Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Washington DC Trip: Day 2

Our second day in DC was jam packed.  We hit the road bright and early, and headed out to see the sights.  We started our time walking down to the National Mall, with a few particulars in mind: namely the Vietnam Wall and the Lincoln Memorial (up close and personal).

Once we'd tackled those things, we took Joe's recommendation and visited one of the 19 Smithsonian buildings - the National Museum of American History.  That museum has a display right now (might be a permanent display, not sure) on the First Ladies fashion, and it was a thrill to see - Jackie O's dress and peals, Mrs. Grant's dress, one of Michelle Obama's gowns, a dress from Pat Nixon, from both of the Mrs. Bush women, etc.  It was very interesting to see.

We also paid a (very quick) visit to the Museum of Natural History where we saw the Hope Diamond... pretty spectacular, and 45 carats!

At one point that morning, we were walking near the Washington Monument with the White House in the distance, when we noticed a helicopter departing from the South Lawn.  Not terribly uncommon for DC, but was interesting was that another chopper took off at nearly the same time, and went in an opposite direction.  Joe had just told us that the Secret Service often uses that as a diversion tactic.  I am convinced that President Obama was in the helicopter that departed the White House and flew right over our heads :)

That afternoon, we headed to "the hill" where we walked inside the Supreme Court.  We saw the famous spiral staircase in that building, as well as the courthouse where the Supreme Court hears cases.  We asked an employee if there was only one courtroom in the building, and that was confirmed.  Kind of interesting, I think.

After the Supreme Court, we took the quick walk down the block to the Library of Congress Jefferson building, where we saw some of Thomas Jefferson's private collection (very cool).  The Library of Congress Jefferson Building has this incredible ceiling and marble everywhere.  It's a very impressive building inside and out.

We then hurried over to one of the three Senate Office buildings, where we were to meet at a specific senator's office.  (Shout out to my mom for requesting and arranging this).  We then received a 90-minute private tour of the capital!!!  It was a highlight of the trip, for sure.  Highly recommend that anyone visiting Washington tries to do this, as I learned so many interesting tidbits about the capital in particular, and Washington in general.  (The next time you're in DC and see a sculpture of Lincoln, check out his ears... I bet he only has one.  He was oft depicted as having only one ear, as a not-so-subtle insult to how popular opinion thought that he only listened to the North during the Civil War).  During the tour of the capital, we saw Speaker of the House John Boehner's office, as well as the Congressional floor where the President delivers the annual State of the Union.  So much history crammed in to less than two hours... and I loved it.  We even got to ride the trolley through the tunnels beneath the capital.  :)

At this point in the day, we knew we needed to wrap-it-up, since Joe would be getting off work soon.  The last few things on the list were seeing Ford's Theatre (where President Lincoln was assassinated) and the National Portrait Gallery.  We quickly walked through the Gallery, and then to Ford's theatre and the home across the street where he died the next day.

That night we were completely wiped out - about 30,000 steps (more than a half marathon) walked, being outside in the fresh air nearly all day led to some really early bedtimes... but it was worth it, because the next day was going to be another full one.

DC is just so profound - the amount of history in that town is just incredible.  I love history and politics, so the combination is pretty spectacular.

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