Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Washington DC - Day 2

Tuesday morning dawned gorgeous and early! After breakfast at the hotel, JD greeted us with more history and fun. We had secured tickets to ride to the top of the Washington Monument! Yowzers! The monument is just over 555 feet tall with walls ranging from 15 feet thick at the bottom to 18 inches thick at the top! There are 193 Memorial stones in the interior walls that can be seen through the elevator at certain times or by the stairs. The ride in the elevator to the top takes 70 seconds, but way back when, it took 12 minutes! The views were incredible! We could even see the lawn mower cutting the grass at the White House!

One of Lollipop Pop's friends is terrified of heights...she managed to make it to the top for a very quick minute and back to the solid ground. We were all so proud that she made it! I think she was proud of herself as well. Walking over to the WWII Memorial was our next stop and what a pretty place it is. I fear that I will be redundant with that thought...everything was so pretty! The Memorial is ovalish in shape and has a huge arch at either end that represents the Atlantic and Pacific theaters. There are 56 pillars, each with 2 bronze wreaths, that represent each of the states, territories and D.C. There is a lot of water at this Memorial and I think that adds a peaceful dimension. Looking in one direction, you see the Lincoln Memorial and the other, the Washington Monument.

A waterfall surrounds the Wall of Stars.

There are 4,000 gold stars...each stars represent 100 American lives lost during this war! I felt humbled and small thinking about the sacrifices that these servicemen, women and their families made in order for me to be able to live where and how I do. I am so grateful!

Rapunzel was there as well! Actually, my room mate for the week.

After the WWII Memorial, we drove through Embassy Row. JD would quiz the kids on which continent each Embassy represented and I was amazed at how much information he had on so many areas of the world! We arrived at the National Cathedral and had a dour and slightly cranky docent. I am sure she gets her share of goofball kids and let our group know from the get go that there would be no messing around. My photos inside did not turn out very well, but I can tell you that this cathedral is spectacular and our kids were perfect! The ironwork, carvings and stained glass are stunning and the entire group was mesmerized.

Once outside, the kids started looking at the gargoyles. It seems that in the 1980's, when the West Towers were being built, there was a nationwide contest for kids to submit drawings for gargoyles to be placed on the towers. A boy from Nebraska's third place rendition of Darth Vader was one chosen and is now way, way up on the Cathedral. The kids thought it was pretty cool! After a quick photo stop in front of the White House (the lawn mower from the morning, was now in front of the White House...I can think of worse jobs...

...we boarded the bus and made our way to Mount Vernon. We learned all about George Washington and how Mount Vernon began and came to be the beautiful place it is today. It is privately owned and has been restored to its former glory by The Ladies.

It is apparent that the guides are very proud to be teaching about the place they work. They made us feel as though we were being welcomed into the Washington's home. JD always asked the kids a question prior to visiting a place and expected them to find the answer before re boarding the bus. "Who was Nelson? and "Why and what is the key located on the wall near the staircase?" were the two he asked as we began our exploration of Mount Vernon. The dogwood was in full bloom throughout the property and was very pretty! I apparently was busy ogling the flowers because I came home without a single photo of them! I did, however, take some shots of the amazing views from the back porch. Lollipop Pop and I decided that we could live here. A nice hammock and a glass of lemonade would be all that is necessary!

And the garden was nothing to sneeze at, either!

We travelled through the very pretty and historic town of Alexandria to and from Mount Vernon and what a neat place that is! JD drove up and down streets, all the while explaining things to us. He knew what each building was and made it fascinating. Did you know that the cobblestone streets began their lives as ballasts. I didn't. Once we left Alexandria, JD was on a mission to get us to dinner on time and opted for back roads rather than the main artery during rush hour. This restaurant sign caught my eye....what a wide variety of food! I didn't even notice the Pizza sign behind it at the time.
On our way to the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial, JD explained to us how to find a specific name on the Memorial Wall.
He was very methodical in his explanation using a real serviceman's name. Prior to getting off of the bus, he said that the name he had used was his nephew's. Skippy was 19 years old when he was killed and JD himself was in the service in Portugal at the time and was not notified of the death until later. You could have heard a pin drop as we excited the bus. On her own, one of the teachers located the nephew's name on the wall and showed the kids. It was very moving. The rest of this evening was no different...very moving.
This was the third time we saw the Washington Monument from yet another vantage point...from the Lincoln Memorial.

Lincoln's Memorial is so massive and beautiful!

Lollipop Pop had been told by her grandparents to look for Robert E. Lee's profile in Lincoln's hair. Hmmm....looked on one side to no avail. She called her grandparents to make sure she had the information correct...then checked the other side. Lo and behold, I think we saw something...maybe.
She even showed her teacher, who had never heard of the story.
They asked a Park Ranger and were told that there is no documentation that proves anything...he compared seeing the profile to seeing images in clouds. Hmmm....Lollipop Pop believes....I will too. Regardless, it was fun looking.
The darkness had set in, which I believe is the perfect way to view the Korean War Veteran's Memorial.

The facial features and body positions of the 19 sculptures seem eerily alive as they are being watched over by the images etched into a black granite wall.
Again, thank you to servicemen and women.

Day 1
Day 3
Day 4
Ellis Island


Emie Kay said...

Wow! That sounds amazing! I can't wait for the next post!

Twisted Fencepost said...

I KNOW you had a great time. I would have, too. I've never been to D.C. But would love to go.