Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Arlington Cemetery

On Sunday we went to the Arlington Cemetary. It was very sobering to see all of the graves of the brave men and women who have died for our freedom. We also watched the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown soldier. Very moving.

I'm a little tired tonight and nothing funny or poignant is coming to mind, so enjoy the pictures.

Art, Art, Everywhere!

On Saturday, we decided to hit all of the Smithsonian art museums at once. We like art, but it definitely wouldn't take us the whole day to go to one museum. So, we took the metro to the Smithsonian exit and found this on the lawn:

The Library of Congress National Book Festival. There were a TON of people there and a TON of authors. The ones that I was excited about were Shannon Hale (Goose Girl), Kate DiCamillo(Because of Winn Dixie), Lois Lowry(Number the Stars and the Giver series), Rick Riordan (Percy Jackson and the Olympians series) and David Shannon (No, David!). We thought it might be fun to buy a book there, even if we didn't get it signed. So we went in the sales tent and saw the line that was longer than the one we stood in to go on the new Toy Story ride at Disney California. We decided not to buy a book. Then we went outside and saw the lines to get an autograph from the authors and decided to go to the art museums instead. We did get some really great free bags and books. Yeah for free stuff.

Our first stop was the Smithsonian Castle...

The Castle has a basic overview of all the Smithsonian Museums. Since we have already been to quite a few of the museums, we didn't spend much time here.

We went to the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery (Asian art), the Freer Gallery of Art (American and Asian Art), the National Museum of African Art, and the National Gallery of Art. There were actual Monets at the Gallery of Art. Very cool.

Here are overview pictures...

It was a very artful day!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The President Invited us to his House

We thought it would be fun to spend some time at the White House while we were here in Washington, DC. But, since it is now nearly impossible to get tickets to tour the White House, we went to Mount Vernon instead. Hey, a president is a president.

We took a cruise along the Potomac River to get to Mount Vernon. It actually reminded us a lot of taking the ferry from Bremerton to Seattle. It was a Seattle sort of day, which was so much nicer than the 90 degree and humid days that we had been having. This is the first view that we had of Mount Vernon. I don't know what I was expecting, but this wasn't it.

They said to wear comfortable shoes for the walk to the mansion. It turned out that it was a quarter mile trek up hill. While comfortable shoes are important, I don't think they're the only thing to get you up the hill. This is probably only cool to a plant lady like me, but this is a espalier apple tree. The trunk was probably a foot in diameter. Did you ever read the book Misty? It was about a chincoteague pony. This is a chincoteague pony. I thought that was pretty exciting. Ok, maybe only to me, but still. Her name was Butterfly. We had a horse when I was growing up named Buttercup and they looked a little alike. Maybe that's why I liked her so much.

George Washington considered himself to be a farmer first. He felt there was a better way to separate the grain from the shaft, so he invented this round barn. The ponies trot around the barn on the shaft and it makes the grain fall through holes in the floor. It's kind of hard to explain, but maybe this video will help a little. Ok, after about 20 minutes, the video didn't load, so that won't be any help.

It was a good day!

Not a Fan of the Dead Things

Let me just first say that I have a problem with stuffed animals. I'm not talking, "Oh look, a cute stuffed horse." I'm talking, "Oh look, it used to BE a horse and is now stuffed." Get my drift? It has always been so with me and probably isn't changing soon.

So, when the first place we went to in the Nation Museum of Natural History was the Hall of Mammals...

(I couldn't even make myself take a good picture of the place.) I didn't know how good the day was going to go.

Not only was it full of "dead things," but it was REALLY loud! But, once we got into the ocean section, the rest of the day went quite well.

And, here is the Museum of Natural History:

There was a little girl looking at this python skeleton and she said, "Look, it's a slinky!" Too funny.

This is the hope diamond...42 karats!

Dinosaur skeletons always make me think of my Uncle Joe. He works like a crazy person all winter so he can take most of the summer off to dig dinos. He even found a pterodactyl that no one had ever seen. It's named after him. Cool huh?

I think when we redo our kitchen, we should get this kind of granite countertops...it couldn't be that expensive!

I don't know if you can see on this picture, but there is a big fish skeleton with a smaller fish skeleton in it's tummy. At least it died full.

I have to say, this is my favorite museum so far.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Just Made You Think

Today was an interesting day. We started the day out at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, where you can't take pictures. I don't know why...that's just where they make paper money. Jeez. The tour was good. The tour guide was kind of weird, but seeing how they make money was cool though.

Then we went to the Holocaust Museum. Wow. That was an emotionally draining experience. I'm glad we went, but it was quite hard. At the end of the day, we took a quick tour about Nazi Propaganda. The docent made a few interesting points. He said that this museum is the only one in DC that you didn't come to to have fun. Too true. He also said that some of us may be thinking, "Would I have been dooped by the propaganda like so many others?" I know that I thought that. His suggestion was to always be questioning and vigilant. Makes sense to me.

The Holocaust Museum is definitely one I would recommend, but towards the end, I just couldn't handle any more atrocities. (I have to say, the one that pushed me over the edge was how they would shave the women's hair - either before or after they were killed - and they would sell it so people could make felt hats and such. How could anyone be more cruel?)

It just really made us think...

Up, Up and Away

So, today...I mean, yesterday, I was a little run down when we got back to the hotel room, so I didn't feel like blogging. Stupid cold. But, today, I'm feeling quite a bit better, so I'm catching up.

(This is almost like journaling. I'm so amazing at journaling!)

Yesterday we went to the National Air and Space Museum. As you could probably guess, this is much more up Brent's alley than mine, which worked well for us. When I started to get tired and grumpy, I would go sit down, then Brent would catch up to me in about 10-15 minutes and I'd be ready to start again. It is a really great museum. Here is the National Air and Space Museum in pictures.

When I asked Brent what the best part of the museum was, he said seeing the things that you could only see there...like the Wright Flier. It was quite interesting to see.

This is what a did a lot yesterday...waited for Brent...

...and again...

...and again...I actually really liked this area, it was like a big science experiment.

This is a moon rock that Brent's touching. Does that mean he's a astronaut now?

This sign CRACKED me up! I know it's blurry, but this is the best I could do. It says, "If this sticker is blue, you're driving too fast." Intellectual humor. It's so funny. (Need a little help? Go here.)

Isn't this an engineer's dream?

Another thing that you can only see here.

When we were taking the Metro back to the hotel, we were going up the escalator and all of a sudden it stopped, which sucks. When we got to the top, we realized that it stopped because a lady's high heel got stuck in the top. That had to be embarrassing. The funniest part was a bunch of people tried to stop and help her pull it out, but they couldn't do it. Then this guy came up and just pulled it right out. Has he seen this before? Is he some sort of escalator expert. I don't know.

Speaking of escalators, people here walk up and down the escalator. It's kind of annoying. I mean, isn't the whole point of an escalator that you don't have to walk up it? We soon learned that we had to stand on the right side...us lazy westerners...so the hyper easterners can get there just a little bit faster. Just makes you laugh.