Wednesday, July 14, 2010

July 4-6: sight-seeing in Washington D.C.

We arrived just in time to see an amazing 4th of July fireworks show that first night. What an amazing view we had - I will always remember how fortunate I felt to be there!!
These are the sweet ladies (below), Betty and Theresa Werner, that picked us up from the airport and took us sight-seeing all over D.C. for 3 days! They are cousins of my good friend and consultant team member Starr Nelson and we so lucked out that they just happen to live about 10 minutes from the airport we flew into. Starr and I flew to D.C. together and it sure was nice to have a travel buddy that is so much fun (and she sure hooked us up with some amazing tour guides - what a bonus)! THANK YOU Betty and Theresa for giving so much of your time to make us feel so welcome there with you! Betty fed us a delicious home-cooked meal the first night we were there and then even had ice cold water bottles and homemade chocolate chip cookies ready for us in an ice chest throughout all our touring adventures (the heat and extreme humidity was hard for me to get used to, so the ice-cold water was such a blessing to have)!
Here is the famous Iwo Jima (Marine Corps War Memorial)! It is located right next to the Netherlands Carillion where we watched the fireworks from.
Here is my attempt at taking an "artsy" silhouette-type photo of the Iwo Jima (it really was much larger in person and more beautiful than I had expected).
Here is the Arlington National Cemetery (also right next to the park where we watched the fireworks from).
On day 2 we visited a few of the Smithsonian Institution museums. This photo was taken at the National Museum of Natural History. Of course we had to check out the dinosaurs, the hope diamond, and a really neat collection of all kinds of bones (the exhibit included skeletons of just about every living thing)!
We also visited the National Museum of American History and saw so many inspiring things there (like Abe Lincoln's top hat and the beautiful famous gowns the first ladies have worn)! The "Price of Freedom - Americans at War" display was also so touching that it had us all crying with appreciation for the amazing sacrifices so many have made. I think I was most in awe of the Star-Spangled Banner display though (the original flag that inpired the National Anthem). The enormous flag is so fragile now that it is preserved behind glass in a special "low-light" area and photography is not allowed. I bought a refridgerator magnet at the gift shop that includes a photo of the flag (since I couldn't take a photo myself, but also because I was so touched by it and want to always remember how awesome it felt to be able to see it in person)! The picture below is of the wall that stands in front of the exhibit. We also visited the National Air and Space Museum which was really neat, but my photos of that didn't turn out good enough to post.
Here we are in front of the White House on day 3 (left to right):
Paula, Starr, me, and Debbie. There were a lot of protests going on in Lafayette Square that day due to the arrival of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who met with President Obama that day, so all the protesters were quite interesting to see!
Did you know there are snippers on top of the White House?! Certainly I knew there would be high security, but I just hadn't fully realized we would also need snippers on the roof 24/7 to protect the president - wow! Also notice that the flag was at half-mast to honor the longest serving U.S. Senator, Robert Byrd from West Virginia, who had just passed away on June 28th.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial (wall) which is one of the most visited sites in Washington D.C. (we walked the entire length of the wall and were saddened to see sooo... many names).
The Lincoln Memorial was incredible and had us all crying like big babies again! I think you might be able to tell (by the redness on my face) how hot and exhausting it was to climb up all the tall stone steps to get there in middle of the afternoon, lol. One of the gardeners was spraying water up in the air with a hose and fortunately we got to walk through it a bit to cool off once we finished our hike back down the steps.
Here we are again facing the Lincoln Memorial with the Washington Monument showing behind us (left to right): Debbie, me, Paula, and Starr. That day we also saw (not pictured) the Korean War Veterans Memorial, the Blair House, the Jefferson Memorial, the Library of Congress, the National Archives, the Supreme Court, the Capitol, Georgetown, the VP's House, the Hinkley Hilton, and the National Cathedral! Betty and Theresa drove us all over and dropped us off just long enough to take a quick photo at each site - it was exhausting but also so amazing to be able to see so much all in one day! Theresa called it the "quantity" not quality tour, lol, but I would definately rate it "top-quality!"
The World War II Memorial was beautiful too! I was surprised to see so many people sitting around the edge of the fountain with their feet in the water. I was thinking that some might consider this disrespectful to all the soldiers it memorialized, but since there were so many visitors doing it and I figured it would probably be my only chance ever to put my feet into this historic fountain we joined them! (I sure wish the photos of my feet that I thought would be so cool had turned out better so I could share those here too)! By this point in our tour (day 3) my feet were aching from all the miles we walked and I even had two blisters on my toes, ouch, what a memory!
That evening, Starr's cousin, our "tour guide" Theresa Werner (who is also a member of the Associated Press and a very talented swing dancer!), took us out for an amazing treat! She took us to eat dinner at the National Press Club where exclusive members-only (and their guests) can dine. The food was so yummy! There were so many photos on the walls of all the famous people who had visited and given speeches there. We even got to see the actual "Harry Truman Piano" that is famous because of a photo taken of him playing the piano for actress Lauren Bacall at the National Press Club in 1945 (it was rumored that this photo got him into big trouble with his wife who believed him to be somewhere else at the time, lol).
Finally, Paula, Starr, and I got to stand and speak from the podium that thousands of famous people and political activists have spoken from to promote their many good causes at the National Press Club. Too many influential people to count have stood in this very same spot - and I stood there too - so neat!!
(if only I didn't look so tired, lol)!


Sonya Rissler said...

Jen, thanks for sharing your tour with us, especially the history parts! As a military wife, it warms my heart to hear you speak about how the monuments affected you. Your pictures are beautifully taken.

Paper doll said...

I am such a history buff, I like things of the past. Thanks for sharing, I feel like I was there. I cant wait to get there one day with my family!