Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Epic Fall Road Trip - Part XI: Washington DC and Virginia

Friday, November 11th:

We started our day by getting an Uber to take us from our hotel in Pentagon City to the Thomas Jefferson Memorial.

[View of the Washington Monument from The Thomas Jefferson Memorial]

We then walked across the Inlet Bridge to the Lincoln Memorial.

[Washington and Jefferson]

[Lincoln Memorial] 

[The National Park]



We were lucky enough to be in Washington DC during Veterans Day. It was so humbling to walk around the memorials and see all these Veterans. I wish I could have thanked them all personally for their service to my country. 

After seeing the Lincoln Memorial we walked over to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.


We then crossed the National Mall, between the Lincoln Memorial and Reflecting Pool, to the Korean War Veterans Memorial. 

[Korean War Veterans Memorial]


This memorial was extra special to me because my Papa Neilson (dad's dad) served in the Korean War. I even interviewed him once for a school project about it! He is such a great man and I want to thank him for his service! Love you Papa! 

Next, we walked to the DC War Memorial.

Then we went to the World War II Memorial. 


While we were at the memorial we saw a bunch of people getting their picture taken with an elderly man in a wheelchair. I asked a guy next to me if he knew who he was and he said, "Um... I just asked my wife the same thing and she said his name is Dole or something."

"Wait! Bob Dole?!" I said.

"Oh yea, I think that's right." 

Josh took a picture of him then we turned to walk away. Before we got too far I told him I was going back to meet him. But right before I got there his people were wheeling him away. Bummer.

[Through out the day we witnessed multiple wreath laying's and bugle calls]

We continued east to the Washington Monument.


From there we headed north to the White House. I saw on the news that morning that President Obama was going to be presenting a wreath at Arlington Cemetery so maybe we would be able to see him when he got home!

Right before we got close we saw a motorcade of large black SUVs pull up in front of the White House. Maybe that was him!

We then walked to the White House Visitor Center where we were informed that in order to get into the White House for a tour we would need a letter from our Senator and there is a SIX MONTH waiting list! Eek! 

We then walked north to the Department of the Treasury and then to Joe's Seafood and Stone Crab for lunch.

[Department of the Treasury]

[Love me some stone crab!]

After lunch we walked along Pennsylvania Ave pass the Old Post Office Tower, Trumps new hotel (protesters were outside giving out "free hugs"), and finally to the National Archives!

Eek! I was not able to visit the Archives last time I was in DC so I made sure we did it this time!

We walked into the building and the first thing I saw was an original Magna Carta from 1297! I had no idea that was in DC! Crazy! We then headed upstairs, through the galleries and public vaults, and finally into the Rotunda! Here we saw the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights! I was so beyond excited!

After we exited the Archives we walked through The Mall to the Capitol Reflecting Pool. Where we had a great view of the US Capitol.

We then started our long journey back to the Thomas Jefferson Memorial. We walked by the Smithsonian's and then stopped at the Washington Monument to watch the sunset.

[Washington Monument and the "Super Moon"]

After taking a few photos we walked to the World War II Memorial.

Then we went back to the Lincoln Memorial.


Finally we made it back to the Thomas Jefferson Memorial where we caught an Uber back to the hotel.

For dinner we walked down the street to the Epic Smokehouse. This restaurant is delicious but a little strange. They serve sushi and BBQ! So we got a tuna ahi salad and some ribs! Can't complain!

Saturday, November 12th:

We woke up early and caught an Uber to the US Capitol. We arrived 30 minutes before it opened and we were first in line. 

I was very excited for today for multiple reasons: we were going on a tour of the US Capitol and the Library of Congress and I was going to see one of my best friends, Katey!

Crazy huh?! 

Katey had texted me a few days earlier because she was in the DC area visiting her parents. The timing could not have been better!

So, we met Katey at the US Capitol and we went on a tour!

[All ready for the tour!]

The tour started with a short film and then we were divided up into smaller groups and assigned to a tour guide. We were told that during the busy season 14,000 people go through the US Capitol A DAY!

Our first stop was The Crypt. George Washington was supposed to be buried here but in his Will he asked to be buried with his wife at Mount Vernon.

[The Crypt]


After seeing The Crypt we headed upstairs to the Rotunda! This room is gorgeous! At the very top of the dome is "The Apotheosis of Washington" which was painted by Constantino Brumidi.

Below the dome is the "Frieze of American History"

And below the Frieze are large original paintings which depict various important events in US history. 

After admiring the beautiful artwork we walked through a small hallway where we saw Paul Ryan's office door. I had to get a picture because I was wearing my Wisconsin sweatshirt!

We ended the tour in the National Statuary Hall Collection. This amazing room holds artwork that has been donated to the US Capitol by each state.

The US Capitol tour was probably one of the best tours I have ever been on. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable and you could tell that he loved his job!

After our tour we went through the tunnels (Eek! The tunnels!) to the Library of Congress.

We jumped on a tour which took us to The Great Hall.

Here we learned that the Library of Congress has more than 32 million cataloged books and other printed materials, more than 61 million manuscripts and is the largest rare book collection in North America! It is also the home to a Gutenberg Bible (one of only three perfect vellum copies know to exist) and The Giant Bible of Mainz (dating to 1452)!

After seeing the Bible's we were taken into the Main Reading Room! 

The architecture and the art work in this building are spectacular!

After seeing the Main Reading Room we went and saw the Map room (full of super old maps) and the Thomas Jefferson Library. Most of the original books in the library were destroyed during the War of 1812, so Thomas Jefferson sold his collection of 6487 books to the Library. In 1851 there was another fire and most of Jeffersons books were destroyed.

[Jeffersons original books]

[Jefferson's collection - most of the books are not Jefferson's originals, but they are exactly what he would have had and we know exactly what he had because he documented EVERYTHING]

After our Library of Congress tour we went and got lunch at a food truck. Yum! One of the best gyros I have ever had!

After lunch we walked to the new National Museum of African American History and Culture. The museum was so busy that we couldn't get in. Bummer. Then we walked over to the National Museum of American History. Katey had been in this museum before so she showed us around. Next, we met up with Katey's parents and her two kids and we all went to the Nation Museum of Natural History.

We had a blast walking around the museum with Katey and her family. Her oldest, Jack, who is five, kept insisting that we hold hands the whole time we explored the museum! Thanks to Katey and her family for meeting up with us! Love you!

After we parted ways from Katey's family, Josh and I went to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. 

When you get into the museum you are given an "Identification Card" which tells you a story about a Holocaust Victim. 

I only took one picture in the museum. I was a little overwhelmed to take more. But this really spoke to me:

Josh took a picture of one of the trains that they used to transport people to the death camps.

I'm already a very emotional person and I could not hold it together at this museum. At times I was angry and at other times I was sad. It's so important to never forget what happened.

After the museum we walked to the Old Ebbitt Grill to have dinner. There was a 90 minute wait so we had a few drinks at the bar before dinner. 

The drinks were delicious, but the food was just okay. We got these little sliders for an appetizer and then I got a steak, which I ordered medium-rare but was given to me well-done. Ugh. I hate being "that person" so I didn't say anything.

After dinner we caught an Uber ride back to our hotel.

Sunday, November 13th: 

We left the hotel and walked across the street to The Pentagon so we could visit the 9/11 Pentagon Memorial.

This memorial is for the 184 people who died in the Pentagon (125 victims) and on Flight 77 (59 victims) during the 9/11 Attacks.

[Where the plane hit]

To honor the 184 victims, 184 benches have been arranged according to the victims ages (ages 3 to 71). Each bench is engraved with the name of a victim. The benches representing the victims that were inside the Pentagon are arranged so those reading the names will face the Pentagon's south facade, where the plane hit. Those benches dedicated to the victims aboard Flight 77 are arranged so that those reading the engraved name will be facing skyward along the path the plane traveled.

After seeing the memorial we got on the Metro and headed to Arlington National Cemetery.
We went to the visitor center, got a map, and then started walking through the cemetery.


 [President Kennedy and Family Tombs]

[Civil War Unknowns Memorial] 

[Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial]

[View of Washington DC]


At 11:30 we got to The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier so that we could watch the changing of the guards at noon.

["Here Rests In / Honored Glory / An American / Soldier / Unknown But To God"]

At noon, two other Marines showed up. We were asked to stand, remain standing, and to be quite while the ceremony takes place.

The changing of the guards was so beautiful to watch. Every movement these men made was perfectly timed out and in sync. After the new guard was in place it was announced that there would be a wreath laying ceremony and a bugle call.

What a great ceremony! Did you know that it is considered one of the highest honors to serve as a Sentinel at the Tomb of the Unknowns? And that the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Guard Identification Badge is the second least award qualification badge of the United State military? These men are so great!

We continued our walk through the cemetery and made our way to the US Marine Corps War Memorial (Iwo Jima).

After seeing that memorial we got back on the Metro and went to Pentagon City to get some dinner and watch football. As we were walking to dinner I saw a Garretts Popcorn! I couldn't pass that up!

[It's so cheesy that you have to eat it with a spoon or your fingers will get super sticky!]

Last time I was in DC, with my friend Syanna, we had to do everything in just one day. Even though I had a great time with Syanna, I am glad we were able to take our time and see even more on this trip. I truly love our nation's capital!

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