Thursday, May 17, 2018

DC Trip 2018 - Spy Museum/Arboretum

Philip and Keenan spent the morning of our last full day in DC completing the one thing that Keenan desperately wanted to do as soon as he learned we were going to visit DC, despite the fact that we required him to pay for his own admission because it is one of the things in town that is not free.  Yes folks, they went to the International Spy Museum.  Caleb would have been free but opted out and it was probably a good idea.  According to Philip it is an interesting, engaging and well laid out museum, but it still involves reading a lot of displays which is not really my thing and and certainly not Caleb's thing at this age.  Keenan loved it and said it was in his top two things of the trip along with visiting Udvar-Hazy.  They learned a lot of interesting things about this history of espionage and intelligence gathering.  One display claimed that pigeons were the most decorated military animal and shared the story of a famous World War I pigeon named Cher Ami who saved nearly 200 men by flying 25 miles in 25 minutes despite multiple wounds, including having one leg shot off.

Outside the entrance
(No flash photography was allowed and Philip didn't take many pics inside)

While Philip and Keenan were gone, Moriah, Caleb and I watched an episode of "Nailed It" on Netflix.  A hilarious baking show where contestants are given a time limit to copy, to the best of their ability, some elaborate creation.  The winner gets $10,000.

I got in a short nap while the kids watched a couple episodes of other shows, and then we walked to lunch...

A selfie with some of the beautiful ivy on the way

We decided to eat at Dupont Italian Kitchen - it was delicious and fun!

After, we stopped by McDonald's for chocolate shakes for the kids and an iced coffee for me

We met Philip and Keenan back at the house after they had lunch at Shake Shack and then picked up a ZipCar and drove to the National Arboretum (another place Philip had never visited during past trips to DC because it is well off any MetroRail stop).

Zipcars are rented by the hour, we used them a few times while we were here

The first thing we checked out was the Azalea Collection, which was still quite impressive despite some damage from the severe rain storm the previous night:

Such a pretty trail!

Us pink girls

This bush had two different colors growing on the same bush!

Some of them looked like this!

Fun artsy shot

A pretty little pond we found

It was FULL of frogs!   We could probably see ten at a time!

Moving on to the Asian Trail...

I loved this tiny, curled fern!

Lastly, we went to the Bonsai Museum.

I hadn't really understood much about the art of Bonsai before, but apparently you can take just about Any kind of tree, and through years and years of "training" they call it, you can groom and manipulate it into a miniature tree!

The gardens were quite beautiful 

An Azaelea bonsai!

Keenan was more interested in reading in the shade ;)

This is a forest style bonsai

I think this one is perfect

This one blew us away - as the sign below says, it has been in training since 1625!!!

That blows my mind

The National Herb Garden was my favorite part of the day!

I don't remember what this fruit was called, but it looked Amazing!

Moriah took this for us, and if you look closely, you can see Caleb sneaking in the background

By this time we were all HOT and tired, and were ready to head for home.  We had dinner and spent the evening packing up for our flight in the morning.

On Wednesday the 16th, we took our last metro ride, had two great flights back to Wichita, and rode our last escalator for a while... whew!  It's good to be HOME!

What an amazing trip!  I have to give Huge kudos to Philip for all of his extensive planning to make this trip possible and so full and rich for our family.  We saw and experienced So much and we are so blessed and grateful!  Love you, Babe!

DC Trip 2018 - Botanical Gardens/Library of Congress/Capitol

On Monday we started the day at the United States Botanic Garden.

This wasn't in focus, but I think it's super cute anyway

See Philip's reflection in the water?  :)

Lots more flowers...

The gardens were just Amazing!!

I love these ones with water drops on them

Whenever I see this flower, I always think "Listeria"  Haha!

Pretty arbor

Then we went inside...

The orchids were Gorgeous and everywhere!

The tropical room was beautiful and three stories high!

Look at those colors and patterns!

Looking down from the upper level

This plant was So peculiar!

Some prickly ones

This was the Desert Garden

Check out those strange cacti!

Working on his Junior Botanist book

A fun outdoor kid's area
(These "misters" were motion activated)


They even got to plant a flower!

Watering the flower they planted

One of my favorite family photos from the trip

After a leisurely start (Philip knows I need a breath of fresh air in between all the museums), we had lots of other things to do that day!

The House side of the Capitol

Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress (LOC)

Philip had never had a chance to go inside the LOC so this was pretty exciting for him and Keenan loves libraries in general so he was pretty pumped to see what has to be one of the premier libraries in the world (although the British Library claims to have more catalogued items).

Heading up the steps of the LOC

The architecture inside was Stunning!!

The ceiling of the main reading room

The floor of the main reading room

This mosaic is made up of thousands of tiny tiles!

Wise words

A ceiling selfie

Another mosaic

A first edition Gutenberg Bible

One of the long, pretty hallways on the way to the children's area

The Children's Reading Room (the only room in the LOC where kids can touch books)

Philip read several fun books to the kids 

We didn't even know about two other great rooms until the end

We then walked through the underground tunnel to the James Madison Building of the LOC and had lunch in the cafeteria on the 6th floor.  It was getting hot outside so we returned to the tunnels and crossed back the Jefferson building before returning to the street to head next door.

Quick photo stop on the east side of the Capitol

Before arrive outside the Supreme Court

We headed inside and looked around the first floor before heading upstairs

A lecture was in progress so we didn't actually get to stick our heads in the chamber but we could see the bench through the open door and curtain.  They had just convened earlier in the day and released five new opinions.  Philip had considered getting us all up early enough to get in the line to try and be in the courtroom for the announcements but decided that could make the day a bit too long.

The Great Hall
(each former Chief Justice has a bust in this hall)

We exited through the door at the other end out onto the front steps and then crossed the street to wait in the shade before heading off to start our tour of the Capitol.  We had instructions to meet in the office of Senator Roberts and one of his staff members would give us a tour.

Inside the Hart Senate Office Building (the newest of the Senate offices)

An old version of the underground trolly connection to the Capitol

The modern version

A life size replica of the Freedom statue at the top of the dome

The old Supreme Court Chamber

Inside the dome of the Rotunda

This is where Billy Graham was recently Laid in Honor
(only the second private citizen, after Rosa Parks, to receive that honor)

"Declaration of Independence" by John Trumbull in 1818

The old House chamber, now National Statuary Hall

Every state is given the right to place two statues in the Capitol and each state legislature has totally authority over the statues they send to DC.  Congress can also commission additional statues so, for example, we saw the relatively recent addition of Rosa Parks.

Senator John James Ingalls
(There are apparently plans to replace him with Amelia Earhart)

General Eisenhower, the other Kansas Statue
(Ike replaced Gorge Washington Glick, 9th Governor of Kansas)

After this we had to leave everything electronic down in the visitor center in order to enter the House chamber's viewing gallery.  The security was super tight, seemingly even more than at the White House!  Philip had also never had the opportunity to actually see the inside of either chamber (a key benefit of booking a tour through your Senator or Representative vs. the normal public tours you can get from the visitor center) and so he was pretty excited.  The only bummer was that the Senate chamber was closed and so we couldn't visit both galleries as we had been told we would a few months ago.  Many thanks to the staff of Senator Pat Roberts!

We also decided to see the National Archives that day, to free up some time the following day.   There were No pictures allowed inside the building, but it was Amazing to see the original Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights!