A Healthy Dose of Patriotism

Trip Start Mar 10, 2011
Trip End May 05, 2011

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Where I stayed
International United House of Tel.

Flag of United States  , District of Columbia
Friday, March 11, 2011

It was an action packed day of Americana.  I began early due to some racket in the bunks beside me, but luckily the exhaustion from the previous day meant that what sleep I had was of high quality. A second bonus was the plentiful breakfast.  I took it quickly and headed for the Capitol, the home of the Congress.
This stately granite building was erected before war with the British so unsurprisingly it was razed when they invaded Washington DC. Unsurprisingly again it was reconstructed with an even more grandiose tower.  A symbol of the great new country and an up yours to the Brits. The lobby was littered with great American figures (though some were not recognised as so until some time after their deaths) and the great halls were decked in beautiful fresco paintings of iconic moments in American history.  Perhaps intentionally, some of the darker moments were ironically highlighted such as one statue of a battle against Indians sitting opposite another of peace. Curiously, most depictions of slavery and its contribution to the wealth of America was omitted.
Underground, I proceeded to the Library of Congress. Originally a generous sale to the US Government by Thomas Jefferson, the library has extended its reach under the banner of "the storage and collection of knowledge".  Curiously though, few books are now stored on site, leaving much of the building as a homage to the founding principles of the nation.  It too, was built with grand and intelligent design in mind.  One imagines little cost was spared in the path from the Fountain of Neptune to the Main Reading Room. A singularly clever design feature was the incorporation of sprinklers into the Rosettes that tile the ceilings (sadly this was an afterthought that could not save many books from the first and second fires).   This outrageous display of nationalism made the White House pale in comparison. Partly due to the fact no non-American can go inside.  I still believe it too big for a non-dictator.
These monuments highlight a particular face of American history. There is little doubt the country was blessed with natural resources, and with that the flood of migrants provided ample people-power. These facts alone however we know cannot guarantee greatness.  What I have seen provides an insight that shows the greatness comes from stoic leadership. A government by the people, of the people and for the people was able to find the necessary direction, defeat the military superpower of its time and create wealth and pride.  Despite all her current flaws, these achievements give Americans a right to be proud of their nation.
I finished the day with a tour of the East building of the National Gallery of Art.  Housing two special exhibits of contrasting styles both artistically and contextually. 
"Venice" showcased the technical expertise of late renaissance Verdutists. The detail and mood of famous cityscapes capture the Artistic perspective of this bustling republic from its facetious Carnivale to the industrious shipyards.
"Gauguin" was a unique character of late impressionism.  A close friend of Van Gogh, he could not match his contemporary in  brushwork and colour palette.  He did however share a similar tortured vision (and no doubt mental illness) that he weaved into his canvas. Progressively disillusioned with Parisian life and later life in general. He sought escape physically and then more brilliantly through imaginary worlds. His final works were a curious menagerie of impressionist colours, religious themes and his own fantasy - providing the viewer a uncomfortable sense of self-insecurity.
I finally finished the day with anther chilli dog. These bad boys are deliciously simple and appeals to the basest of my senses - gluttony. I can tell that they are going to be a favourite in this trip. 
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Hannah on

Utz Nutz! and squirrels! Love the pictures :)

Charmed Life on

Since you started your trip in DC, and you seem to love chili, boy, I sure hope you made it to Ben's Chili Bowl!! It's a DC icon!!!

jizmo on

Yes! Although I have avoided blogging about food, I most certainly made culinary detours for most of the trip.
Ben's was no exception, and stellar chilli dogs!

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