Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Wonderful Washington DC area

We drove into the DC area to experience all it had to offer for only 11 days.  On our first day we hopped on the local bus for a half hour ride to the subway station and then another half hour ride subway to downtown DC.  The weather that day was expected to be 93 with high humidity…gulp…not good for me!  Immediately we went to the double decker bus and bought the deluxe…see everything in two days tickets.  Looking back we shouldn’t have done that because the next three days were the hottest and sweatiest I have experienced on this entire trip.  Unfortunately we couldn’t wait another couple of days to use the tickets (it had to be the two days in a row) so we sucked it up and just kept on going.  Of course we saw everything there was to see from all the Memorials to Monuments, National Cathedral, Capitol, White House, Arlington Cemetery, etc.   

Korean War Memorial
Martin Luther Memorial (don't know the was just hard to photograph without someone standing in front of it)
The second day we boarded the bus and continued with all the sites and finished off the day with a Potomac River cruise…whew. 
I think the picture is so funny because the pole on the boat is sticking out of the top of my head?

 We saw and did it all on the two day bus tour and went home completely exhausted and grumpy.  Decided it was too hot to go back on the third day, so we took the day off.  Unfortunately one of our A/C units didn’t work, the one working unit just couldn’t keep up with cooling the RV so we took off about 2 p.m. and went to a movie to get A/C.  (Did you know there is a statue of Willis Carrier in the US Capitol, the man who invented A/C in 1902… Bless that man!)

George really wanted to go on the night tour to see all the monuments and memorials all lit up.  It is a beautiful city with all the lights but this day it was too cool at night and I didn’t bring a sweater so I pretty much was uncomfortable the last half of the ride (sweltering one day, freezing the next!).

The next day we went to the National Museum of Art.  What a huge majestic building to house some of the great artworks of our world.  I have been there a couple of times before so I just breezed through (George went over to the National Archives instead) so I could go and see the traveling exhibit by a man named Serge Diaghilev (1872-1929).  He established Ballets Russes which revolutionalized the performing arts in Europe.  Twenty years, this pioneering company drew upon both Russian & Western traditions to thrill & shock audiences with its powerful fusion of choreography, music, design and dance.

From the moment I walked into the exhibit I knew I was going to be there a long time.  They showed the original costumes from the ballets in the early 1900’s and even some of the original backdrops (huge) for the stage.  Ongoing in each room were films of the ballets being performed by present day ballet companies .  What fascinated me was the detail of each costume.  If you have ever gone to a big production ballet or play you sit pretty far back from the stage so all the little details you can't see unless you sit in the first few rows.  My question was why would they do it if it didn’t show…possibly just for the artistic sense of feeling the part all dressed up…who knows?  Some of the costumes were even hand painted which really interested me. Unfortunately they didn’t allow any photography in the exhibit. While everyone else was flying through the exhibit, I took my time and spent almost an hour and half just soaking in the artistic atmosphere of that exhibit.  If it ever comes to Denver I highly recommend it.  If you want to see more here is a link to check it out

One of the days we took off and drove to Annapolis, MD to experience the Navy College.  What a cute little town built along the Potomac River with the college just almost right in town.  It was very crowded that day because it was parents’ weekend (which we didn’t know). 
  We took the 90 minute walking tour and saw what Annapolis Naval College had to offer. 

  All I can say is those navy men look so sharp in their white uniforms walking around…I can see why the girls in the area want to marry an Annapolis man…(hint:  ‘An Officer and a Gentleman” movie with Richard Greer).  One of the treats we got to experience was this BIG yacht that was docking while we were standing by the pier.  It had a full time staff of about four young people doing all the docking for that yacht.  The owner came out onto the back deck while we were standing there and I so wanted to say….”Hey, are you someone important?”  Nope, I didn’t ask, so I don’t have the answer.

On another day we went in just to see the National Air & Space Museum.  Yes, it takes a whole day to see that museum.  Lots of rockets, airplanes (Wright Brother’s), space capsules, Hubble space capsule, space suits, moon rocks, history of commercial airlines, WWI & WWII aircraft,  etc, etc, etc.  Lots of walking and looking and I was exhausted by the end of the day!

Our last day of our Washington DC adventure was to tour the Capitol building and the National Library of Congress Building.  The capitol of the US is surely an impressive piece of architecture and it was great to take the tour to see the original senate chamber where they met in the early 1800’s plus all the statues and pictures around the dome area and throughout the capitol.  A statue of John “Jack” Swigert, Jr. from Colorado is represented in the Capitol. It makes me proud to be an American and have this as our showpiece of government.  George was so thrilled because he got to see Senator Mark Udall standing in the hallway while we were walking on the tour.

Next, we were off to the National Library of Congress which is right across the street from the Capitol.  The only reason I wanted to go was because the tour bus driver said it was the most magnificent building in DC and is not to be missed.  I believed him so off we went to see this building.  When we walked into the building I was flooded with such an emotion of happiness as I took in all the beautiful colors & designs. As an artist, this building is a sight for my sore artist’s eyes for sure.  It is really hard to explain this building except to say that you can see it online at

My favorite part was the colors they used in the paintings that cover the ceiling in the main foyer. They ran out of money after finishing the building so they asked for volunteers to do the paintings.  The only payment they received for their work is each painting is copywrited so they could get money from reproductions.  I surely would have signed up for that job.  The paint colors were given to each artist (all the same colors for each painting) and the design, so no originality between the artists.  After the artists were done, they glued the canvases up on the ceiling to make the most magnificent design.  I love Art Nouveau so this really appealed to my sense of color and design. 

All the round pictures and the ceiling above is the hand painted canvases that were glued onto the ceiling.

Did not realize how extensive the library is because I found out it has over 152 million items that are stored in four facilities.  Wow!  You can find anything there.  They are starting to put everything into digital format to be read on the internet but so far they have only ¼ done due to budget cuts, etc.  You can get a library card there but you cannot check out any books there….they are used as reference materials only….only exception being the President or Congressman or Senator could possibly take a book out of the library.  I am so glad we finished our wild & crazy tour of DC with that building because it reminds me of the beauty in the world and how fortunate we all are to have art in public buildings.  Please do not miss this if you go to DC…it is well worth it and not too many people go there.
Yes, that is all marble...the lights at the bottom left are the tables you can sit at while viewing the books.

To sum up; we had a great time in DC and felt we saw a lot and have no need to go back any time soon.  We also were fortunate because the school buses loaded with children were not present at the DC museums and it was before the government shutdown…we were truly grateful!  I would like to see everyone go to DC just once (most things are FREE) because it is such a wonderful city with lots to see and do.

Happy travels,
Peggy (plus George and Coco)
Nothing cuter than a sleeping cat or a baby!

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