Tuesday 19 October 2010

Day 53 – D.C.’s Comics

And so we’ve made it to this nation’s capital – Washington D.C.. Having spent my life living in a capital city I can appreciate both the good and the bad of this. The good being that there is always something interesting to spend a day doing, but the bad being that your hometown has a constant influx of tourists wanting to do those things too! Washington is a town heavy on government and office buildings; full to the brim with worker-bees trying to get stuff done. I imagine having people like us, getting in the way as we gawk at everything, must get annoying! Entering their metro system (which has a very 70’s style going on) I could feel D.C.’s commuters giving us the stink eye…
We jumped straight into the heart of Touristville by exiting the metro in the middle of The Mall. As soon as we took in our surroundings we got a very Parisian feel, the set up of the grand historic buildings and monuments around this long path of grass could have easily been twinned with the Eiffel Tower. The Mall is lined with numerous museums that all combine to make up the institute known as The Smithsonian. The great thing is they are all free to enter, so we started with the National Museum of American History.
Housed in its walls is everything about the history of America – From popular culture to the wars they fought to an in-depth look at every president they’ve had…They’ve even got Julia Child’s kitchen (Bon Appetit!). We had expected to be there only a short while, but ended up spending nearly 3 hours taking it all in.
It seemed like a good time to get lunch and what better place to do it than the National Museum of Natural History?! In honor of all the school trips taken there we had the kids meal of PB&J sandwiches, carrot sticks and chocolate milk! There are lot of good things to see, but over the years we’ve had our fill of natural history museums, so we made our time there short.
Taking a break from the educational stops we’d made it to one end of the Mall and took a moment to check out the Capitol Building. The imposing white building sure is something to behold. This is where congress meets to figure out how the country should be run and where Presidents are sworn in. Some may argue not much actually gets accomplished here, but even still, it looks important and isn’t that half the battle?
Getting back on the Mall museum path we visited one more Smithsonian building – the National Air and Space Museum. Due to my severe fear of flying this really wasn’t the place for me to be, but they did have some cool stuff, like the Wright Brothers plane…where would we be without that?
Of course, this wasn’t the only famous plane they had there, there was one belonging to Amelia Earhart and the Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis. In dedication to these great trailblazers we figured we give a flight simulator a go with Joe being the pilot and me being the ‘gunner’. Big mistake. For some reason these things need to spin upside down--this meant Joe (despite being the genius behind the bright idea) got queasy and I nearly ended up with a green husband.
Getting back out into the fresh air, we walked to the other end of The Mall and passed the Washington Monument; a huge obelisk completed back in 1885 to honor George Washington. It’s pretty impressive and we’re still debating whether to revisit and go to the top!
The most moving thing on The Mall though is the Lincoln Memorial. Much bigger than I had envisioned from seeing pictures of it. It is a place that can’t help but make you feel awed. Even with swarms of tourists there is still something peaceful about it. Since taking this trip I found a new idol in Lincoln. His story is a moving one and everything I’ve heard of him paints a picture of a man deserving of all the praise and monuments. We’ve even made a last minute change to the end of our trip due to this newfound admiration for the slain president. (Joe would love to see the 6’4” wizard dunk a basketball!)
Rounding out our day on The Mall we took in the sobering memorial to the Vietnam Veterans. Despite being a country with a seemingly short history, America has been in a lot of wars, none more tragic than Vietnam. A war, that by all counts, was a stumbling block in the pursuit of liberty. There are times when even superpowers let their ego get the better of them and unfortunately it’s the people that suffer. Seeing all the names engraved into this long wall drives this point all the way home.
Calling it a long day, we took our tired legs back to our hotel for some much needed rest…but not before stopping in to see Einstein on the way. Smart fellow, really big head…
So, until tomorrow…

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