Monday, October 15, 2007

Washington, DC Revisited

On Friday, October 13 Buddy and I drove up to Washington, DC for the annual parents' weekend at The George Washington University, to visit with his son who is going to school there. This time I was prepared with my camera, which was good, because I got some photos that prove that our experiences were real.

We chose to stay at the Holiday Inn Express in Springfield, Virginia. Our room was very comfortable and the price included a nice better-than-Continental breakfast. We had planned to take the Metro into the city. That was much better than trying to drive and find parking. Getting an all day pass for Saturday made getting around town inexpensive as well as easy. We appreciated how easy the system is to use, plus the fact that they have people working there who will help you with buying your tickets. The most important thing to know about that is that if you are using cash, the machines can give only up to $5 in change. Washington DC is a great city to walk in - pedestrians are actually taken seriously.

Saturday afternoon we ended up walking near the White House because we wanted a photo of us with it in the background. A couple of minutes after getting it, we went to talk to an official looking person about something and discovered that she was giving out free tickets to anyone who wanted to walk on the White House grounds. We accepted the tickets and were very pleased at how quick and easy it was to get in, despite the security procedures. They examined all bags, including purses and cameras, and ran a wand over us, front and back. We received a nice booklet that talks about the grounds and shows all the trees planted by presidents. That was a helpful guide while there and a nice keepsake in the aftermath. The General Pershing's Own Army Band was playing, which made the time even nicer. They are very good. We were free to take all the photos we wanted. We could hardly believe our timing for this: the grounds are open to the public only two weekends each year, and we found one of them.

When we had seen all we wanted at the White House, we took the Metro over to the Smithsonian Museums and spent the rest of the afternoon going through them. We spent a little time in the Freer Gallery, looking at Chinese Art. We then went through The Castle, the Smithsonian's visitors center, which is the original Smithsonian Building. In conjunction with that we explored the Enid Haupt garden, which was very beautiful and peaceful. Finally we walked down the street to the Museum of the American Indian. That is one of the most gorgeous buildings I've ever seen, reminiscent of what rivers do to sandstone. The exhibits are very interesting. They include both artifacts and videos of members of many tribes talking about the experiences and perspective of their tribes. It was recommended to us to take the elevator to the fourth floor and then work our way down to ground level. The fourth floor has the most extensive exhibits, so it is the best place to start. The center of the building is circular and open all the way up, with staircases spiraling down to the first floor. The ceiling design reminds me of the museum in Israel that has the Dead Sea Scrolls. The difference here is that there is a skylight at the top of the Indian museum. On the way to this museum we encountered a couple of street musicians, and a juggler, who was juggling a bowling ball, a basket ball and a tennis racket!

By the time we got through viewing the exhibits, we were very hungry, and chose to eat in the museum's café. We chose to share a sampler platter that had buffalo steak, salmon, sweet and sour cabbage, jicama and hearts of palm salad, and a wild rice medley. It was all very well prepared and very tasty. The museums, including the café, close promptly at 5:30. We were not through eating, but the staff was very kind to us and brought us to go boxes and plastic utensils, and told us that we could eat in the park across the street.

On Sunday morning we went to see the Marine Corps War Memorial, which is as awesome and inspiring up close as it is from a distance. We did not realize the scale of it until we were up close.
After that we went over to Hains Point to see the sculpture titled The Awakening, a bronze man, who is only partly out of the ground. We also drove by the Jefferson Memorial and the World War II Memorial. After that it was time to head home. All in all, it was a wonderful weekend, and we are looking forward to going back soon.

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