After Jessica participated in the urbanathlon on Saturday, we had no need to stay in York any longer, but we had a week before we have to be in South Carolina. So we decided to move south a bit and spend a few days in Washington, D.C. We left York on Tuesday and drove to Cherry Hill RV Park just north of D.C. along the I-495 beltway.
On our first day here we met up with motorhome friends, Larry and Mary Anne Weinberg, who live south of D.C. in Fredericksburg, VA. They drove north from there and we drove south from Cherry Hill. We met in Old Town Alexandria, VA.
We enjoyed a nice lunch at The Fish Market, a local restaurant and spent some time wandering around Old Town.
The next morning we headed into the Capital area for some touring. The colorful fall leaves provided some great scenery along the Baltimore-Washington Parkway even with the cloudy sky.
A bicycle is the ideal way to visit Washington, something we did many times when our children were young and we lived an hour and a half drive to the north. We found a parking lot just south of the Jefferson Monument that is away from the main tourist sites and bit too far to walk from, so we always found it nearly empty. This trip was no exception, so we parked there and unloaded the bikes for a quick tour of the major sites of the Capital area.
Normally we visited Washington in the summer and the area would be packed with tourists. But this is not exactly the high tourism season, so the area was fairly empty. We had no plans to visit any of the museums during this visit, but since the Air and Space Museum had no line (visitors are usually lined up out into the street), we made a quick stop there to make sure the Spirit of St. Louis was still hanging from the ceiling (it was).
We continued our tour along the mall, stopping along the Capitol Reflecting Pool to view the statue of U.S. Grant across the water.
As we rode around the Capitol, we came upon a statue that we had not noticed on previous visits, depicting James A. Garfield. Garfield is one of our least recognized presidents, as he was struck down by an assassin’s bullet after only four months in office and died a painful death two months later from infections and poor medical care. Many historians believe that, had he served longer, Garfield would be remembered as one of our greatest chief executives.
We then circled around to the main entrance of the Capitol. Police had the area blocked off and numerous policemen were in the area. We asked one of the officers what was going on and found that VP Biden was in the building swearing in our newest senator, Cory Booker of New Jersey. The officer said he didn’t know how long the area would be off limits as the ceremony should be over, but the VP “likes to talk” so they didn’t know when he would leave.
As we continued back around the Capitol we again passed the Reflecting Pool. There were a number of ducks in the water bobbing down for food. We noticed the guy pictured below because he was making quite a splash trying to catch lunch. We guessed he was a Democrat as he made a big splash but really didn’t accomplish much!
After all that bike riding, it was time for a snack, so we headed for one of our favorite spots to eat with the kids, the Old Post Office Building. The lower floor of the building is a food court that was always filled with tourist when we would visit. But as with the rest of the tourist spots, the place was almost empty. A tasty dish from the Ben and Jerry’s stand hit the spot!
After our snack, we continued our tour. There are no pictures of the White House as the police had the building completely blocked off, even the walking mall on Pennsylvania Avenue. We couldn’t find out why, but something must have been going on.
The JFK Grave Site recently underwent some renovations to the eternal flame’s burner. The flame had been moved to a nearby location during renovations and just last week it was returned to the grave site. The site also contains the remains of Jackie Kennedy Onassis, a daughter who was stillborn in 1958, and a son who died two days after birth in 1962.
Kennedy’s two younger brothers, Robert (1968) and Ted (2009) are buried nearby in sites marked only with a plain cross and small plaque.
Our last stop was at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier where we hoped to catch the changing of the guard ceremony.
We didn’t catch the changing of the guard (every half hour in the summer and every hour in the winter) but we did observe a wreath laying ceremony by two middle school students.
On our final day in Washington we made a visit to the National Museum of Health and Medicine, which is only a few miles from Cherry Hill RV Park. We hadn’t heard of this museum until RV friends The Lowes wrote about it in their blog.
This museum has several collections of morbid anatomy on display. The collection has real human remains and a display on facial reconstruction. There are also exhibits that display injuries from several wars and descriptions of the medical techniques used at the time. The emphasis here is on military medicine, documenting the effects of war wounds and disease on the human body, and the tremendous changes in American medicine over the past 150 years.
There was a display that marked Abraham Lincoln’s 200th birth anniversary, including items associated with his last hours. Various items associated with the assassination, including the bullet that killed him, were on display.
In the center of the picture above is part of the sleeve of the shirt worn by the physician who treated Lincoln after he was shot. The stains are from Lincoln’s blood!
We don’t know who donated the display below of a brain and spinal cord but it made for a nice picture! If you’re into morbid displays of bones and brains, this is the museum for you!
That’s it for our brief visit to Washington. We would have left this morning (Friday) but the weather forecast was for rain and high winds, so we delayed until tomorrow. We’re headed for the small town of Gaffney, SC to have the motorhome serviced at the Freightliner facility located there. After that it’s off to North Myrtle Beach for a little beach time!
More on that later . . .