For the past five months I had been planning and preparing for our trip to Washington D.C. The first thing I did to prepare was request tours from our Congressman Tim Scott. I also researched hotels, the metro, sites we wanted to see, and mapped out and routed our paths to maximize the amount of sites we would see each day (I also made a spreadsheet of all the sites, location, type, and importance of seeing). Pretty much everything I could get my hands on.
We got into D.C. (or Rosslyn where our hotel was) super early, parked the car, changed our clothes, ate breakfast, found the metro, and made our way into the city. Because it was so early it was still dark and not many people were out except the homeless people who were curled up on a grate (which made me a bit anxious about the city). After orienting ourselves we made our way towards the White House where we had an 8:30 tour. With time to spare we walked around the White House (which is a rather large loop because of everything that is fenced off). We saw a lot of buildings that we were not sure what they were.
I did however recognize this building.
And this one too.
We then made our way to the White House visitors center before going to get in line for our White House tour ( arrive early there is quite a line due to security checks). Many items are not allowed in the White House including cameras so there aren't many pictures from this part of our trip. While waiting in line we were soaked by the 30% chance of rain forecast for the day. Thank you weather.com.
We made our way past not 1, not 2, but 3 security checks before entering the White House. We then walked through a corridor flanked by pictures of Presidents past and present during various White House events on one side and beautiful views of the garden on the other (Oh the mums!). Then we viewed the Library, China Room, and Vermeil Room. Upstairs we were able to walk through the East Room, Green Room, Blue Room, Red Room, State Dinning Room, and Entrance and Cross Halls. My favorite part was looking out the window of the Blue Room, across the South Portico, the lawn, the fountain, and fence at the people standing outside looking in. On the way out I HAD to touch the wall. Despite being burned out, completely gutted and rebuilt, and undergoing major renovations several times the outside wall structure is original (covered in new paint).
Afterwards we checked out the White House gift shop and then returned to our hotel where we checked into our room, changed into dry clothes, and rested for a few minutes. After eating lunch at Chipotle (a treat for us as we are deprived of that here) we took the Metro from Rosslyn (holy tall escalator & enter my fear of heights) to the Smithsonian stop.
Here we got our first view of the Capitol building.
We went to the Smithsonian Castle first (not a lot to see there).
We then went to the Smithsonian Natural History Museum, where we saw all sorts of animals, bugs, polished, shiny rocks, and dinosaurs.
See how this deer looks pretty normal?
Look at those teeth!
And that huge walrus.
Rawwrr! A Big Tooth.
A three horn.
And Sarah.... (Not real she's a small scale model. Seriously if you haven't seen Land Before Time, see it)
Some of those polished shiny rocks I was telling you about!
The Hope Diamond
Bees in their tree...
which actually leads outside.
A Giant Giant shark.
We also enjoyed the fall weather and leaves (another thing we don't see much of here) before exploring the Smithsonian American History Museum.
George Washington.... it used to be outside. It was moved and eventually came to the Smithsonian because Congress felt the half naked pose was not suitable.
Dorthy's Ruby Red Slippers.
We then trekked down towards the Washington Monument (which was unfortunately closed due to damage from the recent earth quake).
Notice the two types/colors of stone? The monument construction was originally funded by individual citizens and when money ran out the construction was halted for 25 years.... until it began again under an act authorized by President Ulysses S. Grant.
A noticeable crack in the structure :(
At that point we (ahem I) noticed that the Thomas Jefferson Memorial looked as though it was nearby. We began walking towards it around the Tidal Basin... and we walked.... and walked.... and walked. Finally we reached the memorial.
I had hoped to continue on to the FDR Memorial, but due to the great distance to the nearest Metro which was in the opposite direction of the FDR Memorial we decided that it could wait because our feet were no longer having any of this. On our way to the Metro station we passed the Bureau of Printing and Engraving, the Holocaust Museum, and the Department of Agriculture