Tag Archives: East Coast

Touring Washington D.C.–The Monuments

The US Capital

Our first stop was to get the rental car and head towards the National Mall. We wanted to go up in the Washington Monument so the first thing to do was get tickets which prior research suggested that they are gone by mid-morning. I dropped off my wife close to the ticket window and drove off to go around the mall and pick her back up. After getting some of the last tickets available we headed towards the capital with reservations for morning tour. The United States Capital Visitor’s Center is quite impressive once you find it under the Capital Plaza. Your tour begins with a short film about the Capital and then a tour of the Rotunda area. I was a little disappointed that was all the tour covered as the last time I toured the Capital Building we were able to find our Congressman’s office. That was pre 9-11 and much has changed regarding security so it is understandable.

The US Capital Visitor's Center

Under the Rotunda

The Rotunda Under Maintenance

After the Capital, the kids wanted to see the Library of Congress as it was difficult to imagine a building that can house all of these books. Most of the collection is kept behind locked doors so there isn’t as many books to see as they had hoped. A brief walk around the lobby which is quite ornate and then a quick view into the research area which resembles most libraries with shelf upon shelf of books. This area is protected with glass surrounding you as you walk through the observation balcony. There are a number of exhibits to see highlighting music and movies as well.

Visiting the Library of Congress

The Research Center of the Library of Congress

Being satisfied with exploring this library we decided to continue on to our next destination which was the National Archives. Getting something to eat from one of the nearby food trucks we stopped briefly before entering the line waiting to go in this building. At first there really didn’t appear to be much of a wait until we reached the entrance area. After finding the back of the line we weren’t sure if we should wait as it looked like it could take an hour or more to get in. Fortunately we stuck it out because the line moved fairly quick and we got to see the Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Declaration of Independence as intended for our Constitution Tour. Time to head back to the hotel for an hour of relaxing before heading back towards the mall for more exploring. The National Archives

Upon returning the the National Mall, we grabbed a quick bite from one of the numerous food trucks lining the streets and hurried to the Washington Monument for our chance to ride the elevators to the top and look out over Washington D.C. Just a reminder of you go to tour Washington D.C., there is a security check at most of the sights so don’t plan on bringing a lot with you. Through security and it was up to the top to view this area from the highest point in Washington D.C..  We enjoyed seeing so many historic buildings and monuments from this centrally located observation area giving a different perspective on the layout of this city. After spending time looking out in each direction and taking in the views from this point we descended and moved on to the night walking tour of the monuments ranger program.

Visiting the Washington Monument

North East South West

Our night tour began at the World War II Memorial which is relatively new. This was the first time I’ve seen it as it did not exist on my last visit to Washington D.C.. It is definitely a beautiful and peaceful memorial enhancing a solemn atmosphere surrounding it. As darkness continued to fall we approached the Vietnam Memorial which has added to the original memorial to honor those that served in Vietnam even though they may not have died during combat since I was last here. One of my uncles is named on this wall adding to its’ significance to me personally and has a profound impact on me each time I’m here. Our next stop on this walking tour  was the Lincoln Memorial. This is an impressive memorial just because of the shear size of it. Adding in the reflection pool and the Washington Monument in the background almost insists that you sit for awhile to contemplate our history that each of these monuments stands for. The last memorial on our night tour of the monuments was the Korean War Memorial. Another relatively new memorial that was being constructed on my last visit making this the first time I’ve seen it. During the day it captures imagines these soldiers endured but at night it looks quite different. I think the impact is higher when viewed at night because of the lighting and reflections that lighting creates.

World War II Memorial

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Lincoln Memorial

Reflection Pool at the Base of the Lincoln Memorial

Korean War Memorial

That concluded our one long day of touring Washington D.C.. There are so many other sites to take in that one day is not nearly enough time to take in all that is offered here. Again, our purpose was not to see everything possible but merely to get a taste of what’s to see. Also, there were plans to return for anther day or two later in our East Coast adventure.

Touring Washington D.C.–Arriving in Arlington

Arlington Virgina

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Washington D.C.? For many it is the US Capital. So of course that is where our journey started. Well, kind of. Let me go back to the previous night when we arrived. Our East Coast Adventure began after a full day of work on a Friday. After working most of a day we hurried home, gathered our luggage, and rushed to the airport for what seemed like a short flight of only a couple of hours to Reagan National Airport. We arrived as the sun was setting allowing us to look out over Washington at night. It was exciting to see the monuments all lit up from the sky signifying our arrival to this historic city and the beginning of another Monopoly Travel.

This was the most difficult portion of our board travels for me to get excited for. There are several reasons all of which include lots and lots of people. I tend to like quieter destinations with less traffic and parking issues. With such a popular area it meant that costs where going to be higher and traveling around the city and East Coast where going to be more challenging. Still, now here we where and the excitement to experience our nations capital and share that with our children for the first time had found us again.

The Washington Monument at Night

One unrelated reason this Monopoly adventure was a little more difficult to get excited for was that we are over half way done with our board and each trip brings us closer to the end of adventures that I love and don’t want to end. It’s almost like I created this great way to share experiences with my family that is beginning to cause some sadness and resentment. Why? Because I know that after our last trip our oldest daughter will be graduating from high school and our family will be changing after that. These adventures together will be harder to continue as the children go off in their own directions and that causes some sadness. All the more reason to take in as much as I can while I still have the chance and that reminder had to surface a few times on this East Coast Adventure.

Back to arriving in Arlington. Why Arlington? That’s where our hotel was located. Just a few blocks from the Iwo Jima Memorial. While waiting for our baggage we discussed our best options to get to the hotel. We could take a taxi which would be the easiest and also the most expensive or we could take the train which had a stop a few blocks from our hotel. Let’s go for the train since using public transportation in this part of the country is highly recommended. What a better time to figure out how to use it. In case it isn’t obvious at this point, I don’t use a lot of public transit. While we waited for the luggage I went to the station to get tickets and see which train we needed. That took about 10 minutes and I was back with the rest of the family waiting for our luggage. So, we found all of our luggage and continued towards the train, getting on the right line after calling the hotel to confirm which train we needed. Easy enough.

Arlington Map

Arriving at our stop we got off of the train and headed towards the exit taking a minute to look over a map to make sure we headed in the right direction. At the suggestion of our daughter, I took a picture of the map with my phone in case we needed to revisit it while walking to the hotel. Confident in where we needed to go we headed outside where it was completely dark and no way of knowing north, south, east, or west to get a baring of where we were. Use the phone GPS you say. Of course that would make sense. Hmm.. all of our phones are pretty much dead. Brilliant! I decided to save what little battery I had to look at the map from time to time and began to navigate the dimly lit streets of Arlington. After walking a few blocks I re-examined the map only to determine this wasn’t the correct direction. Not a good situation with a family of exhausted people hauling around all of our luggage up and down the hills of this city. Ok, back up the hill we just came down to the other side of this hill. After passing the train station again we found our way relatively quickly and got to the hotel in a few minutes more. What a relief! Bed is going to feel good tonight.