President’s Day in Washington DC

What do you do with your kids on another one of those long three day weekends in the middle of winter?  Dreading being held prisoner in your own home due to Mother Nature and sub zero temperatures?

My solution?  Either force them into a child labor camp or make them go with you on a road trip.  (The two older ones being teenagers seriously contemplate the former of the choices-faced with the fact that being seen with their mother is social suicide.)

However, the latter was chosen; this time Washington DC.

Of course, my wonderful brother and awesome trip planner, Uncle Stanley, made this trip possible; arriving in plenty of time to explore the Kennedy Center before we saw the play “The Wings of Ikarus Jackson.”

The massive entryway at the Kennedy Center, with the late afternoon sunlight filtering in, encompassed us like a warm blanket.  I remember seeing glimpses of it on t.v on those, “Live from the Kennedy Center….” shows and was never impressed, until now.

Being here live and walking through the grand hallway on the movie star red carpet was a whole different experience.

Outside in the back of the Center was a grand promenade overlooking the Potomac River

It was such a warm and balmy evening, with forecasts of rain and snow the next day, we decided to spend the evening walking to the different monuments.

We started out at the Jefferson Memorial.

These Roman columned buildings are quite grand.

We walked along the well paved pathways that opened up to more statues and memorials that are lesser known.  And of course we stopped for mandatory poses with life size statues.

Here we have Franklin and Elanor Roosevelt.

These statues are in memorial of the Great Depression and the long bread lines.  Scary how history repeats itself.

Finally, we came upon the newly unveiled Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.  It was massive and loomed high into the night atmosphere.  I remember some news reports with complaints about the statue.  Some authorities were not happy with the quotes that were chosen, the way it was chiseled, etc.  But let me tell you, it was totally awesome and flawless to me.

This is the Korean War Memorial

It wasn’t that well lit but maybe they did that on purpose to give you an eerie feeling about war, which it did.

We finally reached the Lincoln Memorial.  As we went inside Uncle Stanley walked the 2 or 3 miles back to the car to come pick us up.  Who knew you could park a little closer?  Besides it was dark out and due to high security parking is tricky.

Did you know that architects and law makers purposely do not build large sky scrapers in Washington D.C.?  This is so the Memorials are not overpowered by modern feats of man.

As we entered, my daughter asked if we could climb up in his lap.  I think if you did you would have a dozen plain clothes security guards topple you down and cuff ya.

The next day we started out by going to mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.  They started building this Catholic Cathedral in the late 1800’s and did not finish until around 1950.

The artwork throughout this gigantic structure is amazing and wondrous.  The artisans and craftsman that spent years completing tiled sanctuaries, chiseled marble or any of the thousands of intricate works of art throughout it’s interior is quite breathtaking.  It’s a house of worship, an archive, a mausoleum  and a museum all under one roof.

Down below the main floor was another altar and full Gothic organ.

Throughout this underground labyrinth were dozens of more chapels dedicated to specific countries along with local imagery and icons.

This one is a Croatian chapel.  Our friends Juan Carlos and his wife Elizabeth and their adorable daughter Carmen joined us for the day.

Our Lady of Czestochowa, Poland

Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mexico

Our Lady of Africa

Everyone behaved so well for a couple of hours while inside the reverent building I let this behavior slide. 🙂

We then drove over to the area of town that has rows and rows of museums.  Centrally located is a Castle building that is the main information center.  It also has an overpriced cafeteria where we ate an overpriced lunch.

Out of dozens of museums and sites to choose from it was unanimous among the age diverse crowd that we go see the Holocaust Museum.

This is a very well thought out museum.  This first area we went into was geared toward younger children.

We then decided to go through the main part of the museum that housed all the horrific pictures, raw video footage and actual remnants from the Holocaust.  I was a little reluctant to bring my 10 year old daughter through, but she wanted to go where her brothers went.

My daughter did just fine.  I think being honest and frank about truth and reality does not scare children despite the horror of the pictures they may see.  I think it’s ok for them to see injustice in a safe environment such as this; that they may ask questions and feel empathy towards the suffering of others and be impacted by the enormity of this  atrocity.

Then one day when they are adults they will be good, productive and just citizens of this great nation and not hardened street thugs “busin up yo mammas house stealing bling.”

Before we knew it we were in there for a couple of hours and had to pick up the pace to get to the end.  We just have to come back another time.

The last stop before the 6pm closing time just had to be the National Museum of Art.  We split into two groups, one of them taking Edward to see some college campuses like Georgetown, and the other group of us heading to see art.

And so we walked again.  We walked through the Sculpture garden on the way to the American Galleries wing.  Check out this metal tree!  I think it is totally awesome!

We stopped to take a picture with a nice super-sized spider.

By the time we got inside we had less than an hour to see some  artwork.  We practically ran through the Dutch art wing with Flemish painters, exhausted children in tow, and set our tired eyes on some sublime Rembrandt paintings.  He truly was a Master of his medium.

Finally, we ended the evening with all of us meeting back at a trendy restaurant, American Eats, not far from the museums.  My good friend Tim Carman and his lovely wife Keri joined us for dinner.  It had been over two decades since my brother and I saw my old friend from college.  He is a magnificent writer and is currently an infamous food writer for the Washington Post.

I can’t remember having a more fun night out for dinner in a long time.  My kids were completely entertained with little Carmen, while the adults enjoyed non-stop conversation along with a delicious meal.

President’s Day was our last day in D.C.   We started out with a tour of the Capital Building.

Outside, things were pretty quiet.  Inside, our eyes feasted on  such splendid and spectacular decorum.  The best artists and craftsmen from around the world during it’s 200 year history were and have been hired to create the fine art work that adorns the walls and hallways of our Nation’s Capital.  Below is the entrance lobby.

This star on the ground floor of the Capital building represents ground zero for the entire city of Washington D.C.  This is the point where all the streets begin.

Next, we walked up these narrow steps…

Which opened up to this spectacular view in the domed part of the building.

This is an adjoining room.  It once housed congress.  However, as more states and more congressmen were added they outgrew this room.

Now it’s home to lots of statues.

Each state has a larger than life size statue of the person who is important in founding that particular state.  We found Nebraska.

Each branch of Congress is housed in their own part of the building.  The senate in the adjoining rectangular building to the right, and the House in the adjoining building to the left.  Or is it vice-verse?  Either way, if you are the speaker of the House you get your name up in the door way.

BTW these doors and hallways were definitely made when society as a whole was much shorter.  At 5 foot 7 I had the urge to duck while walking through some of these doorways.  Can you imagine those tall Texans?

Lastly, our final stop, The Library of Congress.

There are only two days a year that the Library of Congress is open to the public and President’s day is one of them.  So without going outside, we made our way to the library through long underground hallways.

Once again, upon entering, a breathtaking view.

We went to the ground floor where all the books and card catalogs are stored.  The Library of Congress has the largest book collection in the world.

This is Mr. Flanagan’s Clock.

Everything is on the computer now and the old paper card catalogs are no longer used but you can play with them just for fun.

As we exited the Library of Congress we walked past the Supreme Court.  Again, another structure that is imposing and impressive in size.

Everywhere we walked it was marble.

No trip would be complete without walking over to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW- The White House.

From here we made our way back home.

Thank you for coming along and sharing this trip with me.  I also want to say that this is a really good way to see artwork under the guise of learning about our nation’s history.   So much artwork and so little time.



4 responses to “President’s Day in Washington DC

  1. Thanks so much for a fabulous tour of DC. A few places I’ve never seen. Honeymooned there in February and it was so warm we took a tour on the top deck of a bus.

  2. interesting blog site you have!

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