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» Sunday, November 21, 2004Doing the Nation's Capitol
Actually not too much...we got a late start and then a bit misdirected on the way to the Metro station. Plus James has been spoiling for a sore throat for weeks now and the dampness yesterday along with the driving stress now has him ragged out.
It was a perfect day for wandering around the Mall. It was overcast most of the day which made it heaven for walking, and although half the trees are past peak there are some beautiful ones still extant. The Reflecting Pool was lined with beautiful golden trees which sent yellow eddies toward the water every time the wind blew. Several trees were such a beautiful orange-red one almost wanted to drink them in. The Washington Monument grounds are closed for landscaping, but we walked past it and spent over an hour walking around the World War II Memorial. I found my dad on their computer system and found myself in tears.
The Memorial is absolutely magnificent, a somber, beautiful combination of stone and water. One side is devoted to the Atlantic campaign, the other to the Pacific. As you approach the front there are bas relief panels on either side depicting scenes from the era. The Atlantic side begins with lend lease and continues through D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge to end as the Americans and the Russians meet at the Elbe bridge. The Pacific side begins with families listening to the news of Pearl Harbor through soldiers shipping out and on ships and airfields and ends with "War Ends" and a soldier coming home. All around the Memorial are different quotes, but the most affecting portion is the wall of 4000 gold stars. Each stands for 100 Americans who died in WWII.
I'd planned to walk down to the Lincoln Memorial and stop by The Wall, but James was flagging badly. So we walked back past the other side of the Washington Monument and saw the National Christmas Tree ready for lighting and the White House. We ended up in the Museum of American History to have a bite to eat at the Subway on the first floor--James' throat badly needed something hot; we had soup--and dabbled in a couple of galleries before we had to get back. We saw about half of the "America at War" exhibit, mostly the World War II portion, and also a bit of the Presidential gallery. I nipped in to see the First Ladies' gowns--when I was first here back in 1973, they had them all on exhibit and Mamie Eisenhower's gown was paired with the tiara she wore at the 1956 election. The tiara was made by Trifari, the place where my dad worked for 29 years and I worked for 3 1/2. I wanted to get a photo of it. But they don't have all the gowns out any longer, just a selected few, and the tiara wasn't there.
We did visit the gift shop--not the souvenir-shack on the Mall entrance side or the little one on the third floor, but the big one downstairs that had books, DVDs, CDs, and beautiful crystal ornaments. I came down the stairs to it with big eyes and said "James, it looks like the [Harvard] Coop!" I could be very, very bad here with all the wonderful history books (in debt and have no time to work because I was reading!), but I only bought something fun, What Were They Thinking?, a listing and detailing of the 100 worst television events. (It's a brand-new book: Janet Jackson's boob is in it.) One of them was "Spock's Brain," of course. Number one was...naw, if you're interested, buy the book. It's hilarous.
We had to head back at 4:30 because we were meeting Rodney Walker, one of the friends we made in Remember WENN fandom, for dinner. We did get a nice shot of the Smithsonian "castle" and the Capitol with the lights coming on before descending into the Metro again. Got turned around on the way back; coming in from the opposite direction, the exit is completely different, but made it in time. We just walked over to the Bob Evans across the way and ate, then came back to the room to chat some more. I let Pidge out and he found a very satisfactory perch on top of the kitchenette cabinets. His chirp echoed up there, which I'm sure he enjoyed.