Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Day Two of Speed Touring Washington, D.C.

On Day two of our Old Town Trolley tour we got on at Union Station once again and thus got a review of what we had seen the day before from the same trolley driver. We even had the same weather; gray, dreary and misty. I had hoped for a sunny day to showcase the deep red brick of the Smithsonian Castle, which is now a visitor center.
Since the Capitol Building wasn't open for tours on Sunday, Denny and I decided to tour Arlington National Cemetery. Once there, your choices are to wander the huge and hilly grounds on foot or to pay for trolley tour of the three main sites. Denny was all for the trolley tour so that's what we did. There are many, many sections, thousands of graves, special memorials to women, unknown soldiers, chaplains, Afro-Americans, officers--you name it. Of course, the most recognized areas are those of the eternal flame and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.We are told that the cemetery will be full by the year 2060. Wives and/or children are buried on top of the veteran buried in a site; up to three family members can be placed in one grave site.

This is a quiet place, with most of the tourists observing the requests for silence and respect. The largest crowds are at the site of the eternal flame.
Twin anomalies of the cemetery are the white wooden crosses marking the grave sites of Bobby and Edward Kennedy. Theirs are the only grave sites with wooden crosses.
You are free to get off the trolley tour and wander wherever you like on the grounds. There were many people walking, obviously searching for a family member or loved one among the thousands of matching tombstones.
The quietest spot in the entire cemetery was at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier; although a huge crowd was seated to watch the changing of the guards there was not a whisper nor a cough to be heard. The precision and care of the soldiers' routine was impressive and something Denny and I will not soon forget.
The final stop of the Arlington trolley tour was at the Arlington House. Once owned by General Robert E. Lee who lost the home because he could/would not return from the war to pay the taxes in person as was the law then, the mansion sits empty now although it is open to tourists. From the front porch you look over all over Washington, D.C.
It was time to board the Old Town Trolley once again to visit the Museum of Natural History. I knew that Denny would only be good for one museum on this day and I had an item on my bucket list--to see the Hope Diamond.

Denny and I did wander the museum, seeing the displays on mammals, sea life, geology and more, but the hills and steps were taking a toll on Denny's hips, so we called it a day. Although we were still in for an hour's trip back home by Metro and truck, somewhat delayed by the huge throngs of Redskins fans returning from a winning game. Thank goodness they were all going the other way!
Washington, D.C. is not an area to try to see in only two days. The opportunities to learn, see and do here are fabulous and the fact that all of the Smithsonian museums are free to the public is wonderful. Although I wouldn't want to live here, it is a great place to visit.

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1 comment:

Anvilcloud said...

You're right; it does look like a great place to visit.

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