Sunday, June 17, 2018

An Evening Tour Of Washington DC

Cherry Hill RV Park offers several tours of Washington DC.  It had been recommended by a friend of ours that their night tour was very good and worth while.   So, off we go.  We visit the US Capitol, the White House, travel the streets of DC while moving towards the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, the Koren War Memorial, the Vietnam Memorial and ending with the World War 2 Memorial.  The tour guide was excellent and did a good job describing each place, explaining the history as well as keeping up with all of us at night.

Crowds at the White House.

Ronnie spent more time discussing political issues with this protester.

This is the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. Built between 1871-1888, it houses most of the White House Staff including the Vice President's Office.

The Thomas Jefferson Memorial.
We learn from our tour guide that the black coloring is a 'mystery mold" growing on the marble. The Park Service is currently using a specialized high-tech laser cleaning method to get rid of it.

Next, we go to the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial.  This was such a wonderful memorial.  My night photography could not do the waterfalls, accompanying statues and carved quotes justice.  We want to come back to revisit this memorial.

This is one of several water falls symbolizing the important timelines in his Presidency's history.  They relate to the many dams initiated during this time to bring electricity to the rural areas of our country.

Walking along the Tidal Basin, the views across the water are inspiring.

Next, we come upon the Martin Luther King Jr Memorial.

It's really dark now so when we arrive to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, it really feels somber and sad.  Our tour guide reminds us to visit the two bronze sculptures accompanying it, The Three  Servicemen and the Vietnam Women's Memorial.
This Memorial is in honor of the Women and Nurses who served.  My photography skills only allowed for this one to be worth displaying.

We also visited the Korean War Memorial
but it is so dark I can barely see the 19 stainless steel servicemen statues representing an ethnic cross section of America.  Instead I feel my way by touching the relief pictures carved into the black granite wall.  Our tour guide tells us that the artist selected these many images, selected from over 2400 photographs owned by the Park Service, to create The Mural Wall.  Hopefully we can come back to revisit this Memorial during the day when we can see it better.

The Lincoln Memorial is impressive at night too.  It is way too dark for me to see so I stay put while several of the group walk up the Memorial steps.

Instead, I take photos of the Washington Monument reflecting in the water.

Our last stop, the World War 2 Memorial honors the 16 million people who served in the armed forces of the U.S. plus the 400,000 who died and all who supported the war effort from home.

Walking into this Memorial, you get a feel for the scope and magnitude of appreciation for our Nation's efforts for freedom and its cost.  Walking along the pathway, you view each tower adorned with a bronze wreath and the carved state's name.

The Memorial is especially moving to see at night.

Our time in Washington DC is about up.  I just did not have time to post about our visit to the Dept of Agriculture's Farmer's Market where we had the very best crab cake sandwiches and visits to the Museums of American and Natural History.  We also took day trips out to Annapolis, Georgetown, the Live! Casino and Mall, we relaxed at the campground pool and even managed to stayed home to rest and do some housework too.  It has been a full two weeks filled with good memories, more than we can describe.  We did not even begin to see all of the major points of interest here (ex..Union Station, Capitol Riverfront, Woodrow Wilson House, The Phillips Collection, Ben's Chili Bowl, Mount Vernon, Arlington Cemetery etc..) so hopefully we can return to explore more of what there is to see in Washington DC.

More Later.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

The Thomas Jefferson Building

Returning back to tour more of Washington DC, we can't miss the Thomas Jefferson Building.  This is one of three buildings that make the Library of Congress, which claims to be the largest library in the world.  The Library's collection of Thomas Jefferson's personal books, plus the other 164 million historical and contemporary items in some 470 languages, supports research for individuals, gives stages for performances, creates exhibitions, publishes teaching materials all while archiving, preserving and managing this vast information.  The Library of Congress was established to house "such books that may be necessary for the use of Congress" but over the course of 100 years, its archival collection and role have grown. The building opened to the public in 1897 with architecture and interior design that resemble something from the Italian Renaissance Period.  The embellished interior, with works by more than forty American painters and sculptors, holds a visual treat in every nook and cranny.  It was truly amazing!  The interior underwent an extensive renovation in the 1990's which I understand made a huge difference in the overall appearance.
Restoration of the Library of Congress

 Entering into the Great Hall, you are awed by the heavily ornamental walls, ceiling and columns.  Stained glass skylights, marble floors and sculptures are everywhere and almost overwhelming to the viewer!  We did not opt for the public tours since the crowds are huge and the noise is loud.  There are interactive kiosks that give info on the interior which we found helpful.  I did listen in on a couple of knowledgeable tour volunteers.

This is a closer look at the stained glass ceiling.
Great Hall, view of ceiling and cove.

Everywhere you turn, there is something capturing your attention. We see colorful ceiling murals, elaborate carvings, circular windows and famous quotes created in mosaics.

It is crowded today and it is a challenge to capture the interior without lots of people.  Everyone is just as amazed as us.
There are two grand staircases that flank the Great Hall, each one unique.

Symbolism can be found everywhere.  Adorning the marble staircases are 2 sets of young children that represent the people of the world.  Here, the left child represents Asia.  The one on the right, Europe.

On the opposite staircase, you find two more children.  The one on the left, represents the Americas.  The child on the right, represents Africa.

This Commemorative Arch, with the young and old man, is called The Students. It  symbolizes life-long learning.

Passing under that arch, you look up and view this incredible mosaic

Here is my small photographic tour of all that I saw this day while visiting the Thomas Jefferson Building.

Thomas Jefferson's personal books.

The Gutenberg Bible, one of the Libray's greatest treasures. It's noted for being the first book printed using moveable metal type in Western Europe. (1450's)

Sometimes it was a real challenge to capture with my camera the grander of the long, spanning colorful ceilings. With my basic skill set however, I try to give it my best effort.
Stopping by one of the windows, I get this great western view of the US Capitol.

This is the Main Reading Room Overlook.

This is a view of the Reading Room's beautiful dome and its elaborate decorative detail.

This impressive mosaic mural was stunning.  It is called the Minerva Mosaic.  Created by the artist Elihu Vedder, it is made of marble, glass and gold-leaf.  The scroll listing fields of study is partially unfurled to symbolize the ongoing quest for new knowledge.

While resting on a bench after touring the various display galleries here, this quote gets my attention.  I could not agree more.
There is no way I could write a complete description of our time here.  These are just a few of the photographs I took.  We gained a lot of knowledge and really enjoyed our experience. We want to thank our RVing friends, John and Suzanne for recommending we visit this building. It was wonderful.

Ronnie and I take the underground passageway/tunnel from the Library of Congress to the US Capitol Visitor Center.  We get some lunch in Capitol Cafe and we are ready to do some more walking. 

We don't have tickets for visiting the Viewing Galleries for the Senate or House of Representatives but we can enjoy its exhibit halls.  Standing in the center of the Exhibition Hall is the
Plaster "Statue of Freedom" .

The bronze one adorns the top of the US Capitol.

When we leave out of the US Capitol, we notice really tight security.  Secret Service Men and US Capitol Police are everywhere as well as blocked off taping and orange cones.  After inquiring from one of the policemen, it seems the President of Costa Rica is leaving the Capitol and the black motorcade to the left belongs to the Vice President.
Motorcade belonging to the President of Costa Rica
Close up of the Costa Rican President's main motorcade car.

We have enjoyed another fantastic day experiencing the sights and sounds of Washington DC.
More Later.