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!