Thursday, July 31, 2014

DC Trip: The White House

Along with making plans to tour the Capitol and the Supreme Court, when Matt & I first found out we were going to DC I quickly contacted one of our congressmen's offices and requested a tour of the White House. While nothing exciting happened and we didn't meet see any major political players, it was still one of the highlights of our trip! It was really interesting not only from a historical point of view, but also a security perspective as well. You are not allowed to bring any bags with you into the tour (pretty much only wallet, cell phone, and keys) and you're still searched relatively thoroughly. 

The tour is self-guided through several rooms of the White House and you aren't allowed to take any pictures. However, you can totally take a virtual tour here if you want to see the rooms we went into. It was so awesome knowing you're in the same room our past presidents have been in. For instance, several of the presidents' family members were married in the East Room. Several items in the rooms were owned by the first few presidents. It was just cool taking it all in! 

This was right after our tour. As soon as you step out the
back of the White House, you are free to take pictures.

Though we won't do it again unless it is during the Christmas season, I recommend taking the time to tour the White House at least once. It is truly cool to see and it is worth the time and effort!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

DC Trip: The Library of Congress, the Capitol, and the Supreme Court

So prepare yourself, this is going to be a lot of pictures! I arrived and met Matt in DC on Thursday and then Friday morning we got up to be at the Library of Congress for opening at 8:30 AM. We were the first ones in and got to see the amazing building when there was no one else in it. It was definitely beautiful and it was especially cool to see the Reading Room. One day I will get to go in there and do some research, just have to figure out what! The LOC also has some really interesting exhibits, including one on Bob Hope, and a copy of the Gutenberg Bible.

Almost felt like I was back in Europe

Just stunning

The Reading Room

The Gutenberg Bible
After our tour of the LOC, we headed over to meet up with our tour guide for the tour of the US Capitol! Several months ago I had arranged through our congressional office tours of the White House, Supreme Court, and the Capitol. A few days prior to the trip, I get an email offering us a private, staff-led tour of the Capitol. If you get a chance, I highly recommend you take them up on this offer. We had an intern show us around parts of the Capitol the 'big' tours don't get to see and it was excellent getting to skip the lines, too!

The next few pictures were taken prior to our tour of the LOC,
around 8 AM, hence why there aren't throngs of tourists :)

Now inside the Capitol, this was the Supreme Court Chambers from 1810-1860
A replica of the Magna Carta 
Now THIS is what made the staff-led tour especially awesome. This is from the
Speaker's Balcony. That larger balcony below is where the president makes his Inaugural Address.
Inside the dome

The Old Senate Chamber from 1810-1859

And finally we went to the Supreme Court! This was more interesting than I expected and we learned all sorts of cool things about this building. Did you know it wasn't built until the 1930s? Until then, the Supreme Court met in the Capitol.

You could take pictures looking into the chambers but not once you were inside.

We were able to enjoy a rather informative 30-minute 'lecture' on the history and architecture of the Supreme Court. Again- highly recommend it if you're able!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

DC Trip: National Mall & Monuments

While wandering between the Smithsonian museums, it is inevitable that you will wander the National Mall. Dude. That Mall is WAY bigger than it looks on maps. It definitely took a long time to walk from one end to another (at least 30-40 minutes walking at our quick pace) so we definitely got our exercise on the trip! I wish we could have ran around parts of it in the morning hours as it was so pretty, but we ended up not having the time to do so. Oh well, next trip! 

This set of pictures also includes the monuments. We took a Monuments by Moonlight tour though there was less moonlight than if we had gone in a different season. The tour itself was awesome and we loved having the tour guide to tell us random historical points about each monument. Plus we didn't have to talk, so that was a plus!

One of our first views of the Capitol
On our tour, we didn't stop to see the Jefferson Memorial
unfortunately, so this is the best picture I got.

Part of the FDR Memorial

Where MLK Jr made his speech
standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial

Looking from the Lincoln Memorial towards the Capitol.
Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Korean War Veterans Memorial
Marine Corp War Memorial
The WWII Memorial

Looking towards the Lincoln Memorial. So many geese!

The Mall and the memorials are obviously quite picturesque and beautiful. They are also much larger in person than you could imagine and it is cool to look back and remember the history of our country. The different veterans memorials were particularly touching, so I highly recommend taking the time to visit them and don't just rush to the next thing.

Monday, July 28, 2014

DC Trip: Smithsonians

We knew going into our trip that as we only had 2 full days there, we weren't going to be able to see everything. We tried to prioritize the attractions we wanted to see and were happy with what we got to fit in. The only thing we missed was the Panda bears at the zoo, but it would have been too long of a metro ride to make it work. Oh well. 

Of course one of the things you have to do while you're in DC is see the Smithsonians. We visited the Air and Space, US History, and Natural History museums. All were fantastic though definitely crowded. I recommend getting there at opening! We arrived at the US History museum right when they opened and literally just walked through several exhibits to see what was in each-- they were all empty! Within 30 minutes it was a lot harder to see and read things in great detail, so it is good to prioritize what you want to do and see most. 

But enough text, here are the pictures with some commentary :)
First off, the Air & Space! And a Messerschmitt
Lockheed F-104 Starfighter; first US jet fighter to fly Mach 2
THE Wright Flyer
An assortment of rockets and other projectiles

Ha I made him :)
Something a little bit more up this girl's alley,
some pretty jewels representing my birthstone!
Natural History Museum. So many skeletons.
I spared you. You're welcome.

Back at the Air & Space briefly. Matt with the Spirit of St. Louis!
Matt wears so many shirts. This is with a very old
 fire engine at the US History Museum
THE lunch counter of the Civil Rights Era
I would love to go back and see those museums in more detail as well as the others that are there, but we're glad we got to see what we did. Plus-- they're FREE!!