Monday, September 19, 2011

Speed Touring Washington, D.C.

Allow me to say right off the bat, I am a small town girl. Growing up, going to downtown Dayton, Ohio to view Rike's Christmas displays in their windows or seeing a movie at the RKO Keith was a big deal where you dressed up and rode the bus or Mom took Dad to work so she could have the car to drive us there. So the thought of having to deal with the Metro train's fare cards and transfers was a tad intimidating to me until we arrived at the Largo Town Center lot. There I asked the very friendly and helpful station master to walk me through purchasing fare cards for where I wanted to go. I had picked a weekend for our time to visit downtown Washington, D.C. since the parking was free at the Metro lot and the website said there would actually be spaces available to park there. There were no other passengers around when we arrived, so the station manager chatted with us as he showed me how to purchase the fare cards, pointing out that the fares were also discounted on the weekends (I wouldn't have known that) and explaining the stops and how to find our way back to the Largo stop when we finished our sightseeing. That was certainly a nice welcome to Washington!
I had chosen the Old Town Trolley tour company for our tour as we've had good experiences with them in other cities. Their employees are always friendly and very knowledgeable about their city and are usually able to answer any question you may throw at them. Our thought was to hit some of the highlights of Washington, D.C. and perhaps wander a couple of the museums on our second day of the tour (I chose to book two days, knowing one would not be enough.) With these tours you can get off and on at the various stops at will, exploring that area and then hopping on another trolley when it comes by (usually about every 30 minutes or so.)

Denny and I explored the Holocaust Museum first. This is not part of the Smithsonian system of museums, however unlike many of the other private museums in town, the Holocaust Museum is free to the public. For the most part you can't take photographs of the exhibits, so I have no pictures but allow me to say this is a must-see for those coming to visit Washington, D.C. I still find it incredible that one man's insanity brought about the deaths of so many people. The people visiting the museum were very quiet as they walked through--it has that effect on you.

Of course at each stop you can wander further afield on your own and find museum after museum and building after building to explore. We chose to hop back on the trolley and ride down to the Jefferson Memorial and the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial.

Notice the people looking upward at the walls at the Jefferson Memorial--they were reading the words of this great statesman, taking the time to absorb the thoughts inscribed there. These memorials are not only awesome for their size and grandeur, but for how well thought out their designs are.

Denny and I enjoyed the FDR Memorial. It stretches along a wide, meandering path, filled with flowers, greenery and waterfalls as well as statuary. It is a place to relax and to think. And to rub the head of FDR's little dog as many have done--you can tell by the shiny yellow ears. FDR's knee has also been rubbed by many a hand.

From the FDR Memorial we walked to the newest memorial; that of Martin Luther King Jr. His words too are engraved along the wall that surrounds the memorial and the two split rocks/mountains that comprise the memorial are quite unusual.

From the MLK Jr Memorial we walked to the Lincoln Memorial--it's certainly not that far but this walking was starting to add up for Denny. Next up; the Korean War Veterans' Memorial, the Vietnam War Veterans' Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial.

Arriving at the Korean War Veterans' Memorial I wondered if the fact that it was called "the forgotten war" caused the sculptor of the soldiers to cast the figures in aluminum which gives them an ethereal quality, especially on a drab and rainy day.

This is the first place I cried and it was because of the real veterans being pushed to the memorial in wheelchairs and listening as other visitors bent over and quietly thanked them for their service. There was a quiet and humble pride in the demeanor of these aged men who came to visit this place created to honor them.
Still misty-eyed, I then walked to "The Wall"--that memorial honoring the men of my age group. So many people stood searching for names of those they knew, loved and lost, all under the eternally watchful eyes of the three soldiers cast in bronze behind them.

Walking over to the Lincoln Memorial gave me a bit of time to blink the tears from my eyes before the climb up the stairs to see the statue of that great man. After taking the same photograph as hundreds of thousands of people have taken in the past, I walked to the steps to take a photograph of what was once the reflecting pool. This was perhaps our only disappointment in our trip to Washington; that the reflecting pool has been dug up for repairs and rebuilding. Of course, we had to skip climbing up the stairs of the Washington Monument also, since cracks developed in the walls after the recent earthquake in Virginia. But that iconic view from the Lincoln Memorial to the Washington Monument was gone.
And way down there across the street and leaning on a concrete pylon was our man Denny, who refused to climb any more stairs on this day, other than the ones leading up into the trolley cars.

Waiting for said trolley, we spied Benjamin Franklin using a bit of modern technology to get around.

There are monuments and statuary everywhere you turn in Washington, D.C.

Denny finally called time out so we boarded the trolley for the final time that day to return to Union Station, our starting point. Of course, we had yet another photo opportunity at the Capitol building as we drove by.
And thus ended day one of speed touring Washington, D.C.

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Arkansas Patti said...

That Korean War Veterans' Memorial is incredible. I can only say--wow and it's about time.
You really know how to pack a bunch into a day. Thanks for letting us tag along.

SkippyMom said...

Gee. . .like the title. :) The pictures are great. Isn't it a lovely city? You sure did see a lot, but I know you had a grand time.

We have yet to go to the Holocaust museum because we were waiting for Wallene to be old enough. Well, she is now [has been, really] - but her Momma knows how moving it is and doesn't want to spend a few hours crying.

Glad you had such a great time.

Anvilcloud said...

Thanks for the report and tour.

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