Friday, October 23, 2009

The Cradle of Democracy

Of all the east coast cities we planned to visit we were possibly most excited for Washington DC. Not only had we heard of all of the free attractions (i.e. museums, monuments, government buildings) but we also had friends from back home to catch up with. As soon as we arrived in town we headed to Staci’s house; though we wondered if we would actually make it there - the neighborhood seemed a little rough. Much to our chagrin, when we knocked on the door Staci answered with a big smile. We wanted to give her a hug but having not showered for several days, thought it might be best if the gesture was withheld. We stepped into the beautifully decorated house that felt like an Oasis in a desert. In minutes we had met Staci’s delightful roommates, Enchanta and JJ. With some fabulous conversation under our belts, Staci offered to take us on a night tour of the “the Mall” (the lawn near the Capitol Building where many of the monuments are located). We happily obliged and soon found ourselves strolling by the Washington Monument, Lincoln, and WWII memorials.

The following morning Clancy and I set out to see the Library of Congress, Capitol Building, and Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. Contradicting world maps dating back to 1507 and 1516 grabbed our attention at the Library of Congress as well as the massive and gorgeous “reading room.” Our fabulous tour of the inside of the Capitol revealed such sights as the “rotunda” (the breathtaking underside of the dome that the aliens blew to pieces in Independence Day the movie), and statues galore depicting famous historical figures ranging from George Washington to Ronald Reagan. The real pleasure of the day however, came in the form of the Air and Space museum. Featuring world renown aeronautical exhibits such as the original (restored) 1903 Wright Flyer, Charles Lindbergh's spirit of St. Louis, Apollo command center, lunar landers, and Chuck Yeager’s X-11, the museum captivated our attention for hours on end. It turned out to be an educational but exhausting day!

In the AM we launched back into the city, this time with our tour guides Staci and JJ. We hit up the White House first thing (no, we weren’t able to spot Obama or pet the first dog) and proceeded directly onward to the nearby Vietnam Memorial. The wall is a memorial that most all Americans have heard about and for good reason - seeing the sheer number of names in person is a moving experience. Afterward, we switched back into museum mode and checked out the Museum of American History. The Smithsonians in DC are spectacular; not only are they free, they feature exhibits of the highest caliber! Wanting to treat our eyeballs to yet more candy, we meandered through the sculpture garden and walked by Ford Theater where president Lincoln was shot. Again spent for the day, we headed home to relax. That’s where the Twister mat came into play. Some alcohol might have been consumed and several games later there may have been some hysterical laughter - let’s just say that we can’t post all of the pictures on the blog.

The following day we awoke (this time not so early) with the intent to meet up with our friend Perry and his new family at the Museum of Natural History. Clancy, Staci and myself hopped on the bus and headed for the museum. When we did meet up with Perry and the clan we were thrilled - his wife Megan and son Parker were absolutely delightful. There was something really magical about witnessing grown up Perry turned dad. We oogled the Hope Diamond (a whopping 45 carats), the world’s largest crystal ball, dinosaur bones, and a fascinating exhibit on ants. The picture here is a mold of an actual ant colony - the casting substance is simply poured into the earth then excavated. Incredible. By this time Parker was due for a nap so we said our goodbyes to Perry and fam and continued on to scope out some final monuments. We got a second (daytime) view of the Lincoln Memorial, checked out the Korean War Memorial, walked through the FDR Memorial, and marveled at the Jefferson Monument. Pictures of all these sights can be found in our DC photo gallery - probably worth a look. Frankly, the amount of things to do and see in Washington were completely overwhelming, seemingly more so than any previous city. You could spend a full year here and still feel like there were things to explore. We joked that we had been struck with a mild case of post traumatic stress disorder from museum fatigue. Unfortunately, the real misfortune would come the next morning. It was then that we bid farewell to Staci, JJ, and Enchanta. Saying goodbye to our new DC family was sad indeed - we were soon to find ourselves home-away-from-home sick.

On the way out of town we scoped out Arlington Cemetery just across the Potomac River in Virginia. The JFK grave site and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier were sights to behold. An armed guard patrols the soldier’s tomb 24 hours a day, rain or shine. We stayed put to witness a changing of the guard ceremony (occurs every half hour). The whole procession was an incredible way to honor our fallen service men and women. Sadly, over twenty soldiers are buried in the cemetery every day. Before our departure we walked over to the famous Iwo Jima statue, erected in honor of fallen Marines. Goodbye DC - we’ll miss you.

1 comment:

  1. What a great time was had in DC with our friend. Thank you!!!