Monday, May 14, 2012

May 8th - Washington - the Mall.

We got up early ready for our adventure. We walked along Pennsylvania Avenue and found a beautiful plaza lined with trees and with space for different activities including one tent from the recent "One of the  99%" group. As we reached the end we found the first school groups - the first of many, many school groups. They were heading towards the next street up so we thought they knew where they were going so we followed. Wrong - they had reservations for the White House tour. As FOREIGN NATIONALS we were not allowed to tour the White House. Then again when the Canadians visited in 1812 we burned it down so maybe they know something we don't. The guards suggested we walk one block north and see the back of the White House which looks as good as the front anyway so we did. First building we passed was the Treasury; I didn't realize it was so close to the White House. At the next corner was a very interesting building - the National Savings and Trust with a unique clock tower.  Around the corner we saw the beautiful flowers on the White House property and then the beautiful White House itself.  Peggy and I took each others picture in front of the fence. This might be as close as we get.
On the other side of the White House is the Eisenhower Executive Offices and we turned south to head for the Mall. Along the way we cut across the Elipse and checked out the American Expeditionary Forces monument. I liked the topper - she looks a bit like Nike but she has wings. We passed the Daughters of the American Revolution Building and Simon Bolivar's statue. At the light heading to the Mall we saw the Lock Keepers Cottage - there was a canal originally to bring goods from the river to the Capital. Strange site - the Trees leading down to the War Memorial are all behind protective fences - on purpose! Who would want to hurt the trees?
The Washington Monument seems to be on the skyline from many different spots in the city, but from here the Capitol Building, the Washington Monument, the World War II Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial are in a straight line - two one way and two the other. It is an awesome site.
There are many memorials in Washington and they are all very impressive. The  panels around this one are for each state. VE Day anniversary was the weekend before we came so there were wreaths at the World War II Memorial. I really liked the Silver Star wall. It was moving.  We walked along the south side of the reflecting pool, which is under renovation so there was no water in it. We stopped for coffee before we went to the Lincoln Memorial and had fun watching the sparrows and grackles trying to beg and steal food from the guests. I didn't know that Japanese women were afraid of birds, but one was running and screaming whenever the birds came near her.
I can always find the elevator and all of Washington is accessible therefore the elevator is there if you look, including the Lincoln Memorial - too many stairs. The Gettyburg address reminded me of my youth when I memorized it. There were many groups there including the suits and the school kids.  The suits were of course in large groups and all in shirts, ties and suits; the school groups were usually in matching coloured t-shirts with the school name on them. Blue, orange, green , red T-shirts each school slightly different but the teachers could identify them. We walked back along the North side of the reflecting pool which took us to the Viet Nam Veterans Memorial. This was one of the quietest spots in Washington. I think this War was recent enought that people could identify with brothers and uncles and fathers and sons that were lost. There was a special statue dedicated to the Women that served.

We continued along the path and saw Canada Geese, Mallard Ducks and ducklings and what looked like an albino Mallard (since the ducklings looked like Mallards). they were swimming in the pond and climbing out when mom decided it was time to leave. We kept wandering east looking for lunch. We kept seeing the same people all day and we kept accusing each other of stalking. We found a sandwich and beer at the Ronald Reagan building. We ate inside but at an open window because it had been raining lightly off and on. We continued east until we got to the Smithsonian Institute area. I say area as the institute is made up of about 15 - 20 buildings and gardens. We went in the Castle as it had started to rain again. Smith was a Brit who donated the money but had never been to Washington. Weird eh? We decided that the Museum we wanted to see was the Air and Space Museum.  We had a ball and even got to feel a moon rock - something unique again.

After a great day we had dinner at the Elephant and Castle and headed back to the hotel.  We aren't very exciting. TV is great with us as evening entertainment.

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