So, at the end of the trip here its gotten pretty busy as we try and cram every last monument, memorial and museum in we can with the time we have left. We’re also doing all this while exhausted from the rest of the running around we had been doing the previous 6 days. So now that we’ve come home and had a day to recouperate, without further ado, days 7, 8 and coming home!
Day 7 was Sunday, so we started our morning out going to church at Capitol Hill Baptist. It was great to visit another church and hear a different pastor preach on the word of God. He was preaching this morning on Hebrews 10 and leaning on God in our walk as Christians. It was a fantastic, rich message and a service filled with a lot of great praise and worship.
We spent the rest of the day kind of perusing some lesser known areas of DC. We hit a great little self-proclaimed dive for lunch called “Tune Inn”. We found it the night before while we were watching Diners, Drive-ins and Dives on the Food Network in our hotel. Adrienne and I had some of the “Guy Tested” foods: the Beer Battered Burger and the West Virginia Roast Beef sandwich. They were drenched in grease, battered, deep fryed and delicious. Certainly a place you don’t go to every day, but every once in a while… bring on the grease (and coronary bypass 😉
Smithsonian National Postal Museum
One of the lesser known museums in Washington DC is the National Postal Museum. The museum is on the smaller side and its right next to Union Station, so its a really easy to get to and quick visit if you’re looking for something different. We learned about Owney, mascot of the Railway Mail Service, a little dog that followed around the postmen and ended up becoming a good luck charm for the railway. It was pretty cool seeing all the various mail transport methods over the years and a few interesting stamps. Overall the Postal Museum is a nice light weight diversion after a long week.
We spent the rest of day 7 just kind of wandering around and decided to stop by and take some pictures of Meigs’ “Old Red Barn”, more commonly known as the National Building Museum. Montgomery Meigs, a Quarter Master General during the Civil War responsible for turning the former Lee mansion into Arlington Cematary, was also an engineer and was contracted to build the building. He decided to do things a little differently from the already established “federal style” in DC and made the thing with red brick. The building ended up as this impressive, red, behemoth of a building. Not everyone liked it though; we found a tour sign on the road that gave some insight into the building and the blockquote on it from General William T. Sherman describing the building read:
It’s too bad the damn thing is fire proof.
After taking a few photos of the building, we had dinner and ended up having to run through absolute pouring rain between metro stations. Word to the wise when visiting the east coast (for those of us here used to sunny, mostly dry SoCal) – if it looks like it might rain, it will rain, maybe not right away, but bring an umbrella anyways!
Last day! Whew, what a long week. This last day was going to be our “free day” that we left unscheduled so we could get in the things we didn’t have a chance to see or found out about throughout the rest of the week.
The White House Visitor Center
Alas, we did not get a tour of the White House scheduled. Its actually pretty crazy to get a tour in now-a-days. You need to have your Passports in line and you need to request an invite from your local representative in Congress for the tour, and you need to do it about 3 months in advance. We’ve had kind of a whirlwind summer with both of us working, a trip Florida just a month prior and buying a house that we just never got the chance to make sure everything was in order to request the tour.
Since we couldn’t get the tour of the White House itself in, we decided to go to the visitor center instead. Unfortunately it was being renovated and only existed in a temporary form in a modular building a block away. Le sigh, what are you gonna do? Well, they did have a video running in there at least with some awesome shots of the rooms in the White House itself and it was a nice little insight.
US Capitol Tour
After the visitor center we finally went on the tour of the Capitol that we missed earlier in the week because I was sick. The tour, needless to say, was worth the wait. The Capitol tour was setup in a pretty unique and technologically modern way too. Each tour guide had a microphone hanging around their neck that transmitted to receivers attached to headphones that we all got to wear. This was a great way to tour the Capitol because it allowed us to always be able to hear the live tour while we wandered around away from the guide and took pictures of everything we could.
The Capitol building was a pretty impressive and inspiring sight to see. The dome that sits at the center of the building is actually over the geographic center of Washington DC. Inside it contains a frieze around its circumference of American history, numerous historical paintings of historical events surrounding the forming of the country and a few statues of some of those that lay in state (presidents) or honor (civilians) at the center of the rotunda. Only presidents and Americans that have had made an impact on our country’s history have lain in state or honor there. Presidents like Abraham Lincoln, James A. Garfield, John F. Kennedy and important civilians such as Rosa Parks have lain under honor guard on public display before being interred under that dome at the center of Washington DC.
While we were not able to sit in on a session in Congress (it was a Federal holiday after all), it was a tour worth taking. Its a great thing to see the statue of Lady Freedom up close (well, technically it was the boilerplate statue that was used to model the actual Lady Freedom), the statues of the great men and women representing each state spread throughout the building and seeing the place where this country is run from.
National Building Museum
After a quick lunch on the Mall from one of the many food trucks scattered throughout the more touristy parts of the city we headed over to the National Building Museum to check out what we saw signs for the day before. The building, impressive as it is in scale on the outside, was almost more impressive on the inside. The building has a massive atrium in the middle supported by multiple 15 foot wide columns. The atrium was filled with numerous buildings/constructs created with cans to benefit the Capitol Area Food Bank.
The main exhibit that we were able to see that day was the Lego exhibit (the rest were closed or charged a fee for entry and we’re cheap-skates). The buildings were all legitimately built with standard Lego pieces as far as I could tell, but I don’t doubt a few customs were made for some of the buildings. The buildings consisted of some of the grand sky-scrapers of the world, including the impressively tall Burj Khalifa in Dubai. I really appreciated this exhibit because I’ve always believed that Legos are one of the best creative tools for kids. The creations made here are a great example of the incredible and complex things that can be made with such a simple toy.
Monuments by Moonlight
Besides the Capitol tour, the Monuments by Moonlight was the only official “touristy tour” that we took the entire trip. The tour was actually run by the same company that does the Old Town Trolley tour here in San Diego and it was a great end to the week. We got to see all the monuments and museums we had toured the week prior from a beautiful night time perspective and get a little insight from our tour guide on some interesting historical tidbits we didn’t know about. This tour also took us by the Iwo Jima Memorial near Arlington Cemetery that we didn’t get a chance to see when we were near their earlier in the week. The statue was massive and quite the sight to see.
After a long, exhausting week in Washington DC we’re finally home. The trip was an amazing experience and I got to see a lot of incredible things that spoke of the triumph of this country in its creation and the capability of human ingenuity. The trip was absolutely worth it in spite of how tiring it was walking all over DC, but I’d definitely do it again and recommend that any person calling himself an American should go and tour it. Its a great and inspiring thing to see the seat of our government and the care and attention given to preserving its history. I’ve got a much greater appreciation now for the accomplishment the early colonists achieved and the struggles they had to go through to create the nation we live in now.
Check back on these posts in a couple of days for photos from our trip on each day.