On the road once again….this year, unlike last year when we were out west, our driving time between destinations is not very long. This leg of our journey started from Virginia Beach to DC which was about a 4.5 hour drive, including a gas stop.
Here we are in our nation’s capital! We were surprised to find so many trees outside and in the center of DC. There is so much to do here with so many options on how to do it – tours are by bus, electric car, trolley, private, group, daytime, night time, etc., etc., etc! This is a LONG post, but can’t be helped as there was so much to see here!!
We decided to try out the “Spy Museum” which is full of espionage and artifacts used by secret agents throughout the world and ages. It took us about two hours to go through two stories but we unanimously decided it’s not on our top 10 things to do. Never-the-less, here are a few pics.
An unexpected event happened here in our campground. One of the things Howie and I enjoy is watching RV YouTube videos. One that we enjoy is called “Keep Your Daydream”. This is a family that lives in their RV full time, and they post a new video about every 2 weeks. They are quite entertaining and actually very educational as they give information on the perils and victories on the road – there’s a lot to learn from them as fellow RV’ers. Anyway….they are here in our campground! So, I decided to take them a gift of the bowl cozies that I make and they are just as bubbly and nice in person as they are in their posts. We visited for a bit and exchanged a sight seeing tip or two. Behind us is their latest “rig”, a 1984 Bluebird Wanderlodge. It was fun seeing them!
In the evening, we decided to go on an electric car tour through the National Mall and to all the major DC monuments and sights. This was a good choice but might have been a bit more enjoyable if the heat and humidity had been a little lower – but it was a great way to see what we came to see! Check it out!
Just in case you have trouble identifying some of the above landmarks…..Us in our electric car, the new National Museum of African American History and Culture, our US Capital, Washington Monument, the Jefferson Monument, MLK Monument, Lincoln Memorial, Viet Nam Wall and soldiers, Red Cross building, front lawn White House and side view, and finally my favorite pic of the Washington monument! (The WWII Memorial was closed due to restoration)
Needless to say, we had a busy day and were exhausted! But the next morning, we headed for the Smithsonian. The first pick for all of us was the National Air and Space Museum but sadly it was closed for renovations. So off to our second pick, the National Museum of Natural History. This was only the second day that it was open without having to secure a timed admission ticket, so the lines were unbelievably long.
We did a lot of walking, but so much to see. Mostly, we saw gemstones, aquatic and land fossils, exhibits on disease, mummies and of course Howie’s beloved dinosaur bones!
Instead of hugging a dinosaur bone like he did out west, Howie greeted the dinosaurs at the museum with a friendly “high five”!
I especially enjoyed seeing the Hope Diamond. It is something to see as it is a beautiful blue, flawless diamond that is 45.52 karats, surrounded by 16 diamonds, and hangs from a platinum chain with 46 more diamonds! (If you ask me, Marj is looking a bit “hope-full” herself!)
My son, Casey, is a diver and has dived the Cooper River near Charleston, South Carolina, on the hunt for megaladon teeth. Magaladon shark are the largest shark ever to haunt our oceans and are estimated to reach up to 59 FEET in length. Megaladon actually means “large tooth” These fossilized teeth have been recorded up to 7 inches. Casey was successful and found quite a few of these treasures….so this next section is for you Case!
On our way back to the car, we passed by Sculpture Park – a nice little stroll along Constitution Avenue with some interesting artwork!
Here’s Howie trying out one of the exhibits….
On our 4th day, we choose to tour Arlington Cemetery. This is an emotional choice and you realize how many Americans gave the ultimate sacrifice to allow us and our country freedom! We crossed the Potomac River and entered Virginia where we passed the Pentagon and the 9-11 memorial commemorating where the American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon. 184 victims perished and a five sided marker sits at that site. (no picture) The three pronged monument was erected to remind all who pass by of this historic tragedy. We also stopped at the Iwo Jima statue which was larger than I had imagined and very impressive. We had a beautiful day and enjoyed seeing the cemetery from the “hop on/hop off” tram that stops at the main areas of interest – the Kennedy family burial hill, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and Arlington House, the Robert E. Lee Memorial.
The first stop allowed us to view the gravesites of Edward and Robert Kennedy – they are simply marked with a plain white cross. Next is the grave site of John (left) and Jacki (right) with the eternal flame behind the graves.
The next stop was at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. This is a solemn place where the remains of three unidentified soldiers from WWI, WWII and the Korean War, lie. At one time, a soldier from the Viet Nam war was also included, however, through DNA testing he was identified and the family requested the remains be sent home. There is a sentinel guard watching over them 24/7, 365, and has been doing so since July 2, 1937. During the summer months, the guard is changed every 1/2 hour and in the winter, every 1 hour. The guards, male or female, must be from the 3rd Infantry, must be 5’10” tall and their weight must fall within a certain range. The reason for this is there is only one uniform size issued. Being chosen as a guard is a high honor – they are highly disciplined, taking 6 hours to prepare their uniform prior to each guard duty. They must meet many rigid requirements, including memorizing 35 pages of information about the cemetery and tomb. The ceremony takes about 10 minutes and is filled with symbolic 21’s – 21 steps, 21 seconds while facing each direction, etc. Twenty-one was chosen because it symbolizes the highest military honor bestowed – the 21 gun salute. We were in an ideal location to view the changing. If interested, I will be posting a video of the ceremony in another posting. (It’s just too lengthy to include in this already info packed posting!) This was maybe my favorite tour while in D.C. – If possible, go sometime!
Our next stop was at Arlington House. Quite the history here as the home was owned by Robert E Lee, who joined and became General in the Confederate Army. During the war, the Union buried many, many Union soldiers on these grounds to “irk” Lee. As it turned out, their plan worked as he and his wife had no desire to return to this estate – so it went to the federal government. Anyway……that’s how Arlington Cemetery originated!!! The last two pictures are of slave quarters – this is the reason that Lee went with the south!
Later that evening, we met with Marj and Larry’s grand daughter, Grace for dinner. Grace works for the Department of Economy (I think) and is also currently working on her Master’s degree at Georgetown University. It was a treat to see her and her cute apartment where she treated us with a birthday cake (made from scratch!) for Marj along with 5 kinds of ice cream and all the toppings! She lives on the ninth floor in a beautiful area. She enjoys a fitness center, underground parking and there are grills, seating and a pool on the roof top, 19 floors up. From the roof top, you can see the Potomac, the Washington Monument and right behind, the Capital Building. (middle of the bottom picture)
Our last day in D.C. was spent relaxing. Howie started our day with breakfast on the Blackstone – eggs to order, blueberry pancakes and sausage. Marj is supervising as her blueberries have to be “sprinkled” just so! Howie, Marj and I spent much of our day floating in the pool. For dinner, we were thrilled to have Grace join us again for one of Howie’s specialties, fried rice – yes, again, on the Blackstone!! Howie was paid the ultimate culinary compliment, when Grace told him the fried rice was “life changing”!! Hahaha!!
We had a fantastic time in Washington D.C. with so many highlights…..but I have to say that the biggest highlight for all of us was spending time with Grace – we’re all so proud of her!
We left Cherry Hill (DC) at 11 AM today and continue our trek north-ward. We have only an hour and a half drive today to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. We are only there for 2 days but it is a prominent civil war battlefield site. Will be posting again soon but until then… HAPPY TRAILS!!