RaulersonGirlsTravel

The Washington D.C. trip that was 18 years in the making!

It was the day before Father’s Day, June 17, 1995, and my family received the call that changed our lives forever my dad had passed away in Washinton D.C. at the age of 46.  He was there at the time for work, and I was planning on visiting him for vacation two weeks later.  I never got that opportunity…Fast Forward 18 years later. I was able to gain the courage (thanks to my Dale Carnegie classmates) to experience this long-awaited journey on the anniversary.  I finally was able to get closure and my vacation with my dad.

I spent the day being a tourist knowing my dad was right beside me every step of the way.  This incredible city is full of history and culture in every direction you look.  Plus, it is super easy to get anywhere around the city.  I purchased a folding wallet-sized laminated map that had Washington D.C. streets and the metro locations from Amazon.  This map was indispensable for me throughout the entire trip.  I bought myself a Metro card and hopped on and off to all the major landmarks.  I walked everywhere with my camera and took photos of these amazing buildings that I see in movies and TV shows all the time.  I never thought of how I would feel when seeing these places in person.  I’m not a big political person but, I was beginning to feel that being there in this city on this day was important, and the atmosphere was rubbing off on me.  Walking around this place made you think about who you were and what your plan was for the future.  

Are you on the right path or do you need to make a change?! 

There are so many places to see in D.C. that it was difficult to see everything in one trip.  Although that didn’t stop me from trying to see it all.  The White House was crazy with all the security around it.  It was so impressive that you almost felt like whispering but, that could have also been because you knew there were cameras recording everything you said and did around the gates. The Capital was another impressive sight to see from the outside.  I had already made plans to tour inside the Capital for the following day so, relaxing by the Reflecting Pool was nice after all the walking I was doing.  I was a little disappointed in seeing the Washington Monument all closed off with the construction platforms around it.  I felt cheated on the photo opportunities but, I understood why it was still closed with the structural damage from the earthquake in 2011.  The Lincoln Memorial is awe-inspiring.  Try to find your state’s name above the columns surrounding it. Plus, if you notice his hands, the left hand is shaped like an A and the right like an L.  It is also worth spending time here reading two of Lincoln’s great speeches, including the Gettysburg Address.  You feel like a better person after visiting the Lincoln Memorial.  Sitting on the steps looking out over the National Mall is something everyone should do especially during sunsets.  

National Air and Space Museum

National Air and Space Museum

Everywhere I looked I was seeing daughters walking with their fathers

This day was so special to me that everywhere I looked I was seeing daughters walking with their fathers.  It just brought home that my dad was with me excuse me while I take a quick tissue break.  My next stop was the National Air and Space Museum.  This museum is one place I know we would have enjoyed together.  It is filled with rockets, space shuttles, airplanes, and even the USS. Enterprise model from Star Trek (one of my dad’s favorite shows).  I spent hours combing through all the exhibits.  My favorites were the Amelia Earhart exhibit and the surprising ones showing how women played a part in aviation history.

Smithsonian Castle

Smithsonian Castle

More must-see sights include the Smithsonian Castle.  Enter on the Mall side but, go through the building to see the gardens. The landscaping is incredible, and there are plenty of quiet places to sit and relax by water fountains.  Remember to go on the North side of the White House by Lafayette Square to see Blair House, Executive Office Building (styled after the Louvre), and a up-close view of the White House. North of the Federal Triangle on 10th Street is Ford’s Theatre. The theater has been restored to look as it did when Lincoln attended, including the presidential box draped with flags as it was the night he was shot.  When I walked by the theater in the afternoon, there was a long line waiting to get in.  It is highly recommended to reserve tickets in advance.  I wasn’t able to do the tour this time but, have since added it to the list for the next trip. 

I think some of the most moving places to visit are the war memorials spaced around the National Mall.  The “Wall” was a profound site to walk through.  With over 58,000 names of Americans that died during the Vietnam War, the wall seemed to go on and on.  People leave all sorts of items on the wall, and one, in particular, caught my notice.  It was a letter addressed “For Father’s Day 2013” It started with “Dear Daddy, I just wanted to let you know that I love you so much and I was and still am so grateful to having been blessed with you as my Dad…I admired everything you did, I looked up to you and you have always been my Hero.  You set your goals high and accomplished them no matter how hard or impossible they seemed…I’ve always looked up to you, tried to be like you, and be my own person the way you were…You were so amazing Dad!…I just knew that I was Daddy’s little girl and our relationship was priceless…I was so blessed to have you even for a short while – and I just want you to know that I love you so much.  My memories and love for you motivated me to try to do my best in everything…I love and miss you endlessly.  Thank you for being my Daddy!”

I couldn’t have found something match so perfectly to me if I had tried.


Close up view of the Korean War Memorial

Korean War Memorial

IMG_2480In the Field of Service, 19 soldiers trek through rugged terrain toward the American flag.  “Our nation honors her sons and daughters who answered the call to defend a country they never knew and people they never met.”  “Freedom is Not Free.” These soldiers were so life-like that you believed they were real.  The World War II Memorial is beautiful and intimidating at the same time right in between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument.  

Rainbow Pool

Rainbow Pool

 

Field of Stars at the World War II Memorial

Field of Stars at the World War II Memorial

Library of Congress Jefferson Building

Library of Congress Jefferson Building

With me being an avid reader this, the largest library in the world, was one place I looked forward to touring. The Library of Congress is beautiful building inside and out.  When you walk in you, don’t know where to look first.  Each wall, corner, and ceiling area are different with amazing detailed artwork.  The tour does take you to a balcony overlooking the Main Reading Room.  I would have rather have gone into the reading room IMG_2907but, I was running short on time.  Next trip I’m going to get my very own Library of Congress card.

 

While I was waiting for my Capital Tour, I decided to check out the Unites States Botanic Garden, the oldest botanic garden in North America.  It is located at the foot of Capital Hill.  Must see are the collection of rare and unusual orchids and going up to see the jungle view from the 24-foot catwalk.

 

I was able to get a tour ticket through my US representative.  That was an experience in itself because I never contacted them before.  I didn’t realize that there were a lot of good reasons to contact them especially if you are planning on traveling to Washington D.C.  You need to be there 30 minutes before your tour starts to get through security.  

The tour consists of stops in the Rotunda, followed by the National Statuary Hall, the Hall of Columns, the old Supreme Court Chamber, the crypt (where there are exhibits on the history of the Capital), and the gift shop.  The tour goes as quickly as I listed the rooms.  You are in and out of the rooms so fast that you don’t get a chance to take any real photographs.  So, me being the photographer that I am and also having a determined personality I was not leaving without a photo of the Abe Lincoln bust.  My tour guide headed out of the room with the group, and I went the other way to get my photo.  Let me say that the security personnel do not take kindly for not following the rules.  I got in a little bit of trouble but, I got my photo!  

 
 
Natural Museum of Natural History

Natural Museum of Natural History

Another interesting place to check out is the National History Museum.  You could spend some time in here.  Lots to see with animals in their natural habitats, dinosaurs, mummy’s, minerals, gems, and the Hope Diamond!

The Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial is by far the biggest presidential memorial in Washington.  There are four rooms to go through that have waterfalls, reflecting pools, bronze sculptures.  Lots of photo opportunities by the waterfalls, by Fala (Scottish Terrier), standing in the bread line or listening to Roosevelt’s fireside chat.  Also throughout there are Roosevelt’s quotes engraved on the walls, including “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”  I loved walking through this memorial…very peaceful and a lot quieter than other areas of Washington.
 

 

Here are some more random photos that I took while walking around Washington that I found interesting, and there are plenty more that I didn’t post that are just waiting to be seen by you.   

I don’t know why I waited so long to visit Washington D.C. but, glad that I finally did. This city is jammed pack with so much to see and experience that you need more than one trip and don’t forget to wear excellent walking shoes.  Although my dad was with me in spirit, I felt his presence and know in my heart that this trip was as good as it would have been 18 years ago!

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