We have been in Virginia for less than 2 weeks. With us being under two hours away from The Capital of The United States, we had to make a trip. Join us as The Nomads Go To DC.
We left in the afternoon from the Shenandoah River Valley and arrived in Washington DC around 2 PM. Mama Nomad said that there was free parking around the section of town called The National Mall. For those of you who have not been, this is not a place for shopping. It is actually a national park in downtown DC that is administered by The National Park Service. The National Mall is where you can see most of the iconic monuments and memorials. It is also where the White House is adjacent to.
We arrive at The National Mall. We are there on a Sunday afternoon with sunshine and moderate temperatures, so, as you may have guessed, all of the free parking is taken. So, I decide to go to a parking structure, but first I wanted to at least pass by the White House. I drove up and down many one way streets all around The White House. I am convinced they organized the streets this way as a deterrent to any kind of attack. It is very confusing.
Even our GPS was trying to direct us down the street in front of the White House. Let me give you a forewarning, if you think that you can arrive at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in your vehicle, think again. That road is closed. You have no access directly in front of or behind the White House. You have to find parking further away and walk up to the 8 foot iron fence to see it. So, Mama Nomad did a quick search and found us some reasonable parking a few blocks away. Due to all of the one way streets and traffic, it took us about 20 minutes to go a few miles.
We finally arrived at 601 Pennsylvania Avenue, a few blocks from The National Mall. All day parking during the week is $25 for the day. However, on the weekend it was $13. It does not beat free. But it does beat paying $25 or having to walk back and feed a parking meter. So, we pulled in, parked at 601 Pennsylvania Avenue and began our exploration.
The place is wonderous. You walk around and you see such regal, stoic and historical buildings everywhere. We walked by The First Amendment Building, located next to the Canadian Embassy. I have never seen so many Canadian Flags in one place in my life. I called a Canadian colleague of mine and he jokingly said “They want to make sure everyone knows they are Canadian.”
We crossed the road and came upon The National Gallery of Art. We stepped inside to use the facilities and then progressed out of the side door almost directly onto The National Mall. We were on the east end of The National Mall, by the Capitol Building.
Mama Nomad was a little disappointed that they were doing work on the dome of the Capitol Building. I remarked, “I know…the nerve of them for not consulting you first.” I wish the steel structures weren’t around the dome, it would have looked so much better for our memories and our pictures. But, we understood that without maintenance, things fall apart.
We progressed down the north side of The National Mall stopping off at the Washington Monument before we detoured to The White House. I was determined to accomplish on foot what I could not accomplish in Ebony. We made our way across the grounds, past The Ellipse and to E Street (the road on the south side of The White House). We were able to grab a few pix up against the gate. There was a guy on the roof of The White House. One of the Nomad boys asked if it was a sniper. I carry a monocular in my bag so I pulled it out for a closer look. Mama Nomad was nervous that I was using the monocular to look at The White House. I was able to look without incident and realized it was Secret Service looking through a telescope looking device.
We left The White House and went back to the main National Mall. Next we visited the World War II Memorial. It is a rather large memorial with quotes, engravings in rock and metal and ornate decorations everywhere. It is a wonder to see.
We progressed onto the next stop, The Vietnam Memorial. This one really made an impact on our youngest Nomad. The Vietnam Memorial has the names of all the American Soldiers that died in the war listed in a book. But that wasn’t what impacted him. It was seeing all of the names engraved on a wall that reached 10 feet in one area and went on for what seemed to be a couple hundred feet. It was hard for him to comprehend the amount of people represented on that wall. It is definitely somber inducing feeling.
We left and went onward to The Lincoln Memorial. On the way there our youngest Nomad said he wanted to climb upon Lincoln’s lap. I explained they don’t let you climb on monuments. We climbed to the top of the stairs of The Lincoln Monument and received three treats. 1) We were able to see The Washington Monument in the Reflecting Pool. 2) We saw the spot where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I Have A Dream Speech.” There is a faded carving in the stone marking the spot. 3) We were able to see Old Honest Abe in his chair in the memorial. His statue was grand with a statement to his memory overhead and his “Four Score” speech engraved on the wall.
Leaving The Lincoln Memorial, we were going to head straight back and take in the monuments and memorials on the south side of The National Mall on a subsequent trip. It was beginning to get dark and we had to get back to the parking garage before it closed. But, as we began to head back, right outside The Lincoln Memorial was The Korean War Memorial. I could not pass it up so we went to visit it. There were metal sculptures of soldiers and engravings of service personnel on a rock wall. It culminated by a carving saying “Freedom Is Not Free.” Had to stand there and take a moment to reflect when I read that one.
Afterwards, we walked, rather briskly, down the south side of The National Mall and did not stop until we had reached The National Gallery of Art. We crossed the roads and got back to the parking garage. We found Ebony and sat there for a minute resting our feet, our backs and soaking in the afternoon. I will definitely say that walking down The National Mall delivers a myriad of feelings that range from wonderment and awe to pride and sadness. It was a roller coaster but one I recommend riding. Safe Travels.