Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Land That I Love

I don't know what it is about DC that makes me want to wear red, white and blue all the time, work on Capitol hill, walk around telling everybody I'm American all while renewing my love for history. The recent trip to DC was really great and I loved sharing it with good friends. Here are the highlights of a very packed trip.

THURSDAY
Flew into DC. Flying in over the city at night was beautiful. Plus I had the neat experience of sitting next to a girl who was just flying in from Russia to work for the next four months. As I talked to her, I was so glad that I would have friends to share this trip with and that I didn't have to do everything by myself. Linds picked me up and took me back to her place where we were able to catch up. As we sat there talking, it felt like we were back in Freshman year having one of our late night chats.
FRIDAY

Air and Space Museum

The morning was spent at the Air and Space Museum (the most visited museum in the world). It was so much fun to go with someone who loves science, Megan's brother Kevin, and who was able to give more details than the little placards afforded. Plus the flight simulator was fabulous, even if we did spend most of our time upside down. I did learn though that it's hard to fly with one hand and keep my skirt down with the other.

Emily, Megan and I in front of the Wright Flier flown at Kitty Hawk.

With the three person spaceship module. We thought it was kind of fitting.

Actually, one of my favorite parts of the Air and Space museum is the displays about the two world wars.

I may be in DC but that doesn't mean I turned off my British radar :)
Entrance to the WWII display.

American History Museum
I think by far this is my favorite museum in DC. I could lose myself in there for hours and still feel like I there was so much more to see. They have redone the exhibits since I was last there and the changes were incredible and may have made me slightly emotional. :) I'm glad that they've preserved the star spangled flag, and fixed the preservation mistakes made from the past, so that my children one day will be able to see first hand the symbol that has survived has inspired so many people. I thought the exhibit devoted to all of the wars that we've fought in and how gave a great overview on why we fought and what we hoped to accomplish. But by far the highlight was the new Lincoln exhibit to celebrate the 250th anniversary of his birth. Lincoln really was one of the most incredible men this world has ever seen. I am still amazed at the obstacles he was faced with and how he was able to overcome them with such believe in God and a higher power to direct him. Like all of us he had his flaws, but he never let those get in the way of what he thought he needed to do in life. At the end of the exhibit they had a timeline of how he aged during the years he was President and to see the toll the war took on him was shocking to see. When the war ended he really look like an old man.

Abraham Lincoln's Top Hat





While Emily and Megan went to the Holocaust Museum, I went to Georgetown with Lindsay. Everyone should go to the Holocaust Museum once, but for me once was enough. Georgetown is beautiful. I would love one day to live on a cobblestone street lined with trees and great architecture. We ate dinner on the warf before a twilight boat ride down the Potomac. I loved watching the monuments light up as the night sky darken. We finished up the night with cupcakes from Georgetown Cupcakes with Then cupcakes from Georgetown Cupcakes. If you ever go the lemon one was the all around favorite.

A street in Georgetown.

Linds and I on the pier.

Lindsay and I on the Georgetown Wharf with the Kennedy Center lit up in the background.


Lincoln Memorial from the cruise.

Trying to get a good picture of the two of us.

Linds with the Washington Memorial in the background.

The Washington Memorial.

The bridge that connects Arlington to the Mall.

The Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial.
I spent Friday night at Megan's brother's house. I think one of the highlights of that night was that at like one in the morning, Emily and I can hear this noise. Shushu shushu and I finally get up to investigate. And since I can't see more than 10 feet without my glasses on I probably wasn't the smartest person to look out window. Finally I'm able to make out some man in the yard below. At first I can't tell what he's doing and why he's standing under our window. Then I realize that he's bending over something--sanding. He's sanding something at one in the morning! Are you serious? Who sands at that time? Once we realized what was going on, Emily and I got the giggles and every time he started sanding again we would break out into laughter.

SATURDAY
Gettysburg
I love Gettysburg. The immortal word of Abraham Lincoln still move me to this day and I think accurately sum up my feelings of being there.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

For me coming to Gettysburg is a reminder of the charge I have to carry out their legacy. That I live my life so that I am making this country better.
One of the great thing about our trip was having a guide in the car with us as we traversed the park. It was great to be able to follow the path of the battle and to be able to live it chronology. Doing so, I was able to get a better feel for how the battle went and the hardship and the miracle it was the North pulled out a victory. They've added a new visitors center since the last time I was there and the diorama of the battle is moving. When it was shown to battle survivors years later they said that it was so lifelike that it transported them back to the battle.

Megan, Emily and I in front of the Visitor's Center


Standing in one of the battlefields.

Not so fun highlight of the day. Being dropped off at the metro, only to realize that I don't have my phone with me (I left it at Megan's brother's house), I don't have anybody's numbers, and I'm not sure exactly where Lindsay lives. After about ten minutes of wandering around Lindsay's neighborhood, I was able to find the right house.
Linds and I went to a couple of parties, and it was funny/ironic/strange to realize that if you are single no matter where you live that is what you do on a Friday night--you go to parties and create small talk. The only thing that was different about these parties is that everybody either worked for the state department, on the hill, or in one of the many museums which meant that they had a first hand view of the current events that were talking place.

SUNDAY
Sunday in DC is wonderful because it is so peaceful as the city takes on almost a quiet and relaxed feel.
I went with Lindsay to her singles ward, and it was fun to run into people I know. The church really is small. Linds and I then meet up with Megan, Emily, Megan's brother Kevin and his wife Dana at Arrlington. I am always so amazed at the reverence that is shown there. How people are deathly, bad pun, silent.


Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider.

The changing of the Guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soliders

At President Kennedy's Grave

This picture would make you think that I'm standing in front of a famous grave, I'm not.


The view from Arlington House

In front of the Women in War Memorial.

I was so glad to see the efforts of the women who fought recognized. I think they are often an overlooked demographic when it comes to military recognition.

The general section, or at least that is what I called it. Some of those tombstones were huge!


I just loved the symbolism of the flag flying.



The Ampitheater and it's beautiful architectural details.


Momuments
Sunday evening was monument time. We walked from one end of the tidal basin to the other and then from one end of the mall to the other. Let's just say it was a lot of walking, but so beautiful. I loved siting on the steps of the Jefferson Memorial and watching the sun set across the tidal basin.

Megan, Emily and I looking out over the tidal basin. And yes it takes a special person to line up in front of the Washington Monument perfectly so that I can have it sticking out of my head. :)



On the steps of the Jefferson Memorial.


Jefferson Memorial



The sun setting over the tidal basin.


The sun setting on the Jefferson Memorial.




The Washington Monument from different points along the tidal basin.

The Jefferson Memorial from along the tidal basin.

FDR Memorial


Megan and I standing in line for the soup kitchen. I hope this is the closest I'll ever get to having to do this.

Linds and I in front of the first waterfall at the FDR memorial.

Lincoln Memorial


MONDAY

Geting ready to head into Mount Vernon.


If I had a view like this, I would spend every night in these chairs.


Flowers from the Mount Vernon Gardens.

I really wanted to paddle boat the tidal basin. It was something I had wanted to do last time I was in DC that I didn't get to do. It was beautiful and so relaxing, granted it may have been relaxing since Em and Megs were the ones to do most of the work. :)

The group shot. It only took us like 10 tries to get all three of us in it.


Of course I had to take pictures of the monuments from the paddle boats. :)

The Library of Congress. This picture doesn't give the whole story as to how packed it actually was.
Word to the wise. Don't go there right before closing.


Lindsay and I then spent the evening on the Mall after having dinner at one of the East Coast Chains and getting cupcakes from a great cupcake place. As we got to the Capitol, the Navy military band was playing and how more perfect can that be? To listen to patriotic music on the steps of the capitol overlooking the mall. If that doesn't stir feelings of patriotism I don't know what would.

The Capitol

The sun setting over the Mall.

After the concert.
TUESDAY
Last day :( and of course it we were super busy as we were trying to fit everything in before we left. Because I needed to catch the bus to the airport from downtown, I had to bring my luggage in with me in the morning. And since the trains were super slow because their had been an accident the night before, I ended up walking/ running almost a mile with my bags so that I could get my luggage dropped off before we had to be at our nine o'clock Capitol tour. Of course, I get to the Capitol on-time only to find that there had been a bomb scare and we had to wait for almost an hour to get into the Capitol.

Inside the Rotunda.


Architectural details


When I was little I had always wanted to work in the Capitol. Maybe that will still happen one day.
No, that is not an Indian on the top. The statue is actually called Freedom, but she does happen to be wearing a headdress of feathers.

After the Capitol we raced to the Library of Congress. You can get a special library card that allows you to check out books in the reading room. Think of the selection of books I would have at my hand with that card? I may never leave the building.

Utah have the mountains for directions, DC has the Washington Monument. And the view from the top can't be beat.

Flag around the base. I think we decided there were 50 of them.
Proudly holding our tickets, after I had just run down the hill to get the. (I forgot that we had to redeem them BEFORE we got to the monument).


Waiting in line.


It would have been great if we could have had some of the background behind us, but those pictures didn't turn out.


The one Washington institution that we didn't see, The White House. This was the closest I got to it this trip.

I didn't have enough pictures of this monument already, so I needed one more. I think this one is great because you can see the two types of stones used really well.

Last time I came with my family, I really wanted to do the Duck Tour. The whole idea of a car that could go into the water sounded like so much fun and so decided to book myself one that I was would do while everybody was in the Holocaust Museum. Plans didn't go as scheduled and I found myself needing to do it on the last day of the trip. Our tour for the Washington Monument was at noon and my ducks tour was at one. We finally get down from the monument at 12:30 and I'm supposed to be at Union Station, which is 2 miles away, at 12:50 to board. So I start off jogging. I get about one block before my ankle, notice the ankle brace in all the pictures starts killing me. Figuring that running probably isn't the best option, I start speed walking. Eventually the walking turns into me hobbling very quickly. Right before one, I'm still about a block away from Union Station and can see my tour bus all loaded and in line to get out. And now that I'm that close I start running again and the bus starts to pull away and all I can think about it how I've run that whole way for nothing. Luckily somebody on the bus realizes that I'm running to catch the bus and they wait for me. I get onto the bus to settle in for our 2 hour tour, only to realize that I have no water in my water bottle because I had to remove it for the Capitol tour. Let's just say it was a long tour and I probably wasn't in the best of moods to enjoy it because all i could think about was that I needed water. When they get it out into the Potomac, they allow people to drive it. While it was all kids that volunteered, I have to admit that I came super close to asking if I could. By the time I got off the tour, I realized that I could barely walk and I still had to get myself to the airport. Because I could barely walk, I ended up missing the bus I needed and I had to wait an extra half an hour which put me at the airport just as my plane was boarding. If I hadn't been able to have skipped to the front of the security line I would have never made it. And there was a part of me that would have loved to miss my flight and stay an extra day, or two, in DC.

You can't really tell, but this is me sweaty and nasty after running two miles.

DC was wonderful. When can I go back?