Friday, October 03, 2008

Washington DC - day 5

Today was a big day and I'm lucky I made it home. Tim and I met up and headed down to the subway together. We had both chosen to sleep in rather than eat breakfast but apparently Tim can't go without food as well as I can so he really wanted to stop for breakfast. This of course made us late and the tour had already started by the time we got there. We caught up to them in Senator Pryor's office. Senator Pryor is the senator of Arkansas and his office provided the tour for us because of a friend who knows a friend. This real sweet little girl guided the tour for us and she did a real good job. Her name was Rachel. Normally she just answers phones but since the tour guy wasn't here today she did the tour. We got to see pretty much all of the Senate side of the Capitol but not the House side since it was the Senators office providing the tour. She did give us tickets to go and listen to Congress debate the bail out package. It was very frustrating because the whole time I was there I only heard people defending the package and I would really like to see it not pass. They kicked us out just before the vote because a lot of people wanted to get in and we had been in too long. I was quite upset because there were still a lot of empty seats but it was pretty cool to sit in the gallery and watch our government in action. Especially on such an important item. I wasn't allowed to take my camera into the the house so no pictures. I did get to see where the supreme court used to meet. They now have their own building because one of the presidents was a former supreme court judge and he figured they should meet separately to keep the division clean.

Let me tell you one of my favorite stories. I heard this before but I love it every time I here it. The Senate used to meet out in this huge hall with a domed ceiling. They've since grown out of that room but they showed us the room and they have plaques on the floor to show were presidents who have been in the Senate used to sit. I forget who it was but I think it was Adams who is the only person to be a Senator after he was the President) always used to sit in a less than ideal spot and he always used to lay his head on his desk as if he were sleeping. He actually developed a reputation for being a lazy senator because of it. It wasn't until years later that they learned that the sound from the other side of the room (that oppositions side) would bounce off the domed ceiling in such a way that it focused in that exact spot. Adams was listening to the opposition plan their strategies and he always knew what they were going to do before hand. They actually demonstrated it and cute little Rachel went on the other side of the room and in a normal speaking voice I could hear her as plain as day in a very noisy room. It was quite amazing. I also saw where Abe Lincoln used to sit. He was a very junior Senator and sat way in the back of the room. He went from there to President.

After they booted us out of the "House" Tim and I decided to go check out the Smithsonian's. I talked Tim into going to the Art Museums first to check out Kira's pictures. They actually were very interesting. I wasn't sure what they were called but when I explained them to the worker she knew exactly what I was talking about. We didn't spend much more time in there because paintings aren't really my thing. I figure a photograph does a much better job and I will never understand those abstract things. Who would pay money for that?

The last time I was in DC I made sure I had time to see the Air and Space Museum and Tim had seen it too so we decided on the American History Museum. The first time I was in DC I only had a couple of hours and I didn't know anything about where anything was and the American History Museum was the first one I wandered into. The very first display I came to was about trains and right by the trains was a big display on how to dig tunnels. They went from very old methods to modern methods. The next thing I knew I was being kicked out because it was closing. I'd spent all my time in that one display and it went so fast I never even knew it. I quickly looked around and saw all kinds of stuff like light bulbs and electricity and all kinds of cool things so I was excited to see it this time. It was closed for renovations. What a bummer. We then went next door to the Natural History Museum which was cool but every city has a natural history museum. We still enjoyed ourselves. So much so that we waited until the last minute to leave. We had to take the metro (that would be the tube for you Brits) back to our hotel to pick up our bags and there were two stations pretty close by. The one by the white house was just a little bit further but we decided on that one so we could go by the white house again. On the way I think I saw the president (well at least his car). The police had the road blocked off and they wouldn't even let us stand by the curb. We had to be at least six feet back. Someone asked who was coming and the cop said "you'll see". I figured they only do this kind of stuff for the President so I was excited. Well about 15 motorcycle cops and 15 cop cars and a bunch of black Suburbans and two black limo's went by. The limo's had dark tinted windows so I couldn't exactly see who was in it but I choose to believe it was Bush since that makes it sound better. I took a day time picture of the white house and then we looked around for the Metro station and it wasn't there. I kid you not, it was on my map but it was NOT on the street. We asked one of the cops where it was and she pointed down the street to another one that is not the one we wanted. We were now getting worried about our flight so we hoofed it to the next station and ran down the stairs, bought our ticket and got to the subway and we see that it is the wrong one. Checking out the map again I noticed that there were two stations side by side, Farragot west and Farrogot north. I saw Farrogot and took the stairs but I got west and I wanted north. We then decided to just ride the metro to the next station where we could transfer rather than climb the stairs, walk a couple of blocks and then buy another ticket. We then arrived at our stop and the ticket wouldn't let us out of the turnstyle. We asked the guard why were were trapped and he told us that we had bought the cheap tickets but during rush hour we had to by the more expensive tickets. We had to find another machine were I paid an extra $0.30 and the machine let us out. We finally get back to the hotel and claim our bags and then grab a cab. I asked the guy how long it would take to get to the airport and he says about 45 minutes because it was now rush hour. That would get us there about ten minutes before our flight left. I was then trying to estimate what time I would get home and I didn't like the numbers. I decided to relax and not stress over it, after all, what could I do now? I then got a text message from United telling me that my flight was delayed half an hour. I've never been so glad to see a flight late.

I read my book the whole way and as the plane is descending into San Diego I finished the book. What a good series. That Stephanie Meyer has quite the imagination. Who can come up with those stories? I then picked up my car and drove home and the place is dark and abandoned. How sad. I'm gone all week and no one is here to welcome me home. Well that isn't true Bridget was glad to see me. She about wet herself. I called Lisa to see where she was but no answer, I called Alex and he didn't answer and then I called Sarah and she did answer. I should have just called her first. It turns out that they are all at Alex's football game. I had forgotten. I may have ran over except that it was an away game and they were about done the fourth quarter. We were also slaughtering them and Alex was playing (with his fat cast on). That was good news, we are still undefeated.

Well enjoy the pictures. They are out of order but I'm too lazy to move them around.

There were many cops with flashing lights blocking all traffic and pedestrians so this car could go by. I'm thinking it must be President Bush. Who else would they do this for?
Here's the front (or would this be the back?) of the White House in the daylight this time.
Senator Mark Pryor's office arranged our tour and the tickets that got us into the House debate on the $700B bail out. I'll have to send them a thank you note.

This is where we lined up to get into the House. Do you see that guy on the scaffold painting the place getting it ready for the inauguration? That is also why I couldn't get up these steps when I went on my run. Well, I'm here now.
The Capitol building looking across the reflection pool.
The architect for the Capitol building ordered this huge cast bronze doors for the main entrance to the white house. When they arrived the doors were so heavy they weren't suitable to be used as doors. They now have them hanging on a wall for display. They are pretty darned cool and I think they should put a motor on them and use them anyway.
I have an interesting story for you. Some of you Canadians may not know this but Washington was laid out and planned by some French man. Yes, I was sad to hear that too. Anyway, it was originally supposed to be a giant square shape. Part of the land was in Maryland and part was across the Potomac river in Virginia. Maryland donated their land but Virgina reneged on the deal and never did give up their part. Dead center in the middle of this square (or what would have been a square) is the capitol building and dead center in the capital building is this star.
I am standing in the exact center of Washington DC
This is hard to see but it was so interesting that I had to try. This is in the old Supreme Court Chambers. The judges sat behind this fenced in box and when the lawyers wanted to speak to them they had to pass this "bar" to address them. Apparently this is where the term "passing the bar" came from.
This is a non descript door in the hallway just down frmo Senator Pryors office. It is actually Vice President Cheney's office. I guess he doesn't use it much but this is his office.
The artist who painted the Capitol building was Constantino Brumidi and he spent decades painting all of the cool paintings on teh walls and stuff. He also carved this fresco around the rotunda. He got about half way around and then fell of the scaffold and died. His apprentice then finished the job but when he got about a quarter of the way the architect got mad and fired him because he was too slow. The artist got mad and told the architect that he would be in the Capitol long after he was gone.

If you look carefully on the bottom of the tree in the middle of this picture right above the little fern you can see the artists face carved in the tree. You can see it too well in this picture but I guess he is still in the Capitol long after the architec is gone.
These are three of the women who were instrumental in womens rights. Sorry, I don't remember their names. The piece of rock behind the woman was left uncarved for the first woman president of the Untied States. I think it would be good to put Sarah Palin there. We could use a pretty woman since those other three are pretty ugly.
This is one woman that we do NOT want carved into that rock. We could drop it on her maybe but that is about it.
Benjamine Franklin
This is one of the many paintings done by that Constatine dude before he fell off the scaffolding.
My guess is that Constantino did not paint this one. Several of the doors had a blank spot left so future paintings could be added.
This is Rachel walking backwards down the tunnel connecting the Senators office building to the Capitol.
The ceiling painted by Constantino. The walls and ceilings were all covered with this kind of stuff.
The appropriations room.
I guess there are several stories where this chandelier hanging outside the Senators room came from. Raches favorite story is the a church in DC was closing down and they had an auction to get rid of all their furnishings. Jackie Kennedy saw this chandelier and bought it for this room. It has over 25,000 crystals on it.
This is proof for Kira that I was actually at the National Gallery
The Voyage of Life - Childhood
by Thomas Cole
The Voyage of Life - Youth
The Voyage of Life - Manhood
The Voyage of Life - Old Age


Anonymous said...

Thank you for the tour. We love history in our house. I should tell you Rick has several elevators in Washington DC. One that I know of is in the Watergate Hotel.
Karin and Rick in New York

Lisa L said...

Loved this post and loved the pictures! The stories, information & pictures were fascinating. I am so glad you got to see and do those things - makes me jealous! That's the one trip that we never got to take the kids on. Remember how that's the only trip Brandon wanted to do as he was growing up? Maybe we still can at some point in time. We have had some great family trips/holidays and memories regardless. :D When we eventually do go because you've been there a few times now you can be the tour guide!! :D

Lynn said...

MAn! You lead such an exciting life! Thanks so much for the tour. I am SO impressed with all that you remember that you are told while on the tours. I am assuming that you don't have your laptop with you or that you are taking short hand either. So I am impressed.
I loved that you took the time to see the paintings that Kara mentioned. And took pics of them too!
Thanks again!
Welcome back home.

Fred ... said...

My hotel wasn't too far from the Watergate Hotel and I was going to go see it just so I could say that I did. I never made it over there. Maybe next time. Rick will have to tell me which elevator is his.

Justin, Kira and Evan said...

How lucky that you were able to go on that tour. I LOVED reading all about it. I bet it was the president that you saw, because that is exactly what the caravan looked like when he came to speak in Gainesville, and that was just from Air Force One to the stage. Thank you for looking at the pictures and posting them. I am glad that you liked them.

This post was so full of interesting stuff. I LOVED it!!!