We drove down to D.C. the afternoon after visiting the National Aquarium in the morning, and began the longest visit of the trip. Because Sue and I have been here a few times, we wanted to make sure we saw some different monuments. This is the home of virtual geocaches!
Our first less-visited location was Theodore Roosevelt Island. He has a whole island monument to himself! Parking is a bit tricky if the lot is full, but we eventually made it in. It’s mostly a wooded area to reflect his legacy of an outdoorsman and conservationist. Right in the middle, is a big landscaped area with a statue and quotes. It was pretty impressive. It would have been even more so if the fountains were working. That was a repeated theme in D.C. – broken fountains.
There are actually a virtual cache and EarthCache on this island, but we didn’t get either. The virtual is about as far away from the entrance as possible, and the EarthCache has many stops. We saw what we wanted to, and were running late to dinner with an old friend from WPI who lives nearby now. We headed to our hotel in Virginia (much cheaper than D.C.), cleaned up, and headed to Old Alexandria for dinner. I had a great time catching up.
Our next day would be focused on the Air and Space Museum (ASM). After looking at possible tourist sights the night before, we decided to skip the National Zoo, since we had just been to the San Diego Zoo the previous year. Doing so would give us more time to see new things. So we strolled from our parking in (under) L’Enfant Plaza toward the ASM, which wasn’t quite open yet. We stopped to grab and EarthCache near the US Department of Energy and walked through the Smithsonian Castle Gardens along our way. I think we picked up three caches on this stroll.
My favorite part of the ASM was the “Time and Navigation” exhibit. It took you through how early explorers determined their position on the globe and how that technology advanced through better timekeeping devices and eventually GPS satellites. Very informative.
The exhibits dealing with the moon landings were also very impressive! I don’t remember seeing this last time, although it has been 30+ years. Sigh.
After a late lunch we headed over to the Jefferson Memorial. It’s pretty well-known, since it’s on our currency and easily visible from a major highway, but it doesn’t get huge amounts of visitors. It’s a bit out of the way to get there, and you can’t park very close. Once we found parking, we walked along path in the hot humid air. Of course, the actual entrance was on the other side, so you get to walk around the whole monument, too. Again, there were several quotes from the president up around the monument. Inspirational, and nothing like political parties today. It was a bit cooler inside, so we sat and rested while contemplating.
On our way back to car, we grabbed some ice cream sandwiches to help cool off. It was no Rita’s, but it was pretty good. There are two caches here. In our contemplation, we forgot to gather the necessary info to log them.
A Storm was forecast for today, but we figured we spend most of the day in the Museum of Natural History, so it wouldn’t matter. We parked north of the area and underground. I had no idea there was so much underground parking in D.C. On our walk to the museum we picked up a traditional cache. Surprisingly, there was another on the museum grounds. We were there early, so there weren’t too many people around. Still, a PVC tube inside a sprinkler drain looks pretty suspicious right next to a federal building. We signed it anyway and headed around to the front.
Out front there was an earth cache, but we think it was asking for information no longer present. Ah, well. We headed in.
Our last full day in the nation’s capitol. We started the day with a tour of the Capitol Building we had set up without our Representative, Jim McGovern, months ago. We grabbed the virtual cache outside, of course. We never got to actually meet him, but one of his staff took us around the building. We went under the dome, which is under repair, and saw a few rooms, including the original meeting room of the Supreme Court. We got tickets to view the House of Representatives and Senators, since they were both is session that day. We knew this because of the colored lights on all the clocks in the building. Feel free to look that up – we did.
We waited in line for about an hour to get into the viewing gallery for the House of Representatives, but it just wasn’t moving. We found out later that there was a sit-in inside related to gun regulations. No one wanted to leave the gallery, so no one new got it. We left the line, and headed across the street to the Library of Congress. The good news is that there is a tunnel underground between the two buildings, so we got to stay cool and avoid another security line. The bad news is that we missed the virtual cache outside.
Perrin was very upset by the lack of actual books in the section of the library the general public is allowed into. We were able to peer into the library proper, but it just wasn’t the same. There was an excellent exhibit about maps of the early colonies that we spent about an hour roaming through, while reading and examining the old maps. Massachusetts used to go way out to the Great Lakes!
Our next stop was the United States Botanic Gardens. I’m always a sucker for botanical gardens, and this was no exception. We grabbed the virtual cache outside, and headed in. The many climates zones was something I had not seen before. It was nice to see plants from different parts of the country. There was also an elevator up to a canopy walk around the border of the biggest greenhouse. I bet this place is amazing in winter.
From there, we drove over to the west end of The National Mall. I thought we could park closer to the FDR Memorial, but after doing several loops, we ended up in the same place we parked for the Jefferson Memorial. I had never heard of the FDR Memorial, but it is massive. It’s a giant outdoor monument that you walk through. Because of the granite walls around you and all the waterfalls, it is significantly cooler. It was broken up into four different areas: one for each of his terms as president. We made sure to grab the EarthCache and virtual cache here as we learned a bit about his presidency. Is it rose-colored glasses, or were the older presidents just better?