Me and the MR have done our share of traveling the last few years. Visiting other countries’ capital cities, I was impressed with the museums and monuments, the statues and memorials, the abundance of history, beautiful architecture, and national pride. Somehow, I got it into my head that we just don’t have that at home. I mean Seattle has EMP and the Hammering Man. We’re famous for throwing fish at Pike Place and for inventing casual Fridays—not pomp and patriotism.
But a few weeks ago, we met the MR’s parents in the other Washington, and my whole perception changed. Our family isn’t big into politics, and we had never seriously thought about visiting Washington, DC. I’d bring it up every now and then saying we really should take the girls—kind of like taking vitamins or eating your vegetables. But then the MR’s mom suggested traveling to there to see the cherry blossoms. I like cherry blossoms.
So the beginning of the month found us with five days in DC to see the sights. It was amazing. We stayed in the Penn Quarter, just around the corner from Ford’s Theater and the rooming house where Lincoln died. Our first morning, we strolled down the block to the White House. Yes, that would be Pennsylvania Avenue.
We were a little further back than it looks like in the movies, but we were actually there next to Michelle Obama’s vegetable garden
I had tried to book a tour, but with the change in administration, all tours had been put on hold—maybe next time. I’d contacted our representative about the White House tour, and she’d signed us up for a tour of the Capitol instead. So our group of adventurers headed on to the National Mall.
Our next stop was the World War II Memorial.
In the distance, that’s the Lincoln Memorial. I’d never realized how all these monuments are lined up. In our family we have this joke that if you can see it, you can walk to it; it may have started when we took the girls to Paris—you can see the Eiffel Tower for a really long ways away… While we probably could have walked to Lincoln we’d been warned that the National Mall is really quite large, and we had a tour of the Capitol coming up.
So we turned in the other direction and headed towards the Washington Monument.
The elevators to the top of the monument are being repaired through 2019, so no aerial views this time. With a few hours to kill, we headed on towards the Capitol up the streets flanked by Smithsonian museums.
We didn’t visit the National Gallery of Art, but we did wander through the sculpture garden.
We met our group in Congressman Suzan DelBene’s office, and then were off viewing art and architecture, old meeting rooms and new. Both houses were in recess, but if we’d wanted to wait around for a few hours, we could have watched them in action.
By that time, we’d walked nearly nine miles and were ready for dinner and a chance to put our feet up.
Day two, we went on the Big Bus Tour. We picked it up across the street from our hotel, and it took us right to the Lincoln Memorial. One of the things you don’t realize from the movies and TV is the shear size of these buildings.
From there, we walked over to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. My sweet mother-in-law shook hands with each of the veterans she met along the wall. It was a moving experience for both her and them.
Then we were back on the bus destined for Arlington National Cemetery. More than 400,000 people are buried here; it’s acres upon acres of headstones.
After visiting the grave of John F. Kennedy, we happened upon the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier just in time for the changing of the guard.
Day three, we started our museum visits with the National Air and Space Museum.
After touching the space rock, and oohing and aahing over all things that fly, we headed for greener pastures. We had noticed the United States Botanic Gardens on our way to the Capitol tour, but it was closed by the time we’d finished, so after lunch we went there.
While it was interesting, this was one of the few things on our itinerary I would not repeat.
Then we headed beyond the Capitol to the Library of Congress to enjoy the beautiful architecture inside and out.
My father-in-law teased the security about not being able to check out a book. The guard quickly gave him directions on were to go to get a library card. Maybe next time we’ll make use of the reading room.
Day four dawned wet and dreary, but no worries, we had umbrellas and the National Archives were just down the street.
So much of our history has been captured here. I listened to tapes of FDR refusing increased security around the White House after Pearl Harbor, and then joined the crowds to see the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.
We spent an entertaining lunch watching unwary commuters emerge from the subway station only to have their umbrellas blown inside out and then trudged on to the National Museum of Natural History. I’d been hoping for American History, but somehow we wound up next door. On rainy days during spring break, these museums are chaos.
The MR”s dad was sick in bed that evening, but we took out his mom to help celebrate their 54th wedding anniversary.
That being our last night in town, me and the MR went out to see the monuments at night. It’s really quite beautiful.
Our last day, we checked the bags at the hotel and thought we were heading across the street to the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery, but they didn’t open till 11:30, so we hurried a few blocks in a stiff wind to the National Building Museum—one of the few requiring an admissions few to the exhibits. We were still able to see portraits of the presidents and some American folk art before eating lunch and saying goodbye to the MR’s parents as they left for the train station.
We had a few hours before going to the airport, so we checked out the White House Visitor Center, which is the next best thing to being there.
I loved the history, the beauty, and the grandeur of DC, and I would definitely go back.
Next time, I’d like to make it to Mount Vernon and to a few more of the museums. I’m not sure I’d do Arlington again, and the bus tour was a bit of a miss. We’d purchased multiple lines, so we could visit Arlington, and ended up waiting on the side of the road for more than an hour because of a motorcade. The company can’t really do anything about that, but for the price of four adults we could have booked a private tour that would have meant less standing and waiting.
With 17 Smithsonians, it was hard to choose which one to visit. Next time, the MR can go back to the Air and Space while I’m immersing myself in history. Then we’ll just meet up for lunch.
Many of the museums and Arlington have their own apps—something I haven’t got in the habit of looking for ahead of time.
After all these years, I’m glad we finally visited our nation’s capital. Thanks MeeMee for the suggestion.
What are your highlights of Washington, DC?
In other fabulous news, The Fella asked Sweet Miss to marry him last Saturday. We’re all pleased as punch. And on Sunday, Papa Larry celebrated his 80th birthday. Add in Easter, and I’d say it was a banner weekend.