Friday 22 October 2010

Day 56 – Goodbye Washington...Hello Washington!

I was sad to have to leave Washington DC behind this morning; our time there was a real highlight and we certainly got a lot of exercise during our three days of exploring! Despite being over run with tourists, joggers and squirrels, the US capital had a lot on offer and I like to think one day we’ll make it back there for another visit.
Our excursion for today was just a short drive outside D.C. – Mount Vernon. The former home of America’s original president, George Washington, it is now owed and run by the Mount Vernon Woman’s Association and a pretty fine job they do too. The grounds and the mansion are fully restored to the days when George and Martha lived there, but they’ve also added a modern day Welcome Center as well as a Museum and Education Center.
The actual mansion tour is photo-free and rather short. Sitting above the Potomic river there was quite a chilly breeze while waiting in the slow moving tour line. Once you get inside a guide is waiting in each room to give you some interesting information about the house. Turns out that back in the 1700’s things weren’t too shabby for the wealthy and you got a sense that even before there was such a thing as ‘The White House’ that president’s knew how to live in style!
Back then, due to how expensive paint was, only the rich liked to cover their rooms in bright, vibrant colors…Thankfully paint is a lot cheaper these days and so we were even able to get some decorating ideas from the place! And it’s not just the inside that is pleasing to the eye; the views from the back porch were something to be envied!
George Washington may have spent eight years away from home fighting in the Revolutionary War as a General but he also followed that up by putting his name into the history books as America’s first president, though first and foremost, he considered himself a farmer.
In his last will and testament he made it known he wanted to be buried at Mount Vernon and everyday at 2pm there is a ceremony at his tomb to lay a wreath in his honor. We arrived at this precise moment and Joe tried to get me to join in with the pledge of allegiance, unfortunately I don’t know the words yet…Give me a chance on this, I’ve only been in the country a couple of months and besides, with all the English bashing I’ve had to endure from the stories of the Revolutionary War, I’m not yet sure where my allegiances lie!
The Museum, built in 2006, is extremely detailed and well set up. It’s clear the people involved with Mount Vernon’s upkeep are dedicated. They even take the time to teach you how all the life-sized models of Washington were created off the original bust of his head. Ironically this means his expression is identical in every one. Considering the sculptor chose that facial expression when Washington was looking indignant over the price of some horses -- it now gives him a constant arrogant pose! I suppose given his many achievements he’s earned the right to be a little smug…
Finishing off our day it’s worth mentioning that we got stuck in our first serious bit of traffic during this whole trip, adding a painful two hours to our drive. Not bad seeing as we’re on day 56 of 74! I had expected doing a roadtrip this large that we would hit so many jams that we’d wanna quit, but we seem to have lucked out, only really getting into a smidge on our way out of LA all those weeks ago. Today was a reminder that little things like traffic or weather can make a huge difference to your enjoyment of a trip of this size. Let’s hope our luck continues past this little blip!

So, until tomorrow…

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