Thursday, May 12, 2011

Washington Monument, Bureau of Engraving and Printing, and National Archives

Finally! I've been trying to finish this blog for two days but the blog sight has been down.

On Wednesday Dean left for Kansas to be with his mom on her 90th birthday. The good news is that he could take the Metro to the airport and I didn't have to drive in DC. I went with him as far as L'Enfant station (main station in the Mall area) and then got off and stood in line for tickets to go up the Washington Monument. I waited an hour and got tickets for myself and the Poutneys. After I waited in line I went back to the Museum of Natural History. Since I was so early I got to see the second floor without a bunch of kids everywhere.

I meet Ron and Bernita at the Monument and we took the long ride up the elevator - 500 ft. There are 8 windows almost at the top which give a panoramic view of DC. The Monument was started in 1848 and completed in 1884. Notice the difference in marble about halfway up.

This is the view towards the Mall and Capitol on the East side of the Monument.

The White House on the North side. My one regret on our visit - we didn't get tickets (30 days advance reservation) to go into the Presidents home. Maybe next time!

The West view - Lincoln's Memorial and the Reflecting Pond (all torn up).

The South view - Jefferson Memorial and in the distance Ronald Reagan Airport where Dean was to catch the plane to Kansas.

After the Monument we went to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing for a tour. This is another tour that you have to stand in line to get free tickets. This is where the government designs, engraves and prints currency. Like the guide said - the Mint is where they make the small change (coins); we make the big stuff (paper money).

We saw the big presses and were told how they change the currency every few years to keep ahead of the counterfeiters. The 100,00 bill is not in circulation but they have made them.
Our last stop for the day was the National Archives and Records Administration. In the Rotunda of this building is the original Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights, and the Constitution. They are very hard to read but they are the original documents. Also in this building is the Public Vaults. Stacks and vaults where the records of all three branches of the Federal Government are kept. A lot of information!!

Thursday we went to Mount Vernon (next blog). I am writing this Saturday and Dean comes home today. Hurrah!!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Washington DC - Pentagon Memorial, Ford Theater, Capitol. Library of congress

Speaking of standing on the corner - here's Dean waiting for the green light with the Capitol behind.

The four of us are having a great time together. We toured the Capitol on Monday. We have been very fortunate that the weather has been wonderful. And because the weather is wonderful there have been a lot of people visiting.

We did a quick tour of the Library of Congress.

Ron and Bernita are staying in front of their Representative's office. We had to contact our Representatives to arrange a tour of the Capitol Their representative's aide even escorted us to the Capitol via the underground passageways.

The tour took us into the Crypt, Rotunda, and former meeting room of the House of Representatives. The Rotunda has lots of marble and bronze statues around the room donated and picked by the states.

The ceiling of the Rotunda is beautiful and really high.

More pictures of the Rotunda. This is our tour guide. There were about five our six big tours while we were there.

There is so much to see in this city! Six days straight we have left Greenbelt National Park and headed for the Metro stations 3 miles away. We have gotten pretty good at reading the map of the Metro. We take the Green line into the city and take other lines to see sites. Once you figure it out it is pretty easy.

On Sunday we toured the Ford theater where Lincoln was shot on April 14, 1865. The theater has been restored to its 1960s appearance. A National Park Service ranger gave a very good talk on the story of the assassination. Lincoln was sitting in the area with all the flags.

This is the actual gun the John Wilkes Booth used to shoot President Lincoln.

We also went to the Pentagon Memorial.

One hundred and eighty four benches commemorate the lives lost during 9-11. Benches that face the sky are the passengers in the airline and benches that face the Pentagon are the military personnel who died.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Washington DC - Museums, Memorials, White House

What a place this is!! We are learning so much in our Capitol city.
The first day was a rainy day so we decided to do some museums. The Smithsonian is not a museum - it is a bunch of huge museums. The first one we visited was the National Air and Space Museum. Of course, they had the first plane - 1903 Wright Flyer. And they had lots and lots of different types of planes, rockets, anything to do with flying.

Our friend in Phoenix, Lynn Farrell, said to be sure and look for her dad - and we found him on this WWII bomber.
The musem was filled with loads of information on aeronautics. It was also filled with kids. We think that a lot of schools were having field days while we were in DC.

I really enjoyed the Pioneers of Flight exhibit. My favorite was Amelia Earhart's Lockheed Vega and information about her career.

Another favorite was the Spirit of St Louis, hanging from the ceiling along with some of our space vessels such as the Explorer, Apollo, Voyager Spacecraft, Lockheed Starfighter, and Boeing Aircraft.

Our first day was a rainy day. Since then we have had beautiful weather. This is Bernita and Ron Poutney who we are traveling with. They are on the Mall with their backs to the Washington Monument.

Here are Dean and I in our Gortex coats with our backs to the Captiol. The Mall is the big green area in front of the public buildings. There is 2 miles between the Captiol and Lincoln Memorial and this space is either a green park or a reflection pond in front of Lincoln's Memorial.
More about the Reflecting Pond later.

In the afternoon of the first day we went to the Museum of National History, another huge museum filled with tons of stuff and tons of kids! One of the impressive articles on display was the Hope diamond, in the gem and mineral section. With over 40 karats, it is a real beauty! This museum also had halls devoted to Oceans, Mammals, human origins, fossils, insects, and dinosaurs. To see everything in this one museum would take a week.

On Day 2, we went to Arlington National Cemetery. It is beautiful. We saw all these headstones perfectly lined up. President William Taft was the first grave we visited. We also saw Audie Murphy's grave.

The most visited grave is John F. Kennedy. This is his grave, Jackies, and two of their children. Robert's and Edward's graves were close by.

There are many memorials at Arlington. We saw the Space Shuttle Challenger Memorial, Women in the Military (Piestuwa's uniform) memorial, USS Maine Memorial, to name just a few.

The most impressive memorial is the Tomb to the Unknown Soldiers. We watched the changing of the guards which goes on every 30 minutes in the summer months 24/7. It was very impressive. Dean and Ron got some great shots (since they were in the dignitaries area) until they were ushered out. It is a beautiful and humbling experience to watch. There was a crowd and it was VERY quiet.

On day 3 we went to see the White House. None of us could go on the inside tour because you have to make reservations 30 days in advance. We never know where we will be in 30 days! But we walked all the way around the home. This is a good picture of the four of us on the North side. Notice the new Tilly hats. Bertina has one also but she loves her baseball hats.

We didn't know which was the front or back. This is from the South side. Michelle's garden is just off to the left. There were some Secert Service men on the roof. I'm sure security has doubled in the last few days.

We visited another Smithsonian museum - National Museum of American History. This is where the Ruby slippers (Wizard of Oz), Archie's chair (All in the Family), Julia Child's kitchen, Apollo Ono's skates and many other American memories are housed. This museum also holds the first flag of our country. And the first ladies gowns. Here I am standing next to Michelle's gown.

Day four was one more museum and a bunch of memorials. We had to stand in line to get tickets to the Holocaust Memorial Museum but it was worth every minute. Ron and Bernita are holding our spots. The tickets are free but you have to have an assigned time to go into the museum.

One of my favorites - the Thomas Jefferson Memorial.

Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial

Korean War Veterans Memorial

Lincoln Memorial

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

The Reflecting Pool wasn't exactly reflecting on the day we were there. It is being dug up and worked on.

The World War II Memorial.
While we were are this memorial we saw a lot of gentlemen in red jackets with veteran baseball hats. Some of these men were in wheelchairs and some were walking around. Turns out that these men were WWII veterans from Iowa.

There were 99 of them and about 64 guardians. We talked to a few of these veterans and asked them if they knew our friends, Chuck and Jan Moore. We thought everone knew Chuck and Jan but I guess Iowa is a big state.

Next blog, when I have time, will be Ford Theater, Pentagon Memorial, Capitol, Library of Congress.