Posted by: vikingsinspace | June 21, 2010

I.2.01.03. Visit Washington D.C.

Date Accomplished: Summer 2008

The White House

My father often lamented that myself and my sister had managed to visit some of the great capitals of Europe such as London, Paris and Rome, but had never visited the capital of our own country: Washington D.C.  Sadly, I don’t have any pictures from that first trip with me (which I think was in 2005), but I have plenty from a second trip we went on in the summer of 2008.  This post is most likely going to be a combination of memories from both of these visits.

I don’t recall the weather of the first trip being too conducive to sight seeing (in fact, I have a particularly strong memory of a torrential downpour soaking all of us), but the second trip had very nice, if hot weather.  My father’s side of the family holds a reunion every five years, and D.C. was chosen for the location for the reunion of 2008.  I had flown in from London to be there, and was able to meet most of my family at Dulles Airport.

Names on the Vietnam War Memorial

The stay consisted of the regular things one would do in Washington: marching up and down the National Mall to look at the monuments, visiting the various Smithsonian museums and trips to the capital building.  We were particularly fortunate because my father had arranged through our congressman to get a tour of the capital building, including time spent in both the Senate and on the floor of the House of Representatives.  We later spent some significant time outside at the Vietnam War memorial looking up some of my father’s friends who had died in the war and thus had their names carved in the wall.  The Vietnam War Memorial really does present an excellent and moving visualization to commemorate the war, and as depressing as it may be, it is well worth a visit.  But I would have to say of all the memorials in Washington, the Jefferson Memorial has to be the nicest in my opinion.  The location is superb and the Greek revival architecture, while the epitome of the buildings of central D.C., out does itself in this memorial.

Mount Vernon

Yes, I had fun in D.C., but the highlight of the trip came from just outside the city in the home of George Washington: Mount Vernon.  It is a beautiful drive out to Washington’s estate, going south along the George Washington Highway.  The museum inside Mount Vernon could be a little hokey at times, but it gave an excellent illustration into what an amazing and inspirational figure the first president of the U.S. was.  Outside the main structure, the lands have been preserved to still function in Washington’s time, and other structures are being created which would have been there in the eighteenth century.  If I could recommend one place to go in D.C., it is without a doubt Mount Vernon.

Colonial Williamsburg

Aside from this, there was another highlight that wasn’t inside D.C., but a place we stopped by on our drive back west.  Colonial Williamsburg is another must-see.  This town has been faithfully restored and preserved as it was in the days leading up to America’s independence.  I won’t say much more about it since it’s not really the topic of this post, but I will say that it is well worth a visit, and the food is excellent (including some of the best ale I have ever had in my life – and I’m currently living in England!).

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