History, National Monuments, Museums and Heat!
Trip Start Jul 02, 2011
36Trip End Sep 26, 2011
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So I woke up in Washington D.C ready to face the day. I had my laundry finished which was one less thing to worry about. I had breakfast and left the hotel by 9.30am. D.C had been having an enormous heatwave over the last few weeks and it was still going to be boiling while I was here which was just awesome. When I say it was hot here I mean it was 38 degrees and climbing, with intense humidity while I was here, and I would be out all day in the sun.
The morning was cooler than the day would be, so I tried to keep in the shade as much as possible so I didn't get too hot straight away. I walked from Georgetown to the White House which only took about 15 minutes. While I was in D.C, all of this credit rating stuff was happening in the country which made the visit more interesting. You see a lot of protestors around here too and in my time here that’s what I saw a lot of. They are pretty peaceful though, and are about various topics
The Ford’s Theatre is the most famous theatre in the United States because of the moment in history that occurred there. On April 14, 1865, days after the American Civil War had ended against the British; President Abraham Lincoln went to the theatre with his wife that night to watch a play. He sat in the VIP box obviously and halfway through the show right when the audience were laughing at the funniest line in the play, (so there was a lot of noise) a famous actor named John Wilkes Booth walked into the box, shot him in the head and then jumped onto the stage and ran away backstage. Booth was a well known actor so even though he wasn’t in the play that night he was given access to enter the back entrance of the theatre because it was common for him to be there. He planned the assassination by placing a piece of wood by the doorway to the VIP box before Lincoln arrived so he could get in there later on very easily
Booth’s reasons for doing this was based on the ending of slavery that Lincoln implemented after the Civil War ended, freeing all of the black slaves in the country. After Lincoln was shot in the head, he didn’t die straight away. People took him to a boarding house across the road, which is still there today and he stayed alive for about 8 hours. His injuries were far too severe and he died so that’s why I wanted to see the Ford’s Theatre. This is a true place of history and to sit in the theatre as it actually was, and see where the VIP box is amazing. The theatre is still used today for shows, but to know that this took place here just makes it hard to visualise how it actually happened when you are in there. It was a great place to visit and I am really glad I got to see it. There were a lot of people here as well which shows it’s a major attraction in D.C.
I left the Ford’s Theatre and continued down the street stopping at the FBI building and then onto the Capitol Building. D.C is quite easy to get around. You have the Capitol Building on one end, museums lining a rectangular park in front of it, the Washington Monument on the other end and then if you keep going you have the Reflecting Pool and Lincoln Memorial. So once you hit the Capitol building you can explore this one area for hours there is so much to do. I didn’t go inside the Capitol building but just took pictures outside of it. The Capitol building is the most famous building in D.C and you would all have seen it in films and tv
It was boiling by this stage so I really wanted to get inside for a while. I decided to go to the Air and Space Museum which wasn’t far from the Capitol Building. The Air and Space Museum, like almost all museums here are free. This one has a lot of aeroplanes, NASA stuff, historic planes and what flying in the future will be. It was a great museum, it was better than I expected. I am not really into planes too much. I like NASA so it was nice to see different planes hanging from the ceiling and on display. The best things that I did see here though would have to be the actual Wright Brothers plane, (the first people to ever fly a plane with a pilot) as well as the plane Amelia Earhart flew across the Atlantic and the United States which no woman had ever done. This museum was overall very interesting and if any of you ever visit D.C make sure you visit this museum.
Last time I had visited D.C with the summer camp, we found a huge fountain in the park near the Archives building. Since it was so hot today, after leaving the Air and Space Museum I went straight for it. It was heaven!!! It is a fountain everyone puts their feet and legs into, as you can sit on the edge
After this exhibit I walked down stairs to the basement area which was very cool in temperature. I had to wait 45 minutes in a line, but I didn’t mind since I was waiting to see the 3 most famous documents in American history...the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights and the Constitution. These were the original documents as they were written back in the late 1700s, so it was amazing to see them in the flesh. They are in cases and the room is very low in light to protect them. They let you go in in groups of 50 and you get to spend about 15 minutes looking at them until they let the next group go up. It was very cool to see these. A lot of them had faded in some areas, so they were harder to read, but the condition was spectacular really and you could even read some of the signatures on them which is just amazing!!
After I left the Archives, I went to another museum further up. This one was the American History Museum. It has everything from American war history to famous costumes worn in American films. It was a pretty cool museum. I would have liked to see more pop culture and film memorabilia but I saw some interesting things which was good. I saw the exhibit on First Lady dresses which were lovely. It had the one Michelle Obama wore when Barrack Obama was sworn in and they had the dinner that night, which was nice. I also saw the original ruby slippers Dorothy wore in the Wizard of Oz, you can see how they shine in the light they have so much sequins on them. They had Michael Jackson’s black hat on display which is an icon of his really so that was cool. They also had the red bathing suit Farrah Fawcett wore in the famous poster she had back when she was starting to get famous, as well as Eddie Van Halen’s guitar, Tony Hawk’s skateboard etc. It was really interesting.
In the history area the one thing I loved seeing here was the actual diner bench and seats used in the sit in during the Civil Rights Period in the 60s. This bench in a diner was for white’s only. So when 4 young black men sat in them and refused to move it became a famous moment in this period and as someone loves the Civil Rights Movement, this was just as good as seeing the Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King was shot and killed when I was in Memphis in 2008. You just can’t beat seeing things like these so i am really glad they had this there
I was ready to head back to the hotel after a long day and the heat wasn’t making me like being outside either as you can imagine. I did stop at the Washington Monument, which is a huge spire like monument that was built in 1884 to honour George Washington who was the first U.S President. You can go up to the top but the wait is insane, so I just took pictures of it from below. I made my way back to the hotel, saw people milling around the soccer team’s hotel again so they must have still been in town. I spent the night relaxing and just enjoying sitting down for a few hours. My feet were very sore after walking around a lot but in D.C walking is the easiest way to get around. I think since I walked around Museums all day too didn’t help it as you are constantly on your feet.
I was excited to watch a tv special that night which was the pre wedding and ceremony of Nick Lachey and Vanessa Mannilo. Some of you may not know who they are but basically Nick was married to Jessica Simpson, both of them are singers and they did a reality tv show documenting their newlywed life which I enjoyed, so I liked Nick after watching this. When they got divorced a few years later I was on Nick’s side and was glad that he eventually found Vanessa who is a tv host
The next morning I woke up early enough, had breakfast then packed up all of my bags. I still had one more night in D.C but I needed to change hotels as I was staying closer to the airport in Arlington as my flight was very early the next morning. I checked out and then walked to the train station which was quite close. I only had to go four stops so it wasn’t a long trip, but I had to wait 20 minutes for the train which was annoying. I ended up taking to a young guy from Maine who had been doing an internship for the summer for school so at least that passed the time waiting around. I made it to my stop and then had to walk 2 blocks to my hotel. It was too early to check in so I just left my bags and headed off on another hot day.
I decided to start off inside since it was already humid. I am a history teacher and the Holocaust is a big part of that, so I couldn’t not go into the Holocaust Museum. Unfortunately I couldn’t take photos in the exhibits but overall it is a pretty good museum
After the Holocaust museum, I walked to the Jefferson Memorial. The Jefferson Memorial was built in 1943-47 to honour Thomas Jefferson, the 3rd President of the US. This Memorial is not the most popular in comparison to the Lincoln Memorial. It is a little further out compared to where everything else is in the one area, so it’s a little bit of a walk to get there. There were quite a few people there when I went and this memorial sits on the Tidal Basin Lake so it is quite pretty to sit and look out from it. The memorial is in a circular rotunda so it is quite attractive overall too. They are fixing it up outside so there were some things surrounding the building which were fenced off
I walked back around the Tidal Basin and back to the main area where all the museums are. It was very humid walking outside and it ended up being at least 39 degrees so shade and water were all I wanted on this afternoon. I walked along the water under the trees so it was quite a pleasant walk. I actually saw some Indian guys playing Cricket in the park opposite me which was weird since it was the last game I expected to see over here.
It didn’t take me too long to get to the Lincoln Memorial which you can walk directly to from the Jefferson Memorial. The Lincoln Memorial was much more busier than the Jefferson memorial. The Lincoln Memorial was built between 1914-17 and sits with the Reflecting Pool. Unfortunately the Reflecting Pool is empty and has work being done on it, which is sad since last time I went it was all fenced up. I think it had water last time though but now it’s just an eye sore. The Reflecting Pool in happier times is most famous from the film Forrest Gump when Forrest and Jenny find each other there
I walked from the Lincoln Memorial across a bridge and then I was at the Arlington Cemetery. It was boiling by this stage but there was no metro station near enough and it was quicker just to walk. Once I got to the Cemetery it was quite simple. I was there to see one thing and then I was heading back to the hotel to relax in the cool air conditioned room. Arlington Cemetery is beautiful and everything is so straight and set out very nice. It is a military Cemetery more than anything which is why it is so neat I guess, but the main attraction for why people come here is JFK. John F Kennedy is buried here along with his wife Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and 2 of their children, one child who died young and a stillborn baby. It is a very nice site and there is an eternal flame there which was lit by Jacqui at his funeral. The site also looks out over D.C which is below and quite lovely and there is JFK quotes engraved into the stone around the lookout. It is just a really nice place and I’m glad I made it here even on such a hot day. When I left the Cemetery I actually put my head under a tap as I was walking to the entrance just to cool me down and so did other people too. Luckily my hotel was not too far and I caught the train from Arlington to the stop nearest to my hotel
I was able to check in now and so I did that, then I rested for an hour and sorted my bags before my flight the next morning. Eventually I went to get some dinner and then I just relaxed and spoke to mum for a bit so it was a good 2 days in D.C. Not long enough though as you need more time to relax and go at a slow pace, but I was lucky to fit D.C into this trip, so I saw a lot of things as you can see in such a short period. I was off to Alaska the next morning, which was going to be 3 flights so I went to bed early and tried to be rested for a long day tomorrow.
Love to you all,