Atop the dome.
After leaving the Rotunda, we passed this door. It reads, "Speaker of the House. Nancy Pelosi."
The amazing coffered ceiling.
Car of History clock.
Liberty and the Eagle.
Robert E. Lee
I can truly say, I had rather be at Mount Vernon with a friend or two about me, than to be attended at the seat of government by the officers of state and the representatives of every power in Europe.
GEORGE WASHINGTON, letter to David Stuart, Jun. 15, 1790
I had never visited Mount Vernon and therefore made it an important goal during our DC vacation. I immediately recognized why George Washington love it so much.
It was a lovely day - sunny and fair - and the house and grounds were some of the nicest I've visited.
First, we entered the Visitor Center.
Life of George Washington stained glass.
Dollhouse and ghost me.
After looking at this amazing dollhouse replica of Mount Vernon, we watched a short movie on George Washington.
Finally, we were permitted to make our way to the house itself.
Looking downhill from the house.
The house from afar.
Can you believe George Washington planted this tree? And I touched it!
Sorry, no photos allowed in the house.
Porch facing the Potomac.
After seeing the house, we walked towards the gravesite. First, though, we passed many outbuildings.
The Wash House.
Come along, Mom!
The tranquil gravesite
Above the tomb.
Inside the tomb.
George Washington sleeps here.
On the way back to the house, we passed the barns and noticed some runaway lambs. Then, my lambs escaped, also.
The gift shop was wonderful and extensive; I could have spent the day there. They had postcards and an inexpensive guidebook to alleviate my pain at not being allowed to photograph the interior of the house.
More Mount Vernon photos are at Flickr.
Across the Tidal Basin.
Though it had rained all morning and puddles were everywhere, it didn't rain while we were at the Memorial.
Here is the Portico.
This is the top of the Portico. Jefferson drafts the Declaration of Independence.
Here are the children inside the Memorial. See the wreaths some people bring?
This is a better view of the bronze statue.
Inside the Portico.
Looking between the pillars of the Portico, you can see the White House and the Washington Monument across the Tidal Basin.
Another view of the Washington Monument.
Here is the Memorial's cornerstone - laid by FDR in 1939.
This is a side view of the Memorial's circular colonnade. Notice the Ionic capitals on the columns.
This is a very rare "Buddy" column.
As the sun set, the fog rolled in to the city.
Some more photos from the Jefferson Memorial are at Flickr.
Afterwards, we drove to Old Town Alexandria and had pastries in a little bakery there.
On the third day of our vacation, we took the Metro into DC and went to the Air and Space Museum. It was rainy and cool, so it was a good day to spend indoors.
Here are the kids being silly on the Metro.
The Air & Space Museum is very large and has two stories. This is a view from the second story.
Here are some rockets.
Now here's something cool: The Spirit of St. Louis...
Look! My hometown is part of an exhibit.
See it larger here.
We liked the World War I exhibit.
We also liked the Wright Brothers exhibit.
There was even a very interesting aircraft carrier exhibit.
As you can see, the kids really loved the Air & Space Museum.
Because of the rain, we had to eat in the museum cafeteria. It was insanely expensive, as was the gift shop. But the kids were thrilled, which made H and I happy.
After the museum, we took the Metro back to our hotel.
After resting (from our exhausting visit to Arlington National Cemetery) and eating at our hotel, we got in the car and drove into DC to explore the city. Perhaps because it was a cold and windy Sunday afternoon, we were able to find free parking across the street from the Washington Monument. We decided this would be a great time to walk around the National Mall. (Properly, the area we explored is called the Constitution Gardens; however, I've always heard it called the Mall.)
Right after we walked across the street to the Washington Monument, we saw Marine One land at the White House. Here are Marine One and the Washington Monument.
Here is Marine One flying over the city as it leaves the White House.
After watching documentaries about Marine One, it was wonderful to see the real thing in action.
Here are the kids standing next to the Washington Monument.
They're bundled-up because the hot day turned chilly.
We left the Washington Monument and walked towards the Lincoln Memorial, but first we came to the World War II Memorial.
The Memorial is divided into an Atlantic Theater and a Pacific Theater. Because my grandfather fought in Europe, we were more interested in the Atlantic Theater section.
Though I do not love the WWII Memorial's design, it did have some good features.
Here is a look back towards the Washington Monument.
After the WWII Memorial we came to the Reflecting Pool.
This adorable duck family followed us the length of the pool.
At the end of the Reflecting Pool, we finally arrived at the Lincoln Memorial.
Naturally, the kids reached the top of the stairs first.
When I reached the top, I remembered I'm acrophobic, but that didn't stop me from seeing Mr. Lincoln.
When we safely made it down from the Lincoln Memorial, we wound our way around to the Wall, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
We took this photo of the kids there, beside The Three Soldiers.
I wasn't sure if it was proper for the children to smile in such a solemn place but they simply couldn't help being happy alongside representatives of our noble servicemen.
As we walked along the Wall, we spotted this letter from a soldier who came home - to a comrade who didn't.
I think the Wall is the most emotional and somber area of the National Mall. Unfortunately, we passed some teenagers who made rude comments about the memorial aloud and this greatly upset S.
After the Wall, it was dusk so we made our way down Constitution Avenue and back to our car.
After leaving Yorktown, we got stuck in the worst traffic jamb I've ever seen. For hours, we barely progressed towards DC. Finally, we made it to DC, coming in by the Pentagon, and saw the Washington Monument looming before us as the sun set. It was a lovely sight. We were all so giddy, it's a wonder we didn't crash right there. Thankfully, we made it safely to our hotel in Maryland. H got a wonderful deal over the internet and we are still so proud of the great hotel he found us for such a low price.
The next morning, we caught the Metro to our first DC stop: Arlington National Cemetery. By the way, we travelled a lot on the Metro during our vacation and found it to be safe and clean.
This is a view as we walked from the Metro station to the front gate of the cemetery. You can see Arlington House up on the hill. Arlington is huge. Wear your most comfortable shoes and bring a water bottle. I recommend you allow for at least half a day in the cemetery. We did and still missed much.
These are the gates of Arlington National Cemetery. One happy son and one slightly cross daughter. What? Am I taking too many photos, Dear?
Arlington is very hilly and everywhere you look you see tombstones. We also saw many robins.
Before you climb the highest hill to Arlington House, you come upon the gravesite of President John F. Kennedy, his wife and two of their children.
Everywhere during our vist to D.C., we saw Tulips, Cherry trees, Dogwood trees, and Robins.
A patch of loveliness amongst the solemness of Arlington.
Here is Arlington House - home to George Washington's grandson/adopted son. It was also home to General Robert E. Lee (though it belonged to Lee's wife, not him). See the long line of people waiting to enter? Unfortunately for us the National Park Service is currently restoring the home and it is now empty, but we were still able to go inside and take a look.
Can you imagine being a child of Arlington House and playing upon this hill?
Up on the hill is also the grave of Charles L'Enfant, designer of Washington, D.C.
In the background you can see the Washington Monument on the left, the Capital Building in the center, and the Jefferson Memorial on the right.
Also on the hill are the gardens.
Next, we went back down the hill to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
And here is one more photo, this time of the kids with a statue of Sir John Dill.
There are a few more photos of Arlington at Flickr.
After all this walking, we took the Metro back to our hotel for a bit of a respite.
After we left the Jamestown Settlement, we travelled the long and tranquil Colonial Highway. The Colonial Highway connects Jamestown Settlement to Yorktown, with Colonial Williamsburg betwixt the two. It is the scenic route and is 23 miles long. If you visit the Historic Triangle, please take the time to travel the Colonial Highway. It is worth the time. I enjoyed it so much that I forgot to take a single photo.
After getting some lunch, we made it to Yorktown. It's a tiny, tiny village and looked as though some people still live there. We were there for the battlefield area so we skipped the quaint antique shops and tea houses.
Yorktown had fewer visitors than Jamestown Settlement. There was a Late Colonial village.
Here is S trying not to chase a Helmeted Guineahen.
This is one part of the inside of a Late Colonial house.
And this is the other side of the house.
After making our way through a great museum on the American Revolution, we came upon a re-creation of an American camp in the Revolution.
This is the inside of an officer's tent.
All of these people are looking at the star of the show -
The young lady on the left was telling all about the cannon.
And here the cannon goes, "Kaboom!" The sound wave was so strong that it shook my camera.
Thus concludes our first vacation day.
My favorite part of the Jamestown Settlement was the Powhatan Village area.
D & S got a chance to dig out a canoe the Indian way. A fire smolders in the log and burnt areas are scraped out with shells. This young woman was very nice. She said this was the largest canoe yet made at the living museum. I believe she said it had taken many months to get this far in the progress. We had to drag the kids away from this.
This young woman had an audience and she explained all about Powhatan cooking. She also mentioned that many many people prefer to cook with bear fat. I believe she was cooking corn cakes.
Here are two wigwams - no teepees for the Powhatan.
Here is a view inside a wigwam. Gourds and tobacco hang from the rafters. A bed is on the bottom right. A fire area is on the bottom left. In the background, are shelves of pots and firewood. The left wall (not seen) of this wigwam had bows, arrows, and baskets.
Here is S holding a shell to be used to scrape the fur off the deer skin. Several skins were stretched in this manner around the Powhatan area and we were encouraged to help clean them.
After the Powhatan Village, we entered the visitor center where there is a great museum on Jamestown. Unfortunately, we could not linger in the museum because we were hungry and had tickets for another area of the Historic Triangle.
After all day on the road, we finally arrived at our first destination: Williamsburg, VA. Our plan was to spend the next day somewhere in the Historic Triangle. I was given the task of choosing between Jamestown, Colonial Williamsburg, and Yorktown. After much debate I concluded we would probably enjoy Jamestown Settlement and Yorktown the most. Before driving to Jamestown, however, took a drive around the College of William and Mary. It's a lovely school and I remarked that I didn't know why anyone would want to attend any other college. To which my husband replied, "Money and snow." Oh. Right.
Here are some of our photos from the fort area of Jamestown Settlement:
This is a tower erected in 1957 to mark 350 years since the founding of Jamestown.
Here is S as he leads us into the fort:
I was really quite surprised at how large the James Fort was.
I did not expect that the colonists would be able to construct such a sizeable fort.
There were many wonderful living history reenactors at Jamestown Settlement. Everyone kindly answered all of our silly questions, such as why every board in the fort was covered in Roman numerals.
This patriotic gentleman gave a wonderful demonstration with his weapon.
The children were allowed to try on "real" armour.
We went into the colony's church.
We also watched nails being made in the forge and spotted some Latin on the wall. Click the picture for my poor translations.
Jamestown Settlement is so large that I am dividing it into three parts. The next part will be the ships.
I'm lucky to have a husband who enjoys vacation planning. He takes care of all the details and I just pack and show up.
There's been one trip H has wanted to take for years - Washington D.C. - and the stars finally alligned recently to make it possible.
We waited 'til nearly the last minute to tell the kids; we didn't want something to change our plans and then have to tell the kids we couldn't go. That would be too cruel.
Long before dawn on Friday, April 17, we loaded our minivan up and began our long trek north.
And because we are the worst parents ever we took photos of the kids at every state border.
We didn't drive straight to DC, though. First, we made a stop at a special location in Virginia.