My sister and I were honored when the 4 high school seniors (all girls) asked us to accompany them on their senior trip this spring. They chose Washington DC and Boston in a 8-day time frame. We worked with them to come up with a list of must-sees/wants for our 3 days in each place. It’s impossible to even come close to hitting all of the interesting places there are to experience.
They worked hard to earn 100% of the funds for the trip. Some fundraisers yielded more than others. I am proud of the blood, sweat and tears they put into earning the money. I think a bit of advice they would pass along is to start this process by your sophomore year. 🙂
We found a nice airbnb 3bed/3bath apartment in Alexandria, within a 5 minute drive from a subway station. Lodging is one place where you have to weigh transportation/convenience/cost to figure out the best place to stay.
We arrived Saturday afternoon, and hit the ground running to the city center. I forgot to mention that the date they had picked out in the fall for this trip, put us in DC right over the peak of the cherry blossom blooms! I’ve often wanted to go over this time, but the distance plus the extra of the festivities kept it off my actual list. And wouldn’t you know, we started doing our serious planning and realized we had hit it square on the head.
This meant there were festivities and crowds all week! We just missed the kite fest in front of the White House. The food trucks were still there so we grabbed some supper, and watched the sun set beyond the Washtington Monument. (What fun it was to run into some folks we knew from Fairfax, while we were waiting on our food orders.)
By the time we got to the Tidal Basin, with its rim of Japanese Cherry Trees, it was nearly dark.
Blue hour at it’s best.
We walked all the way down to the Lincoln Memorial.
It was packed with people too.
Lincoln gazed down at us soberly.
The night was balmy, and perfect for enjoying the walk. We walked through the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and on to the White House.
Our feet were getting weary by this time!! There was extra security around the front of White House, I’m guessing because of the kite fest that had been held nearby earlier. By this time 10ish, the streets were fairly quiet and we headed back to the apartment.
Our goal was to get up early-thirty Sunday and go the changing of the guards at Arlington Cemetery. Well, the balmy weather had given way to a chilly 45* rainy morning so we nixed that idea pretty quickly. We had checked into church services in the area and had chosen a Passion City Church location, in an old theater.
It was an interesting service, quite a difference from a Mennonite church service. 🙂 They were also celebrating a milestone that morning (1 year anniversary) and at the end of the service, confetti and balloons came raining down on us. There multiple baptisms held outside in a large font/tank. Did I mention it was a chilly day? And windy? Bless their brave hearts!
We headed to Chinatown for WARM food. Found a lovely little restaurant with delicious food.
We thought we could fit in the Changing of the Guards before our evening event but we forgot how long it takes to get around a city. Waiting for trains a couple of times adds up. 🙂 So we backtracked and headed to the National Cathedral for evening vespers.
It was getting colder and windier!
It’s safe to say the evening service was as different from the morning service that we had attended as it could be.
We were able to sit in the choir area. They had about a dozen singers, divided in half. The acoustics were crystal clear and the singing was breathtaking. Being up there near the singers was so neat. There were a number of readings by various people, many of them with audience responses.
It was pretty neat, seeing the cathedral in person. Former Pres. HW Bush’s funeral had been held there just a few months prior to this. I had watched as much as I could via live stream.
We hied back to the apartment, to get out of the cold wind. We had taken along ingredients to make chili and it was a perfect night to use it up.
We headed out for Arlington Cemetery, this time with a better idea of how long things would take, and with a deadline to be at a museum later in the afternoon.
The cold had not let up but at least it was still sunny!
There were a number of cherry trees here as well. They were brilliant in the morning sun!
We met at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The last time I had visited here, I was about 8 years old. I’m guessing not much has changed in that [vast] amount of time. The precision and dedication to every snap, click and turn was almost like poetry in motion.
After they completed the change, a group of students presented a wreath from their school [from what I remember]. The guard addressed them before he went up and gave personal instructions.
The girl that was presenting the wreath, was wearing a sphaghetti strap dress. We’re on top of a hill, where 20+ mph 40* weather is swooping up at us. I was close enough to hear the quiet interaction between him and the small group. He asked her if this girl had a coat along for afterwards. She said she did and he smiled. They went through their ceremony, which took about 5 minutes.
As we were observing everything we noticed that more and more military personnel were gathering. [I forgot to mention that as we were walking to the TOTUS, we saw canons being unloaded.] Lois asked what was happening and was told that the Minister of Defense from South Korea would be presenting a wreath.
I ended up standing beside a young family. The husband is in the military but was stationed in another state. He knew about this presentation from a friend who was stationed in DC. They do not broadcast this event ahead of time. We just happened to be there and got in on it. We were glad our Sunday afternoon plans hadn’t panned out afterall.
I enjoyed chatting with the family and he was full of information about what was going on.
All branches of the military were present and it was quite a sight seeing them come up the steps in front of the tomb.
The Koreans came in from behind us so silently, that they were past before I realized they were around.
The South Korea band played their national anthem and ours.
There was a 19-gun [I think] salute, which explained the canons we had seen them unloading.
They silently left, walking past us again, out to their waiting limos.
Anyone reading this know who this Charles T. Yoder was?
We made our way back to the National Mall, and on to the Library of Congress after lunch.
This is quite the ornate building! Lois and I got in a small portion of a tour, but didn’t have time to take it all in.
There is a copy of the Gutenberg Bible on display. This is from the LOC website: The Library of Congress copy is printed entirely on vellum, a fine parchment made from animal skin, and is one of only three perfect vellum copies known to exist.
It had quite the sophisticated display case. If I remember correctly, the enclosure maintains a low temp to keep it good shape.
This mosaic the goddess Minerva was made with tiles from Murano Island, near Venice, Italy.
You need to get a library card in order to enter the library. There is an observation window that you can look down into it.
We left the Library of Congress, and the girls scootered their way to the Holocaust Museum, where we had a scheduled entry time.
Lois and I used the bus system that runs around the Mall. We passed the Supreme Court.
The Capitol on both sides.
I didn’t take any photos inside the Holocaust Museum. I’ve been to Dachau and Auschwitz and the horrors are difficult to photograph. It is quite sobering.
After we were finished, we went back out into the bright sunlight, catching the evening rays over the Tidal Basin. Such a contrast from the blackness of evil. This time we could see the cherry blossoms in their full glory! Still lots of people around. Can’t say I blame them a bit!
On to more adventures!!