Friday, November 2, 2012

A True Vacation: DC

Several months ago, Nick invited me to join him on an upcoming business trip.  I could choose between Santa Monica and Washington, DC.  Last month found us (plus one) in DC!  I'm sure I chose wisely.  The east coast has so much to see that cannot be found in the west.  Visiting was a great opportunity.

We flew in on a red eye.  I don't sleep well anywhere but in a bed, so sitting up on a plane, holding a baby that desperately needs to keep sleeping doesn't really do much for me.  I may have slept for six seconds.  Or seven.  Or not at all that night.  The sun rose as we taxied to our hotel.  Whatever check-in time may normally be, it was not 6 am.  The night clerk took pity on us when he saw Pierce and let us check in early.  Very early.  We were relieved to slip into the cutest, tiniest hotel room I've seen in this country and catch up on some much needed rest.
The hotel was roughly a mile north of the white house (and the rest of the national mall), so we got in a good deal of walking each day.  I don't remember what group this building housed, but I loved their quote on the plaque at their door" "In essentials, unity; In non-essentials, liberty; In all things, charity."
One of our first stops was this well-known house.  You can't see it in this picture, but the first lady has a large kitchen garden just off to the left.
We caught a shot of hometown love at the WWII Memorial.  Being there got us talking about what we had heard from our grandparents who served and who waited for their servicemen.  We should all take time for that once in a while.
 This is the Korean War Memorial.
 Pierce got a LOT of attention from the ladies on this trip.  I suppose there were not many babies around, but I still find it strange that people react so strongly to them.  We were all babies once, so we must be around them from time to time, but if the women in DC saw babies very often, you couldn't tell.  They would approach him and coo at him and even have their picture taken with him.  He was really quite the celebrity, which suits him well.  Pierce loves attention.

In this picture, there were at least a dozen women from a tour group standing in a circle around him.  I tried to be subtle about the picture, so I didn't catch them all in it, but it was pretty comical.
 Just across the street from the Korean War Memorial was the Albert Einstein Memorial.  Just my style!
 Albie has some of the greatest quotes on any subject, but I loved the one chosen for the memorial: "The right to search for truth implies also a duty; one must not conceal any part of what one has recognized to be true."  At the time, this made me think of missionary work and spreading the gospel, but at this moment my mind is applying it to keeping our government leaders honest and their doings transparent and honest.

 It can be tricky to take pictures of yourself, but here we are, in front of the Lincoln Memorial.

The walls inside the memorial are inscribed with the words of the Gettysburg Address.  I was particularly struck with the words: "that these dead shall not have died in vain."  Freedom, as far as it has been preserved, has been our privilege, but it did not come freely.  It has been paid for time and time again by those who valued it enough to give theirs up that we might enjoy it.  We should not take it lightly and must do what we can to preserve what they provided for us at such a great cost.
 That's me in the middle of this picture doing what I do most: nursing.  I nursed all over the national mall, in the smithsonian museums, on the subways, in restaurants, anywhere we went.  It slowed us down a bit, but then again it was nice to take a break and rest our over-walked feet.

The best view of the Washington Monument is from the top of the Lincoln stairs.  From here, you can see the tower reflecting in the pool below.

 We kept taking picture after picture of this, as we found ourselves there near dusk, and the light on the monument kept changing, getting more beautiful as the light moved.

As the sun went down, we hiked our way around this bit of the Potomac to the Jefferson Memorial.  Nick and I both agreed that this was our favorite.  In contrast with the busy, crowded memorials of the other we had seen more centrally located in the national mall, this one was much more reverent.  Combine that with Jefferson's calls for increased freedom in eloquent phrases all around him, and you get a truly sacred space.
 Nick and Pierce at the capitol.
Then there were the museums.  So many of them.  We didn't have time to hit them all, but we saw Natural History, American History, Air and Space, the Ford Theater, and I saw the Holocaust Museum while Nick worked.

This is a piece of moon rock that can be touched!  I wanted it to be off-white, like the moon at night, but it was black.  That is Nick's hand.
 And the actual gun that killed Abraham Lincoln!
 Pierce got a lesson in past Presidents.

 We took this picture for Curie, our zebra lover.  It was a trick to explain taxidermy to her when showing her the shot.
 More nursing!  Nursing, nursing, nursing.  I must say, that Pierce was a pretty good trooper through his change of lifestyle on this trip.  Hotels, the front carrier, museums, napping vertical, long walks, no kids around to entertain... he fared pretty well.  We were not able to see as much of the museums as we could have without him, but we saw enough.  Thanks, Pierce.
 My golfer.  And Ike's clubs.
 And here's a throwback to a previous post.  These are Reagan's Jelly Bellies.
One other important destination for us was the LDS temple.  With no car and not enough research, it took us two attempts to finally get there.  The first attempt wasn't a complete loss, as we discovered a great Italian restaurant with the most amazing lemon shortcake.  And we got there eventually.
Being there, this building really looked like some kind of painted Hollywood backdrop.  Completely ethereal.
And I thought the light played neat tricks with the Washington Monument.  These were just as good.
Inside the Visitors' Center.
Time to go.  A big thanks to the missionary couple who drove us to the subway station when we asked them to call us a cab.
We picked up some food on our walk home from the subway stop.  Nick laid Pierce down while he waited for me to nuke him some soup.  He had utensils in hand, and Pierce does look quite delicious!
One of our final, and fittingly so, stops in DC was here:
Pictures cannot be taken inside, but this is where the original Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights are housed. They are in a dark, round room, dimly lit with some kind of green light, specially chosen, I'm sure, because it doesn't damage the fragile paper and ink.  I felt a special spirit there, thinking of the men who had been as close to these documents as I was then, and had signed them, immortalizing themselves as traitors or heroes; dooming themselves to martyrdom or near-worship.  Let's keep honoring them, America.

Overall, I was impressed with Washington, DC.  I can sometimes get depressed when thinking of the legislation that comes from there, but I can attest that the odes and honors all over the city and especially the national mall speak to freedom and deity.  Apparently, the legislators have not yet taken the time to redecorate the city.  I was also moved to see how many foreigners were there as tourists.  When we wanted a picture taken of Nick and I together, it was often quite a trick to find Americans, or at least English speakers.  This told me that the world still looks to us for our history of democracy and freedom.  I came home encouraged.  And eager to vote.


Marisa said...

I miss DC, and that beautiful temple!

Our Ohana said...

I loved reading your posts about your trip east. I miss living in Maryland and all the beautiful history around there! It's wonderful to hear you speak about your experiences with such heartfelt words. Miss you!