With Cat’s resolution of monthly travel, and cheap flights abound, we packed our day bags and took off for our nation’s capital; Washington, D.C. Along with Chris and Amy, who have become our trusted travel partners, Cat and I boarded our Spirit Airlines flight on Friday night at 11pm. Spirit Airlines is notoriously late, and this was no exception, but for $68 round trip I’ll accept the 20 minute delayed departure.
Before we can get to the capital we’ve got to get out of Baltimore. First stop, rental car pickup.
After the red-eye flight we were all a little tired and hungry. Next stop, Old Ebbitt Grill for breakfast and coffee.
As nice as it is, after a 5 hour flight and 45 minute drive, to sit and relax at breakfast, there is too much to do on our first trip to the capital. Next stop, a quick walk through the National Mall to catch the sites.
Our first glimpse of the White House was from afar, but it is so iconic that any view is powerful.
Everything is so much bigger than you imagine.
Unfortunately they are preparing for the next U.S. Presidential Inauguration, so there is a lot of construction going on to get the sites in top shape. As you can see above, the Reflecting Pool was drained for maintenance.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial was designed by a 21 year old undergraduate named Maya Lin. Through a public contest, Lin’s design was chosen from 1,442 designs. While the design was initially opposed by pretty much everyone, it was ranked 10th on a list of America’s Favorite Architecture in 2007.
Next to the White House, I think the Lincoln Memorial is probably the most iconic building in Washington, D.C. Here is Cat and Amy posing at Lincoln’s feet.
After a quick stroll through the National Mall it was time to jam back to the car to drop off our prohibited items before going into the White House. We delayed making a lot of plans in anticipation of being able to go into the private residence of the Leader of the Free World, and we were very excited when we got the confirmation from our Congressperson that our tour was booked. There are quite a few rules when visiting the White House, including no cameras with detachable lenses. All of the pictures below came from our iPhones. All of the rooms that we visited are still in use. Every day someone comes in, rolls up the rugs, sets up the ropes, and prepares the room for the daily tours. Every night the process is reversed and the house returns to being a private residence.
The most famous address in our country; 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
This was probably the most exciting part of the White House Tour. Above is the original George Washington portrait saved from a fire by Dolley Madison in 1812.
The White House tour has to be setup through you local Congressperson, but our Capitol Tour was arranged by someone in Nancy Pelosi’s office. We didn’t know what kind of special treatment we would be given until the tour was well underway, but it sure was special! Our tour guide was Martha. She has been giving tours of the Capitol for decades. She told us that she was in Pearl Harbor at the age of 4 when it was bombed, she was in the Capitol Building in 2015 when 2 security guards were killed, and she was there giving tours on 9/11 when the plane headed for the Capitol was taken down in a corn field. Not only was her life fascinating, but her knowledge of the Capitol was impressive. Like everything else in D.C., the Capitol was undergoing a massive renovation. In fact, this is the first major repair done to the inside of the dome in 260 years.
Constantino Brumidi was the artist responsible for pretty much the entire building, including the rotunda in the dome. Brumidi was exiled from Italy after a failed plot to kidnap Pope Pius XII. Prior to coming to Washington, D.C. Brumidi worked for 3 years at the Vatican.
Here is Martha in front of Abe Lincoln’s bust.
The pillars are made from “cheap” sandstone. Martha was insistent that the sandstone was cheap. She said inexpensive sounds too nice, and this stuff is downright cheap.
This is the original Supreme Court chambers. This was the first temporary court. The Supreme Court saw cases here for 50 years, before being moved to their next temporary court room. The Court existed in the next temporary location for 75 years. I guess the definition of temporary is subjective.
Some of the renovation going on in the Capitol has to do with this awful orange paint. The current preservationist at the Capitol found the orange paint was applied in the 1970’s and covered up all of this amazing art originally applied by Brumidi. They are in the process of restoring the walls to their original state.
There is a tunnel that goes directly from the Capitol to The Library of Congress, so after our tour we headed over for a quick visit.
The tours were amazing. But after 2 tours, and still running on very little sleep, everyone was hungry and ready to sit. Next stop; falafel at Amsterdam Falafel.
After falafel it was time to check into our hotel and relax for a bit before dinner round #2 at Founding Farmers. We made reservations, and when we got there we were glad. Even with reservations the wait was 25 minutes, so we headed to their bar first for a cocktail.
Fried Green Tomatoes for an appetizer
Fried chicken salad…of course it’s healthy, it’s a salad
Deconstructed chicken pot pie
Cat being devilish with eggs. These eggs had all different types of seafood in them.
We didn’t even feel like walking down the stairs from the bathroom. Bonus; chairs in the elevator.
The Lincoln Memorial was incredible during the day, but the building and statue have so much more depth at night.
The Gettysburg Address is written on 3 panels; one on this wall and two on the wall across. Here is Cat to for perspective. They’re huge!
Shadow people at the Lincoln Memorial.
Cat and I waving goodbye to D.C.
It was an amazing sprint through our nation’s capital. We all agreed that more time is required, so we will be keeping an eye out for more amazing flight deals to Washington, D.C. Next time we will center the trip around the Smithsonian Museums. I’ve always wanted to see the Hope Diamond. Total travel time (including another delayed return flight); 37 hours.