Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Washington, Day 3. "For the increase and diffusion of knowledge."

James Smithson


Above is a picture of James Smithson, a British Scientist who passed away back in 1829. He had left most of his wealth to his nephew, Henry Hungerford. However, he passed away in 1835 without any children. According to Smithson will, the estate then passed to The United States of America. The money was to be used to found at Washington D.C. an Establishment "for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men", or as it is known now.... the Smithsonian Institution.

Congress agreed to accept the legacy, and dispatched Richard Rush to England to collect the 105 sacks of 104,960 gold sovereigns which amounted to about $500,000.00 at the time!

After many years of Government haggling over interpeting Smithson's vague mandate, they invested the money into US Treasury Bonds issued by Arkansas, which very soon defaulted causing a huge loss of money! After much debate, John Quincy Adams persuaded Congress to restore the funds, with interest, and use the money as Smithson mandated. Finally on Aug 10th, 1846, President James A. Polk, ( we stay in Polk County, Florida) signed the legislation that established tthe Smithsonian Institute.

Today, we visited two of the 19 Museum that now make up the Smithsonian, first on the list was the Museum of American History.

This Museum is big and impressive from the road, and also free for admintance, as they all are. (Part of that mandate.)

The banner above in the centre, is advertising that a T-Rex is coming soon! It was there today! We got to see the boxes. The T-Rex is on loan to them, from Montana, where it was found for the next 50 years!

They also have a bunch of other old bones put together that were lying around I guess... the kids love these Dinos! Ya, lots of kids on school trips here today...

A couple Museum Scientist were working on new exhibits...

Moving on in the Museum, I found the World Population counter... it was increasing by 10 people every second! Yikes!

OK, guess what that is in the pic above... yes, the Hope Diamond of course.

Don't worry, the Guard was not far away!

The Diamond was part of a huge gem and mineral display.

What an entrance to the Museum above... we spent all morning enjoying this one.

After lunch, we carried on to Museum, #2 on the day, The Air and Space Museum.

We visited this one about 27 years ago, and I wanted to see if it had changed...lol...

This is a great Museum, full of airplanes from the very begining of time... to now. Above, these planes were all flown off an aircraft carrier.

Ya, there goes Neil Armstrong down the ladder... "One small step for man..."

The exhibits are all full detail, and authentic. You feel like you are on the ladder with him!

On the left end above, is an Apollo Capsule, and on the right side, is the USSR Capsule. This demonstrates how they linked them together in Space.

Above you are looking at the original Kitty Hawk flown by the Wright Brothers. Somehow they got it here. It only has about 2 minutes of flying time on it over 4 flights!

I wonder if I could fly this thing with my Remote Controller for my airplanes????? HHHmmmmmm.......

They have Amelia Earhart's original airplane she used to fly across the Atlantic! What a woman!

OK, so above is a model of the USS Enterprise, the first Nuclear Aircraft Carrier. It was built by a man, who spent 1,000 hours a year, for 12 years to complete it! Whew....

After we finished our work at this Museum, it was just around 2:30 and we decided it was too tough being a tourist, so we headed home on our rocket subway system.

Well, we have made it to Washington, Day 4 tomorrow... we have not decided what to do yet!

Till tomorrow...

Monday, April 21, 2014

Washington Day 2, We dodged a bullet! (Literally...)

Best day yet for weather today in D.C. You needed no coat today! Lots of sun! When we were making our last minute plans this morning, on what we were going to do today... one of the suggestions was that we visit the National Zoo. There is no fee to enter the Zoo, and they have 2,000 animals! We decided not to go to the Zoo, and maybe a good call. We decided to tour downtown Washington instead. When we arrived home this afternoon, I had the local NBC TV News on and turns out there was a big shooting outside the front of the National Zoo this afternoon, with two people being shot! ( They both survived!) Whew.... dodging bullets! I will listen to Judy more often, as she swayed the table on what to do today!

Instead of the Zoo we decided to take the Metro back downtown and just walk around and visit a couple of the highlights! First off, was the Old Post Office. "What???..." you ask... We had heard that they have a great tower tour you could take for free! Why not!

We made it to the windows right above the big clock you see in the tower above! What a view, as it is about 300 feet up. This is an old building, and at one time, $3 million was set aside for it's demolition! However, very recently Donald Trump has come to the rescue, and will spend $300M to renovate this building into a 5 star Hotel! The Tower will apparently survive and you will still be able to go up for a great view of Washington! The building will close for 2 years for the renovations to take place. Check out the pics I took from the top today just below...

Lincoln Memorial...

A great shot of Capitol Hill...

View of the bells in the bell tower from above... they are hand operated by pulling a series of ropes!

The above picture is inside the Post Office, where all the floors are now empty, waiting for renovations into the Hotel. Good luck with your renovations Donald!

After the Post Office, we were pumped, so headed down to see if the Obama's were home... I think they were, but they were very busy as it was the annual Easter Egg Roll! Thousands of kids come here for this event each year, held out on the back lawn. The pic above is the Front Yard. The red strip at the bottom of the pictures is the tulips... yup, it is spring!

Sure looks like the Guard above is keeping an evil eye on Judy, and what might be in her purse! Actually, he was keeping an eye on a demonstration being held in front of Judy... the Ethiopians were demonstrating about something... who knows what.

Lots of tulips around, these again, right in front of Obama's House.

There are lots of statutes and monuments around Washington... that is the White House in the background...

We left the White House, and walked downtown Washington... above is the entrance to Chinatown...

Ya, just to rub it in... Washington does have a hockey team... the Washington Capitols, and yes, they are in the playoffs, and play home games above, at the Verizon Centre, which is right in the heart of D.C.

We walked past the Canadian Embasy, and viewed the art work outside... you decide. There are no exhibits to view at the Embasy, so we carried on.

Judy has the Capitol in her hand... we headed up to visit the Capitol Building, glad we did!

Certainly, it is the landmark building in D.C. It is impressive, and the pictures just do not do it justice.

You are not allowed to bring your Swiss Army Knife inside the Capitol Building! Duhhh.... ya think I might have known this... right! Once again I had to leave my knife outside somewhere, and this time I did not retrieve it. Oh well, it was wearing out anyways.

You are not allowed to take pictures inside the Capitol Building, but we got to see the House of Representatives and the Senate Hall. We could not see the Rotunda, as it is under construction...rats!

The picture you see above, is taken from right about where I was standing! Many times have I watched the Presidential State of the Union Speach on TV, which is delived from the Podium in the centre! History, history, history... very impressive place to visit!

Above is a view of the Senate... we were up in the gallery on the right side... this is a file picture.


The two pics above are file pictures of the Rotunda, or the large dome structure in the centre of Capitol Hill. We could not get in here due to renovations... too bad.

I love the pictures you can get looking down the Washington Mall, this one above taken from the front of Capitol Hill, looking east to the Washington Monument.

Now you would think that was enough for today, and it should have been, but instead we headed over to see if we could get in the National Archives Building... and we did.

Again, you could not take any pictures inside the Archives... however we got to see it all.

One of the neat documents I came across, was the Application that Richard Nixon made in 1937, to apply for Job, with the U.S. Department of Justice, as an FBI Special Agent! Above is only a small portion of the application it was about 5 pages long, but very, very basic. Just like any application for a job. Mr. Nixon never heard what happened to his application, even going through a job interview. Herbert Hoover eventually told him, when he was elected President, that his application was approved, however there was a funding freeze on at the time, so he was not hired as a Special Agent!

We have figured out that we will need about 1 year to get around and visit everything here... it is just way too much, but we are trying! We have two more days here, so will keep going!

Jan left a comment on last night's blog... want to know how to get around Washington and what our Park is like. I cannot send you an email Jan, as I do not have you email address. We choose to drive our Jeep two miles to the nearest Metro Station, and Park for $4.50 a day. You can get a bus right from our Park on the hour, but we choose the convience of our own car, and never any real heavey traffic out here.

The Metro is very easy to use, and takes you right downtown in about 20 minutes for less than $5.00. It depends on where you get on, and where you get off. This way, you avoid driving downtown, and the rush hour traffic which is crazy here! You can buy the Metro Pass right at our Park Office. Here are a couple pictures of our Park I took this afternoon... it is very large, and has many different type of sites, including a restaurant inside the Park!

We had to pay $53.50 a night, with our CAA Discount... very expensive, however it is close to Downtown Washington. Travel is a big thing around here, and I think this is the easies way to do it, if you are in an RV.

Anyhow... gotta go and rest up... day 3 tomorrow...

Till tomorrow...

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter Day! Washington, Day 1

Hope everyone enjoyed a great Easter Day and Weekend! I found the Easter Bunny today in Downtown Washington of all places... don't believe me, check it out below...

On roller blades no less...

Weather turned out very good for doing a tour, so off we went early this morning. We decided to take the Old Town Trolley in Washington... we have used this Company before in St. Augustine, and San Diego.

This is a great way to tour Washington, as you can hop on and off at any time. We took all day and did all three trolley routes.

We walked right by the J. Edgar Hoover Building to get to the trolley, and had to make sure we were good!

...because we did not want to get arrested by the FBI Police... who ever heard of them??? Washington has to be the safest place in America, as there is about a million different types of Police.

It is impessive to see Capitol Hill looming in the distance as you travel along famous Pennsylvania Avenue...

Above is the National Archives Building... I want to come back here and go in... you can see the Declaration of Independence and many other famous documents.

Oh ya, found this pic above of the Washington Metro System. We took it downtown from our Resort as it is cheap, and fast, and you don't have to worry about a car to park!

Above is the National Cathedral. We really enjoyed touring this Church today on Easter Sunday. We could not get in for the Easter Service as you needed a ticket. It will hold well over a thousand people. Inside it is incredible.

We were lucky enough to hear this Choir at practice... along with the incredible pipe organ! Amazing!

The main Altar of the Cathedral.

Above is the main entrance to Arlington Cemetry, another amazing site to visit.

Over 4,000 graves and growing...

The Officer above is guarding the Tomb of the Unkown Soldier. We got to watch the changing of the Guard. Very impressive.

The first large black stone is the marker for President Kennedy, and the one past his, would be Jackie's. That is an eternal flame right above the markers to the left in the picture.

Brother, Robert Kennedy, has a much more modest grave site, just past his Brother.

This Gentleman, with the fuzzy hat, was at the changing of the Guard, but we had no idea of who he was, or why he was there... Judy liked his fuzzy hat so took his picture.

Check out the Canadian Flags atop this building. Of course, it is the Canadian Embassy, which is right on Pennsylvania Ave. between the White House and Capitol Hill, the only Embassy allowed to be in this location, to show how important the Canadians are in relationship to the Americans.

I took the two above pictures of Capitol Hill. What a sight. Hopefully we will get a closer look this week.

Probably my favourite picture of the day, is looking at the Washington Monument, taken from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. The Monument in honour of President Washington, is called a Monument as it was built when Washington was still alive.

Speaking of the Lincoln Memorial... what an impressive building!

Overall, just a very impressive day. We had a good overall view of the layout, and now will check out different places that we want to visit. Phew....

Till tomorrow...