May 8…more sightseeing

May 8…more sightseeing

We have meet several people that don’t own cars here in Washington and wonder how they do their shopping, so we asked a young woman on the Metro.  Apparently all the stores have delivery services.  For a $ 5-7 fee, anything you could possibly want can be delivered to your doorstep even if you live on a 5th floor flat without an elevator.  This is a concept that is foreign to Californians.

Newseum…Defending the 1st Amendment

This is a must see for any Washington sightseer. It is not part of the Smithsonian, it is private and costs about $20 for a 2 day pass.  All material is presented from the perspective of the media.  One of our favorites, and so emotional, is a collection of all the Pulitizer Prize winning photographs and Photos of the Year.  Another was the FBI exhibit featuring stories about the Oklahoma bombings,, the Shoe Bomber, Boston Bombing.  They will take you up to a 6th floor patio in the largest glass hydraulic elevator in the world.  The unobstructed view of the Capital is breathtaking.

Kent State
Memorial Day Emotion – Arlington
Marine Coming Home

May 7 – C & O Canal bike ride (Chesapeake and Ohio)

We have been in Washington DC for 2 weeks now and a bit of a routine is emerging.  430 am sharp the birds wake up and announce the day.  The breeze is cool and the sun is shining through the trees…makes me happy.  Our GPS has taken us though some neighborhoods that would not be featured in a brochure touting WDC.  We have also seen the beautiful campus of The University of Maryland.  Washington DC is sort of like Disneyland, pleasing to the eye and very exciting, but there are a lot of plain and ugly tunnels under the surface.  “Beauty is only skin deep” comes to mind.  The real beauty is in the people we have met.

Today we stepped out of routine and went for a bike ride on the C&O Canal trail that runs 184 miles along the north bank of the Potomac River.  This canal was originally a business venture of George Washington AFTER the revolutionary war and before he became our first president. It has been preserved as an historic park and is there for everyone to enjoy…such beauty just outside our capitol.

C & O canal – original business venture by George Washington.
Potomac River Falls

Back in Long Beach and Aliso Viejo … grandchildren

Madi just finished her first year of college and has moved out of her dorm and back home for the summer.

Morgan is just finishing the most demanding year of high school and is starting to think about colleges.  A big shout out to her for high scores on her SAT  1420 out of 1600.  Go Mo Mo!

Rosie is doing what Rosie does with great flair.  She started teaching me how to do my makeup when she was 10 years old.  I never looked so good…problem is, I can’t duplicate what she does on my own.

Paige is recovering from her allergic reaction to penicillin.

She’s fine now!

 Dylan is playing baseball just like his dad, uncles, and grandpa.

Malia had her first dance recital.

Charlotte is preparing for her first birthday.

May 2-5…the running continues

The 4 days Christopher was here were spent showing him as much of Washington as possible.  His visit is almost a blur, but exhaustion and sore feet are solid memories. One of the 3 highlights was an evening tour of downtown Washington on the first real Spring day of the year. 

A few factoids:

WDC is the 9th city we have called our Capitol.

WDC is equal distance from North and South.

WDC is approximately 60 square miles in size.

The #1 Industry is Government  #2 is tourism

50% black, 40% caucasian, 10% other

Approximately 700,000 people reside in the district

Residents of WDC do not have a Senator or State Representative.  You will see some license plates that say “Taxation without representation”- probably so?

There are 19 Smithsonian museums (2 in New York) and all are open 7 days a week & free to the public.  They were founded by a man named James Smithson. He was awed by our great country, although he never stepped on our shore.  He left his considerable wealth to the used for the preservation of our country’s history and specified that it always be available to the people.  After his death it took Congress 8 years to agree on how to proceed with his wishes.  See – they were slow even back then!

The first building was built in 1849… The Castle.  The Smithsonian is the largest museum complex in the world.

The Smithsonian Castle. Dave Skorton’s office is in the far left of the building

    The entire city is built around the Capitol. North-South streets are numbered, East-West streets are letters & diagonal streets are states.  I am very directionally challenged…when I emerge from the depths of the Metro I never seem to reorient myself.

While riding the Metro, Doug thought he recognized a passenger in front of us.  He exited the train when we did, so I asked him if he were Tom Fitton.  HE WAS! We thanked him for the extraordinarily good job he has done as president of Judicial Watch.  I would have almost expected him to have a body guard.

The 2nd highlight was a private tour of the Capitol with our representative from Shasta County, Doug Lamafa’s, aide Andrea.

What a great and informative tour.  Because Congress was not in session, we were treated to 3 surprises, one being able to sit on the floor of the House of Representatives – where the State of the Union is held.  I think I sat in one of the seats that is occupied by one of the Justices of the Supreme Court. The second surprise was getting to go out on the balcony which is Paul Ryan’s at present and where Pope Francis was introduced to the US,  We got to see how the votes from each house are tabulated. The House of Representatives  are electronically counted and a board shows how each voted.  The Senate is more antiquated.  Each Senator has to physically go up and vote yea or nay with a thumbs up or down.  “Why” we asked…”because that is the way it has always been done”.  Where have I heard that before?  The last surprise was the original Supreme Court Chambers deep in the Capitol Building.

Dave Skorton is the Secretary of the Smithsonian. He runs the whole operation and reports to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Now that’s intimidating. I met Dave when I was a first year medical student – I was 22! We have known each other for 50 years!

After spending some time at both the Natural History & American History Museums, we had our 3rd highlight of the trip, a visit to The Castle and a brief meeting with the Secretary (President) of the Smithsonian, Dr. Dave Skorton.  Doug was his dorm advisor when he was at UCLA and tells the story of this crazy freshman kid and his friend that always wanted to look at his “bone box” from his anatomy class.  Dave went on to medical school and became a cardiologist and president of Cornell University when Matt (Doug’s son) was a student there.  He and Doug have kept touch over the years and we thought this a great opportunity to catch up.  He says one of his greatest challenges as Secretary, and the one thing he looses the most sleep over, is providing for the safety of the over 30 million people that visit the museum each year…imagine.  The security is certainly tighter than our last visit there several years ago.  There is definitely a security presence there.  If our experience is typical, we always felt very safe everywhere we went. 

He graciously showed us a couple of items in his private collection.  One was a hand ball that President Lincoln used frequently.  Another was the actual bat used in the movie The Natural.    The last was the actual leather helmet worn by Charles Lindbergh when he made the first transatlantic flight. Doug and Dave had a conversation about Lindbergh’s being credited for demonstrating the feasibility of the heart-lung machine. It’s amazing to think how that development changed the world of cardiology and created the field of cardiac surgery!

I was most awestruck by the fact that most of what we saw in the different museums were the ACTUAL items on display, not replicas. Abraham Lincoln’s top hat, the actual bullet that killed him, the portable desk that Thomas Jefferson used to pen the Declaration of Independence, and the table and chairs that General Lee and General Grant sat negotiating the end of the Civil War.

Foctoid…Present Taft (all 300+ pounds of him) was the only man to be the head of two branches of government, the executive and judicial (he was Chief Justice of the Supreme Court after he was president).

It is true that Thursday is the new Friday on college campuses.  We were looking for a Whole Foods and ran smack dab into the middle of the U of M campus.  It seems every student was out on the streets.

May 1…Hit the ground running!

How did we ever manage airport pick up before cell phones?  Our cell phones came in very handy for directions and ESPECIALLY when we would get separated in a museum.  Christopher arrived today at Dulles – hooray! 

We first whisked Christopher off to the Air & Space Museum giving us almost 2 hours to explore ( again). The best part was an almost private tour by a docent that actually retired from his job when this museum opened so he could do just this.  This time we explored the hanger housing the space shuttle Discovery.  This shuttle made 30 trips into space.

Then it was off to Georgetown via River Road, so he could see the beautiful homes, a quick dinner followed by cup cakes at the famous George Town Cup Cakes, and a walk up to the campus.

April 30th…The American History Museum & Trump International

What a fun day today.  We went to the American History Museum around noon.  We are finding that we cannot focus much more than 4 hours at a time.  We definitely have to go back because we only saw 1/3 of the offerings.  We enjoyed an hour tour by a very animated docent.  I particularly enjoyed seeing the official White House china used by the different First Ladies and the gowns they wore at the inauguration  Balls.  It was interesting to learn that each First Lady is allowed and encouraged to have her own style.  Some were very formal while others like Dolly Madison were quite informal and fun loving.  In some cases when the President was not married or widowed, a daughter or other family member or friend would serve in that place.  The question was also posed…what will we do with tradition when the first woman is elected President.  Hummm……Life is full of change and why am I just learning that? 

Factoid…the Smithsonian is the largest museum complex in the whole world

Trump Towers Lobby after we went through secret service screening! Somebody important was supposed to be dropping by. Just us! CNN was playing on the TV screens at the bar – surprise!!
I’m the veteran in Bonny’s life. Just doing a little promotion on the home front?
Julio Palmaz is credited with developing the coronary stent. We had the pleasure of meeting him at the Gaia and sharing a bottle of wine. Delightful gentleman.
Some of the key founders of Apple and Intel – back in the days!

After the museum was closed at 5 PM, I wanted to see Trump International Hotel, formerly the Old Postoffice Building.  What a treat that was.  First off we didn’t think we could get in unless we we guests there – no so!  There were police and Secret Service officers everywhere.  We think Paul Ryan was supposed to arrive.  We got in after a thorough Secret Service search, plopped down and decided to stay a while.  We had a bottle of Trump Red Wine and a cheese board…and settled in to watch.  People watching is pretty fun in WDC especially with a good bottle of wine.  BYW it was bottled in Montecello where Jefferson called home.  To his credit, the huge TV’s in the atrium were both tuned to Fox and CNN.  BTW…Paul Ryan didn’t show and our bottle was empty and the metro stops at 11…time to go.

Observations on the Metro.  Doug and I are pretty outgoing and not shy in starting a conversation with just about anyone we meet.  On the Metro NO ONE TALKS…granted it is very loud,,, but everyone is focused on a mobile  phone…no one  looks at other people…it is weird.

Christopher is arriving tomorrow for 4 days of nonstop touristing. He has never been to WDC before…Smile Smile Smile 

April 29…U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis

The largest dormitory in the world. Imagine calling this home for 4 years!

We were planning on going bike riding today but it is freezing!!!!  Not to waste a day, we bundled up and drove to Annapolis, home of the US Naval Academy.  The downtown area sits next to the walls surrounding the academy and, of course, on the water.  It is a busy and charming college town.  It seems that all the freshmen or plebes have to wear their full dress when they leave campus.  One of the factoids…the Naval Academy houses the largest dormitory in the world holding over 4,000 students and all their support facilities including kitchen and dinning area.  The Midshipmen have to live on campus their entire 4 years.  They are actually inducted into the armed forces when they start their freshman year.  Can you imagine being eligible for retirement at age 38? 


April 27…Air and Space Museum!

This was not at the top of my list, but so glad we went.  This is the 2nd Air & Space museum and is housed near Dulles Airport.  It contains major examples from the Wright Brothers to the Concord to military aircraft.  It has the actual plane-The Enola Gay-that dropped the atom bomb on Hiroshima.  This is all displayed in two enormous hangers.  We watched an I Max production on aircraft carriers that actually took you inside their huge engine and the catapult used to launch the fighters.

We also ran into several Los Angeles County Search and Rescue guys in Washington for training…small world.  A couple of them knew Christopher.

The Enola Gay that help end WW II by dropping the first Atomic weapon on Hiroshima on Aug 6, 1945. My dad was a major in the Army Air Corps at the time. I was born 35 days after this event!
Corsair on carrier landing final approach
Bonny and all her new LA County Firemen! Several knew Chris deMetropolis!
P-51 head on. Fastest U.S. fighter in WW II
Cobra on left and Huey on the right. I was able to acquire some flight time in both these while in the Army. I had 1100 hours of fixed wing time but 0 hrs in rotor wing. I thank those understanding Army pilots.

April 26…We got tickets to the African American Museum!

The newest of the Smithsonian Museums.  Although all the Smithsonians are free admission but some require timed tickets.  It is an attempt to limit the number of museum goers so all can enjoy their experience…as of today, tickets are not available until July.  They do provide a few “same day” tickets, but you have to call in at 630.  Doug is an early riser and bless his heart, he was able to get us tickets for today they also put the Veterans to the front of the line – nice move!

Our first adventure was to learn to navigate the Metro system, parking at a station about 18 miles from the center of WDC. This took us without a transfer to within 2 blocks of the museums.  One of the few sunny days had us eating at a cafe at the National Sculpture Gardens.  Factoid after I drank a large cup of coffee…the Metro system does not have bathrooms…not on the train or in the station…OH MY.  You actually have to exit the station.

Having been raised in Southern California and coming of age during the Civil Rights Movement, we find we were naive about the plight of African Americans – especially in the south.  The museum follows African American history from 1500-present.  The best history lesson I could have in the 4 hours we spent there.  Quite coincidently we came across Candice Owens and spent an evening watching her U-Tube productions and an extensive interview on the Rubin Report.  She is a liberal turned conservative black woman that is articulate and spunky.  Our prediction is we are going to be hearing a lot from this woman in the future. 

April 24…Washington DC

It is a cold and rainy day, but we are here at Cherry Hill RV Park.  Doug has out done himself.  We are here for 2 whole weeks across the road from the camp cafe, pools, and, most importantly, laundromat.  Spring is just starting to unfold in Washington and we will be here to witness it.  We have even spied a few Cherry Blossom trees.  What we think we will like the most is the fact that we can drive 10 minutes to a Metro Station that will take us to anyplace in the city. Hooray! Now to explore!

April 23…We made it to Waynesboro, VA

We are on kinda of a roll and traveled over 500 miles to Waynesboro, Virginia,  home of our former Long Beach  neighbors, John and Betty Loudermilk.  We were fortunate that they were available for dinner on Monday, but our favorite restaurant was not.   Not to worry, they took us to the neighboring town of Staunton. What a treat this was.  The buildings in the downtown are original and the town is charming.  I cannot think of anything I would enjoy more that being dropped there for a day of shopping.  This downtown is quaint and authentic, not catering to tourists. 

We did drive the Blue Ridge Skyline Road separating the Shenandoah Valley from the Pieadmont.  The trees had not leafed out and the valley floor was cloudy…in a few weeks it will be beautiful…today it was not.