Saturday, June 11, 2016

June 11, 2016

Layover Day

A do nothing day. We have been sightseeing and walking (and walking and walking and …) for ten straight days.  Today was a kick back day.  We did get some groceries. Hot tub and long hot shower also. 

Yesterday we went to Annapolis and walked around the Naval Academy.  Lots of tradition, history, museums, and interesting grounds.  Have pictures somewhere.  Will post later.

In case we do not have internet tomorrow -

Happy Birthday  Gracie Sue !!

We love you.

Gramma and Grandad

Thursday, June 9, 2016

June 9, 2016

Pentagon, Marine Memorial, Smithsonian Natural History.

Pentagon tour first thing this morning. 

Early ride on the Metro to the Pentagon.  Before checking in we went to the Pentagon 9/11 memorial.  Very well done.  To appreciate, go there. 

Next check in for tour.  Tightest security we have seen yet and we have been through a lot of checks.  Security is intense and is ongoing.  No letting up after one is in.  Tour was fact filled and fast paced.  Very impressive part of tour -  the Coast Guard seaman who lead the first half.  In full dress uniform, he walked nearly 3/4 mile backwards, talking the whole time, and never looking back where he was going.  Most amazing is that we went up and down six escalators.  He stepped on, rode, and stepped off with out looking back or down at his feet.  He just knew when to step.  Good info about the building, what goes on there, and about 9/11.  NO PICTURES !

After Pentagon a metro ride to Arlington Cemetery and a walk to Marine Corps Memorial.


View from memorial . The big three.


The Iwo Jima Memorial

A walk toward Georgetown to a Metro station and then a ride and walk to Smithsonian Natural History.  First, a personal backstage tour by the niece of a dear friend.  She and her husband work in the Ornithology research branch of the museum.  She gave us a very interesting and informative demonstration on the process, extent, and depth of the study of birds at the Smithsonian.  Thank You Christina !!  We then toured through the Natural History museum.  As with all the others, very well done and informative and very overwhelming in volume of material available to see.



Hope Diamond


Perspective is off.  Bear is nearly nine feet tall.


Home to spend some time in the pool and relaxing minutes in a hot tub.  Felt good.


Wednesday, June 8, 2016

June 8, 2016

Basilica and Money Making

Spent the morning doing laundry.  Early afternoon we took a tour of The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception (say that five times fast).  Impressive  building from the outside.  Second floor (Upper Church)  quite impressive. Lower (crypt level) floor interesting.  Might be more meaningful to Catholics but I found the National Cathedral to be more impressive and inspiring.  Sorry.



As I said – outside view is impressive.



Small portion of inside of main church.



Clue to size of church.  This is a closer view of picture of Christ seen at far end of church in picture above this.  The face of Christ is six feet across.



Cross town on Metro.  Wait for our appointed time.  Tour of Bureau of Engraving and Printing.  Saw money being made.  Lots of information and fun to see the process.


Not very impressive.  Just a great big building (two actually – each a city block in size) with minimal ornamentation  No pictures allowed inside so that’s all you get.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

June 7, 2016

Museum of American History, Library of Congress

Two venues today.

First the Museum of American History.  Amazing place.  Impossible to describe everything there or even give give an inkling.  As with the Air and Space Museum (and I presume the yet to see Natural History Museum) go see this place if at all possible.

Three of the more commonly known displays of American History.


Dorothy’s shoes


Abe’s hat


Mickey’s ears.



Library of Congress.

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We had a congressman arranged tour and it was very good.  Guide was very informative about the building, history of the library, and the many historical and unique displays.  Many of the buildings in the capitol are ornate and filled with paintings and statues.  This is one of the best and the guide made it all come to life.

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A few of the books from Jefferson’s library which formed the beginning of the Library of Congress.

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Gutenberg Bible

Monday, June 6, 2016

June 6, 2016

Air and Space, and Capitol

Started our day with a visit to Smithsonian Visitor Center.  Quick visit then over to the Air and Space Museum.  Wow!  Could spend a couple of days there and not see it all.  We started with a tour but broke off after an hour to see things on our own more rapidly.  The building is full of originals in the history of flight.  Many rooms full of education done in  an entertaining and understandable manner.  Would have liked to spend much more time there.


Apollo 11 command module

Off to the office of Representative Tom McClintock to start our Capitol tour.  About eleven of us (from places I’d heard of Smile) escorted by intern through the capitol maze.  Interesting.  There must have been close to 50 or more of the same tour going on at the same time, each led by an intern.  That mixed in with tours done by people who just walked in to visitor center.  Despite the crowds, we did learn a lot and it was fun to see things we see or hear about only on TV. 

Photography is allowed in spots but results not very interesting without being there.


If you look at a map of Washington D.C. you will see four roads radiating out form Capitol.  This spot, one floor below Rotunda, is the exact intersection of those roads.  The Capitol was laid out as the center of D.C.



Very center of inside of Rotunda dome.  Everything else is covered in canvas during refurbishment.

Note to self and others:  Work out a technique for going through security checks easily.  Today we went through 5 or 6 in just two buildings. Quite a hassle.  Thought I had eliminated most extraneous stuff but there was still a lot of pocket emptying

Sunday, June 5, 2016

June 5, 2016

National Cathedral

First- Happy Birthday Michael !!!


Took advantage of Sunday rates (free) and toured National Cathedral.  Very impressive spot.  It goes on forever and is filled with history and symbolism.  Our guide was very knowledgeable and passed on the information with a good dose of wit that made a fun learning experience.




The cathedral is filled with stained glass windows (lots of them).  Each window tells a story or has a theme.  The theme of the above is the voyage of Apollo 11.  The smaller circle is Earth eclipsing the Sun. Hence the rays radiating to the left.  The lines are the journey from Earth to the moon and back. The moon is the larger (closer) circle.  In the center is a dot.  That is the only piece of Moon rock not locked in a museum or vault.



Washington D.C. from the 7th floor of the National Cathedral.


darth vader grotesque

These are grotesques. Not gargoyles. A gargoyle is carved such that water flows out of its mouth.  Does the one on the right look familiar?  Smile



On the way back from the cathedral we stopped at the Goddard Space Flight Center. 

Very quick visit as visitor center was closing in 15 minutes.  Could have used a bit more time but it was interesting.