Saturday, December 10, 2011

A Weekend at the Capitol

Washington D.C.

Our nation’s capital, and I’d never been. *holds out hand for vicious slapping*

So, I went. And…


I didn’t really have any expectations, well, other than a few museums, a statue or two, walls of white marble pillars, Men in Black, Starbucks

We (meaning me and my work friends) left Newark, Delaware bright and early on Saturday morning and drove a quick two hours to DC (thanks, Jean-Francois, for driving your van, and Carolyn for being our road-trip DJ! I'm even listening to Kid A as I write this...)

Mandarin Oriental

We checked in to our hotel, the Mandarin Oriental, where they had warm, damp hand towels waiting for us (um, it was so gorgeous inside and out that, for a moment there, I felt famous - no, really), and we headed straight for the Capitol like a bunch of unsuspecting, bright-eyed tourists. And...

There I was, minding my own business, when we turned a corner and...*gasp* 

Washington Memorial
(The crew, from left to right: Philip, Jean-Francois, Carolyn, Me, Veronique)

Everywhere I looked were big beautiful buildings and monuments and water fountains and landscaping (aside of the huge yellow crane…) – the sun was bright and warmed us from the cool breeze. It was…perfect. *sighs*

The very first thing we did (after waking from momentary paralysis) was go to the National Museum of Natural History. 

Dinosaur bones. *cues Jurassic Park theme*

I remember dreaming about them when I was little (those pictures in history books are tantalizing); it was INCREDIBLE looking upon them with my own eyes. It was also pretty funny seeing the T-Rex surrounded by little kids, gazing up wide-eyed and open-mouthed, saying things like, “Mommy, I’m scared!” and then crawling into the safety of their stroller.

We meandered through the past and through the continents, in no particular order, while I kept thinking about Night at the Museum. (I kept my gaze on that lion. *narrows eyes*) Once we went through all the rooms, including a VERY impressive gemstone exhibit harboring the Hope Diamond (Ben, I saw some gorgeous emeralds…*nudge nudge*), we continued our private tour through the capitol.

Now, for those of you that haven’t been to the capitol, everything sort of coagulates around the National Mall. No, this is not a shopping mall, nor are there any stores. It’s a long-LONG! lawn of green, with a fence made of monuments and museums. Before me was the capitol building, behind me was the Washington Memorial, to my right was the Air and Space Museum, to my left was the Natural History Museum (I spun in circles taking photos and, consequently, ran into innocent bystanders). And the greatest part about it was that ALL of it was FREE! The Smithsonian Institution was a "gift" to our nation from the British Scientist, James Smithson, for the "increase and diffusion of knowledge."

U.S. Capitol

Library of Congress

Christmas tree inside Library of Congress

Guess what...IT'S THE LIBRARY!!! *jumps up and down, clapping*

Supreme Court

From left to right: Philip, Carolyn, Jean-Francois, Veronique, Me

As the sun began to set, we took off for dinner at a Greek/Lebanese/Turkish tapas restaurant called Zaytinya, where we had lamb and domas and tzaziki and kibbeh...our mouths (and tummies) were in ecstasies...

Jean-Francois, Carolyn, Philip (pre-dinner :D )

Veronique & Me

After we had our fill (um, 2.5 hours later), we headed for the White House to see the Christmas tree. Well, I WISH I could go on and on about how beautiful it was, but, truth is, we sorta looked at it with tilted heads and crinkled noses and said, “That’s it?!” (We’ve since learned it fell over and part of it broke off, so “they” decorated the remnants…but still. You would agree the tree in the Library was waaayyyyyyy better.)

The White House at night and decorated for Christmas

We walked a large loop through all the monuments and memorials, smiling and loving every minute of our shoes rubbing the skin off our heels…

World War II Memorial

Freedom Wall: "Here We Mark the Price of Freedom"

Lincoln Memorial

We finally got back to the hotel around 11:30ish, to a lobby/lounge filled with women in beautiful gowns and men in suits and a live jazz band (we found out later that there were a lot of celebrities in town because the Kennedy Awards were that weekend). We took a seat, some wine, watched and listened until our eyes glazed over…

The next morning we headed straight for the National Air and Space Museum.

Me, Jean-Francois, Carolyn and a Russian rocket :)

Carolyn and the Hubble (replica...well, the "ship," not Carolyn)

Saturn V engines...there were five of these on the real one.

Planes and rockets and spaceships hung from the ceiling, and so many of the displays were interactive and constructed in a way that helped you visualize things like gravity & lift, that our planet is a microscopic speck in the universe…

I love these sorts of things. The sun is that sliver of
yellow on the left and Earth is the small blue ball.
We finished the afternoon with more monuments...

The White House, during the day, obviously.

Washington Memorial...again.

World War II Memorial, during the day, with Lincoln Memorial in background.

Jefferson Memorial

Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial

Jefferson Memorial

"...I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man."
 - Jefferson to Dr. Benjamin Rush, September 23, 1800

View from Jefferson Memorial. (Those aren't ants. Those are
two Americans and a Canadian :D )

...and then we drove "home." (aka the Hilton.)

Thanks to my Canadian friends (Veronique & Jean-Francois) and my American friends (Carolyn and Philip) for such a FABULOUS weekend – it’ll be a memory I’ll always think on and smile :D

p.s. you are all beeezarre.
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