Saturday, April 5, 2014

DC is Cool

We were very excited to visit Washington D.C. This long-awaited visit was made possible by the generosity of our Friday Harbor friends Marita and Ed Dillery who let us park in their cul-de-sac (and plug into their home) in Arlington. They kindly and with great humor ferried us to the Metro subway system every day so we could explore all things DC. We loved riding the Metro, only took the wrong train twice, and also rode a couple of buses during our 8 days as tourists  in the capital city.

Liz felt at home in Washington, having been born here at the old Sibley Memorial Hospital. We also have fond memories of marching together with the Alaska contingent in the Gay and Lesbian March on Washington in 1993 with 800,000 other folks. But this was the first time we had a chance to really explore the city, so we walked a lot, packed in as many museums as we could and had a wonderful time. The weather was, on different days, freezing cold, rainy, snowy, windy, sunny and warm. Not unusual, we understand, for DC.

We accepted invitations to coffee from both Senators Cantwell and Murray, and enjoyed shaking hands and thanking them for their support of various issues. Liz spoke with Senator Murray’s transportation aide on the importance of the National Scenic Byway Program and Senator Cantwell, like many other people we have met on this trip, told us she wanted to travel with us in the motor home. Of course the Oso tragedy was foremost in everyone’s mind and Senator Murray advocated for FEMA and the President to provide Federal remedies as soon as possible. Passes from the Senators got us special tours of the Capitol and entrance to the Senate Gallery where, during a roll call vote on a judicial nominee, one of us was enthralled to see all her favorite stars of C-SPAN and one of us got a nice nap. 

There wasn’t time (or energy) for everything but we did see the following:
Transforming the American Table Exhibit
at American History Museum
Old Post Office Pavilion, where we took the elevator to the top of the bell tower to view the city. Liz so resonated with the concept of bell-ringing that she thought she must have been a bell ringer in a previous life.
National Museum of American History,one of our favorites including a great transportation exhibit , a Civil Rights exhibit, a First Ladies exhibit and much more. A section on the history of changing food practices in the US was fantastic, and it even included Julia Child’s kitchen from her home in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
National Museum of the American Indian was beautifully designed and surprised us by being a voice for all American Indians, not just North American Indians. The
museum partnered with leaders of various First Nations to provide an in-depth understanding and appreciation of particular people, both historic and current. 
The White House which was a self-guided tour following a long security wait, but well worth it. It's a lot like going through a really nice are museum.
National Museum of Women in the Arts, where we loved the art work, the quilts, but especially the spectacular building with the Great Hall and Mezzanine that also serves as a meeting space for dinners and other special events. 
John F Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, a spectacular building that houses 7 theaters and a terrace longer than two football fields with a great view of Washington DC and the Potomac River. It was a pulsing hive of creative activity for all ages.
Spectacular puppet from  "War Horse"
production at Kennedy Center 
United States Postal Museum where we learned about the history of stamps and how the mail gets to your mailbox. And it was here we created our Liz/Janna Forever stamp.
National Museum of Natural History  which took two visits to see it all. We learned about the Human Genome, got to see ancient mummies, saw an incredible number of bird and animal skeletons, and even got to view the Hope Diamond. Also we rested our feet here and took in an Imax movie about the city of Jerusalem.
National Public Radio DC Headquarters where all our favorite radio shows are created. It was fun to see how it all works, and here we had a pleasant surprise when we bumped into Whitney Knickrehm and her family, folks we know from Bellingham Washington, who were also on the tour. 
National Portrait Gallery featuring  “American Cool”  fine art photographs of 100 iconic Americans over the last 80 years who can be defined as  “cool” in America . The courtyard is an incredible indoor public space that should be experienced.
National Zoo, where we managed to land on the warmest day of our stay. We marveled at the “O-Line” a unique tower and cable system stretched high in the air for the orangutans to move from one area of the zoo to another, as spectators watch from below. Bao Bao, the baby giant panda was not yet out for us to see, but we did get to see her mother, and a web cam focused on baby.

Bikes Rule in DC - That's COOL
It was fun just to be in the city. We walked by the FBI, the EPA, the Department of the Treasury, the Justice Department, and much more. We passed by the Supreme Court, but didn’t find time to wait in the long line to get inside.  We were impressed with the tremendous accommodation Washington has made to make bicycling around the city safe, and marveled  at young bikers dodging cars in roundabouts as well as Segway tourists taking advantage of  bike corridors down the middle of busy streets.  
If you’ve never been to the nation’s capital, put it on your list. Most of the museums and tours are free of charge so you might as well go see them since you’ve already paid for them. It was money well spent. It’s a really cool place.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! I'm impressed with the number of things you did... Ever-ready bunnies... that's what you are! I loved the Nat. Mus. of Native Americans so much that I went back a second day with a sketch pad, spending a whole day there. I also loved the Metro... so easy to use!