Saturday, February 23, 2013

DC with a side of New Zealand

I somehow wound up with two days off in a row this past week. I can't remember the last time that happened! The weather was pretty bad Tuesday so Mark and I stayed home and got caught up on some stuff around the house, but I wanted to get out and do something on Wednesday. It wound up being too cold to hike and too windy to fly, so we decided to head to DC instead. Did you know that they offer free tours of the Capitol Building?

The rotunda is crazy. It sits below the dome, and it's 180 feet from the floor to the top. Hallways branch off of the sides leading to the Senate and House of Representatives.

I had some fun playing with my wide-angle lens.   :)

The sun was streaming in the windows and you could see the columns outside. The Frieze of American History wraps around the entire circle below the windows; it starts with the landing of Columbus and ends with the Wright Brothers.

The Apotheosis of Washington is a huge fresco at the top of the rotunda. It looks tiny from the floor but the figures are actually 15 feet tall. There are a lot of paintings along the walls in the rotunda, too, including the one that appears on the back of the two dollar bill. (I somehow didn't get any pictures of these! I guess I was having too much fun taking pictures of the ceiling.)

After ogling over the Rotunda, we moved on to the National Statuary Hall. It was originally where the House of Representatives met, but since the acoustics were terrible and the House outgrew the room, it's full of brass and marble statues now. You'll just have to imagine what the statues look like since those pictures turned out blurry, but the ceiling was honestly more fun to look at anyway.

We passed John Boehner's office on the way back to the Rotunda. It's a shame he wasn't there actually would be nice to know what the heck is going on with my job in the very near future. No worries, it's not like I need a paycheck or anything. Bah.

The last stop on the tour was an area directly under the Rotunda called the Crypt. It was originally designed to be the site of George Washington's tomb but both he and his wife died before it was completed and his family refused to let his body be moved from Mount Vernon. There's a stone star in the floor in the middle of the room that marks out the point where DC is divided into its four quadrants (even though it's not actually the geographic center of the city).

After the tour, we made sure to check out the East Front of the Capitol. I haven't been on this side too many times, so it was neat to see.

We made our way back down to the car so Mark could feed the meter, and I spent a few minutes taking some picture of the West Front of the building.

Best parking spot ever! It's only two hour parking, but Mark moved the car up a spot, paid, and we were off to do some more exploring.

It was pretty cold and windy, so we figured we'd head inside to someplace a bit warmer: the US Botanic Garden. Mmm, palm trees...

Since it's February there wasn't too much in bloom, but we did see some orchids.

After wandering through the gardens for a while we made our way over to the Air and Space Museum so I could drool on a few planes.

They had a pretty neat ATC display, including a side-view video of all the air traffic in the US over the course of a day. It was neat to see the blips jumping up and down.

We finished wandering around fairly close to 5pm, and since traffic was absolutely awful on the way back we made our way over to Cassatt's in Arlington. It's a New Zealand cafe, and man did it make me miss NZ! As soon as they set my flat white (kind of like a latte) down on the table in a big old coffee cup I got homesick for the bakeries over there. The food was amazing; I had a pear walnut salad that tasted a lot like my mom's girly salad, and some chicken with coconut curry. I finished it all off with a warm brownie with ice cream. Heaven.   :)


  1. Sarah, sounds like you two had a lot of fun! Next time you are looking for cool stuff to do in DC, take the tour of the Library of Congress. It's right across the street from the Capitol visitor center...and in fact, accessible from there by a pedestrian tunnel that runs under the street. The Library is a stunning interior space, well worth your time.

    Hope the sequester doesn't impact you too badly. Looks like the contract tower at KBDR (my home up north) is going to be closed for the duration. I wonder if after a bunch of the small-field towers are closed for a spell, people will start to wonder whether we needed them in the first place.



  2. Frank, thanks - it was fun! I would have loved to check out the Library of Congress; they mentioned it on the tour and we walked past the entrance to the tunnel on the way out, but we just barely made it back to the car before the parking expired. Oh well, guess I'll just have to go back. :)

    And this point it's looking like we may be furloughed a day or two per pay period starting sometime in April if things don't change. We've been looking through the list of possible closures over the past few days; in this general area, it looks like Manassas might be the more significant of them. I've seen that place get a bit crazy with controllers; I'm not sure I'd want to fly there without them. And nobody's said a word about what happens to the controllers that work at all those towers...will they get placed somewhere else or just let go completely? One thing's for sure...I hope they fix this mess before it gets too bad.

    Blue skies,
    Sarah :)