Sunday, June 9, 2019

Washington, DC: May 28-29

Our first full week was filled with scheduled tours. Back in December, we contacted our congressman, Devin Nunes, to try for passes for a White House tour. We found out that we could book many other tours as well, so we booked everything we could. The only scheduled tour we didn't take was the State Department, and strangely enough, the only tour we couldn't get scheduled was the Library of Congress, something that was high on my list. But more about that later. However, we were able to get White House passes, which we didn't receive until two weeks before we left. In talking to others, we found out that just because you apply weeks in advance doesn't guarantee that you will get them. So we felt very fortunate.

As a side note, enamel pins seem to be very "in" right now so I decided to get one from each place we visited. It was very affordable and didn't take up any room in my luggage.

May 28
Our day started with a tour of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. Of course, we were not allowed to take any pictures. It was a fairly short (30 minutes) but fascinating tour to see the steps our money goes through before it reaches our hands. It is highly technical, with much automation, but still requires a lot of overseeing by real people. They produce 38 million notes a day with a face value of approximately $541 million (I think they were printing $5 bills the day we were there), mostly used to replace bills already in circulation.
I thought Levi and Gabe would find this interesting. I'll have to take a few minutes to find out how much they are "worth." :)
Tuesday was the beginning of many, many pictures of ceilings, which are absolutely stunning in these buildings.
From the Bureau of Engraving, we walked to the Washington Monument and then to the World War II memorial.

 We found the state of Minnesota.
Before we knew it, it was time to head to the FBI. We passed the Museum of Natural History--which is huge, although we said that about a lot of buildings in DC.

The retired FBI agents who served as our guides were very interesting and we enjoyed this tour immensely. I took a picture of this boat where the Boston  marathon bomber was found.
As we had been walking from one place to the other, a local who could tell we were tourists right away told us about the observation tower in the Old Post Office.
While the old post office is now the Trump International Hotel, the clock tower is run by the National Park Service and free to the public.
 It offers stunning views of the city, and you look down on the Federal Triangle.

The hotel lobby is pretty spectacular as well.
From there we went to the Portrait Gallery.
I was thrilled to see Michelle Obama's official portrait in person--I've been fascinated by the quilty theme of her dress.
President Obama's portait is very interesting as well.
I had never seen John F. Kennedy's portait.
By now, I was exhausted. This is the day we did the most walking, estimated at nearly eight miles. I had been somewhat concerned about my stamina levels after completing radiation therapy just three months before this trip, but I surprised myself--probably the desire to see as much as possible having a lot to do with it!

May 29
Wednesday morning we took the metro to Union Station, which turned out to be a favorite place of ours.
We were headed for the Supreme Court! I captured this picture of the Capitol on the way.
We had a 30-minute lecture held inside the Supreme Court chambers (!) that was fascinating--including the history, how cases reach the Supreme Court and how court is conducted. We were allowed to take a picture after the tour from just outside the courtroom.
Beautiful ceiling...
I'm not sure how we timed it just right, but we were able to get this picture with no other people around!

This was one of my favorite souvenirs--I knew the grandkids would like these pencils (and I grabbed one for us too). NOTE: When I gave Gabe his pencil, he told me two jokes:
1. What did the dentist say in the courtroom?
Tell the tooth, the whole tooth and nothing but the tooth.
2. What did they say when the skunk entered the courtroom?
Odor, odor, odor in the court!

Next we headed to Congressman Nunes' office for our Capitol tour.

The original Supreme Court courtroom.
Another gorgeous rotunda.
This statue of Abraham Lincoln was fascinating--also notice he is missing his left ear. One theory is that he didn't want to listen to the South so it was left off this statue.
The main rotunda, where presidents lie in state, was absolutely gorgeous. There was so much to see, so many details. It was hard to take it all in. It is also hard to capture the height of the rotunda dome at its peak.

Every state has two statues. California has Ronald Reagan and Father Junipero Serra.

We only found one from the state of Minnesota.
This room was beautiful.
While I spent a lot of time looking up,

it was important to look down as well.
Our tour guides, summer interns from here in the central valley.
Something interesting happened as we were getting on the elevator to go to House chambers. Someone Mark worked with for years, along with his wife, were getting off the elevator! But we had all had our phones confiscated so we couldn't even take a picture! I guess "confiscated" isn't the correct term. However, they take everything you have--phone, wallet, ID--and give it back to you after time in the House chambers. It was kind of a weird feeling.

Then it was off to the Library of Congress. Another tourist had told us where we could get our own library cards, yes a library card from the Library of Congress! I'm a huge fan of libraries so I was excited to apply for this.
I wish we could have gotten a good picture of the entire rotunda, which soars above these arches, but it is also directly above where the librarians' desk is, so impossible to capture.

We got some nice pictures of the outside, however.

These reminded us very much of the Trevi Fountain in Italy.
I noticed a little rubby ducky in the corner of the fountain. Do you see it?

View to the right of the Capitol.

We had dinner at Union Station, the end of a fabulous day.


05 08
Robby said... #

Wow! I'd say you've bounced back rather nicely to accomplish all that sight seeting. You're also giving me the itch to go see DC again. There is just nothing like those old stately buildings is there? Thanks for sharing your adventures.

Quilting Jeannie said... #

We, too, took our first trip to Washington DC recently. It is so beautiful and moving. I walked more than I usually do in a year, and ate wonderful food. We are going back! Thanks for sharing.

OPQuilt said... #

Dang, you are moving, girl!!
WWII is my favorite memorial and I spend a lot of time there. The WWI Memorial for the DC Dead is also a favorite, but it's kind of hidden (next trip). You are lucky to get library cards. When I lived there they wouldn't give them to you unless you were going to do some research, so congratulations on those. I love seeing all these places!