Sunday, December 13, 2015

More pics of Washington

view of WWII and Lincoln Memorials from the top of the Washington Monument

I thought I'd post some more photos of my last days in DC.  I really, really enjoyed my time wandering around this city.  It helped that the weather was pretty mild and that most of the museums do not charge for admittance.  It really helped that each day I would return to an apartment where an adorable kitten was waiting and Tim usually cooked a yummy dinner (with help from me, of course).  I really like a pedestrian lifestyle that living in a city with easy public transportation allows.  Made me miss Vienna like crazy, specifically getting around via trams and trains.

the Lincoln Memorial

We took the East Wing tour of the White House and thoroughly enjoyed it.  The rooms were incredible from the furniture and paintings to the chandeliers and wall colors.  We happened upon a White House intern giving information to a family and learned a few fun facts.  It was exciting to be in rooms where famous talks have been held, speeches given, diplomats and celebrities welcomed.  The Secret Service folks were nice and happy to answer questions - I even managed to make one of them chuckle.  The White House Visitor Center was quite special too.  We spent lots of time in there learning about the storied history of this iconic building.

She was an incredible woman, and I really admire her.  Her autobiography is currently in my eBook wish list queue. 

I found this to be a very peaceful place, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.  It's right along the Tidal Basin, it's well thought out with plenty of space to reflect and enjoy.  And then, of course, there is the knowledge of who he was, what he believed in, and what he accomplished in his lifetime.  Really enjoyed visiting this place.
one of several quotes engraved on the walls behind the memorial statue

The following photos are from The National Postal Museum.  By far, this was the least crowded museum I visited which gave me plenty of opportunity to enjoy every exhibit.  I loved this museum!  I learned about the Pony Express, how mail figured into the lives of African-Americans specifically during the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement plus the original art work for Black Heritage stamps, when and why zip codes became part of an address, how a misprinted stamp (Inverted Jenny) became an instant collector's item worth an incredible amount of money, how soldiers received mail in conflict zones and war time, how mail was sorted on trains carrying it across country, what stamps from around the world look like, and so much more.  I met a man who had been a Postmaster in Massachusetts who was proud to tell me a handful of stories.  I got to see one of Amelia Earhart's flight suits.  There is even a table where you can pick through old stamps and take six home with you for free.  Just a great experience overall. 

post office boxes from various countries

I'm always on the lookout for either Antarctic or Yellowstone-related history.  This was the first sheet of these stamps printed on September 29, 1933.  Admiral Richard Byrd (who pulled it off the press), the Postmaster General James A. Farley, and, later, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed this sheet of stamps.
While taking a rest in the National Gallery of Art, someone noticed me admiring the soaring ceilings and fountain in the rotunda and suggested I go to the Library of Congress.  He said if I appreciated architecture and decorative buildings, that is the place to go.  I had planned to, but at his urging, I became even more interested.  I was not disappointed!  Tim and I took a free tour and learned a great deal from our guide.  How and why the library was started and the hiccups along the way is fascinating.  The building itself - exterior and interior - is more than splendid!  So colorful and beautiful with interesting history behind the art (mosaics, sculptures, painted ceilings) throughout the structure.  It also offers one of the best gift shops of all the museums, galleries, etc. I spent time visiting.  This is one not to miss in DC!

The Renwick Gallery was the last museum I toured.  It reopened on my birthday after two years of renovations.  The building itself is extraordinary, and the exhibits were awesome.  Very, very glad I made it there.  

I wish I had better photos of this exhibit by Patrick Dougherty because it was fantastic.  The scent of willow surrounds you as you walk in and around these organic, woven, basket-like sculptures that feel like a cross between a tree house and the inside of a comfortable bush.  You could see the smiles on everyone's faces.  It just felt good to be in this space.

Jennifer Angus is the artist behind this next exhibit. Despite my slight fear of large insects, I really enjoyed this.  Maybe it was the pink walls or the fact that these bugs were for display.  If they were alive and moving, I'm pretty sure I would not have entered the room!  The cabinet is amazing.  I so badly wanted to look inside each and every drawer, but the security guard assured me only the open ones held objects.  I've asked my friend Norm, who is a carpenter, to make a replica of this cabinet for me.  He told me  that he is unable to as he is octagonally challenged.  Translation: "no way, Jose.  Go buy one."


I know this is a long blog post, but I couldn't end it without The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone by Thomas Moran.  It hangs in the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and it is breathtaking for both its size and beauty.  I sat on a couch in front of this for about forty-five minutes collectively during two visits.  I'm a complete sap, and it brought tears to my eyes.  As folks who read this blog know, Yellowstone is perhaps my favorite place on this planet.  It is also thanks to Thomas Moran in part that Yellowstone became the world's first national park.  His sketches, watercolors and later grand-scale oil paintings provided visual proof of the sights and landscapes many in the east thought were more mythical than real.  

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