A Travellerspoint blog

Visit to Mt Vernon - home of President George Washington

Half day tour to Mt Vernon and a visit to the National Air and Space Museum

An early start today to catch a Grayline Tour to Mt Vernon, ancestral home of George Washington. but before I write of this, here are some phots not included yesterday due to a technical glitch.

After Lincoln's Memorial we visited the Korean War memorial. This is probably my favourite. The statues sculpted as a platoon of 19 soldiers reflect in an etched granite wall polished like glass to make it appear as though there are really 38 figures. They represent the 38th parallel between North and South Korea.
National Korean War Memorial  - 19 soldiers in the field and the granite wall nearby shows their reflections to make a total of 38 representing the 38th parallel

National Korean War Memorial - 19 soldiers in the field and the granite wall nearby shows their reflections to make a total of 38 representing the 38th parallel

National Korean War Memorial - the reflections of the 19 statues of soldiers can be seen in the shiny granite

National Korean War Memorial - the reflections of the 19 statues of soldiers can be seen in the shiny granite

At 7.30 am we set off for Mt Vernon. As some of the roads were cut off because of the running of a marathon, we took a circuitous route to travel to Mt Vernon. The old port town of Alexandria is about 10 miles out of Washington. George Washington had a Town House (still in good condition in Old Alexandria and only a block away from the childhood home of General Robert E Lee (the former General from the Confederate side in the Civil War). General Lee married George Washington's adopted grandson's daughter Mary Custis Washington many years later. ( It seems it really is a very small world, after all.)
Mt Vernon Mansion - view from the rear

Mt Vernon Mansion - view from the rear

Mt Vernon Mansion - view from the front porch

Mt Vernon Mansion - view from the front porch

Mt Vernon Mansion kitchen

Mt Vernon Mansion kitchen

Mt Vernon Mansion - George Washington's coach

Mt Vernon Mansion - George Washington's coach

Mt Vernon Mansion -  George Washington's Tomb built <br />1830

Mt Vernon Mansion - George Washington's Tomb built
1830

We don't normally talk about what is known to some as "the smallest room in the house" so I thought I would include a photo of what was termed "The Necessary", in other words George Washington's toilet.

Mt Vernon Mansion  - the Necessary

Mt Vernon Mansion - the Necessary

Mt Vernon Mansion  - George Washington's Privy

Mt Vernon Mansion - George Washington's Privy

In GW's day the estate was some 8 000 acres and the original house was built by his grandfather. George Washington married a wealthy widow, Martha, who had two young children. George and Martha did not have any offspring together. Many years after George had passed, the property was left to a great grandnephew who put it up for sale. A group of ladies led by a 37 year old housewife, Ann Cunningham got together 12 other ladies and called themselves The Mt Vernon Ladies Club and raised the $200 000 dollars to buy 200 acres and the Mansion. This was an incredibly large sum of money in those days. This group is self funding and still controls the property.

Apparently, George Washington preferred to think of himself as a farmer who loved innovation and technology. He also didn't mind being a General and didn't see the role of President as being other than his civic duty.

The property is still run as a functioning farm. The excellent maintenance of the property is very evjident. A superb education centre and museum provide excellent displays. Many original items and the interactive displays and presentations are well worth the time to visit here.

George Washington was born on 11 February 1732 and died in 1799. He was the inaugural President of the United States and really set the example and rules for future Presidents. After his 8 years as President he returned to his beloved Mt Vernon for 2 plus years before dying of what they think is Epiglottitis. At the age of 67 he spent 5 hours in the snow and rain supervising work on the property and came down with a severe cold and died in the ensuing days.

We returned to Washington at lunchtime and travelled to the National Air and Space Museum. This Smithsonians Institution has excellent displays including the original Apollo Space Command Modules, WW1 and WW2 aircraft. There is a replica Hubble Space Telescope and we went to see the Hubble 3D at the IMAX Theatre.The National Air and Space Museum hubble Space Telescope

The National Air and Space Museum hubble Space Telescope

The National Air and Space Museum Apollo 11 Command Module

The National Air and Space Museum Apollo 11 Command Module


The National Air and Space Museum V2 Rocket captured WW2 Germany

The National Air and Space Museum V2 Rocket captured WW2 Germany


The National Air and Space Museum

The National Air and Space Museum


The National Air and Space Museum Amelia Aerhart's aircraft

The National Air and Space Museum Amelia Aerhart's aircraft

Tomorrow, it is all about the American Civil War. We are off to Gettysburg.

Posted by Kangatraveller 15:46 Comments (0)

A beautiful day in the sun

Memorials, Madame Tussaud's and a cruise on the Potomac River

What a day!! It started with a clear blue sky and a very fresh cool wind. It settled down though we wished we had taken heavier coats with us today.

We caught the Red Loop Bus from Union Station (built in the 1920's at a cost of $125 million which is approx $3.2 billion in today's dollars).
First off was the newly opened Dr Martin Luther King Memorial.

Dr Martin Luther King Jr Memorial with massive blocks of granite

Dr Martin Luther King Jr Memorial with massive blocks of granite


Dr Martin Luther King Jr Memorial - sculptor's signature dated 30/12/2010

Dr Martin Luther King Jr Memorial - sculptor's signature dated 30/12/2010

Most of the memorials are clustered together in the National Mall. The National Mall is administered by National Parks and is nearly 3km long from the steps of The Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial. The Capitol is aligned to the Lincoln Memorial some 3km away with the Washington monument is a little past midway between them.

Pierre Charles L'Enfant designed Washington as a capital city. Brasilia in Brazil and Canberra in Australia are members of this very select group of cities designed from scratch as the capital. Street are numbers from north to south and letters from east to west with the city divided into quadrants with the centre being The Capitol.

A long curved wall contains famous quotations of Dr King.

Next we walked down through Constitution Park (part of The National Mall) to the National World War 11 Memorial.
National Korean War Memorial - sculptures of soldiers<br /></p><p>After this we walked through to the Lincoln Memorial. This was opened in 1922. There are 36 columns for the number of states when Lincoln was President. The names of the 48 states are engraved around the top. These were the states when the Lincoln memorial was built. Alaska and Hawaii were added later.<br /><img class=

The Lincoln Memorial showing the Saturday afternoon crowd on front steps


The Lincoln Memorial view from front steps through to the Washington Memorial with the WW2 Memorial at the end of this pool

The Lincoln Memorial view from front steps through to the Washington Memorial with the WW2 Memorial at the end of this pool

The next visit was to the National Vietnam War memorial. The design competition for this was won by a 21 year old female Chinese American university student. It is simply outstanding. There are 58 282 names on the wall in chronological order for when they were killed.

National Vietnam War Memorial - statues near the Memorial Wall

National Vietnam War Memorial - statues near the Memorial Wall


National Vietnam War Memorial with 58 822 names on those who lost their lives on the wall

National Vietnam War Memorial with 58 822 names on those who lost their lives on the wall

One boundary of The National Mall is Constitution Avenue. It started as a canal and after it proved uneconomic (and people dumped their rubbish into it) it was filled in and paved and became an 8 lane avenue. The original Loch Keepers Cottage built in 1831 still stands.
The Loch Keepers Hut built 1831 on Constitution Avenue

The Loch Keepers Hut built 1831 on Constitution Avenue

Further along the street is the South Lawn of The White House.
The White House, South Lawn viewed from Constitution Avenue

The White House, South Lawn viewed from Constitution Avenue

We caught another bus on a different loop and after a very delicious lunch at Le Pain Quotidienne we visited Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum which features all the Presidents of the USA. I met one whose views were certainly different to mine.

Madame Tussauds Wax Museum where David meets the immovable George W Bush

Madame Tussauds Wax Museum where David meets the immovable George W Bush


Madame Tussauds Wax Museum where Colleen eyeballs J Edgar Hoover

Madame Tussauds Wax Museum where Colleen eyeballs J Edgar Hoover

Just up the road from Madame Tussaud's is Ford's Theatre where President Abraham Lincoln was shot on 14 April 1865. He was taken to Peterson's house across the road and died in the early hours of 15 April.

Ford's Theatre, Washington - scene of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln

Ford's Theatre, Washington - scene of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln

Late in the afternoon we went on a river cruise on the Potomac River. The steps in the foreground are named the Watergate Steps. Close by is another complex known as The Watergate. This became famous during the presidency of Richard Nixon.

Lincoln Memorial from the Potomac River

Lincoln Memorial from the Potomac River

Tomorrow, Mt Vernon, here we come. This is the ancestral home of George Washington.

Posted by Kangatraveller 19:00 Comments (0)

The Big Bus Tour of Washington DC

The best way to get a very good overview of what to see and where it is!!!

This morning we set off to Union Station to board the Big Bus Red Loop which took us back to the Capitol, the Smithsonian Museums and on to the Washington monument. The Washington Monument is an obelisk on the National Mall in Washington built to commemorate George Washington, the first American President. Construction began in 1858. At 555.5 feet it isthe world's tallest obelisk. It is still undergoing repairs from an earthquake that shook Washington in 2011.
The Washington Monument 555.5 feet tall with a base 55.5 feet - the tallest obelisk in the world

The Washington Monument 555.5 feet tall with a base 55.5 feet - the tallest obelisk in the world

We changed buses to take in a tour of Arlington National Cemetery. We spent about 4 hours or so here. There are approximately 400 000 people interred here and the 671 acres are expected to be full by 2025. The property was originally owned by George Washington Custis Curtis, the adopted grandson of George Washington who left it to his daughter Mrs Robert E Lee.

When General Robert E Lee resigned in 1861 and the Civil War started federal troops occupied the property and a tax was placed on it. As the taxes were not paid the property was confiscated by the government. Mrs Lee's Rose Garden was used as a cemetery and much later in 1884 the property was returned to her heirs. They declined to live there (something about the garden) and sold it to the government for $150 000. 671 of the original acres make up Arlington National Cemetery.

Entrance to Arlington Cemetery

Entrance to Arlington Cemetery

When President Kennedy was visiting Arlington a week before his assassination he was heard to remark on looking across from Arlington House to the Washington Monument , "I could stay here forever." And so he shall.
Kennedy Memorial

Kennedy Memorial

Kennedy Memorial

Kennedy Memorial


Unknown Soldiers Memorial - a very sombre and impressive ceremony conducted in absolute silence from the crowd

Unknown Soldiers Memorial - a very sombre and impressive ceremony conducted in absolute silence from the crowd

In recent times, all headstones are now a regulation size and are owned and maintained by the US Government. The most decorated soldier of US forces in WW2 has a standard headstone as he died in 1971. for those of us with very long memories we would remember this soldier as Audie Murphy the cowboy movie star who is probably better known as the most highly decorated US soldier of the war.
Changing of the guard at the Unknown Soldiers Memorial  - actually there were four unknowns from WW1, WW2, Korea and Vietnam - now there are three as they identified the vietnam soldier through DNA.

Changing of the guard at the Unknown Soldiers Memorial - actually there were four unknowns from WW1, WW2, Korea and Vietnam - now there are three as they identified the vietnam soldier through DNA.

Memorials are in place for the Challenger and Columbia Space Shuttles.
Challenger Shuttle Memorial

Challenger Shuttle Memorial

From here we travelled to the Pentagon Mall, a large shopping centre near the largest building in the world, the Pentagon. after lunch we went back to the Washington Monument to catch a different bus to Georgetown. The conductors on these buses really have a very interesting and entertaining commentary.

On the way we saw the Ford Theatre where President Abraham Lincol was assassinated. The assassination of United States President Abraham Lincoln took place on Good Friday, April 14, 1865, as the American Civil War was drawing to a close. The assassination occurred five days after the commander of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, General Robert E. Lee, surrendered to Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant and the Union Army of the Potomac. Lincoln was the first American president to be assassinated, though an unsuccessful attempt had been made on Andrew Jackson 30 years before in 1835. The assassination was planned and carried out by the well-known stage actor John Wilkes Booth, as part of a larger conspiracy in a bid to revive the Confederate cause.
The Lincoln Memorial

The Lincoln Memorial

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Georgetown is a fascinating place as it is the oldest section of Washington.
Georgetown street scene[img=https://photos.travellerspoint.com/568282/oldest_hou..eorgetown_1.jpg caption=Oldest house in Georgetown

Georgetown street scene[img=https://photos.travellerspoint.com/568282/oldest_hou..eorgetown_1.jpg caption=Oldest house in Georgetown

We visited The White House....well sort of...given you cannot take a tour or get close to it.
The White House north view (Pennsylvania Avenue is closed to traffic in front of The White House) with a person of no fixed abode in the foreground

The White House north view (Pennsylvania Avenue is closed to traffic in front of The White House) with a person of no fixed abode in the foreground

Along the way today we saw the Mayflower hotel which apparently was the daily luncheon place of choice of J Edgar hoover and his Deputy Floyd.
The Mayflower Hotel has  a bar called Edgars in memory of J Edgar Hoover who knew there was such a thing as a free lunch for close on 40 years

The Mayflower Hotel has a bar called Edgars in memory of J Edgar Hoover who knew there was such a thing as a free lunch for close on 40 years

We are off for a second day of Big Bussing tomorrow. The day after we are off to Mt Vernon, birthplace and home of George Washington. On Monday we are taking a tor down to Gettysburg.

Posted by Kangatraveller 19:29 Comments (0)

First Day in Washington DC

Order of the day - skip breakfast, sleep in to 10.00am and visit The Capitol

We woke to a fine day that was very much like a Brisbane day.
Our unit on the corner of C Street NE and 3rd Street NE, Capitol Hill

Our unit on the corner of C Street NE and 3rd Street NE, Capitol Hill

Union Station sign 4 blocks this way

Union Station sign 4 blocks this way

We walked the four blocks to Union Station for lunch.
Union Station, Washington DC

Union Station, Washington DC

The National Mall viewed from The Capitol

The National Mall viewed from The Capitol

Out the front of Union Station is located the Freedom Bell and the Christopher Columbus Memorial.
The Freedom Bell

The Freedom Bell

Christopher Columbus Memorial

Christopher Columbus Memorial

We walked the three blocks to the Capitol.The Capitol Building

The Capitol Building

There is a wonderful view from the steps of The Capitol down through the National Mall to the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. the US Grant Memorial sits in front of the Senate Reflecting Pool.

General Ulyses S Grant Memorial

General Ulyses S Grant Memorial

Peace Memorial with Capitol Building in the background

Peace Memorial with Capitol Building in the background

Colleen and I headed down the National mall to the Smithsonian Museums. The Smithsonian museums are the most widely visible part of the United States' Smithsonian Institution and consist of nineteen museums and galleries as well as the National Zoological Park. Seventeen of these collections are located in Washington D.C., with eleven of those located on the National Mall. The birth of the Smithsonian Institution can be traced to the acceptance of James Smithson's legacy, willed to the United States in 1826. Smithson died in 1829, and in 1836, President Andrew Jackson informed Congress of the gift, which it accepted. In 1838, Smithson's legacy, which totaled more than $500,000, was delivered to the United States Mint and entered the Treasury. After eight years, in 1846, the Smithsonian Institution was established.
We need to prioritise which of the museums we will go to. Two of those we are sure to visit are the Air and Space and the Holocaust Museum.

Today, we visited the national museum of the American Indian.
National Museum of Indian History

National Museum of Indian History

National Museum of the American Indian

National Museum of the American Indian

Inuit Snowmobile, National Museum of the American Indian

Inuit Snowmobile, National Museum of the American Indian

Sculpture in National Museum of the American Indian

Sculpture in National Museum of the American Indian

]

We plan to walk down to Union Station by 9.00am tomorrow to take the 48hour Big Bus Tours around Washington. These will give us a good overview to go back and visit highlights such as The White House and Arlington National Cemetery.

Posted by Kangatraveller 17:09 Comments (0)

Reno to Washington DC via Dallas Fort Worth (DFW)

Most of the day sitting in a plane or an airport

We left home this morning at 5.00am and arrived at Reno-Tahoe Airport in 15 minutes due to very little traffic. The airport was quite busy and we were a little sad to leave. This was in contrast to our arrival five days ago when we were met by Bill and Ann amidst a small group of flag waving family and supporters welcoming home a Detachment of the Nevada National Guard on home from rotation in Afghanistan.

After arriving at DFW (2 hours ahead of Reno time) we had a 2 hour stopover before we left at 2.30pm for what should have been a three hour flight to Baltimore, Washington DC. The plane taxied out to a runway and sat for half an hour before the captain said we had to negotiate another flight plan and we didn't have enough fuel. So..... Back to the terminal for another hour and a half to refuel.

Dallas Fort Worth Airport - 4 terminals with a monorail and a cut lunch needed to get from one to the other
Dallas Fort Worth Airport - 4 terminals with a monorail and a cut lunch needed to get from one to the other

Dallas Fort Worth Airport - 4 terminals with a monorail and a cut lunch needed to get from one to the other

Flying in the US is relatively cheap. The average age of aircraft is considerably higher than in Australia. All of our flights with American Airlines so far have been in older narrow bodied DC9s.

We finally arrived in Baltimore Washington Airport at 8.45 pm. Luckily we had arranged transport into our accommodation. Our unit is quite nice and is very handy to the centre of Washington just off Constitution Avenue.

As we hadn't eaten for quite some time we went to the Union Pub around the corner at 10.30pm. We have now decided to order one meal between us as the portion sizes of just about everything here are enormous. The drinks special was 5 bottles of Budweiser Beer in a bucket of ice for $10.

Posted by Kangatraveller 06:12 Comments (0)

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