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October 16 through 23, 2004

White House

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Around Town
This is on E street adjacent the White House fence.  DO NOT go beyond this point.  Trust me!
West end of E street.
ESPN Zone ESPN Zone.  You must go here.  We ate here 3 times.  This is a man's place.  Imagine manly food, great beer and drinks, an arcade, HUGE screen TV flanked by 12 smaller TVs, booths with built in flat screen TV, recliners in front of the huge screen, and a sports fanatics environment and you are in paradise.
This is a shot at the top of the National Mall, where mounted police officers were getting on their horses.  This was right next to the Americans for Jesus event.


Corcoran Gallery of Art
Library of Congress
National Air and Space Museum
DC at Night
Buildings and Statues
WWII Memorial

Trip Log
Date Entry
17 Oct 2004

Ate breakfast at the hotel restaurant.  Ok buffet.  Won’t do it again.

We headed down to the new WWII Memorial.  Along the way we noticed that Pennsylvania Ave. by the White House is closed.  You can still get to a small section in front of the wrought iron fence via the Ellipse park.

The Washington Monument is closed for refurbishment.  The whole area around the monument is just a dirt pile, instead of the flat grassy plain it used to be.

The WWII Memorial has an upper ring around a lower plaza.  The upper ring has a column for each state and territory. At one side of the ring was a pavilion for the Atlantic battles, and at the other side was for the Pacific.  There were a lot of great quotes etched in the walls.  The lower plaza has a big shallow pool and multiple water jets for a fountain.  The wind gusted, and we were sprayed with water from the multiple fountains.  There were signs saying coins hurt the fountain, and not to wade in the water out of respect.  Similar to the Vietnam Memorial, people left notes and wreaths commemorating the dead. 

We could not tell why the states and territories were arranged in the seemingly random order, but when we asked a ranger, he explained that they appear in the order they became states -- except they alternate from the columns on the left to the columns on the right.  For example, Massachusetts is the 6th state, and it appears third in the right

Music and far off amplified voices impinged on our meditations at the memorial.  We are all for people exercising their right to assemble, so we headed for the Lincoln Monument to see what was up.  It was the million worker march,  There were maybe 500 people there.  They were talking trash about the President

We cut through the crowd and stopped at the Vietnam Nurses memorial.  Then we headed back up Constitution Avenue to get a closer look at the pink stone monument we had glimpsed earlier.  It turns out it was for the 2nd Division, many different wars.  We meandered through a flock of little birdies in the grass and through the park at the ellipsis where people were playing touch football.

We continued up Constitution Ave. towards the Capital Building.  We thought we were headed to the new International Spy Museum.  However, along the way we came across the National Archives.  That was it.  Lou had to stop.  Lou has been wanting to see the National Archives for many years and was disappointed it was closed for renovation last time we were here in 2001.  So we went in and saw originals and replicas of the Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights, and the US Constitution.

From there we had lunch at the old Post Office Pavilion.

After lunch, hum, what to do.  We went to the Museum of American Art, but it is closed until 2006.  We then went to the US Mint Museum, but it closes at 5:30 on Sundays L  So we walked to the Capitol building where we sat for a while admiring.  From there we went to Union Station to walk around a bit more before taking the Metro back to the hotel and collapsing.  After figuring out what was open for dinner, we had an awesome dinner at McCormick and Schmick.

We are now back in the room after a busy day.
18 Oct 2004

International Spy Museum

We got up and hit the street early so we could take Farragut North blue line to Gallery and pop out right by the CLOSED National Museum of American Art… and then go across the street and eat breakfast at the Spy Café.  Breakfast did not have an auspicious beginning because we were disappointed to learn that it was self serve.  But when the eggs finally came, they were darned good.  As we sat there at a booth in the window enjoying our coffee, thirty people appeared and lined up at the Spy Museum door!  Yikes.  So we joined the line and got in with the second group allowed thru the door.


We took the combo ticket, the regular spy museum plus the terrorism in America special exhibit.  We started upstairs in terrorism.  It was eye opening to see that most of the terrorist acts were perpetrated by Americans.  The show took some liberties and included what we thought were some acts of war (like Germans blowing up 2 million pounds of munitions stored on Black Tom Island in New York Harbor in 1916).


The spy part of the museum was fun, too.  We crawled through some air duct!  We were very loud and would have been shot to death in real life.


We went into the museum at like 5 past 10… and when we came out it was 3:00 PM.  Wow!  We had lunch at the ESPN zone in a cushy booth with our own TV in front of a BIG SCREEN.  One pound of chicken wings.  Left around 5:00.


Barnes and Noble!  Karen bought enuff books to get through the week and the trip home.


Lou wanted to go to the park, but I talked him into a bathroom break at the hotel.  I fell asleep on the bed while he planned what we would do the next day.  Then we went to Lafayette Park and stood around till it got dark.  We took some pictures of the White House and I bet they took some pictures of us.  We also watched the roadwork on the road in front of the White House.  It looks like they are turning it into a marble plaza.  We saw a black tar layer, and we watched them cover that with a sort of red aggregate tar layer, and then we guess next comes marble.  As it got dark in the park, the RATS came boldly out of hiding and scurried across the sidewalks, making Karen scream.


Finally we went home and watched part of the baseball game in the bar.
19 Oct 2004

In the morning, Lou sweetly suggested that we change our plans and go straight to the Pentagon, since that was the top thing I wanted to see.   So we got lattes and items and stood outside Starbucks eating breakfast, then we hopped on the blue line to the Pentagon.  But the guards said NO TOURS.  One was really nice and apologetic that the web site had not been changed because tours have NEVER resumed since 9/11.  The other one was not as nice and gave Lou a hard time about the camera.  So, we turned around and went to the Library of Congress.


Library of Congress was FANTASTIC.  What a beautiful building and a great tour.  Also, a helluva gift shop.  We bought so much, it was clear that we would have to go to the hotel.  Books filled with photographs are heavy.


A guard outside the LoC suggested we eat lunch at one of the small restaurants near the metro station, so we ate a Mexican place called Tortilla Coast.  Slow but good.  The we took the train back to the hotel and Lou found out that the Smithsonian Air and Space closes at 5:30 – not enuff time!  So we decided to do the WWII Memorial and Abe Lincoln again.  This time, Lou changed out of his shorts and I bundled up in my turtleneck.


We went back to the WWII Memorial.  Fewer people, nicer experience.  It is so funny to watch people where some are soaking up all the details and others could be anywhere, they are so busy chatting with their companions about something else.


We walked to the Lincoln Monument along the jogging path. We saw the Korean War Memorial through the trees.  I love that Abe Lincoln monument!  We sat there for awhile and I suggested we go to the ESPN Zone to watch the baseball game.  After all, we have to root for the Sox!  So we walked to Foggy Bottom and took the train to Metro Center.


This time, we sat in the RECLINERS in front of the BIG SCREEN!  Awesome.  Sox did great.  We ordered a ton of stuff, but did not clean our plates.  We decided we had better walk home instead of staying there for the whole game.  Lou lectured me on how to walk at night in the city all the way home.  It rained lightly on us.  Felt like home.


Now we are back in the room, Lou is watching the game, and I was reading Secret Prey till it was time to do this log.
20 Oct 2004
Today was Lou’s day.  We spent the day at the National Air and Space Museum.  The museum is open 10 am to 5:30 pm.  So we got there late and spent the day from 10:30 to a little after 5:30.  They actually came and got us and kindly told us to leave.  We found out that there was a special speaker that night.  Unfortunately it was sold out and had been for some time.  None other then Chuck Yeager.  The Wright brothers’ airplane has been moved to its own gallery to celebrate the centennial of flight.  We saw lots of space stuff including Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo capsules, rockets, and rovers.  Also, a full size model of the Viking and Opportunity/Spirit probes.  Many airplanes including the X29, Amelia Earhart’s plane that flew across the Atlantic, Spirit of St. Louis, Chuck’s sound barrier breaker, etc.  We saw to IMAX movies – International Space Station in 3D and Helicopter Flight. In the Einstein planetarium we saw Infinite Express about the planets.  Saw a couple of exhibits about the universe and the planets.  New stuff at the museum includes the Wright brothers’ gallery and a gallery consisting of art work from every NASA launch.  Apparently NASA has an artist at every single mission launch.  These drawings, paintings, and sculptures are now at the NASM.  Also new, but we didn’t do it, is a hanger at Dulles Airport.  You can take a shuttle from the NASM.  It houses an SR71, Concorde, Enola Gay (the bomber that dropped the bomb), and the Enterprise space shuttle.
21 Oct 2004

We got started a bit late today and had a nice breakfast at the buffet restaurant around the corner from the hotel.  For 13 bucks, we got a variety of hot food, coffee, and an OJ.


Then we headed off on foot to the BEP (Bureau of Engraving and Printing).  It turns out it was in a different quadrant that we expected, on the far side of the Mall.  But it was a good walk.  We waited just a few minutes for the tour to start at 11:00.  They were adamant that no one take pictures – and if you did, they confiscate your equipment and film, and return none of it to you, and the whole tour gets kicked out!  Serious.  It was a good tour, watching the money get printed.  We learned about the money with the small stars after the serial number, which is put into circulation only if a problem is detected in a packet of 100 bills at the very last step of production.  So we spent some of our own money in the gift ship!


Dopes that we are, we walked up to the employee entrance to the FBI building and asked the guard, “Is there an entrance for the public tour?” He silently (and sort of rudely) pointed to a brass sign behind him (in plain sight) that said, “No Public Tours till 2006.”


So we went to an ATM and then had lunch at the ESPN zone in the recliners again.  Then we wandered slowly back to the hotel room, Karen stopped unsuccessfully at the gift shops for the National Museum of American History and the White House Visitor’s Center looking for good stuff to buy, and we stopped at CVS to get more water.  We are resting.

We went to the Corcoran Gallery of Art where we saw some Impressionist and Contemporary paintings.  Saw a great portrait of Andrew Jackson and a painting of a bear about to eat a woman.  There was a display of architect Gehry.  He is the architect of the EMP and has created an addition to the Corcoran building.

The nighttime tour was fun.  It lasted over 3 hours.  We saw the White House, Capitol, WWII, Lincoln, Vietnam, Korea, FDR, and Iwo Jima.  The tour guide was somewhat funny and entertaining.  We thought the tour guide was a bit indelicate regarding his commentary of the Pentagon.  At one point, he described how the plane that hit the Pentagon was traveling in the same direction as we were at that moment towards the Pentagon.  Nonetheless, the memorial of Iwo Jima was incredible.
22 Oct 2004

We visited the US Supreme Court.  We sat in the court room while listening to a lecture on the court, judges, history, cases, the court room, and chief justices.  Absolutely no photography of any kind is permitted in the court room.  This explains why I’ve never seen a photo or video of the court room.  Reporters are not permitted to bring in any kind of recording device whatsoever.  They must take handwritten notes.  No laptops, palmtops, cell phones, etc.  Attorneys must place all items in a locker.  They are only permitted to bring in a notepad and pen.  Seating in the court room – whether judges, special guests, or guests of a judge are all seated according to seniority.

We walked to the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.  It was ok.  We didn’t go into the museum because we are cooked.  The sculpture garden was ok.  In the background on the National Mall was a convention of Americans For Jesus.  It was humorous to hear all of the God talk and even more so to watch everyone stand, sit, raise right hands, etc. on command like well trained sheep.  I guess the Kool-Aid was good.  (The preceeding commentary is from Lou.)


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