Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Vacation: Day 5 D.C. continued

After a long day of tours and museums we still had yet to see all of the great monuments around D.C. Our plan was to meet up with the D.C. by Foot guide and take the free walking tour of the mall. Things changed....just a little.

Brian found out that the Nationals were playing at home that night and he really wanted to go to the game. He talked to Dad about it and as it turned out Brian, Ryker and Dad took off on a sprinting tour of the monuments then caught the green line out to the Navy Yard and took in the game.

Meanwhile....Mom, Cainan, Kinley and I met up with our guide and started our own, much slower paced, tour. Just as the tour was beginning a motorcade, complete with black suburbans, limos, and motorcycle police came screaming down Constitution Avenue toward the Capitol Building. Of course we all thought that we had just seen the President fly by behind that darkened glass. Our guide had to go and burst our bubbles though and tell us that the presidential motorcade always includes an ambulance. This one did not so it could not have been President Obama. It may have been the Vice President or the first family or any number of visiting dignitaries that were late for a meeting at the Capitol. Still, it was fun to see.

We started the tour at the Washington Monument where we learned about it's life as a half completed stump and its location on the banks of the Potomac until the land was reclaimed for a National Mall. Then we moved on toward the WWII memorial, getting a peek at the White House....
....and the Jefferson Memorial along the way.
I was very anxious to see the WWII memorial for two reasons. #1) it wasn't there the last time I was in DC so it was actually going to be something new for me. #2) Brian's grandpa was one of the veterans invited to attend the dedication of the memorial at it's opening a few years ago. It was a very moving memorial. The outside of the memorial is ringed in pillars....one for each of the 48 states and 8 US territories at the time of the war. (Of course one doofus in our group had to ask which two states weren't represented. And no, it wasn't me.) Each pillar has a wreath of oak leaves on the outside to represent industry and a wreath of wheat on the inside to represent agriculture. The pillars stand alone but are connected by a rope at the bottom, signifying a nation of separate states united as one country. There are two entrances to the memorial; one through the Pacific gate and one through the European gate.

Inside each gate, in the floor is a large bronze medallion. This medallion is a replica of the service medals the government planned to give to every soldier who served in WWII. The majority of soldiers however, refused the medals, saying that they didn't need a medal for doing their jobs. In this way the medal has been awarded to every WWII veteran in one act.
From the inside of the memorial you can just see over the waterfall to the Lincoln Memorial. The waterfall was created to (along with the fountain in the middle) block all ambient noise for those viewing the memorial. When you are inside it you can't hear the cars passing by or the yuppies playing softball across the street. All you can hear is sound of rushing water.
I'm extremely disappointed in my pictures of the WWII memorial. There is a beautiful wall on either side of the waterfall covered in bronze stars, one for each soldier who died during the war. I really thought I had a picture of it, but I guess it's lost for the time being.

We then made our way on down to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. I took no pictures of this memorial because I have several pictures of it from the last time I was there and to tell you the truth it isn't that impressive on film. (Not to mention the fact that I was dead tired and trying to corral two starving kids.)

After seeing "The Wall" we finally made it to Cainan's favorite, the Lincoln Memorial. He was so anxious to see this one that despite his fatigue he sprinted up all of the steps, counting them all along the way, and then sprinted back down to tell us how many there were. Mom and I took a much slower trek up to the top, carrying the stroller and dragging Kinley by the hand. I have to admit that it is always a staggering sight. At this point I really wanted to head over to the White House for a closer look. So we left our tour guide behind, grabbed a granola bar and a cold water and took off for the Foggy Bottom metro stop. We crossed a huge lawn where at least 4 different groups were playing softball. I've never seen so many adults playing softball in my life. That scene in "A Few Good Men" isn't there just for filler. That's way the mall looks on any given weeknight, apparently.

Our path took us past the Department of Defense, where we actually saw something rather interesting. We were walking past at about 7:30 pm. A nice looking professional young (20ish) lady exited the building, said goodnight to the guards and headed off down the street in front of us. A few seconds later a nice looking, distinguished older (50ish)man exited the building, said goodnight to the guards and headed off down the street in front of us. We all happened to be going the same way so we followed them for several blocks. When they were two blocks away from the Dept. of Defense building the man caught up with the woman and they started holding hands. I think we were witnessing some kind of forbidden secret office romance!! (And maybe something worse, but I try not to think about that.)

Then it got even weirder. An ambulance was coming down the street toward us. As it approached the man dropped the girl's hand, stopped walking, and stood in the middle of the sidewalk with his hands over his ears until the ambulance was long gone and so was it's siren. Now isn't that kind of strange? The girl just stood there and waited, hands at her sides. Odd.

We also ended up walking right through the George Washington University campus.
By the time we had walked the 7 blocks (approx 2.5 miles) to the Metro station we were beat. I knew that even if we took the train to the Farragut Square station closest to the White House we would still have to walk three more blocks to get around to the front of the building to get a good view. It was almost dark and we hadn't had supper. We still had a 35 minute train ride and a 10 minute drive just to get back to camp....so I gave up the White House. I'll just have to settle for my foggy picture of it from afar....and my memories of it from the last time I was there.

We just hopped on the blue line and headed back south across the Potomac to our home away from home. We ate a very late supper and put the kids in bed. Of course at 10:30 I had to drive back to the train station and pick up the guys when they got home from the Nats game. They finally arrived at about 11 pm. They had a GREAT time. Ryker was so excited.
It was T-Shirt Tuesday but they arrived too late to get the free t-shirts. My Dad ended up getting one from a girl they were sitting by and an usher that happened to be riding the same train home after the game gave one to Ryker. Brian got Ryker a Washington Nationals hat too. He wore it the rest of the trip.
After that game Ryker is a bona fide Nationals fan....second only to the Cardinals, of course. We now have to check Sports Center for the Nats score every night and we had to watch every minute of the Cards/Nats game last week. He really got into it.

When we finally made it back to the camp we all fell into bed exhausted. In the morning it would be time to leave DC behind for good. There was so much more we wanted to see but frankly we were exhausted and needed a break. Plus, we had had about all of traffic jams and subways adn crowds that we wanted. We are nature people and we were ready for some wide open spaces. I think we all loved DC and had a great time seeing some of our nation's landmarks. I will say that we never would have made it without our laminated detailed DC map that we got Brian for Father's Day. It may have been the most needed and well used Father's Day present in history. It was a huge asset.

As sad as we were to leave DC we were thrilled to be heading to the Atlantic Ocean....especially the kids. They had never seen the ocean before. Little did they know the terror that awaited them out on Assateague Island.

Tune in tomorrow to see what has my kids screaming, "No, please don't make me go out there. No! No!"

1 comment:

Jill said...

Have been so busy lately, but had a few minutes to spare and loved reading this post. That guy-with-hands-over-his-ears/girl part was funny. Some day when you're old and grey you can write a novel with that as your inspiration.