A Day of Museums

17 May

Day 11, Saturday, May 11, 2013

Well, the weather report had said that Saturday was going to be a rainy day, so I planned ahead of time that this would be the day we’d do both the Smithsonian’s American History Museum and Natural History Museum. I had hoped to be done with the American History by lunch, eat lunch, and then head on over to the Natural History Museum, but by lunch we had only finished ONE of the three floors! I decided we’d eat lunch and then cover the rest a bit quicker, but it was probably at least 1:30 or 2:00 before we finished seeing the American History Museum, and that was with half the museum closed for renovations! It was interesting, but sadly lacking a lot of the things I remembered, or had hoped to see. I didn’t even realize until just now the Foucault Pendulum is gone! I looked it up and found out it was removed in the late ’90s.

The Natural History Museum was going to be open to 7:30pm that day, but I really didn’t want to stay there until closing. We started off at the gems and minerals, and spent quite a bit of time looking at those. Then I checked the time and realized how much time we had already spent there, and knowing there would be a lot to see and that it would take forever, I figured we would have to move pretty quickly. Basically, we chose exhibits we’d just sort of “fly through”, where basically we just walked through looking quickly and not really reading or doing a whole lot, and then ones we’d decided to spend more time on, looking and reading the things like you normally would.

The mammals and animal bones were things we basically just flew through, we spent a bit more time on the insects/critters area and the human bones, and then a good portion of time on the dinosaurs (completely skipping a larger section, which was on the evolution of man.)

It was still a busy, informative day, but it was a lot less tiring and stressful than walking the city and hopping the metro several times throughout the day.

Day 12, Sunday, May 12, 2013

On Saturday night my son asked me what we were going to do Sunday and asked, “Are we going to Arlington?” I told him I had kind of forgotten about Arlington. Ouch. This was a big “required” destination on our trip, because he was required to do a report on a subject pertaining to Washington, and his chosen subject for the report was Arlington Cemetery. I had told him there was no way I would have him do a report on something and then not be able to actually go, so going there was a MUST. It had been on my list of things to do previously, it was just one of those things that slipped my mind, so I for-sure decided to do it on Sunday so we couldn’t forget, somehow miss it, or just plain run out of time and end up not seeing it.

I decided on a more leisurely morning, getting up a bit later and getting out of the hotel a little slower, and off to Arlington we headed. Arlington even has its own Metro stop, so this made it easy to get there. Once inside the Visitor’s Area, a woman at the desk whipped out a map and marked where all the important/popular sites in the cemetery were, which was nice. We headed out the door in the direction she had pointed us, and then saw a sign showing the way as well, when I saw a tram that people were riding and asked about that. Since we had been told the walk would have been about 20 minutes, the price for riding the tram seemed like a bargain with all the walking we had been doing, so I paid the fare and we hopped aboard.

The first stop was the Kennedy gravesite area and the eternal flame – which was really a temporary flame because they are currently making some changes to the actual one. We also wandered a bit and made it up to the Lee home. We also were able to see the gravesite of L’Enfant, overlooking “his city”, since he designed it. After touring the house we hopped back on the tram and eventually got off at the Tomb of the Unknown soldier and got there just in time to the see the full changing of the guard and a wreath ceremony. My son also wanted to see a few of the other notable things Arlington had to offer so we walked quite a bit, seeing a few things he wanted to see, and missing a few we couldn’t quite find.

By the time we got out of Arlington it was pretty late in the day. I was a bit shocked at the time actually, because I was thinking overall we’d spend an hour or so there, and ended up spending about half a day. I guess I didn’t realize exactly all there was that made it what it is that we had to see and do. We still hadn’t eaten, and after a few failed attempts of finding somewhere decent to eat, we basically called it quits for the day. That was okay though. We had already had several long days, and I was pleased we had adequately spent time at Arlington.

Day 13, Monday, May 13, 2013

Oh no! Our last day to spend in Washington, D.C. because Tuesday we were going home. And we still had so much to do! There were several memorials and things to see that I had planned to see after Arlington that we had hoped to get to on Sunday and obviously never did. We still hadn’t been to the Library of Congress. And we had hoped to get to other things as well. I basically roughly planned things out and hoped for the best.

We headed out for the Library of Congress first, in hopes of getting into a tour. I didn’t realize it was basically open to anybody who showed up at the right tour times, and we happened to luck out and get there 10 minutes before the first tour for the day at 10:30am. It’s a beatiful place and my son was able to ask a few good questions. I think he’s too young to fully appreciate the architecture, but I saw him taking a few pictures here and there, so a few things caught his eye. He really wanted to see the small Children’s room or section of the library, but I told him we had to pass on that one for the day.

As I explained before, we accidentally missed seeing the Petersen home (where Lincoln died) when we went to Ford’s Theather previously. We headed over that way to eat and then head towards the Petersen home that we accidentally skipped before in hopes of getting in, and after explaining our situation to the woman, she let us in so we could get the full experience of the tour. We probably should have spent more time in there after getting in, but we were ahead of a large school group of kids that were behind us, and I didn’t want to be “pushed along” by them or hold up the line, so we kind of just did a quick walk-through, which I somewhat regret, but we got some pictures and got to say we saw it and have been there. There was also an education center that we checked out some things that. The thing that left the biggest impression on us there was the huge stack of books showing how many books had been written about Lincoln. It was huge!!

We had a lot more to do for that final day, so off we went. We managed to make it to see the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Vietnam Women’s Memorial, the statue of Einstein, and then Iwo Jima. We also made a final entry into the Smithsonian Castle. Somehow, sadly, we missed the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial (how we missed this I have no idea, I’m pretty sure we were close to it a few times!), and didn’t get to a few of the museums we had hoped to go to (The Newseum, and The National Geographic Museum, and possibly either The Crime or The CSI Museum), but overall I felt we did a fairly good job in seeing almost everything we had hoped to see in the time we had to see it.

As we stood waiting for the subway to hop on to make it back to the Metro station so we could get in the car and drive back to our hotel, I told my son that that was going to be his last subway ride for the trip. I looked back a minute or two later and he looked like he was going to cry! He really liked our trip to Washington, D.C. and was so disappointed we had to leave.

It was a busy, crazy trip ladies and gents, but I’d highly recommend it as an awesome educational opportunity. Pictures to come…

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