WASHINGTON DC - BUILDINGS & MEMORIALS

Trip Start Apr 01, 2013
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Trip End Jun 28, 2013

Flag of United States  , District of Columbia
Friday, May 3, 2013

Well, it's all go today. I had a little sleep-in which was nice for a change, but I still managed to be out the door by 10.30am.

The plan of attack was to get out and try and see as many of the famous Washington DC monuments as I could. I had decided the best option to ensure my already sore feet didn't get any worse, was to do the same thing I did in Fort Lauderdale and utilise the bike-share service which was also available here in DC.

So I trotted down to the docking bay across the road from the apartment I was staying at only to find it was bloody empty. So I went for a wander looking for another one and went around in circles initially until some old biddy pointed me in the right direction. I finally found a docking station with some bikes and decided to take out the 3 day hire option for US $15. Now the catch is not to have the bike out of a docking station for any more than 30 minutes or else you have to pay additional charges. There are heaps of docking stations so it should be a piece of piss.

I picked up my first bike and headed off to the Lincoln Memorial. Well actually I thought I was. I was actually headed in the opposite direction. Hardly a good start. Conscious of my 30 minutes being eroded away, I rode back to where I started and re-docked the bike.

I took another bike which reset the 30 minute clock and headed finally in the right direction. I rode for about 20 minutes and stopped and took some photos of the National Archives Building before docking the bike in the nearest station to reset the clock again.

I grabbed another bike and rode to the Washington Monument which, sadly, was being strengthened and was covered in scaffolding. Unfortunately it was closed to the public. It was apparently being repaired after an earthquake that occurred here. Sounds like bloody Christchurch ! I snapped a few hundred more pics before heading to the next bike docking station.

Time for some walking. The good news was, I had the Lincoln Memorial in sight so I was unlikely to balls this up. And I didn't.

On the way I checked out the Vietnam Veterans Memorial which honours the men and women of the US Armed Forces who served in the Vietnam War. The names of those who gave their lives and of those who remain missing are inscribed on a polished black granite wall. There are 58,256 names inscribed on the wall. I counted them. It is pretty sobering walking past the wall and also the bronze sculptures depicting the soldiers who fought. It was sad seeing some of the vets visiting with their medals and looking for the names of their fallen comrades.

Now I have seen the Lincoln Memorial in countless movies like Rocky and Forrest Gump but I gotta say, actually seeing it in real life is pretty impressive. In fact, all the monuments I visited were. The Americans do this shit well.

The Lincoln Memorial is made primarily of marble and limestone and there are 36 columns around the memorial which represented the states in the Union at the time of Lincoln's death. The Lincoln Memorial is located at one end of the 'Reflecting Pool' and looks back at the Washington Monument. It's a very popular stop for tourists, thats for sure.

I crossed the road to take a look at the Potomac River and the view across to Arlington before heading back to check out the Korean War Veterans Memorial which honours those American's who answered the call and gave their lives during the 3 year war against North Korea in the 50's. The Memorial is made up of 19 stainless steel statues depicting a squad on patrol. The statues are set in strips of granite and scrubby juniper bushes depicting the rugged North Korean terrain where the war was fought. This memorial was awesome.

The walk down the side of the Reflecting Pool was really cool. It looked like it was snowing as the wind blew the cherry blossoms around. At the end of the Reflecting Pool is the World War II Memorial which honours the 16 million who served in uniform in World War II, of which over 400,000 gave their lives. It has 56 pillars surrounding a pool with fountains. The 56 pillars have the names inscribed of the 56 US states, territories and the District of Columbia. At each end of the memorial, there are 2 pavilions, one inscribed with 'Atlantic' and the other inscribed with 'Pacific'. They represent a war fought across two oceans. The memorial's 'Freedom Wall' contains over 4,000 gold stars which is 1 star for every 1,000 lives lost. This Memorial is pretty special and is really well done.

I tracked down another bike docking station, grabbed a bike and headed to the Thomas Jefferson Memorial. This memorial has a bronze Thomas Jefferson housed in a circular colonnaded structure. It sits on the edge of a tidal basin and is joined by two other memorials which I was to visit next. This was the only memorial that had a cop holding an automatic weapon. When I asked if I could take a photo he gave me a stern 'NO'. What a wanker ! I walked down the stairs to where my bike was parked and using my new flash camera snapped a couple of pics of said wanker from long range - bahaha.

Next stop, was the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial. Now this one is a little weird. Don't get me wrong, it is beautiful in that it is set in an expansive area with trees, waterfalls and little alcoves. There is a statue of Roosevelt seated with his dog sitting nearby. The weird thing is there is was a separate statue of his wife, Eleanor Roosevelt, in another part of the memorial. I guess he liked the dog more than his Mrs :)

Last stop was the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. This is the newest of all of the memorials and opened in 2011. It consists of a sculpture of Martin Luther King Jr. which stands an impressive 28 feet tall. The memorial commemorates his courageous leadership in the movement of civil rights.

I started to make my way back to the apartment and accidentally stumbled across the White House. I didn't hang around as I was buggered and the battery on my camera was now flat. I carried on, popped into a supermarket and picked up a 6 pack of Peroni to quench my thirst.

Once I was back at the apartment, I popped upstairs to the roof with my beers and nailed a few while reflecting on my busy, but awesome day.

Later, I headed down to an Irish pub around the corner and grabbed a feed. Fed and feeling revitalised, I headed to another Irish pub a couple of blocks down. I met a couple of Canadian jokers and got on the gas with them for a few hours before heading back to the apartment, and bed.

Over and out !
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