Washington D.C., Day 2 & Day 3 (August 18)

Our first stop on Day 2 was the Smithsonian Institute’s National Zoo, which had the added excitement of a line-transfer on the Metro. We started out on the Silver Line (or Orange or Blue, it’s all the same at this point) to Metro Center, and then had to get off the train, cross under the tracks, and get onto the Red Line to head north. We exited at Cleveland Park Station, which was actually a really nice neighborhood full of old, ornate stone luxury apartment buildings and tall trees.

The zoo was great, and we spent more time there than we had planned to, actually, marveling over the wonderful creatures…

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It was lunchtime when we headed for the National Gallery of Art. And after a lot of walking at the zoo, it was another long walk down the mall to the Gallery!

Through the sunny National Sculpture Garden, with the huge metal tree…

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And the refreshing fountain that doubles as an ice rink, though certainly not today!

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And into the lofty, air-conditioned marble hallways and staircases of the art gallery…

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After a bite in the cafe, we enjoyed the LED tunnel walkway for a few minutes, before making our way over to our main attraction…

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We were primarily interested in the furniture collection, of course, and since the kiddos were a little tired, I wandered off with them to find a bench where they could relax while Daddy took some pictures. Their notebooks and pencils were at the ready, and I found the only benches nearby, and settled them down for some sketching. It turns out, the seating area was grouped around….a classical statue of a nude lady feeding a fawn. Of course.

Genevieve did a quick sketch, and held it up…

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“Buns!” Hahahahaha!

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So, our time at the art gallery was slightly short-lived. We perused a few rooms, but were soon on our way again.

We wrapped up the day at the Natural History Museum, second-floor exhibits, a perfect treat for some road-weary kiddos! It was every bit as exciting as our first day, as we wandered through gems and minerals, insects and butterflies, mummies and fossils…

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Okay, maybe some parts were slightly less exciting for some of us…

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And then, you guessed it, back on the Metro, change trains at Metro Center, a quick bite at the hotel, 30 minutes of much-anticipated pool time, and then off to bed, Day 2 complete!

On Day 3, oh happy Day 3, after many disappointing coffee attempts, we finally found a great coffee-shop right outside the Metro Center station, at Peet’s Coffee. What a treat! Well-caffeinated and stocked with pastries, we embarked upon our longest-walking day, which would end up taking us completely around the National Mall.

From Metro Center, we walked past the White House, because you just have to, don’t you?

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And from there, we were making the memorial circuit, beginning with the Lincoln Memorial…

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Some map-time was needed to help the kids understand why, exactly, this walk was taking so loooong!

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And a little rest in front of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, before getting on our way.

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Genevieve made a couple of quick calls to friends and family on her sketchbook “phone” while we walked…

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And snapped a couple of photos of the Jefferson Memorial across the water.

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And, a few more calls, just to make sure everyone was staying in the loop.

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She’s no fool, she knows what phones are for!

The FDR Memorial, with its many dramatic fountains, was a real treat for all…

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As was the World War II Memorial, brilliant and fountaining, and full of the memory of soldiers who came, not to conquer, but to liberate, to end tyranny and restore freedom.

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From the WWII Memorial, we left the sunlit sidewalk and followed the path beneath the trees down the long stretch to the Jefferson Memorial. The marble steps were cool and the terrace was breezy at Mr. Jefferson’s feet, and we relaxed there for a bit before the next leg of our journey…

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…which would take us down the opposite arm of the Mall, towards the Capitol, to the U.S. Botanic Gardens.

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It was a hot and sweaty day, a long-walking day, easily 5 miles of city-walking, all told. It was a fun day with lots to see…But now it was time for the kids to enjoy something just for them again – the National Air & Space Museum! Once again, the kids led the way through the exhibits, visiting whatever tickled their fancies, learning about early flight and telescopes and the universe.

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As we watched a video of the Space Shuttle Discovery blasting off, Genevieve shouted out, “Wow! That is coooool!”, reminding all of us that space flight is, in fact, something to be incredibly excited about 🙂 So that actually made me a teeny bit sad…

But then it was off to a final stop, the Smithsonian Castle, just because it looked neat and we wanted to see it before we left. We all agreed that we were properly worn out, and it was time to call it a day, once more.

So we hopped the Metro back to the hotel, for the last time. And we grabbed a bite at DC Taco, for the last time. And we spent 30 minutes in the hotel pool, for the last time. And hit the pillows, worn out, one last time!

And as I reflected on our days here in the nation’s capital, one thing kept returning to my mind…As we walked through these massive stone structures, memorials and museums, full of high-priced vendors and over-burdened cashiers, bustling with people jostling through gift shops and cafeterias and security screening lines, jockeying for position with selfie sticks and looking for Pokemon and zipping off to the next photo-op…As we visited these places that were established to help people remember events and ideals and values that are meant to be at the heart of American culture, like liberty and self-sacrifice and honor and integrity and innovation…One thing kept returning to my mind…

As the apostles walked with Jesus, they commented on the amazing architecture of the temple, the wonder of this grand construction…And he said to them, “I tell you the truth, not one stone will be left standing on another.” The temple, which should have been the house of God, had become a house of pride. The money-changers and the dove-sellers were capitalizing on visitors, who streamed in and out in a constant parade to showcase their piety, or else used the space as a convenient pass-through to expedite their own business. And it was like that here. Memorial after memorial, museum after museum, grand monuments raised for the purposes of reminding us, of showing us, of awakening in us the memory of what it means to be free, the cost of liberty, the spirit of innovation…All things that should be greatly honoring to the Lord and fundamental to our purpose in life…And yet today, they are little more than hurried temples of human pride – “Look at that marble building! Look at that golden statue! See it all in one day! Can I get a picture here? And here? And here?”

But, my heart was stirred, and I was reminded of what it means to call people to freedom, and I was reminded of the cost of liberty and the grave responsibility of upholding it, and I was reminded of the spirit of seeking and searching and improving and discovering…And I reminded my children of these things, and I explained to them why we had a monument and a memorial and a museum, as I hope other people do, as well. And so, amid the distractions and the hustle and the circus, though my heart was saddened to think of how things should have been, the National Mall still served a purpose in our family, in spite of itself!


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