Visiting Our Nation’s Capital

Jefferson Memorial Last week, my family and I visited Washington, DC. We had never been before so it was truly a treat. We gave our legs a workout that they have not had in a looooong time!

We visited most of the sites—Jefferson Memorial to the left (kind of looks like it’s sliding into the river, doesn’t it?), Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, WWII Memorial (really beautiful!), Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, Ford’s Theater, National Zoo and Aquarium, National Archives (loved National Treasure!), Bureau of Engraving and Printing, Museum of Natural History, Air and Space Museum, Museum of American History, the Capitol and the International Spy Museum (okay, didn’t really go in, just went to the gift shop!)

Yet, there was so much we missed, like the White House. My youngest son liked the subways the best of all. If you’d like to see a slide show my older son made of our trip, click here if you have a fast connection (it’s a bit long.) Keep in mind that it’s from his perspective. While the boys were looking at the guns in the history museum, I was upstairs looking at the first ladies!  I have to admit that my favorite souvenir we brought home was Krispie Kremes!

When you have two kids that only eat chicken nuggets, finding a restaurant can be challenging. Especially in Washington because we hardly saw any restaurants. I was wondering where all these people eat. I asked at the aquarium and she sent us into the Ronald Reagan Building across the street. Well, lo and behold, there was a food court on the basement floor! So that’s where all these people that work in these super-sized buildings eat. Who knew? We also ate at the Hard Rock Café next to Ford’s Theater. They have a really cool stained glass window of Chuck Berry, Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis that we sat in front of. So as we’re leaving town to come home, what did we find just one block behind our hotel? Yes, a Mickey D’s! Just goes to show that you have to do your homework before you go on a trip. I have to say that Washington was one of the cleanest places I’ve visited and the quietest.

Capitol BuildingWhile in DC, I took the opportunity to meet with Alden O’Brien, the textile curator at the DAR Museum. They have a piece of the ‘Ocean-Born Mary’ silk* and we compared it to the pieces that I have photographs of. They were all consistent, but she has her doubts as to the age of the fabric, feeling it was from the 1780’s rather than the 1720’s (though she couldn’t rule out the 1720’s.) It was a productive conversation and she finds the whole legend quite plausable, admitting that my evidence was more compelling than some other national legends that shall remain nameless here! (* Ocean-Born Mary is another NH legend that I am researching for a picture book. It has all the drama of the high seas—pirates, a baby’s birth, treasure—Arrrgh!)

In preparation for our trip, I read a few children’s books on the topic. If the Walls Could Talk has interesting tidbits about the Presidents and their life in the White House. The story of George Washington’s Teeth is told in rhyme and is quite cute! When Washington Crossed the Delaware tells of the trials and tribulations of the Revolutionary War as told by Lynne Cheney. Lincoln : A Photobiography was a perfect biography for young readers–succinctly told. This last book–George Washington, Spymaster : How the Americans Outspied the British and Won the Revolutionary War–I picked up at the International Spy Museum. It’s a wonderfully designed little book–feels good in your hands, pages have deckled edges, uses a font reminiscent of the time, and the jacket is printed in letterpress. I can see where kids, especially boys, would get caught up in the whole spy thing; there are codes to decipher throughout the whole book. Kudos to National Geographic for making history fun!

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