Wednesday, April 29, 2015

DC Day Five

Friday morning was a rainy, windy, chilly morning. We had reservations for a paddle boat on the Tidal Basin, but when we got there we decided it was just not ideal conditions to be out on the water. Brrr! Instead, we decided to take the opportunity to walk around the tidal basin and see the memorials we hadn't seen yet. The bonus was that there were not many people out in the rain, so it wasn't crowded at all.

The Thomas Jefferson Memorial was one of my favorites, I decided. I thought it was very beautiful, and sort of underrated. We were also able to buy an umbrella at the gift shot for Joel, since he didn't bring one with him.

We also enjoyed the FDR memorial, which is a sort of meandering memorial of walls with FDR quotes, and statues. It was fun to see that one with no one around. 

The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial was also very cool. There is a small WWI Memorial. I thought it was strange to have such a small memorial for such a big war. It was one of the first memorials built, and it was actually a memorial for the people from the District of Columbia who died in the war.

After our soggy yet very pleasant walk around the tidal basin we decided to go the the National Archives. And so did everyone else, apparently. The line to get in was out the door, down the street, around the corner, and down another street! After a few minutes of waiting in line, a man who worked there was asking if anyone was military; active duty or veteran. We said, "Yes!" and he sent us around to a different entrance, where Joel showed his DD214 to prove he's a veteran, and we got in the door and out of the rain quickly.

The archive were interesting, but everything that was interesting you couldn't take a picture of. We did wait in line to see the original Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights. For me, it is cool to be able to say that we've seen them, but there wasn't much to see. The originals are so faded, they basically looked like old pieces of parchment with nothing on them. Still cool to see them, though.

We went to the Newseum next, which was jam packed with cool stuff. I thought it was interesting how history was sort of presented as how it was reported and how it was put in the news. Just an interesting perspective, I thought. We took a lot of pictures, some of which I've added and will put descriptions with below.

We actually headed back to the hotel early to do a quick load of laundry, and when it was dark we headed back out to see all the memorials at night! We discovered that it's pretty difficult to get good pictures in the dark, but the memorials were so beautiful all lit up. The WWII memorial fountains were especially pretty at night, I thought.

 Our pal, TJ. :)
 When Joel looked at this picture he said that we looked more tired and less excited than in our pictures earlier in the week. So I took another picture where we tried to look excited. How did we do???

 The Tidal Basin and Washington Monument from the steps of TJs memorial.

 These are the cherry trees that were supposed to be blossoming while we were there. We ended up missing the blossoms by about five days. C'est la vie. :)

 What a nice guy.

 The Unabomber's actual cabin is in the Newseum.

 Reporting Live!

 They had some sections of the Berlin Wall. This is the West side...

 And the East side.

 Inside the Unabomber's cabin.

 This was the radio antenna that was on top of the World Trade Center Tower.

 The wind was blowing just enough to keep the flags flying. It was beautiful!

Day Four!

I will admit that by day four of our vacation, I was getting a little tired. So I told Joel I was sleeping in, and that's exactly what I did. It was glorious! Of course, sleeping in meant getting a bit of a late start to the day, but it was worth it.

We weren't able to do a tour of the White House. We did request one, and did all the required paperwork, etc.  But we were told that demand was too high, so we didn't make the cut. But Thursday morning we headed to the white house anyway, to get some pictures. They had a secondary barricade set up in front of the permanent fence, thanks to that one guy who jumped the fence and tried to get into the white house all those months ago. 

After pictures of the white house we ate lunch at Astro Doughnuts and Fried Chicken. I was super excited to try their creme brulee doughnut, which turned out to be just okay. However, the fried chicken was amazing, and the cherry blossom doughnut was crazy good.

Next we saw a Macy's so we decided to do a bit of shopping. Really I was looking for shoes. I had worn my trusty Nike sandals pretty much all through my New York trip with no trouble, but they just couldn't hack it this time. My feet were hurting! Luckily I found some cute Sketchers walking shoes, which saved my feet for the rest of the trip!

We then visited the American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery, which are in the same building. There were a lot of very famous portraits there, obviously. It was neat to see the originals of pictures that you've seen your entire life. 

On to the Crime and Punishment Museum! This was another of my favorite museums. There were so many interesting things to see and learn about. There was a lot of interactive and hands-on things there, which made me think the kids would enjoy it. But then I decided there were some things in that museum that I maybe wouldn't want my kids seeing. Like the medieval torture devices, an actual electric chair where almost two hundred people were executed, stuff like that. We found it fascinating, though! 

After dinner at Hard Rock Cafe we went over to Lafayette Square to hang out for a bit and wait for our Ghost Tour. Once it got dark our Ghost tour started. We didn't see any ghosts, but we did hear some interesting stories. And it was fun to see the White House all lit up at night!

 The creme brulee doughnut. Not as good as I'd expected.

 Joel's maple bacon doughnut wasn't bad.

This is the portrait they use on the $100 bill.

I didn't do it!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

DC Day Three

Wednesday we were up bright and early so we could make it to our tour of the capitol building, which we'd arranged through our Senator's office. We went to his office (he wasn't there, bummer), and an intern took us through the underground tunnels to the capitol building. 

I didn't include many pictures of the capitol biulding, even though we took quite a few. It was definitely an interesting tour. I'm sure it would have been nice to go through with one of the actual tour guides because they probably know their stuff quite well, but it was also nice to go through with just Joel and I and the intern, because we could move quicker and go to more places in the building. We got to see the old Senate chambers, where the Supreme Court used to meet, the Old Hall of the House, the Speaker's balcony, and some other cool stuff. The rotunda was really quite impressive, and would have been even more so if there hadn't been huge plastic sheeting around most of it to protect it from the construction going on on the outside of the dome. Bummer, but oh well.

After our capitol tour we took some quick pictures at the Supreme Court building which is right behind the capitol building, then took more pictures of the capitol building. I was pretty sad when I found out before we left on our trip that the dome of the capitol building was all covered in scaffolding because of the construction. I mean, what are the chances. 

Next we headed to the Air and Space Museum, which was awesome, of course. My favorite parts of it were when they had the actual pieces: an actual spacesuit worn on the moon, the actual command module from Apollo 11 (both pictured below), stuff like that. Very cool.

Next was the National Gallery of Art. Lots of cool stuff there, for sure. Many, many famous pieces of artwork. Too bad it's a killer on your feet, to walk slowly from picture to picture.  Those are the kinds of museums I wish I could see from a wheelchair or something. I want to see it all, but it's just too painful. :)

We stopped off to check out the sculpture gardens after that, which is pretty much just what it sounds like: a bunch of sculptures outside in a garden setting.

That evening we went to a show at the Kennedy Center called "Shear Madness". It was quite hilarious! It was a murder mystery, and the audience is also involved. It made for a very interesting show, and I would love to go see it again because it has the potential to be completely different. Very fun!

This is called the Freedom Bell. It's across the street from Union Station.

We were told that this spot was the exact center of DC, and they built it out from this very spot. But from the research I've done, that's a bunch of hooey. Oh well, a fun picture, anyway. :) It's in the crypt.

One of the many statues in the Capitol building.

The view from the Speaker's balcony. Quite lovely, I thought!

If the lighting were better you'd be able to see the Washington Monument behind us.

This is the inside of the dome from the rotunda. Too bad this was all we could see. However, apparently George Washington is painted up there (he's upside down in this photo), and he's actually sixteen feet tall, but looks tiny because it's so far away.

The back (?) or side facing away from the mall.

I'm frowning because I'm sad that the dome was all covered up.

The front.

The Supreme Court building.

I can't seem to stop posing like the statues.

The Smithsonian Castle from the side not facing the mall.

This was the view from the balcony at the Kennedy Center. You can see the Washington Monument on the left, and the Lincoln Memorial just right of center.

This is the Potomac River facing towards Arlington National Cemetery.