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Friday, December 16, 2011

Best trip not on a bike!

I really don't think I have ever complained about a trip that involved riding.  Even if the destination, accommodations, or food were sub par, if I was riding it was "all good."  There were trips that I enjoyed but wished I was on the bike for all or part of the trip.  Our recent trip over Thanksgiving to DC was a great trip and I did not even miss my FJR!

We arrived in DC on Saturday November 19, 2011.  It was a nice mostly sunny day with temperatures in the mid-50's.  Congress was not in session.  The 435 Representatives and 100 Senators, as well as their staff members, had left town for the holidays.  Lobbyists, reporters, protesters, and pages had also abandoned the Capitol leaving the area much less crowded and we were very thankful.
Capitol dome seen from the front walk of our hotel
Due to the absence of so many people we were able to stay in a nice hotel very close to the Capitol Building at a very good price.  The absence of the "regulars" made a lot of things easier and quicker than what I expected; i.e., public transportation, restaurants, museums, coffee shops, and attractions.

Day 1:
After checking our bags with the doorman (rooms were not ready) we walked to the Supreme Court Building (did not get to go in) and the Capitol Building Visitor Center.  On the way spent some time at The Japanese-American Memorial to Patriotism in World War II.  This is a very moving memorial with great symbolism.  I can not image what the families suffered and the devastation they endured.  I had a great opportunity to educate my son about our history and how it applies to him today.

 After taking some photos of the Supreme Court building we made our way to the Capitol Visitor Center and toured the Congress and the Civil War exhibit and Emancipation Hall.  The Congress and the Civil War and the E Pluribus Unum - Out of Many One exhibits was very interesting and had many artifacts from previous presidents and early Capitol Buildings.

We continued around the outside of the Capitol. The building is so massive and so pretty.  I took a lot of photos, but none really justice to the building.
East view of the US Capitol Building
It was beginning to get dark and it was time for dinner so we made our way to My Brother's Place just one block off Constitution Ave on 2nd St. (I will post about some of the restaurants later) We saw our first motorcycle of the trip and my son figured I should share the photo he took.
Nice Triumph
Day 2:
We were up early and prepared to do a lot of walking.  The forecast called for a cloudy, but dry day.  We planned to visit one museum and then the monuments/memorials throughout the national mall area.  We walked 2 miles to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.  My son and I have visited the Holocaust museums in Dallas, TX and Maitland, FL, but nothing prepares you for the overwhelming volume of photos, artifacts, shoes (taken from the prisoners of the concentration camps), and evidence of such deliberate and calculated hatred and evil.  We had more conversations and life lessons with our son.  No photography allowed inside the museum, visit the museums website to see photos.

Upon leaving the museum we made our way to the National Mall to see the monuments/memorials.  The Washington Monument is visible for miles in all directions so we had "seen" it, but we wanted a closer look.  Tours have been suspended due to damage sustained during the August 23, 2011 5.8 earthquake.  We were able to get close. It is an impressive monument.  From the Washington Monument we could see across the mall to the Lincoln Memorial with the World War II Memorial between them.  The famous reflection pool was being repaired, it has been leaking for several years.  The view was still awesome.
Lincoln Memorial with WWII memorial
We spent some time at the WWII memorial and talked about my dad and the men and women of that generation, The Greatest Generation.  On our way to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial we viewed the District of Columbus War Memorial.  The memorial had recently been renovated and it looked great.  Before it got dark we visited the MLK Memorial (where we looked across the Tidal Basin and saw the Thomas Jefferson Memorial), the Lincoln Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Korean War Veterans Memorial, and the Vietnam Women's Memorial.
District of Columbus World War Memorial

The Korean War Veterans Memorial
The Wall in the evening with Washington Monument
By the time we visited the solemn Vietnam Wall it was beginning to get dark.  The Vietnam Memorial invokes strong feelings and is one of the most moving of the memorials. We walked down the long walkway to the center.  A sense of the vastness of the fallen was overwhelming.  The early darkness added to the solemness of the surroundings.

There was one more memorial close by that we wanted to visit.  The Albert Einstein Memorial is just north of the Vietnam Wall across Constitution Ave.  Martha and I hold teaching certificates in Mathematics and we encourage Richard in the disciplines of math and science (and I encourage the discipline of motorcycling :) ), so the Einstein memorial was a must-see for us.  Richard engaged in the recent fad of "planking" while at the memorial before going to dinner and back to the hotel for some much needed rest.
The theory of relative planking 
Day 3:
The helpful people at the office our Texas Senator, John Cornyn, scheduled our tour of U.S. Capitol and the White House (not on the same day).  Our tour guide was very knowledgeable and shared a great amount of information.  We learned that a tomb for George Washington was build in the U.S. Capitol, but only because he had specified in his will, he was buried at Mount Vernon instead.
The Apotheosis of Washington - top of the rotunda
The famous rotunda was the highlight of the tour.  Getting to see the historic paintings of the Signing of the Declaration of Independence, The Surrender of Lord Cornwallis, George Washington Resigning his Commission, and others was inspiring.  Eleven statues of great American leaders encircle the rotunda.  I really liked the one of Ronald Reagan.  
Texan Sam Houston in U.S. Capitol
 John Trumbull's Declaration of Independence 
Our next stop was the Library of Congress.  As with all the government building the architectural design and detail was magnificent.  Every figure, quote, bust, statue, and painting had significance.  Being avid readers and educators, Martha and I were looking at every book and reading all the exhibit information.  I loved seeing books of great historic importance, especially the Gutenburg Bible (photo above).

Being the largest library in the world, in terms of number of books, the Library of Congress was very impressive and a great source of information.  It is amazing what all the library catalogs and maintains.

After lunch we made our way to the National Air and Space Museum.  It would be easy to spend an entire day in this one museum.  My favorite exhibit was The Wright Brothers and the Invention of the Aerial Age.  It was so cool to see the original  1903 Flyer (the canvas covering has been replaced).
The original flying machine
It was simply amazing to see the advancement in flight.  We saw the first airplane, the Spirit of St. Louis (first non-stop flight from New York to Paris), rockets, jets, and so much more.
Charles Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis
Last stop before dinner for the day 3 was the National Museum of Natural History.  Dinosaur bones, wildlife exhibits, stuffed animals, The Hope Diamond, and so much more.  
 T-Rex
 Scary looking dinosaur
 That is one large shark!
 Statue from Easter Island
Another packed day was completed and it was time for dinner and then some "down time" at the hotel.

My post about days 4-6 will be next.

3 comments:

  1. Nice pics Motoroz, the US sure has a rich history captured very well here. There are so many monuments. Your educating us non americans as well.

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  2. We're hoping to take the boys to see the sights you saw this coming Spring....thanks for the preview shots!

    dom

    Redleg's Rides

    Colorado Motorcycle Travel Examiner

    ReplyDelete
  3. Merry Christmas and a Happy new year to you and yours

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