And now for part two of Dorans on Vacation:
I mentioned in my first post that we visited the Smithsonian. Well, in case you aren’t aware, there are actually many Smithsonian museums, such as the Natural History Museum, Air and Space, American History, Native American History, Art, National Zoo, etc., and they are all completely FREE! This knocked my socks off. We all know how expensive museums can be per person – usually at least $15 for adults plus all the add-ons for special exhibits. I always feel like I have to see every corner of a museum during a single visit for this reason. It was great not feeling that way for a change. If we got tired and wanted to leave for some Starbucks, no biggie. We could always come back. If we only had an hour before the museum closed, why not go in and see at least a few attractions? It was museum-hopping made enjoyable/not exhausting.
We ended up going to the Air and Space Museum (I am married to a physicist, remember), the American History Museum (about people mostly), the Museum of Natural History (with things like fossils and stuffed animals and dinosaur bones), and the Botanical Gardens.
Here are a few shots of some of our favorite exhibits:
Another amazing and free thing we got to do on this trip is tour the Capitol building. Andrew’s girlfriend works for a congressman, so she gave us a personal and very informative tour of all the places of interest in the building, like the rotunda, the original House and Senate chambers, and the original Supreme Court (which is now its own building). We forgot to bring the camera with us that day so we had to use our video camera. Look at how beautiful the rotunda is:
We also got gallery passes for both the House and Senate chambers. I learned that the Senate is must fussier than the House. No kids under six are allowed in the Senate gallery, so Chris and I had to take turns going in. In both galleries I watched people give speeches to practically no one. There were members in the room, but they were all doing their own things and not seeming to be paying any attention. It was weird.
Apparently, it takes three weeks notice to get a tour of the White House because they need that time to do a full background check. We didn’t know this, so we didn’t get a tour. I heard the tours aren’t that great because you only get to see three rooms, so i don’t feel so bad. Still, we wanted to see it “up-close” so we did what any good tourist would and crowded in front of the fence with our camera.
On our last full day in D.C. we drove out to Arlington Cemetery with Aunt Susan. We spent about three hours walking around, taking pictures, and seeing the Changing of the Guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. We got that on video, if you are interested in watching a seven minute clip. I can’t believe they do this 24 hours a day. It’s very cool.
Arlington is easily the most beautiful cemetery I’ve ever seen (not that I’ve been to that many, but still, I can imagine there aren’t many others as impressive as this). The graves are lined up perfectly from every angle. The white stones are so simple; the whole place has such a clean, ordered look. Check out these shots:
I had no idea that George Washington’s great-granddaughter married Robert E. Lee and lived on the land that is now Arlington. We got to walk through the house, which is being restored. Here’s me hugging a giant pillar.
And here’s a picture of the grave of Washington D.C.’s city planner. Nice view, huh?
Afterward, we visited some physics friends living in town (fun!), walked through a fish market (made our stomachs growl), and finally stopped in Alexandria for a late dinner (delicious).
Thank you, Aunt Susan, for an awesome week! We had the best time on our first family vacation. You spoiled us way too much by letting us stay at your house, taking us out to eat, and being the best tour guide. We love you!
And I can’t forget to thank my mom for dog-sitting our two crazy pooches. It’s not easy having three insane dogs in her home, but she always offers to take Buddy and Luna when we need someone. You’re the best, Mom. Love you tons.
Alright, my Oscar speech is over. Back to real life and normal updates.