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07/09/2005: D.C. Day 1, Museums and monuments
We spent the night in the livingroom of Ken and Beth's apartment over the garage. Occasionally, we'd hear the dwarf donkeys or the horse out back. Pleasant rural sounds.
We had a blueberry pancake brunch there, and then the four of us took the 45 minute drive and half-hour Metro trip into the center of D.C.
Karen, Beth, and Ken are placid as Dan mugs for a snapshot aboard the Orange line of the D.C. Metro heading into town
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The Mall, bounded by the Capitol, the Washington Monument, and the many buildings of the Smithsonian and other museums, was covered by tents, canopies, and stages. These were left from the 4th of July shindig, and take weeks to clear out.
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My goal was to register for a special tour at the Smithsonian Castle, and then to see the new American Indian Museum. We trotted along the Mall in the hot sun, and then explored the too-cold-for-my-taste Indian Museum. We followed part of a tour, and then had a very nice lunch. I recommend this museum as a place to eat on the Mall (if you like any form of native food).
This stands in front of the National Air and Space museum. The most visited museum in the U.S. No, we didn't go in.
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See Karen (white hat) by some of the fountains beside the Native American Museum. Can you see the Raven in flight below and right of the center of the picture?
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I like the architecture of the American Indian Museum.
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Looking up into the huge, stepped dome of the Indian Museum. Note the heads peeking down from below the dome proper? That is a big dome
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Looking down from the dome to the foyer. Note the 2 different styles of Native boats? Notice the woven, hammered copper wall around the central area. Not the line approaching the security gate.
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After lunch, we looked over more of the museum, and then headed back westward. We stopped at the Holocaust Museum to see their special exhibit on medical experimentation. At the door, the guard had no sense of humor. The post-911 search at the Castle and the Native Museum seemed perfunctory compared to the going over at the Holocaust Museum. Karen even had to drink some of her water (I suppose to prove that is wasn't Nitro-Glycerin). This museuam is as unsettling in its design as the Jewish Museum in Berlin (that I saw 2 years ago) was. Distinctly creepy.
In the holocaust Museum. Note the long, dark corridor on the lower right. Note the harsh, not-quite-square angles. Note the dismal monochrome design. It's an eerie setting for the exhibits.
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I've always enjoyed looking at a single monument from a variety of perspectives:
Karen looks toward the Jefferson Memorial as the Washington Monument is seen between...
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Washington Monument from one of the bridges around the relecting pool
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Washington Monument from another bridge around the reflecting pool
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Yet another picture of the Washington Memorial
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The last picture of the Washington Monument.
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After the Holocaust Museum, we walked clockwise around the Grand Basin. So we did the new F.D.R. Memorial backwards. Toward the end (beginning) we came across an enthusiastic Park Ranger with a talent for story telling. Lowell Fry captivated us, and we followed him back from FDR's first term until his death (FDR's, not Fry's).
Karen cools her feet at the final fountain in the FDR Memorial.
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Karen wanted to pose with the dog, but a toddler had priority.
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Park Ranger Lowell Fry is an animated storyteller, and really gets into the controversies over FDR's tenure.
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The audience listens raptly to long stories with (almost) no visual effects, no background music, and no fancy, fast video cuts.
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Then we headed back to the Metro, and home to Ken and Beth's
Jefferson Memorial, taken from next to the first Washington cherry tree, the one that was personally planted by the ambassador to Japan in 1912.
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Blurred with speed, Karen and Ken again descend into the Metro for the long trip home (about 1¼ hours of train and car).
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