Laura's District Distractions

October 7-11, 1999

Tigger and I again this year ventured out on our own to Washington D.C. for Columbus Day weekend. The main reason was to attend the RADP Meet on Sunday, Oct 10 - it's become tradition for Tigger and me to be there! :-) But I also enjoy visiting friends while I'm back there, and seeing some of the sights.

Since I'm rather late in doing this trip report, I decided to just alphabetically go through my directory of photo files, and try to figure out why on earth I decided to take the photo. :-)

But here's the basics first, I guess...I flew into Washington Reagan...airport on Thursday, and used the Metro to get around. I stayed in the Marriott Courtyard, which was a GREAT location - only one block from the Gallery Place Metro Station, and across the street from the National Portrait Gallery. And only 2 blocks from the much safer can you get? :-) For me it was easy walking distance to the Mall and other places I was interested in going - I ended up not using the Metro as much as I did last year. I flew home Monday afternoon.

And now on with the pictures!

On Saturday I walked from my hotel down Pennsylvania Ave to the White House, then down to the Mall and past most of the memorials. While heading from the Lincoln Memorial towards the FDR, a flash of gold caught my eye, and I walked over to get a better look at these statues that are at the end of the Arlington Memorial bridge.

I was a little early for much in the way of fall colors, but this tree was putting on a nice display. That's another thing I enjoy about visiting here in October - I usually get to see some fall colors, and the weather is usually very nice. This trip was more t-shirt and pants than t-shirt and shorts weather, and it rained a little bit on Sunday, but it wasn't a problem.

While walking down 8th Avenue I saw this building, and thought it had a very interesting brick work and paint job. Ok, so maybe I'm just easily amused...

Probably anyone who has seen very many of these web pages knows that I love taking pictures of flowers. :-) On Monday I had several hours in the morning before I needed to finish packing and check out of my hotel, so I just wandered around the Mall with my camera, taking pictures of whatever caught my eye. And for me, flowers are always eye-catching. :-) Even though it was October there were still quite a few things in bloom. Most of these I found in the Haupt Garden by the Smithsonian Castle - which is pictured to the left. :-)

I found this design on a wall near the Capitol building. I suppose the detail really doesn't show up in this photograph, but there are reeds and lilies and other flowers in the design. Even though it's made out of concrete, I thought it was quite delicate and lovely.

From something lovely to something I thought was just plain weird...I saw this on the bridge along the road from the FDR Memorial to the Jefferson Memorial. The shell has a drain in it, and I assume water drains out of the mouth and into the shell, and down to the river. Does that guy have a bad haircut or what?

I saw squirrels all over the Mall - lots of grey squirrels, and even one of the albino squirrels, and also one of the black squirrels that I *didn't* get a picture of. This grey squirrel was not shy at all - he was obviously looking for a handout. :-) Even though I didn't have anything for him he was still a cooperative little fellow and posed for a couple of pictures for me.

My friend Kathy came up from Fredericksburg to see me on Saturday, and we went to the Holocaust Museum - not the cheeriest place in the world, but neither of us had been there. The main part of the museum requires a ticket to get into - tickets are free, but at 1:15 the tickets they were handing out were for 4:15! We saw the orientation film about the museum and a couple of other exhibits before we left to do other things, and returned later.

The museum is a very sobering experience, and the way it's designed and built and lighted inside tends to make you a bit uneasy. It's very well done, though, and I'd encourage people to visit - but it's not really a place for kids. The museum closed at 5:20, so Kathy and I didn't have much time (they estimate it takes 2-3 hours to get through the main part), but we at least saw most of it, though not in much detail. I'm glad I visited, but it's not something I'm going to rush right back and do anytime soon.

On Friday I took the Metro to Vienna to spend the day with my friend Deb. She picked me up and gave me the grand tour of downtown Vienna, and then we went to the mall and had lunch at the Rainforest Cafe. That's where this picture of a jaguar comes in. :-) I was glad we weren't sitting under him - I think I would've been more concerned about *being* lunch rather than *eating* lunch. :-)

Deb and I had a great day together, and I think we mostly managed to stay out of trouble...though someone who shall remain nameless but just celebrated his 40th birthday may not agree with that. :-)

You can't go to D.C. and not take pictures of all the memorials, right? Ok...well *I* can't. :-) Saturday morning I walked from my hotel down to the Lincoln, Korean Veterans, FDR, and Jefferson Memorials, then past the Washington Monument and back to my hotel. My feet were kinda tired after that - but I definitely got my exercise!

This, in case you don't recognize it, is the Jefferson Memorial. You can even see Jefferson's statue in the center, gazing off towards the White House. Like a lot of other things in the area, it's undergoing renovation, and most of the steps leading up to it are blocked off, though you can't seen any of that in this picture.

Another view of the Jefferson Memorial, sort of, from the top of the Washington Monument. Remember how I said that lots of things in the area are undergoing renovation? The Washington Monument is, too, and it's covered in scaffolding - you can't see much from the observation deck. But this was the first time that I've had a chance to go up in it, so I took advantage of the opportunity - two years ago we couldn't get tickets, and last year it was closed because of the renovation.

Here's Kathy and me at the "Taste of DC" - at least we weren't stuffing our faces when this picture was taken! :-) "Taste of DC" is held every Columbus Day weekend - they close down about 6 blocks of Pennsylvania Avenue, and set up tents where local restaurants come in and you can sample some of their foods. I wish the samples were smaller so that you could try a wider variety. I had some pretty good sesame chicken and blackberry scones and found one place that had some really good (and huge!) cookies.

The Lincoln Memorial...even though it was kind of a grey overcast day, there was still a nice reflection in the reflecting pool (guess that's why they call it that, huh?)

Well, now we come to all the photos of the RADP Meet that was held on Sunday...there are LOTS of photos of that, but rather than display them all here I'll just provide links to them. (Believe me, you'll appreciate that since there's 21 of them! :-) )

The meet was held at Planet Hollywood on Pennsylvania Avenue, which was also where we met last year. We had a really nice turnout of 27 people - most of whom I had met the previous two years, and it was fun to see familiar faces again, and some new faces, too! Deb K did a great job organizing and setting everything up. Donna showed us the pictures from her trip to Disneyland Tokyo, DebW had pictures from her Millennium Celebration trip to Walt Disney World, and Jon was showing many of his Disney character photos - he was much more high tech than anyone else, and had his on a laptop. :-) Of course the disadvantage of that was that we could only see his pictures while the batteries lasted. ;-)

We had a great time, I think - both Debs had lots of goodies for us, like buttons and pencils and pins and Eyes & Ears magazines. We decided that next year's D.C. Columbus Day Meet should actually be held at Disneyland. :-)

I can't believe that all of us forgot to take a group picture! But here's the individual pictures that I walked around and snapped of everyone.

In my wandering around on Monday morning, I walked past the carousel that's on the Mall, and again took a picture of the merhorse, which is my favorite animal on that carousel...the merhorse may be my overall favorite of all the carousel animals, though.

Another Monday morning shot of the fountains outside the Navy Memorial - that's the National Archives building in the background. (I definitely learned my way around this part of the city a lot more on this trip!)

I'm not really into art, but in an attempt to try to soak up some culture I went to the National Portrait Gallery, and also walked through the Hirschorn Sculpture Garden. (Ok, that's a lie, the real reason I went to the Sculpture Garden was not to soak up culture, but to see what sort of funny sculptures people are trying to pass off as "art".)

And the real reason I went to the Portrait Gallery was because it was raining on Sunday morning and it was only a block from my hotel, so it seemed like a good place to spend a couple of hours. But it was interesting to see the various portraits and read the biographical information that went with it - though it's not a place I'm going to rush back to again. :-)

This picture was taken in the Scuplture Garden...maybe I just don't get it, but a giant typewriter eraser just doesn't say "art" to me...unless, maybe, the artist is commenting on the human condition, and communicating the idea that no mistake in life is so big that there isn't an eraser large enough to take care of it...nah, I don't think so. :-) Mostly I wander around art exhibits shaking my head and wondering why on earth someone considers this stuff to be "art". Sometimes I think it's all just a gigantic joke that the art critics are trying to play on the rest of's certainly the sort of thing that I would do. :-)

AAAAA!!!! The swans were *still* watching me, even though Lee wasn't with me!!!! :-) (And if you don't understand this comment, I'd suggest you read Lee's Swan Paranoia Report from our April WDW trip. Of course, even after reading that, you STILL may not understand what's going on... ;-) )

I described "The Taste of DC" earlier...but here's what Pennsylvania Ave. looks like with some of the tents set up. This was fairly early on Saturday, so it wasn't very crowded yet. It wasn't crowded at all Sunday morning because of the rain. :-) But there were a lot of people out there Sunday afternoon/evening.

On Monday morning I finally had time to walk up to the Capitol Building - something I just hadn't had time to do the previous three days. I had no particular reason to go there - just that I wanted to go up there and walk around and see the grounds. I still didn't have much time there, since as soon as I got there it was time to head back to my hotel and finish packing and check out. Of course this picture doesn't have the Capitol in it at all, but it was taken from the steps of the Capitol looking down The Mall, so it makes at least a little sense, right?

One funny I was walking up the steps of the Capitol, a lady stopped and asked me how to get to the Rayburn Building - I guess I looked like I knew what I was doing and she thought I worked there. :-) I knew the Rayburn Building was behind the Capitol, but that was about it. I still haven't been to the Library of Congress trip, maybe?

More flower pictures...the middle one of the waterlily was taken at a quiet little water garden that's off to the right after you cross the bridge between the FDR and Jefferson Memorials. I had it all to myself - no one else was around.

The Washington Monument...all covered in scaffolding. Oh well...I still had fun going up in it anyways. The scaffolding is supposed to come down in early spring, and the entire renovation is supposed to be done by July 4, 2000. They have to replace the mortar that holds the blocks together every 30 years or so. They are also redoing the observation deck, and the elevator - it sounds like they will be putting in a glass elevator so that from the elevator you can see the commemorative blocks that the various states contributed. They're made out of native stone from that state - i.e. lava rock from Hawaii, granite from New Hampshire, etc. You can see them from the stairwell, but they don't let people go up or down the stairs any more because of liability and vandalism. Too bad...I would have liked to have done that. Why do too many idiots have to ruin it for the rest of us?

Let's see...other things I learned about the Washington's 555' tall, and it's the tallest free-standing stone structure in the world - it has no steel reinforcement. And the top only moves 1/8" in a 30 mph wind.

Here it is...the last picture. I guess you can decide for yourself if I saved the best for last or not... :-) (But before you get too critical, remember that I was just going through my pictures alphabetically! :-) ) I guess I must have looked like I knew what I was doing on this trip, because in addition to the lady at the Capitol asking me about the Rayburn Building, I had a couple of foreign guys ask me where the White House was. But at least I knew where the White House was, so I could actually help them. :-)

So that was my trip to D.C...hope I didn't bore you too much with all of my pictures! I had a good time...I enjoyed seeing everyone. And I had fun sightseeing on my own - while it's nice to share things with other people, it's also nice to be able to do things at my own pace, and move along past things that don't interest me, and spend more time at things that do.

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Text and photographs copyright © 1999, by Laura Gilbreath. Feel free to link to this document, but you may not redistribute it in any form without the express written consent of the copyright holder.

Laura Gilbreath,
Last updated 11/1/99