Capital City here we come!

Trip Start Aug 13, 2007
Trip End Nov 12, 2007

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Flag of United States  , District of Columbia
Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Caught the bus and then the subway into Washington D.C, it took about an hour. First impression as we came up out of the subway: beautiful old buildings and lots of greenery. We walked south from the subway (a friendly security guard helped us) and found the Mall easily enough. We were surprised that the grass was quite long (but then realised that's how they do it in Washington as there we plenty of guys mowing the endless amounts of lawn there, so they obviously like them long) and a bit patchy in places. It was amazing to catch our first glimpse of the Washington Monument at one end and the Capital buildings at the other. Leaves you speechless. After seeing these icons of America for so long in movies, tv, photos etc, to actually be standing in sight of two of the most famous... both Fred and I said it felt like we were dreaming that and Kate kindly offered to pinch us both, which she did! We walked through a perfectly kept garden of sculptures, both the kids were fascinated by some of the more unusual ones!
It was just lovely on the Mall, even with the smattering of tourists taking photos and joggers buzzing past. There is something so peaceful about the massive buildings that surround the Mall, with their fancy columns and domes, contrasting with the bright green grass and the dappled shade of the oak trees. We made a brief stop at the Smithsonian Castle, an impressive building which now houses an information centre. Of course we had our backpacks inspected by a security guard before we could enter...this is typical of just about every place we've been to in the U.S - though they didn't check our bags at Chocolate World,PA hmmmm... Anyway, a short stroll to the very impressive foyer at the National Air and Space museum. Rocket ships, aircraft & space modules etc hanging from the ceiling - quite imposing as you walk in! Highlights for me: The Wright Brothers ORIGINAL plane! The Museum of American History Display (the actual museum is closed till 2008, which was really disappointing for me as it was the 1 museum that I wanted to see). The display had things like: the real Kermit the frog, Abraham Lincoln's hat, George Washington's sword & uniform, R2D2 & 3PO (from Star Wars). Also watching Kate GLOW at being allowed to take photos with our digital camera (she must have taken over 100!!)
After a gruelling 3 hours of walking (we were stuffed) we left and let Kate & Josh have a ride on the carousel - a tradition in the Mall since the 60's. I chatted with a friendly guy from Minnesota while waiting in line. After the ride we hiked up the Mall to the Washington Monument, which is just as awesome up close as it is from a distance. Tomorrow we are going to try and get into D.C earlier so we can go up inside the Monument. We saw the Lincoln Memorial and Reflecting Pool from the Washington Monument and hopefully we will get closer to that tomorrow also. We trekked back down the Mall (with kids complaining...) and back to the subway system. Once back at the campground I took the kids to the pool (Kate has befriended a couple of girls from Baltimore that were there yesterday) and Fred bought home takeaway IHOP (International House of Pancakes) which weren't that great, but we were so hungry we didn't care.
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