Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Washington DC Day 2

Here's another recap of D.C.  It was another loooooooong day. :)

We were up and about early on Wednesday to finish our to-do list.  Our feet were aching but we had to make the best of our time in the city since we only had two short days there.  We were dropped off at the train station again and were in DC at about 9 AM.

Our first stop was the Belmont-Paul Women's Equality National Monument and were one of the first to enter the doors.  One of my favorite movies is Iron Jawed Angels and it is based on the Women's Suffrage Movement and tells about Alice Paul and other women who helped earn the vote for women.  Since it is one of my favorite movies, naturally I wanted to see the museum. It turns out that the museum was an old house that they used during the "fight" for the Equal Rights Amendment.  How cool is that?!  Alice Paul actually lived there at one time!

I loved this museum and wish I had more time to spend there.  There were old artifacts, newspaper cartoons, old furniture (even an old desk that I think was Alice Paul's and Susan B. Anthony's!!!), quotes, old banners, etc. that were used during that time.  I liked that it wasn't all Suffrage stuff (even though I loved that), it had Equal Rights Amendment era stuff too.  Please go there when you visit the DC area.  This place was a highlight of my trip.

 After the Women's Museum we headed down to the Smithsonian Zoo.  Normally I am not a zoo kind of person, but there are only two places (that I have found at least) that have a flamingo carousel, and one of them is in DC at the zoo so of course I had to go!  (The other is in Detroit and I'm never going there if I can possibly help it. LOL). Bucket list, check!

Apparently there are some "famous" panda bears or something at the zoo but they weren't out when we were there.  I wasn't too impressed by this zoo (I might have just gone on a slow day), except for the apes that went above your head on a wire from enclosure to enclosure.  One of them even has a blanket (it might be a shirt) that he carries everywhere and had it with him.  They said that he likes to show off in front of a crowd and usually only uses the enclosure during busy days.

After the zoo we headed to Arlington National Cemetery via the subway system.  We decided just to walk by ourselves everywhere instead of taking a formal tour. I was amazed at how big Arlington National Cemetery is! I had tears in my eyes as I saw row after row of tombs.

We were there long enough to see the changing of the guard ceremony too.  We were inside looking at the museum area when everyone rushed outside.  We peaked out and realized what was happening and watched it.  I didn't take video of that because I just wanted to focus on it and soak up the moment instead of always paying attention to my phone.  I'm working on getting better at being present to the moment.

We were leaving but we decided to stop by the Marine Corps Memorial, Ima Jima.  Let me tell you, that thing is massive!  It was so cool viewing it from all sides.  One of my favorite pictures is the fire fighters recreating it on 9/11, so the original memorial was pretty cool to see.


We saw the Lincoln Memorial and stood in the spot MLK did the famous "I have a dream" speech.  This monument was beautiful!

The Franklin D. Roosevelt monument was probably my favorite.  So, a bad sign for my public school education (LOL) was that I had no idea that FDR was elected to four terms!  For some reason I didn't know that any president had ever served for more than 2 terms.  Duh!  I was either out that day or not paying attention in class (you decide which it was).  Anyway,  it was my favorite because it encompassed things about him but also the era that he was President.  Each of the four sections (one for each term) was something new about him or what was going on during the term.

One of my family members (Mom's side-my grandpa's nephew) died in Vietnam and his name is on the memorial wall. I didn't know you could bring flowers or some token for the section of your loved one, but if/when I go back, I will be sure to bring something.  I liked how there is a book (several actually, they look like phone books and are in alphabetical order) that you can look for your loved ones name and find what section they are in, instead of looking at the wall itself.  I found him easily and walked over to take a picture.


The Jefferson Memorial was alllllll the way around the other side of the tidal basin.  I decided I really want to ride in a swan boat the next time I'm there because I kept seeing them while walking towards the monument.

We headed to the White House on the other side this time and it looked just like I was picturing.  You could get closer this time but there were still barricades.  We took pictures and talked to a really nice Secret Service agent for a few minutes.

After that we headed back towards the train to go back to the hotel.  We crashed early that night because we had a 5 AM flight!


There were a few things that we didn't get to while we were there.  2 days is NOT enough to see the city.  Plan at least 3-4 days to see everything you want to see.  Washington is spread out and we were bookin' it to each item.  I saw a lot of things but here are some things I still want to see: Declaration of Independence and the Constitution (at the Archives), tour the inside of the White House (since it was a last minute trip we couldn't request to go in), see the 9/11 Memorial at the Pentagon, ride in a swan boat in the Tidal Basin, see the Cherry Blossoms bloom in the Spring, have a Georgetown Cupcake.


For more pictures go HERE and click on the Washington DC Link.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Washington DC Day 1

Backstory:  So back in January I almost spent $900 on a flight to DC for the inauguration, but I just couldn't pull the trigger.  I did end up buying a $200 flight for a few months later but ended up cancelling because I have to go to Vegas for a bachelorette party in September.  I was sad but I knew I would get there one day, just not when originally planned.

My uncle (my aunt's husband) is from England and still has family there.  His niece was in town and since my aunt couldn't walk (she had knee surgery), I was asked to show Zoe around Houston.  We went to the HMNS and were talking about other places in the USA that she would want to visit  and she mentioned San Francisco.  We go back and were talking about other places and my uncle goes "I think we can arrange that".  Yes!!!!  Free trip to San Fran.  But alas, no tickets were available for the days we could go so we tried other cities like Seattle and New Orleans.  Nope.  DC was pretty much the only option that both of us would actually want to go.  That's OK though because I was sad that I couldn't make it to DC.  Trip booked.  We flew into Baltimore, stayed at a hotel near there and road the train each day for $7 each way.  Since they were paying for the flight and hotel, all we had to pay for was train rides, food and anything we wanted to do.  Good news:  almost everything to do in DC (museums/monument wise) is free!  I think I spent about $100 for the entire trip.

We left right after I got off work and got there about midnight.  We didn't have much time to sleep though because we only had two full days to sight see an entire city that is jam packed with touristy things.  Go!

We stopped by Congress and got a private tour of the building with an intern from my Congressman's office and then went to his office.  Congress was not in session so I wasn't able to meet him, but his staff members were very welcoming to us.

We stopped by the United States Botantical Garden and WOW, it was so awesome.  It is basically a huge green house (but a really nice one) that has different rooms with different types of plants.  There was a fruit tree section, cacti section, Jurassic era plants, roses, etc.  It was great!  It might sound weird, but it is a cool get away from the sun.

We took pictures by the reflection pool and then went in search of lunch.  We ate at a section with lots of food trucks that is two blocks away from the mall area.

After that we headed to the Smithsonian to see the Hope Diamond.  The Smithsonian is actually several locations so be sure to look online to see which one you would be more interested in.  At 45.52 carots, the Hope Diamond is HUGE and I would say that I want it, but I don't want to be cursed and I'm not that fancy to where wearing that makes sense.  I don't have anywhere to wear it but I guess if you are rich enough to own that diamond, you are rich enough to attend fancy parties.

After we saw the Hope Diamond we walked around the rest of the museum, and spent some time in the natural gem area.


We saw Dorothy's ruby slippers and even Burt and Ernie!
 

My favorite item we saw was Alice Paul's women's suffrage 13 state charm bracelet from her personal collection that her estate donated to the museum.  Oh, I want one so bad!

We waited in line to get tickets to the butterfly area where live butterflies are flying all over a room and will even land on you!  None of them landed on me, but one did land on Zoe.  It was a really cool (and free the day we went) experience.

We saw a replica of the Statue of Liberty made from Legos!

My favorite part (I guess I didn't get any pictures) was the first lady part of the museum.  (I think we were in the American history museum).  It had old gowns that former first ladies wore on inauguration balls and other galas.  It had a lot of the fine china that was used to serve guests at private dinners.  It was a really cool part of the museum.

And the Star Spangled Banner-the actual one!  I had no idea that it still existed but it is in the Smithsonian (I forget which one) right when you walk in behind this metal wall.  You can't take pictures of it and it's behind glass.  There is a film you can watch about it and I actually teared up looking at it.  Our nation is going through so much right now and I think back on what the pioneers of our country went through.  Did they know there would be so much corruption and hate?  Anyway, the flag itself is worn and torn but it is AMAZING! I felt so patriotic just looking at it.  It is more precious than the Hope Diamond (even though I would totally take the HD if asked)

We saw the Washington Monument but could not go inside do an earthquake that happened awhile ago and the structure has not been made safe yet....so they say.  Where's Nicolas Cage when you need him?

We headed to the White House since it was getting late. I wasn't able to take a tour because it was a last minute trip, but when I had originally requested a tour but cancelled the request when I cancelled my trip.  We got to it and were hanging out just looking at it.  There were barricades and it was so far from from the gate and us.  I recognized it but I thought it looked different.  Turns out, it was the back!  I didn't realize it until someone mentioned the other side and I was like DUH!  It had been a long day, ok?! :)





We had been there for about 5-10 minutes when cops came and rushed us out.  Literally, they were moving us out and wouldn't say why.  "We don't have time to say why".  I was halfway scared and halfway wanting to see what was happening.  I'm very nosey.  We stayed in the general area and kept hearing and seeing sirens from fire trucks and other official looking vehicles.  About 20 minute later I saw one of the cops and asked him what was happening and if we should stick around.

He said "I can't answer that."
Me:  "Hmm.  Well, if you were me, would you stick around?"
Him:  "I would"
Me:  "Cool, if you were me, where would you stand?"
Him:  "Over there in that field with those other people."
Me:  "Gotcha, thanks!"


I wasn't totally sure what was happening but by the time I got to the field I figured Trump might be driving in or something.  Well, nope he was driving in, his helicopter was flying overhead!  You can view the video here.  There are snipers on the tops of buildings so anyone that tries to mess with him is out!

After that, we headed back to the hotel to turn in.  My feet hurt sooooooo bad but it was a super fun day. Part two tomorrow!