Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Back in DC... a Capitol tour.

We wanted to go up the Washington Monument.  It's still closed since the earthquake last August.  DC doesn't do earthquakes.  We wanted a tour of the White House.  No luck there either.  Ian had spoken of his Capitol tour during his FSI class, so we got tickets and went.  The tour was shorter than we expected, packed with people, but interesting.  Trying to find a parking space in the city during the work week is a trial, we eventually found one several blocks away and with an online parking meter.  Notice to others... if there is still an old meter, use that first. As the time gets close to expiring, charge up the online meter.  That way you can get up to 4 hours without going back to your car.  The thing with the new online method is they don't let you recharge.  Two hours is two hours.  We didn't figure it out before running for our tour time so only had 2 hours in the Capitol building and Library of Congress before running back to the car.  Next time we'll know. Of course next time they'll have taken out all the classic meters.

We arrived on time, early enough to be nearly first in line for our time slot and time to wait.

I will say this above all else, the Capitol has spectacular art and architecture.  Interesting tidbit, each state is allowed 2 statues in the Capitol building, and they can be statues of anyone they consider historically significant.  Periodically the statues change according to what states want to represent, but they vary widely from the expected politicians to Helen Keller.  

The star marks the center of Washington DC.  It gives your compass rose street address... NE/SE/NW/SW.  The star is found in the crypt level, directly under the dome.  The dome is spectacular in itself.  There's a painting that works around the middle of the dome where it begins to pull into itself and the trompe l'oeil work is 10 feet high.  The space is vast.   Not St. Peter's Basilica vast, but vast nonetheless.  It's also important to note that the congressman don't actually work in the Capitol building.  They all have offices elsewhere, except for the big whigs, the Senate and House Majority leaders.  If you're interested in the symbolism incorporated in buildings like the Capitol, reading sites like The Vigilant Citizen can be fun  (I won't link to it... there's some bizarre stuff over there).  Otherwise, just check out sites like the Architect of the Capitol.

After the Capitol tour, we took the underground path to the Library of Congress, that gorgeous packed building seen in so many movies.  Pick just about any movie that involves a search into American History, and the Library of Congress has a good chance of being in it.  Again, the architecture is stunning, the exhibit of Thomas Jefferson's library was very cool (no pics allowed), the ancient map exhibit is always one of my favorites, but, and it's a big but, there's no walking through any part of the actual library.  A small glassed room lets you have a peek into the study room, a very short very small peek. Honestly, it was a bit of a let down.  I guess I need to buddy up to someone who works there to get nice and close to all those wonderful books.

The evening we found ourselves in Georgetown visiting friends at the University Hospital who'd just had a baby. SO cute.  No photos as I didn't ask.  The boys were too young (as non-relatives) to visit in the room so sat patiently in the waiting area while the girls held and cooed at the new baby.  Very awesome.  We didn't stay too long, they're new parents and exhausted after all.  So we drove down to M Street, walked around and found dinner at Johnny Rockets.  Sandwiches are eh, milkshakes rock.  It was early on a work day and the place was empty.  Just the way we like it.  Georgetown cupcake is just down the way and the line was short, so we picked up some cupcakes for good measure.  Are we the only nation willing to pay upwards of $3+ per cupcake?  We can make them at home for roughly 5-10c including frosting, right?  Insanity.

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