Thursday, September 30, 2010

Elk Neck State Park

Sunday we arrived at Elk Neck State Park in North East Maryland. It is another very pretty wooded state park. This next week is a little down time between our busy DC trip and our upcoming New England trip. My sister Kristi and brother in law Brock will be meeting us in the Cape Cod area on Tuesday and we have a lot of things planned for the 10 days they will be traveling with us. Elk Neck turned out to be even more of a down time than we planned. It is between the North East and Elk River and Chesapeake Bay and we thought kayaking might be in order. However, it rained almost the whole time we were there. A couple of the nights had quite a bit of rain in fact. On our last full day there, a ranger came by to give us a weather update which included a wind and possible tornado warning. The real problem could be a possibly of trees falling down as the ground has become so saturated. She recommended moving to a youth group area which is open and not surrounded by trees which we were. We decided to follow her advise as did one of our few rv neighbors. There was a large group tenting in our loop. Not sure how they did through all the rain.
                                                                          
                                                                       

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Washington DC Album

We took it easy on Saturday, working on computer. Leaving on Sunday with a short (2 hours) drive to our next stop, which is Elk Neck State Park, still in Maryland but near the Chesapeake Bay. Below is a slide show of our Washington trip.

Friday, September 24, 2010

National Gallery of Art

Friday we took the bus and subway into DC for the last time this trip. We decided to go to the National Gallery of Art.  There are two buildings, the West Building, which contains more traditional art work, including French 19th and 20th century, Germany and Italian and sculptures. An escalator takes you to the East Building,  to the more contemporary art work. Before we started looking at the art work, we had a bite to eat at the Garden Cafe Francais.
The Garden Café Français features a menu of French cuisine developed by award-winning chef Michel Richard in honor of From Impressionism to Modernism: The Chester Dale Collection. The Chester Dale Collection  includes paintings from  such artists  as Monet, Manet, Cezanne and Picasso among others. You could order a la carte or the buffet. We choice the buffet, which incudes breads, salade d'epinards, ratatouille, salade de cervelas, cheeses, chicken faux gras, daube provencale( a beef stew which was especially delicious and which we got a recipe so we can try it at home) and chocolate mousse for dessert. Of course we had a glass of wine as well in keeping with the French theme. Then on to walk off some calories looking at the art work. You can't take pictures of the art work but I took some in the East area where it was allowed.



We have had a great time visiting DC. It is still amazing that there is so much to do here and so much that is free to the public. We will definitely be back here sometime in the future as there is still much to see and do.                                                              

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Mount Vernon

We drove to Mount Vernon, which took a little over an hour. When George Washington lived here, it was a 8,000 acre plantation divided into five farms.  The farm where he and his family lived was 500 acres and sits right on the Potomac River. It includes kitchen gardens, deep border of woods, gardens, many paths for walking including down to the water. Washington was responsible for Mount Vernon’s distinctive architectural elements. He was far ahead of his time in regards to running his plantation. He started an innovative plan of crop rotation as well as introduced the mule to America in order to find an animal better suited to farm work than the horse. Of course there are also many exhibitions on his life as a soldier and politican and first President of the United States of America. We watched a film reinactment of how George and Martha met and a little of their life together.

Entrance to the Main House


View of Potomac from back porch

Some of the buildings , including kitchens, storage, livestock, livery

                                                                  

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

State Capitol

Our next destination in DC is the State Capitol. We got tickets(free) ahead of time for the inside tour. We were running a little late and just missed the bus by a minute and then missed the subway by a minute as well. So when we got off the subway, we were on a dead run  . It was a little farther than it looked but we got there in time. Then wouldn't you know it, they were running a little late anyway. We first watched a short film that tells of how the country established a new form of government, highlighting the vital role that Congress plays in the daily life of Americans and introduces the building that houses the US Congress. We then took a tour. We all had earphones so we could hear the tour guide even if we were farther back in line. Luckily we were one of the earlier groups of the day as by the time we finished this tour, the crowds were getting bigger.

The Rotunda, where state funerals have been held since time of Abraham Lincoln
Many other historic events have been celebrated here as well


The Old Hall of the House now servers as National Statuary Hall


The Old Supreme Court Chamber 1810-1860
 On our own, we then toured the Emancipation Hall, which was named by Congress to recognize trhe enslaved labors and craftsmen who helped built the U.S. Capitol.


Bust of Sojourner Truth, abolitionist and women's rights advocate. This bust and one of Rauol Wallenberg, who helped save tens of thousands of Jews during WWII, are of two people who fought against oppression and are placed right in front of entrance to Emancipation Hall


Plaster Model for the Statue of Freedom that tops the Capital building

We also took a tour of the Capitol Grounds. The Capitol is set within over 58 acres of winding paths, memorial trees and beautiful plantings that changed seasonally. The tour guide not only gave some of the history of the landscaping but told us about the changes/additions to the Capitol building and how they adhered to the original architectural plans. The Capitol Visitor Center is the newest addition to the Capitol and was constructed beneath the East Plaza and completed in 2008. The guide,  Tom Fontana, who is actually the communications and marketing director and just does the tours once a week  was very knowledgeable and very interesting. He had worked at the Pentagon and his last day before he came to DC was 911. He carry's a piece of the plane that crashed into the Pentagon to remind him to keep things in perspective when times seem a little tough going.
Another interesting day of learning more about our country and its history.




                                                                      
                                                                                                                                 

Monday, September 20, 2010

Smithsonian National Museum of American History

Monday was another trip to DC. Just amazing how much there is to see. After our last adventure at the Holocaust Museum, we were ready for something lighter today. And a museum that has Julie Child's kitchen in it seem to fit the bill. the National Museum of American History collects artifacts of all kinds—from gowns to locomotives—to preserve for the American people an enduring record of their past. The Museum has more than 3 million artifacts in its collection





the pictures above were from an exhibition called "Within These Walls". At the center of this gallery is a partially reconstructed house that stood for 200 years at 16 Elm Street in Ipswich, Massachusetts, about 30 miles north of Boston. The house and the exhibition that surrounds it tell the stories of five families who lived there over the years and made history in their kitchens and parlors, through everyday choices and personal acts of courage and sacrifice. Through their lives, the exhibition explores some of the important ways ordinary people have been part of the great changes and events in American. Other exhibitions were of the first ladies gowns, holiday decorations over the last few centuries, history of Abraham Lincoln and numerous others. You couldn't see it all in one day.

                                                                              
Abraham Lincoln Top Hat

Julie Child's Kitchen

Famous Red Shoes from Wizard of Oz

Section of lunch counter where African-American students sat at segregated counter in Greensboro, NC in 1960.
Normally blacks had to stand to eat. This protest grew and became common in the Civil Rights Movement that followed
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
                                                                         

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Kayaking at Pohick Bay

Sunday we decided to check out Pohick Bay Regional Park in Virginia. We were thinking of maybe staying there next. We took along our kayak gear in case we decided to paddle. It took a little over an hour to get there. Once you get off the freeway, it was a pretty drive. Drove along streets with many trees. The houses were very nice, many brick ones which we liked the looks of. We checked out the campground which was nice but not many on the water. We did decide to go Kayaking.
Didn't have our dry bags and so didn't take our camera out kayaking but above is a picture from one of the websites. Pohick Bay runs into the Potomac River. We kayaked in a different direction however. It was a nice relaxing paddle and we did get some upper body exercise and were able to give our legs a rest after all the walking we have been doing in DC. Tomorrow we will be back to more museums in DC.                                                    

Friday, September 17, 2010

Holocaust Museum

Another day in DC. We took our usual bus and subway ride and started walking to the Holcaust Museum. On the way, we spotted a farmers market and decided to stop and take a look. We had gotten a late start(not unusual for us these days) and it was already lunch time. One of the stands was selling empanadas. I got a chicken one and Joe got a Jamaician beef. We walked over to the National Mall park area and sat on a bench to eat them while people watching. the empanadas were both delicious. A great find.


                                                                     
We found the Holocaust Museum.   The Museum was created for education as well as remembrance. Many of the issuses raised by the cataclysmic event continue to have an impact on our lives and the world we live in. There are four floors. We first went through the Permanent Exhibition.  It presents a narrative history using more than 900 artifacts, 70 video monitors, and four theaters that include historic film footage and eyewitness testimonies. The exhibition is divided into three parts: “Nazi Assault,” “Final Solution,” and “Last Chapter.” The narrative begins with images of death and destruction as witnessed by American soldiers during the liberation of Nazi concentration camps in 1945. Some of the artifacts include an actual train car where people were transported to the Concentration camps. There was one that was just a pile of shoes and another showing the clothes with the stars the Jews had to wear to idenify them. An exhibiton on Anne Frank  and her family's unsucessful struggle to hide from the Nazi's was another. The most moving was the film of actual survivors speaking of their experiences during the war. It was heartbreaking and I am sure I wasn't the only one with tears in my eyes. We also toured a special exhibition titled State of Deception, the Power of Nazi Propaganda. It was a fascinating look at Hilter and his Nazi Party's masterful use of propaganda that transformed an extremist organization into the largest political party in democratic Germany. Propaganda as well as their use of violence helped the Nazi's win popular support and excluded Jews and others deemed to be outside the "national community". Others included social democratics, liberals, gypsies, homosexuals, Jehovah's Witnesses, communists and the mental and physically handicapped. We ended up spending the whole afternoon there and were among the last ones to leave as it was closing for the day.
It was a sad and sobering experience but we are very glad that we were able to see it.

After this, we decided to have some dinner and reflect on how lucky we are to be able to enjoy the simple things of life. We ate at a restaurant called 701 which is right next to the Metro Station stop we have been using. We sat outside which is right on a square where we can look at and hear the sound of the fountain in the middle of the square and people watch. The food was great. I had Olive Oil Poached Halibut with
roasted acorn squash, maitake mushrooms puree, mezzuna, ancho pepita brittle and Joe had the Seared Scallops with bacon, chanterelles, local corn, leeks, sorrel. We even had a blueberry tart with buttermilk ice cream and some after dinner drinks. We then walked down to the subway and headed home. A most interesting day.
                                                     Square near 701 Restaurant      

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Another Day in DC

Wednesday we took a drive down to Fort Washington as we were looking for a spot to kayak. It is not easy to travel by car. Lots of traffic and many different highways. Some of the GPS directions had us going on too many different highway/freeways. We finally did start to figure out the best way though. We ended up not kayaking but headed back and did some shopping. I finally got to go to a Trader Joe's :) We haven't seen any in all the some towns we have been through. This is the first since Santa Fe. Stocked up on some of our favorites.
Thursday We again took the bus and the subway into DC. There are a number of ways to get around the city, bus tours, trolley tooks and segways.
   We decided to go to the National Archives.It is our national record keeper that was created by statute in 1934. It safeguards records of all three branches of the Federal Goverment. In 1952 President Truman presided over the unveiling of the Declaration of Independence, Contitution of the United States, and the Bill of Rights in the Rotunda of the National Archives. For more than 50 years, visitors have come to this site to view these signed documents which are known as "The Charters of Freedom." Besides these and the Magna Carta there are Public Vaults that have stories from battlefields and also letters children have written to the Presidents. There are documents, recordings, maps and photos that tell the stories that made history. Another very interesting place to go.

We then made our way to the Air and Space Museum. On the way, we walked through the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden which was just beautiful. It is 6 acres of the Mall. It includes a central fountain (in winter , an ice rink) ringed by linden trees.
 
                                                             
Thinker on a Rock by Barry Flanagan


                                                                    We arrived at the Air and Space Museum which is dedicated to the many forms of flight and to space exploration. By the way there are 16 Smithsonian Museums and all most all of them are free to the public. Pretty amazing.
Capsule which held two astronauts.

                                                                                                                                   
The Wright Brothers famous plane

            
On the way back to the subway, we walked through the Gardens again.


Calder sculpture with silver tree sculpture in background

                                                                                                                                  


Waiting for our subway to head home


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Washington DC

Monday we left Gettysburg and headed to Cherry Hill Campground, which is in College Park, Maryland. We signed up through Sunday as we know there will be a lot to see. We may then go on to another campground in Virginia below Washington DC.  Tuesday, we decided to go into DC and see some of the sites around the National Mall. There is a bus that comes right to the campground and goes to the Metro station that will take us into DC. We purchased our bus and metro tickets right at the campground so we are set for the day. The metro subway is nice and very clean. It is definitely the way to get around. You want to avoid driving if you can as it is very crowded, as bad as LA or worse.
We got off at the station that is just north a few blocks from the National Mall area. People are very helpful. Several times when we had our map out trying to figure out where we were and where we wanted to go, someone would come over and asked if we needed help. How great!!

   We started at one end of the National Mall and walked to the other end where the Lincoln Memorial and some of the other Memorials are located.There was a large group of Veterans, many of which were in wheelchairs touring the Memorials to WWII, Korea and Vietnam



World War II Memorial

Washington Momument


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Reflecting Pool facing Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln Memorial

                                                                                                                                                                                                            


Vietnam Veterans Memorial
All the names of those who gave their lives and of those who remain missing are inscribed in the order that they were taken from us.






Nikki at the WWII  Memorial -All states are engraved in the columns
Korean War Verterans Memorial
A group of 19 stainless steel statues, created by World War II verteran Frank Gaylord, depicts a squad on patrol and evokes the experience of American ground troops in Korea.

We also walked over to the White House to take a few pictures. When we were at the Memorials, we saw a number of helicopters leaving and we assumed the President must have been on one of them.

Joe in Front of the White House

We didn't realize that in order to take a tour of the White House, you need to get advanced tickets and must go through your Congressman to get approved. We noticed a lot of security.  There will be large planters in front of entrances to the various State Capital buildings as well as cement barriers and columns to keep cars from crashing into the entrances. They even have a metal barrier in front of the entrances that are for cars that lower when approval has been given for the car to enter. Saw a police dog checking one car that was entering one area near the White House.
We certainly enjoyed our first day in DC and definitely got our exercise walking all over the place. Tomorrow we will go into some of the Smithsonian Museums.