Monday, October 26, 2009

Washington D.C. - Day Two

Wednesday morning we drove back to Franconia, VA. again to catch the Metro into the city. It was much easier getting around our second day because now we knew how to get around a little better.
We boarded the Metro and rode to the Smithsonian Museum stop where we planned to spend most of the day.
We had 10:30 a.m. tickets to go to the top of the Washington Monument, so that was the first place we went to after we arrived in the city.

Randy is standing in the Monument waiting to for our 70 second ride to the top of the 555 ft. monument.

This photo is the view looking out onto the Mall. The Lincoln Memorial is in the far distance,then the long stretch of lawn next to the World War II Memorial. It was so awesome to look over the city from this viewpoint!
From Washington Monument, we walked back towards the Smithsonian Museum's where we planned to spend the rest of the day. This enormous red stone building is The Castle - the Smithsonian information center.When we planned our trip to Washington, D.C. we allowed only two days knowing that we'd only see a tiny portion of the interesting things there was to see. The Smithsonian consists of 19 museums, all huge buildings, and you could easily spend a day in each one. So, needless to say, we were a little overwhelmed trying to decide what things we'd try to see in the allotted time.

We started out at the Museum of Nature History. This museum has 18 exhibit halls containing tens of thousands of artifacts and specimens that tell the story of the earth and it's evolution into the planet of today. It made us think of "Night at the Museum". It's hard to imagine these enormous creatures once roaming the earth.

The museum is so enormous, we had to make choices about what we wanted to see - it was all so spectacular and interesting!
We next spent some time among the relatives . . . the mammals. We thought of our conversation with Carson when he'd learned about mammals at school. He would have loved all of these exhibits. It's just fascinating the way everything is displayed. It makes learning so interesting! This section of the museum was like living and walking in among the mammals. The noises, the huge animals and all the information about each one was so awesome.

And here I am sitting with a monkey watching a movie about how mammals evolved. I couldn't get over how many things there were to see. So many things to see and learn and not enough time to do it all . . .oh, well--we gave it our best shot!

Next we spent several hours in the Air and Space Museum. There's just no way pictures do justice to the amazing things we saw there. It's easy to see why it's the most visited of all the Smithsonian Museums.

It's an enormous display of anything and everything related to flight and space travel. It was so interesting to see how crude the first planes were and to see how flight has evolved. It made you appreciate the brave and adventuous people who believed it was possible to fly like a bird and then figured out a way to make it happen.

Many of the most famous air and space vehicles in history are just inside the doors of the museum. Moon rockets, Charles Lindbergh's "Spirit of St. Louis", the first aircraft to exceed the speed of sound, and the X-15, the fastest aircraft ever flown . . . they are all right there. Everything from first flight to lunar exploration all under one roof. It was unbelievable! It's something you shouldn't miss when you visit the Smithsonian.

This spectacular flag hangs in the Museum of American History. This museum holds over 3 million artifacts, everything from the top hat worn by President Lincoln the night he was shot, a desk Thomas Jefferson used to write the Declaration of Independence, and millions of other interesting things from our nation's history.

By the time we got to this museum we only had a couple of hours left before the museum was scheduled to close at 5 p.m. It's difficult to have to pick and choose what you have time to see, but that's exactly what we had to do. This museum had 3 floors with huge east/west wings on each floor. We had only been in the museum about a half hour when we ran into David and Pam Beck and their 5 children. (They were taking their family on a week long vacation in Washington, D.C. during spud harvest). We were so surprised! The odds of running into anyone we knew were pretty great, but there they were!

Because of time limitations, we didn't make it through very much of this museum but we did see the "Transportation and Technology" Exhibit.

All kinds of transportation were displayed, from the earliest horse and buggy to cars, trains and planes. And with each display there were these life-sized statues, dressed in appropriate period costumes. They were so cute and they fit into each period of history.

When Randy saw this car he had to have his picture taken by it. He said this was just exactly like the first car he remembered being allowed to drive. The one Grandpa owned was also black, just like this one. He kept saying, "I wish I still had that car". There's a lot of memories associated with the cars we've owned at different times in our lives - this one sure brought back lots of memories for him.

After the museums closed we walked to the World War II Memorial. It was a beautiful memorial with each of the 50 states represented on the columns surrounding the water feature.

Quotes from famous people were inscribed around this monument commemorating the sacrifices of the men and women who fought in World War II.This last monument brought our visit to a close in Washington, D.C. We had spent two busy days in our nations capitol and had seen a lot of amazing sights and learned a lot of interesting things. As we walked back to catch the commuter train back to Virginia, we talked about the great things we were able to see and do. We had enjoyed our time here but we were also ready for a little slower pace than what we'd experienced here. We were glad we'd been able to see of so many beautiful historical sites and to experience some of the things we did. Like they say, "It's a nice place to visit but I don't want to live there". We love traveling and experiencing new things, but we're always grateful for where we live and the good lifestyle we enjoy.

1 comment:

Tami said...

Wow! Thanks for the History re-cap! You guys jam packed your days. Some day I'd like to make that trip. Love all the pictures and the details. As soon as I saw "Mammals" I thought of Carson. I will have to show him these pics.