Thursday, February 27, 2014

Walking the Mall and the Tidal Basin

This morning I left the hotel around 8:30am and headed out for the day. It was a nice beautiful day with no snow but it was still cold, around 32° when I headed out. I was hungry and I wanted some coffee so I stopped two block from the hotel at the West Wing Cafe for breakfast. While eating I looked at a map of the Mall and made plans for the day. I wasn't sure if I would get everything done or not but at least I had a plan. 
As I left the cafe I headed down D St. for one block and then turned onto First St. and headed for the Capitol. I didn't actually go to the Capitol but walked in front of it along First St. to the Ulysses S. Grant Memorial. I took some pictures of the area and then made my way to the United States Botanic Garden. They were having an orchid exhibit called Orchid Symphony. I took my time looking around and enjoyed the incredible variety of orchids. I took tons of pictures and also looked into other parts of the Conservatory - the Jungle, the World Deserts and the Medicinal Plants. I also took some time to find a letterbox here. You can read about that at Letterboxing in DC.  I finally left the gardens and started walking along the Mall headed west. I took my time walking, enjoying the area and made my next stop at the Washington Monument Book Store. I stopped here to get more National Passport Cancellation Stamps. I really wanted to see the monument but it is closed now. This is my second visit to DC and I wasn't able to see the monument the last time either. Last time they were doing renovations and this time they are completing repairs from an earthquake a couple of years ago. So after getting my stamps I continued on my journey. I made my way to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. The last time I was here I opted not to go to this museum - I wasn't sure I could handle it. But this time I made plans to visit and told myself it was something I needed to do. So here I was - ready or not.  I entered and went to the information desk, where I was kind of put off. One man at the desk asked me "What do you need?" and I thought to myself that I should say something totally weird. What did he think I was there for. So I said, "Well, I would like to tour the museum." and all he did was point to my left and said, "Go there.". I kind of felt like I was bothering him. So I just asked a woman that was standing at the far end of the information desk what I needed to do. She gave me much more helpful information and I was on my way. As I approached the elevators to make my way to the 4th floor for the Permanent Exhibition another woman told me to pick up an Identification Card that details the experiences of one person who was persecuted by Nazi Germany and its collaborators. So I entered the elevator with my card (which was for Julian Noga) and took the short ride up to the beginning of the exhibits. I exited into a somber, gray, black and white area with very soft lighting. This sets the tone for the entire exhibit. I spent a little over two hours walking through the exhibits. There is so much to see and read that I was overwhelmed and couldn't read every caption on every photo or item. Some things that stood out to me were - the railcar, the shoe exhibit, the tower of photos and the room where you can listen to survivor stories. I am so happy I visited this museum and I will definitely make plans to go back the next time I am in DC. I am sure I will pick up more information with each visit. If you are planning to be in DC I urge you to make time for this museum - it is truly life changing. At the end of your tour you can type the person's name from the ID card you have and see what happened to this person - they ask you to share your person's story in order to keep the history alive - so please read about Julian Noga. I left the museum and walked into a beautiful sunshiny day thankful for my life.

I made my way over to the Tidal Basin and found a bench to sit and have a snack and some water before continuing on my walk. After about 15 minutes I started walking clockwise around the Tidal Basin. My first stop was at the Jefferson Memorial (my second favorite President) and took some pictures, got my cancellation stamps and then sat on a bench and read the inscriptions around the memorial. I continued my walk and I made a little detour to see the Cuban Friendship Urn and the George Mason Memorial. Next I continued onto Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.  While I was on my walk around the Tidal Basin I did some letterboxing and you can read about it at Letterboxing in DC. I also stopped at the bookstores for the different monuments to collect more cancellation stamps. From the MLK monument I made my way back to the Mall and stopped at the Korean War Memorial and then went to the Lincoln Memorial. When I arrived at the Lincoln Memorial it was a little crowded and there were lots of loud, rambuctious kids. So I walked around to the back of the memorial and sat on the ground and looked out across the Potomac. After about 20 minutes I went back up to the memorial and thankfully most of the people had left. I read all the inscriptions and then sat next to one of the columns and watched Lincoln sit and stare across the Mall. It was so peaceful. I really admire this man and he is the one person I would love to have dinner with and get to talk to. A half hour later I decided I needed to continue on with my walk. I went to the Vietnam Memorial and the Women's Vietnam Memorial and then the World War II Memorial. I gathered more cancellation stamps and did a little more letterboxing and you can read about that at Letterboxing in DC.

It was now 5:30pm and getting colder so I decided to make my way back to the hotel. I had a nice walk along the Mall and decided to stop back in at the West Wing Cafe and get a sandwich to take back to the hotel. Thomas was at a dinner meeting so I ate and watched a little TV. Then I took a shower before writing this blog. I am feeling a little worse than yesterday - I am more congested and a little chilled and I am starting to cough a little. Maybe I shouldn't have spent so much time out in the cold. Oh well, I will take some medicine and get some rest tonight. We have one more day in DC.

No comments :