Monday, October 31, 2005

Washington, DC

Too tired to find camera in luggage but here is the rundown on our adventure to Washington, DC:

Day One: Tuesday

We leave Indiana at 9:00pm exactly. Packed and loaded the night before we await the end of a Boy Scout meeting to leave. We hit the road with the XM tuned to the World Series and hope to get to Columbus (about 3 hours) or so before stopping. World Series still going and so am I, everyone sleeps (but me) and we make to to Wheeling, West Virginia at the bottom of the 14th, game over and so am I. White Sox win and we stay at a Red Roof Inn.

Day Two: Wednesday

We awake and hit the road to take our time to Washington. Driving through West Virginia we are reminded of upstate New York, mountains, tress, the fall color. The boy comments: " I think there are more trees on that mountain than all of Indiana." I do not argue as I think he is right. We are glad we did not do this trip at night as the scenery is beautiful and we enjoy the ride through West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia. We reach Washington at 2:00 and spend a total of 9 hours going from home to our hotel. Our directions looped us under DC and we stopped at a parking lot to make sure of where to go when we realize we are parked in front of the Pentagon. As we look at the map I tell the boy to jump out and take a pic. He is out of the car for 2 seconds when this guy comes out of nowhere and says, "No pictures please!". He jumps back in the car and we get the hell out of dodge.

Our hotel is on 11th and E St. It is one block up from Pennsylvania Avenue. We unload, see our room (it is an old hotel, they actually give us KEYS!). It will do, we got the suite so we have one room for us and one for the boy and 2 bathrooms. We go to park the car in the hotel parking garage and when we come out we see the back of the White House. So we start the trip with a walk around the White House and the Eisenhower Building. We visit the Ellipse and see the National Christmas Tree, Jackson Square, protesters, Freedom Plaza and the area around our hotel. The best stop of the night was the Old Post Office (across from our hotel). Not only was it the first post office and had an incredible history of saving it from being torn down that spans decades. But it is the 2nd tallest building in the National Mall area (1st being the Washington Monument) and you can take an elevator to the top of the bell tower and have a 360 view of Downtown Washington, DC, AWESOME!!! That takes a few hours, then we hit ESPN Zone across the street for baseball and dinner. We retire and watch the final game of the World Series and prepare for the next day.

Day Three: Thursday

This is the big one, we are hitting the major monuments and the Smithsonian Institute today. Everything in Washington is free! You can no longer visit the White House (thanks Terrorists) and you need tickets for the Washington Monument and the Capitol, these are free, limited and on a first come first served basis. We hit the Washington Monument at 9:30 and get the first free tickets at 10:30. We spend the 45 minutes walking around the Monument and taking fantastic pics down the National Mall at the Capitol and then across the reflecting Pool to the WWII and Lincoln Memorials.

Side Note: While waiting for our turn we talk with several people. One is a father and young boy from Florida. While talking we let it slip that the wife is from the Lake George region, which this guy visited in his youth. He mentions a town my wife is familiar with and tells a story of a summer vacation at a cabin gone wrong by ghosts. He was choked one night and refused to sleep in that room again, the next night his sister was choked in that same room. The family went shopping the next morning and he was napping when the blankets were torn off the bed, no one else was home. He ran from the house and met the family on the porch 2 hours later. He never went back into the house, they had to get his stuff and they moved to another cabin. When they returned the key they said they could not spend another night there and the owners said they understood.

Top of the Washington Monument is incredible, we took pics galore and noticed outlines of baseball diamonds in front of the White House. On old pics (1920's) you can see that there were 3 baseball diamonds on the Ellipse, cool. The newest addition to DC, the WWII Memorial was incredible. The boy took a pic of every column and wants to make a side show. This one had many vets there (more than the Vietnam). We walked the Reflecting Pool towards the Lincoln Memorial and stopped at The Wall (Vietnam Veteran's Memorial). From there up the steps to Lincoln himself. There was some restoration going on, so there were workers around but it was still an impressive site. I was in awe reading the Gettysburg Address. We hit the Korean War Memorial and then went to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, that is where money is made. We took the second to last tour and had a blast. We watched as special paper went from blank stacks to real $1 bills.
Fast Facts:
-$1 have a shelf life of 18 months
-Money is made in $340,000 bundles
-There is a separate press for STAR (*) bills, these a bills made to replace faulty runs of bills and are only to be put in circulation at that plant by a special worker.

From the BEP we hit the Smithsonian Castle, which is really just an information center, and then went to the museum of American History. There we saw the flag that flew from the Pentagon on 9/11 (huge) the original Star Spangled Banner that inspired Francis Scott Key (even bigger), Oscar the Grouch, Archie Bunker's chair, Mr. Roger's Sweater and countless other artifacts of pop culture, military history and the Presidents. From there we RAN to the US Archives and stood in line to be the 3rd from last tour to see the Declaration of Independence, the Magna Carta and all 4 pages of the Constitution. While the Declaration is very faded, the Constitution has held up well and it is amazing to see Ben Franklins signature right there. We hit the gift shop (Please bring purchases to the register we are closing in one minute) and walked out the door. The boy looked at me and said "Wow, the 2 most important things in American history and I was this far away from it!!!"

From there to the hotel and then to Popeye's Chicken. We were so tired we just wanted to relax and watch Survivor and go to bed early, plus my dog were barking!!!! We did everything on foot, we walked from 9am till 7:46pm never stopping for lunch or taking a bus or trolley!

Now my wrist is tired so I will continue anon......


At 11:20 AM, Blogger Aunt Murry said...

So COOL! Since I was just there in July, I pretty much know where you were, and that made your post even more eventful!

At 5:03 PM, Blogger Death said...

the last time the MAN sent me to DC for training I stayed on the same street you did, if not the same hotel. Sad to say since I was on the MAN's dime I had no time for seeing the sights.


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