brothers. Families that have given the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms and our rights. It's a humbling experience and one that should not be missed if you happen to find yourself in D.C.

Is that you, Forrest?

Moving on past the Reflecting Pool and to the Lincoln Memorial. This was, by far, one of my most favorite of experiences. Mr. Lincoln is as big as life. I'm completely mesmerized by his gaze unto Washington. I wonder, what he thinks about how things have been going? What would he say if he was asked? What would he do, if he could do anything? I wonder.

Climb, climb, climb!
After Lincoln we saw the Korean War Memorial, then picked up the Metro near the Executive Offices, adjacent to the White House. We found these interesting sites on our way there and I wanted to share.

Once back at the hotel, we picked up some dinner at the connecting mall, we visited the Club Level Lounge at our hotel to enjoy many desserts and a night cap. See you in the morning. Oh!, my aching feet. Good night, Washington.

Gigantic Nutella jars - heaven!

To see pics close up, just click on the picture. See you on Thursday for the grand vacation finale!


Anonymous said...

I could have spent all day in the Capital. Walking in the Rotunda felt like sacred ground - and then to look up at George - are there any words to describe the experience? Love your photos, Lilly!!! So glad you're sharing them with us.


I am LOVD said...

Michele, There are no words. And, can't you just feel the power and electricity in the city? It's undescribable.

I thought you were going to comment about how you can't borrow anything from the Library of Congress!

Suzan Wood-Young said...

What a jam packed visit (or should I say Nutella packed?) - my favourite kind. Great photos!

I am LOVD said...

Suzan, my soul-sister!!! That's my new camera. I'm still getting used to it.

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