Friday, October 07, 2011

New York City to Wasington DC

Pouring rain, traffic jams, a lack of vacant taxis and a difficult hotel location transport wise did not make getting to Penn Station very easy for our train trip to Washington DC.
But the Amtrak journey to the capital was fast and comfortable despite some flooding on the line.
We faced yet another traffic jam getting to our hotel in Arlington. The weather was beginning to play havoc on the east coast. It would seem that the combination of remnants of tropical storm Lee to the north, tropical storm Nate in the Gulf of Mexico and hurricane Katia in the Atlantic was going to produce heavy rain over a number of days.
First task in DC was the get Kelly to Georgetown for her DC Cupcake hit.
Then it was back to Union Station for a quick bite to eat and onto a night Monuments Tour. The weather was not conducive to a pleasant evening but the guide did the best he could. In any case it was a great orientation tour for the following days. We drove past the White House, the Capitol and other grand public buildings as well as the Pentagon with stops at the Iwo Jima and Lincoln Memorials. Passengers had the chance to visit the Korean and Vietnam Memorials but the rain was now torrential so there were not many takers. The Jefferson Memorial and new Martin Luther King Memorial were already cut off by flood waters and the Washington Memorial had been damaged by an earthquake the month before and was closed.

Next morning during breakfast we agonized over whether to do our outside or inside agenda due to the weather conditions. We selected the latter which in hindsight was the completely wrong decision.
We bought our Metro tickets and headed for the National Mall and the Smithsonian museums. Again we all had different 'interest zones' so split up.
The first stop for the co driver and me was the National Museum of American History.
The first exhibit to catch our eye was the Star Spangled Banner. Mary Pickersgill's flag is much bigger than I expected (30'x42') and considering what it has been through since 1813 is in fairly good condition. One could imagine the sight of it flying over a smoking Fort McHenry in Baltimore the morning after the British failed to take the port and withdrawing inspiring Francis Scott Key to write what was to become the USA national anthem.

Then we were off to see the Julia Child's kitchen. Watching the videos of her can be mesmerising in a weird sort of way.
Then I headed off to see "Americans at War" concentrating on the Revolution and Civil War, "Science in American Life", 'The American Presidency" and "The Struggle for Civil Rights". You cannot imagine how wonderfully comprehensive and informative these exhibitions are. Mental overload was creeping in so we met up for lunch in the museum's cafe'.

A short walk away was the beautiful National Archives building. Here we did a quick stop to view the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights in the magnificent rotunda. Security getting into this building was the strictest we came across.
From there we went our separate ways again, the co driver to the National Gallery of Art and me to the National Air and Space Museum.

I had had my fill of planes and space vehicles in a shorter time than expected and still had two hours to fill before meeting up.
The new National Museum of the American Indian was next door and apart from being a distinctive building the tribal exhibits inside are magnificent. I was surprised when suddenly it was closing time and they were politely clearing visitors out. Time had just flown!

We took the Metro back to Roslyn and met the other two returning travellers on the long long escalators that bring commuters up from the platforms to the station concourse. They are the third longest in the world.
I wondered what would happen if they were ever out of service. Next day we found out. You walk up!!!!!

It had been a long day with LOTS of walking. 'Tired' is a five letter word.
That night we had a rather good chain restaurant meal at Ruby Tuesdays across the road from the Hyatt plus a couple of bottles of wine before heading for bed.

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