The Awesome Grand Tour (Kevin's Title)

Trip Start Mar 22, 2013
Trip End Mar 30, 2013

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Flag of United States  , District of Columbia
Monday, March 25, 2013

We were up pretty early (for retired people)...8:00.  Headed down to breakfast, then back to the room to get ready for our busy day.

We met our guide, Vivian Portner and our driver Ibrihm (I think).  And we headed out to tour Washington, DC.  I'm going to try to list all of the sites we visited, viewed and drove by today, but I will undoubtedly miss a they say, too many to mention!!!  I should first mention the weather.  It was very cold, snowy and rainy....other than that, it was beautiful.  Other than that Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play????

We started off viewing, as Forrest Gump said, "our nation's capitol."  The Capitol building is very impressive, and you can tell why they call it Capitol is literally on a hill.  Picture opportunity. The House was in session today, but the Senate was not.  We knew that because the US Flag was waving over the House of Representatives, but not flag waving over the Senate.  

Out front of the Capitol was a large statue of an Illinois native, Ulysses S. Grant.  He is supposedly saluting toward the other end of the Washington Mall, which has the Lincoln Memorial.  

We walked a lot.  As the mailman would say, "through rain or snow or dark of night, nothing could keep us from our appointed rounds."  But we sure thought about it!!!  Cold it was.  We are here during the Cherry Blossom Festival...however, no cherry blossoms...too cold and snowy.  Probably next week when we are gone.  

As we drove around town, Vivian pointed all of the various governmental office buildings; the FBI, the Department of Justice, the State Department, Executive Office Building, the US Postal Service, etc, etc, etc.

We drove all along the two-mile long, Washington Mall.   At the East end is the Capitol Building, in the middle the Washington Monument (being restored due to a recent earthquake), in the West end the Lincoln Memorial, to the South is the Jefferson Memorial and the north the White House.  The Supreme Court building (where they were having a lot of action because of the gay marriage debate) is behind the Capitol Building.   

We got out at the Jefferson Memorial.  That was probably my favorite stop of the morning.  It is a beautiful memorial, but above that, I admire Jefferson so of the Declaration of Independence, scholar, farmer, inventor...just a truly great man.  

Then we headed to the Roosevelt Memorial.  Got rained on hardest during that visit.  But a beautiful memorial, which included a statue of Eleanor.  Very well done.  

We walked to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.  Kevin was too cold and waited for us in the van.  Very good memorial, but as most memorials are, somewhat controversial due to a quote attributed to him on the side of the statue, which was not an exact quote...some say it makes him sound egotistical.  I say, you can't have a memorial without some kind of controversy.  A fitting tribute to the man.

Next, time for a quick lunch at Quizno's.

Next, we headed to the WWII Memorial.  Extremely well done.  And it's actually on the Capitol Mall, but it doesn't detract from any other sites.  A very fitting tribute to people like my Dad who fought in the war.  

Next, the Vietnam veteran's Memorial and the Korean Memorial.  Both very well done.  I was particularly interested in the Vietnam Memorial as so many of my friends fought in the war and one high school friend died there.  Sadly, I received a letter from him and was later told he died before I received the letter.  Sad...They added a new sculpture which included the women who served in Vietnam.  Very moving.

Korea was interesting...they soldiers were in gray and positioned as if they were taking a hill. Almost eerie, but very well done.

Next it was on to Arlington National Cemetery.  After going through the Visitors Center, we headed up the hill to see the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers.  The ceremony was very stirring.  This was definitely Kevin's favorite part of the tour.  

As we headed to see the JFK Memorial, we saw the grave site of Joe Louis, the boxer.  We were informed that there were 30 funerals per day because of all of the WWII and Vietnam soldiers passing away.  We saw the Kennedy my opinion his assassination was the greatest tragedy of my generation.  So many things would have been different had he lived.  RFK's and Teddy's graves are near his, as Jackie and her infant children who died.  John-John isn't, of course, as they never found his body after the plane crash.  

 On our way back to the van, we saw something few people get to see.  We saw two caissons (one with white horses, and one with black) making their way back to their stables after funerals.  A sad site indeed.  

We drove by Ford's Theater where Lincoln was shot, and after a drive-by of the Smithsonian (where we plan to spend tomorrow), we headed back to our hotel.  It was long, cold, wet day, but an excellent one!  

We had dinner at a DC specialty, Ben's Chili Bowl.  Obama has eaten there.  Had a sign said, "Two people eat free here...Bill Cosby and the Obama Family.  Nobody else!"  Had to laugh.

Back to the hotel, and Laura took off for Trenton again.  She'll rejoin us on Thursday for more DC fun!  Back to the hotel for a warm bed!

See you soon my friends!

P.S.  Got a note from a friend that reminded me that my trips can be trumped.  Henry Lee is in Hong Kong!  Hong Kong trumps DC anytime in my book!!!  

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Mike Dahlkamp on

too bad the our weather isn't better for you Dave....we've gotten more snow this spring than all winter...go figure....enjoy your stay...I am about 30 miles down I-95 in sticking around for opening day for the Nats next week.

Mike Dahlkamp on

Dave: who was the friend killed in Nam....all my research shows no one from our graduating class dying in Viet Nam....curiosity gets the better of me.



dblegldave on

Weather was better today Mike. Probably won't be around for opening day. Wish I could. I do plan on hitting all the President's Gravesites this year, so I may be back out here sometime in the next few months. I'll contact you then. The guy who died in Nam was John Ervin. He was a year ahead of us...class of '67. Good friend who owned horses. He was a good guy.....Dave

dblegldave on

Mike, here is his info:

Age: 20
Race: Caucasian
Sex: Male
Date of Birth Nov 3, 1949
Marital Status: Single

John Huffman on

You timing of the visit to Arlington National Cemetary and the description of the caissons was perfect. On the CBS National News last night they had a story about the Old Guard unit of the Army that is responsible for the caissons. They explained that only those who are killed in action, an officer, or certain high ranking non-commissioned officers are afforded the honor of a caisson. The interviewed a sergeant and asked why they strive for perfection in their work within the cemetary..." it is the final honor we can provide to those who served their country". Arlington National Cemetary has to be one of the most memorable places I have ever visited in my life. Thanks for sharing Dave.

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