Today is going to be a long busy day! We had a brief glimpse of the sights on the extensive National Mall route during our leg stretch last night but today we are determined to do justice to as many sights as we are able, and we set out with purpose first to the National Mall. Later we intend tackling elements of the Smithsonian Museums depending on time – museums are free on Thanksgiving. As we start a red brick bank reminds us that Christmas is just around the corner and that we’re running out of dollars.
After passing a Wells Fargo branch complete with a restored stage coach we are greeted by returning “5km Turkey Trot for Hunger” participants. We had every intention of participating in this event ourselves but it slipped our minds amidst all the other plans. A bit like a Park Run, same time-frame, eight to nine in the morning, and we missed it. These guys are only in T-shirts and it is bitterly cold with the wind blowing to such a degree that even Bernie buys himself a knitted hat with ear-flaps. They still stopped to allow a photo to be taken and in fact the lady even offered Martie her T-shirt as a keepsake.
The Americans certainly know how to dish up an array of striking edifices whether they be statues, monuments or buildings. The Treasury Building, Lafayette Square, The White House are all on our way to The National Mall. At this rate we may not get there before lunch.
Unfortunately, the White House’s perimeter fence is being replaced and can only be photographed from across the road. Probably the damage caused by Gerard Butler in “Olympus Has Fallen”?
The Dwight D. Eisenhower Executive Office Building is as impressive as its name would suggest.
Situated directly opposite is Blair House, where Abraham Lincoln offered General Robert E Lee field command of the Union Army at the start of the Civil War.
Washington is not only about men, and if you think this the DAR will give you a piece of their mind. They are hosting a huge quilt festival that unfortunately is closed today being Thanksgiving.
Another small memorial “In Memory of the Heroic Women of the Civil War”.
The founding fathers of America may all have been men but it was Queen Isabella of Spain and the Americas who sent Christopher Columbus on his way and the rest is, as they say, history.
Eventually after passing the red maple tree and the butler’s house we reach the WWII Memorial and The National Mall itself.
The Ellipse is a monument reflecting Americas participation in both the Pacific and Atlantic arenas of WWII and recognizes the part played by the individual States. The photo taken from the top of the Washington Monument best reflects the shape and layout of this magnificent memorial.
Martie reflects on the Reflecting Pool flanked by Constitution Gardens and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the right (north) and the Lincoln Memorial in the distance to the west.
After quite a long walk to the Lincoln Memorial we’re now reflecting on how far away the Washington Monument now seems to be.
There is a reason that statues and monuments are erected in honour of great men and women – they deserve it. The quotes and philosophy of Abraham Lincoln make one want to be a better person. One wonders how many followers he would have had on Twitter had it been around in his day?
Views across Potomac River, Arlington Bridge and beyond to the tree covered Theodore Roosevelt Island. Arlington National Cemetery is off to the left out of frame.
The Korean War Veterans Memorial is a very realistic portrayal of soldiers on point whilst the DC War Memorial is more like the park bandstand.
Because of the cold windy weather there are less people around this Thanksgiving than may have been expected and we are able to visit the Washington Monument after a brief but bracing wait. A few others seek shelter from the wind on the lee side of the monument.
The Washington Monument was built in two phases as funds became available with evidence that the sandstone building blocks for each phase came from different quarries clearly visible.
Our America the Beautiful Pass helps immensely in this instance and we are admitted free of charge without having pre-booked. What we have visited thus far this morning is now all seen in clear perspective from 555-feet up in the air. The Martin Luther King Jr Memorial is visible with views across the Tidal Basin to Jefferson Memorial in the south, the Lincoln Memorial in the west with The Capitol equidistant at the opposite end of the mall in the east.
The day is cloudy but clear with good visibility allowing for good photography.
The Martin Luther King JR Memorial is the white structure left of centre.
The view looking north with the White House left of centre. Our hotel is in the main street on the right, four blocks north of the White House – very convenient.
The Reflecting Pool and Constitution Gardens. Theodore Roosevelt Island is situated top of frame.
The view of The Capitol to the east flanked by more museums than even Martie could handle on the day. The Smithsonian Castle and the Air and Space Museum are on the right, the Natural History Museum and the National Art Museum on the left.
There is so much to see in what at first appears a confined area, but scale is deceiving, and we’ve walked about 12-kms already and built up a good appetite for “dogs” and hot chocolate at one of the many street vendors on 12th Street.
It’s now museum time and even Bernie is excited as we enter the Smithsonian Castle.
How the Smithsonian Institution came about is an interesting story. In short James Smithson was an Englishman who never visited America. He had a fortune that he left to his nephew with the proviso that if his nephew died without having children his fortune would be bequeathed to America for the purpose of starting a Smithsonian Institution. The nephew died heirless 6 years after James and we’re now standing in the resulting legacy. For more detail read below.
Next, it’s the Air and Space Museum. The sheer scale of the exhibits are mind boggling. The black and white rocket below is an actual V2 that was used in the bombing of London towards the end of the war.
Conjoined Russian and American space-capsules epitomize cooperation at an unprecedented international level. If only all foreign policy had this outcome.
A closer look at The Capitol
and the outdoor sculpture garden
Bernie opts to explore the Museum of Natural History next after a personal invitation from the local Triceratops.
His entrance is greeted by a fellow African creature. The largest full scale mount of an elephant in the world!
Strangely enough Martie opts for the National Gallery of Art.
We meet up again exactly at 17h00 as arranged to witness a truly magnificent autumnal sunset. We have walked 17-km so far today and we still have a 4-km walk back to our hotel. The romantic end would have been to have walked hand-in-hand back to our hotel but its far to cold for that and we step off briskly with hands securely stuffed deep in our pockets.
We have booked our Thanksgiving dinner at Via Sophia, the restaurant within the hotel, recently renovated and reopened. We ate pasta here last night and were delighted with the quality of the food, its presentation and the overall service. Since Donald wasn’t available for Thanksgiving Turkey after all, we booked this instead – a good choice.
A few beers and a couple of glasses of wine ensured a very enjoyable evening.