Tuesday, May 8, 2007

EAST COAST SWING - PART ONE


It’s hard to believe that we have been home from our trip to D.C./Delaware (and three other states…I counted Virginia on the way to the airport) for over 2 weeks now. We had a wonderful time catching up with family and Brian enjoyed sharing with me the roots of his youth.

Thanks to Alaska Airlines miles, we flew into Washington D.C. on Saturday, April 21st non-stop from Seattle and arrived just after 9PM. As we were walking to baggage claim, in the distance I saw the United States Capitol Building - an awesome sight illuminated in the distance. We retrieved our rental car (from “Little Richard’s” twin brother) and drove to our hotel room which was situated less than a mile from the White House and the National Mall (an open-area national park, it is the site of gardens, museums, national monuments and memorials). Being on “West Coast Time” afforded us the luxury of a D.C. nightcap, which we enjoyed at the Old Ebbets Grill (the best pineapple upside down cake on the planet).


Day One: Sunday, April 22nd – Our first stop - the White House. Lots of school groups and tourist for an early Sunday morning. We had beautiful sun and temps rising steadily. Brian had been to D.C. before, but I was amazed by all the sights. Surprisingly, I thought the White House was rather small. It was built of white-painted sandstone in the late Georgian style of architecture. The North façade of the White House, seen from Pennsylvania Avenue is where a visiting head of state would enter (through the North Portico) for a formal state dinner or event and is also most recognizable on TV (where the reporters all do their evening news report).


We walked around to get a good look at the south lawn and past the Old Executive Office Building, now officially known as the Eisenhower Executive Office Building (and formerly as the State, War, and Navy Building) which is located next to the White House. This National Historic Landmark was built between 1871 and 1888. I took a picture of a bed of bright pink tulips in front of the building. The Executive Office Building continues to house various agencies that compose the Executive Office of the President, such as the Office of the Vice President and the National Security Council.

From the White House we started down the National Mall to the National World War II Memorial which was built to honor all Americans who served in the armed forces and on the home front during World War II. It is located at the eastern end of the Reflecting Pool between the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument. It opened to the public on April 29, 2004. Brian and I each posed in front of our “states” and I took quite a few photos of the pools and fountains.
Next we walked to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial that honors members of the U. S. armed forces who had died in service or are unaccounted for during the Vietnam War. The Memorial currently consists of three separate parts: the Three Soldier’s statue, the Vietnam Women's Memorial (which we did not see) and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, which is the most recognized part of the memorial. The Memorial Wall was designed by U.S. architect, Maya Lin.

From there it was a short walk to the Lincoln Memorial. The monument is a United States Presidential Memorial built to honor our 16th President, Abraham Lincoln. The building is in the form of a Greek temple and contains a large seated sculpture of Abraham Lincoln and inscriptions of two well-known speeches by him. Brian and I read each one with a tear in our eye. The memorial has been the site of many famous speeches, including Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream”. It was amazing to stand on the steps of the monument and look across the reflecting pool and scroll the historical images in your mind.



The temperature was beginning to increase as we walked the length of the reflecting pool and back towards the World War II memorial. The Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool is located directly east of the Lincoln Memorial on the west end of the National Mall. The reflecting pool is approximately 2,029 feet long and 167 feet wide. It has a depth of approximately 18 inches on the sides and 30 inches in the center. It holds approximately 6,750,000 gallons of water.

We continued our journey down the National Mall and to the Washington Monument, a large, white-colored spire at the west end of the mall. It was constructed for our first president, George Washington. The monument is among the world's tallest masonry structures, standing 555 feet, 5⅛ inches in height and made of marble, granite and sandstone. The actual construction of the monument began in 1848 but was not completed until 1884, almost 30 years after the architect's death. This hiatus in construction was because of a lack of funds and the intervention of the American Civil War. A difference in shading of the marble, visible approximately 150 feet up clearly delineates the initial construction from its resumption in 1876.

The sun was high in the sky as Brian and I continued down the National Mall to the U.S. Capitol Reflection Pool, located directly west of the U.S. Capitol Building. The U.S. Capitol is the building that serves as the location for the United States Congress, the legislative branch of the U.S. federal government and is located on top of Capitol Hill. The building is marked by its central dome above a rotunda and two wings, one for each chamber of Congress: the north wing is the Senate chamber and the south wing is the House of Representatives chamber. Above these chambers are galleries where people can watch the Senate and House of Representatives. Too bad Brian and I didn’t have time for a tour!

Our D.C. tour on foot was complete. Brian and I estimated that we walked at least 5 miles that Sunday morning. I snapped 3 rolls of film and Brian took 2 dozen pictures on our digital camera. We tried to hail a taxi at the Capitol to take us back to the hotel, but managed to make it back on foot by 2PM in time to retrieve the rental car and head north out of the District of Columbia through Maryland to Newark, Delaware - our next stop.

Stace