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I woke up on Sunday morning not really in the mood to do anything. As I looked outside, I was delighted to see that the weather had cooperated with my lazy plan. It ended up raining all day on Sunday so there wasn’t much point in going downtown to sight see, as it would’ve been miserable. The bad part of this of course, is that it cut our precious time in D.C. from four days down to three.
We ended up spending much of the day in our room relaxing. This worked out since we were staying in one of the nicer hotels rooms that we have had! We did take the time to go to the store to stock up on some items and go to the movies. Since we have now seen Pirates and Spiderman 3, the only “summer blockbuster” left to see for now was Shrek 3. Shawn Reece was excited since he is a big Shrek fan. The movie wasn’t as good as the original two, but I had some good laughs and Shawn Reece loved it.
Monday started out with a shuttle ride from our hotel to the subway station. Since it is a weekday we aren’t permitted to park at the station without a pass. The shuttle was nice and the ride into D.C. took about 30 minutes on the train. My only complaint about the D.C. metro system is that it is expensive, especially when one rides during peak hours. It ended up costing us $3.90 per person each way. The subway does cut quite a bit of the time off of the drive, since our hotel is about 20 miles (by traffic filled freeway) outside of the city itself.
We rode the subway to the station that serves the Capitol Building. Jasmine and I really wanted to go on a tour and the tickets were given on a first come first serve basis. Luckily, we arrived early enough in the morning (about 10:30am) and were able to procure some tickets for 1:45pm. With our tickets in hand, we decided to walk over to the National Mall area and to some of the Smithsonian museums.
The first place that we came across was the National Botanical Gardens. This building is pretty much standard fare. It featured many different types of plants and was good for about a half an hour worth of sightseeing. Indoor gardens tend to get very humid and I can only take so much. One of the unique features was a “Children’s Garden” where they let kids plant their own flowers provided by the garden. Shawn Reece really enjoyed this.
The next stop was just down the street a little. Shawn Reece had only one place that he wanted to visit and this was it. He was excited when I told him that we were going to the National Air and Space Museum. Since we have seen so much “space” on this trip, he has become very interested. I can think of worse things for him to take an interest in.
I have to admit by this time in the trip, we are getting a little museum fatigued. This means that we don’t take quite as much time to stop and read all of the displays and see quite everything in the various museums. This isn’t such a bad thing, because it enables us to get through each museum before Shawn Reece loses his patience. One of the things I was excited about here, is that we were finally going to be able to visit a planetarium.
In fact, when we arrived, I went straight to the planetarium and purchased tickets. The show was called Cosmic Collisions and it explained how different collisions in earth’s history have affected the planet and all life on it. This was the first time that Shawn Reece and Jasmine had ever been to a planetarium and they loved it.
The rest of the museum was very interesting. It featured several displays split equally between space travel and aviation. They had a mock up of the Wright Brothers’ original plane. Many old airplanes were also on display. The one item I really found interesting was the Spaceship One, which was the first privately funded aircraft to orbit the planet. It won the X-Prize several years ago. After taking about an hour and a half to navigate this museum it was time to head back to the Capitol Building for our tour.
The Capitol Building is quite impressive from the outside. The dome is much larger than I thought and the meer sight of the building inspired me to pull out my camera and take a picture each and every time I saw it. At 1:45pm we were lead to a side entrance where we would go through security. After a lecture from the capitol police officer, we went through the metal detectors and were on our way inside the building. A few more obstacles were then cleared and we finally found our tour guide in the Capitol Rotunda.
The Capitol Rotunda is one of the most beautiful spaces I have ever seen. The room is surrounded with many statues, paintings and other pieces of art. It is also where presidents lay in state for viewing before their funeral. The inside of the dome is as impressive as the outside. From the rotunda we moved over to the old house chamber. This room is where they held session of the House of Representatives for some time until the House became to big for the space. This room also features many statues from different states. From this room we were lead to another space downstairs with a small museum and the old Supreme Court chambers. Everything was wonderful. The only thing I wanted to do now was watch the Senate in session.
In order for a U.S. citizen to get gallery passes to see the U.S. Senate (or House) in session, they must ask one of their elected representatives. After the tour we went over to John Ensign’s office for passes. On the way we passed the Library of Congress and Supreme Court buildings. Both of these buildings are spectacular on the outside. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to tour either one on the inside due to time constraints.
John Ensign’s staff was very polite when we arrived at his office and provided us with passes. After a walk back to the capitol we went through three security screenings before finally making it into the Senate Chambers. The Senate wasn’t in full session. One of the senators was giving a speech to a few of his colleagues about why he opposes the current immigration bill they are debating in congress. We sat and listened to his argument for about 20 minutes before we decided it was time to leave.
With not much time left in the day before most of the museums closed, we decided to take in one more. We headed over to the National Art Museum and it’s east building. This building is much more modern than most of the Smithsonian buildings. It was beautiful and so was the art inside. We were a little rushed, as we arrived 30 minutes before they closed.
After the museum closed, we headed over to the subway for our long trip back to the hotel. Tomorrow we are going to go into downtown with our car to take in a couple more museums before heading north to the New Jersey/Delaware border. The reality is starting to set in that we aren’t even going to come close to seeing everything that we want to here. However, we are grateful for the little that we have had time to experience. The buildings and architecture in every direction are beyond belief. I love classic architecture and it is everywhere here in such great concentration. The city planners sure made a spectacle and show of this nation’s capital. More from D.C. tomorrow.
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The Coomer Family
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