We arrived at the Hall of the States building at 9:40am and parked in the garage. If you’ve ever tried to find parking in Washington, DC, you know what a chore that can be, especially if you’re seeking a monitored garage, so that your MacBooks, ipads, and cooler stay both cool and free from theft. Considering it was a short walk to the Capitol, where we had a 10:10am tour reservation, this was a huge win.
After touring several areas of the Capitol (sadly, we did not enter either chamber, as it was Saturday, and there wasn’t anything going on inside them), we took the tunnel leading to the Library of Congress to take a guided tour. My bride was somewhat disapproving of this idea (despite her love for the library and the Library of Congress–she used to have a library card to the LOC, but it disappeared forever when her wallet was stolen during my second Iraqi deployment in ’07), because it was after noon, and the children had yet to eat lunch (and were, accordingly, antsy). We went anyway, and it was likely the highlight of the day.
Our tour guide, Tom, was in high mid-70s and was passionate about the Library Congress, what it stood for when it was built, what it stands for now, and that we remember it was built in 1897 forever. You’re welcome, Tom. He kicked people out of our tour group for sitting, messing with their phones, or having a level of interest or enthusiasm he deemed too low for his tour. He was awesome.
He taught us to appreciate American putti, too, because they’re industrious little cherubs, unlike those lazy Italian ones who play harps and sit around getting fat all day.
After our tour, we walked back to the Capitol Visitor Center for a late lunch and then took the children (at their repeated request) to the Museum of Natural History after a brief stop in front of the closed U.S. Supreme Court.
There was a line outside waiting to get inside the museum, and it was about 88 degrees outside with high humidity. Inside was a little less hot and humid, but it was packed. The children loved it. We parents couldn’t get out quickly enough. As I learned when deployed to Andrews AFB in 2006, one should only visit the more popular Smithsonian museums (Natural History, American History, and Air & Space) in the dead of winter.
We caught an uber back to our car and were going to head to Delaware for our days on the beach, but our 8-year-old badly wanted to see where Martin Luther King, Jr stood on the steps in front of the Lincoln Memorial to deliver his “I have a Dream” speech. Unfortunately, it was packed…nowhere to park nearby, and my bride was anxious to get to the beach house where her mother, sister, and nephews were waiting on us. So, we pulled into an illegal parking spot in front of the MLK memorial and let her get a quick picture in front of it instead. And damn if we didn’t see Chris Rock and his children doing the same thing.
Then it was into the car, across the terrifying Chesapeake Bay Bridge, and into Lewes, Delaware, where we’d spend the next 4 days. And, most importantly, not drive for a while.
Despite the fact that it appears I was anxious about our schedule most of the time, this was a really, really fun day. Am glad we piled in as much as we did–I might not have if you hadn’t encouraged us to, but we had such a great time! Also: Ubering to your parking garage in DC from the Mall is GENIUS, everyone.
Some great pics.
We would like to get to DC with the children next summer but feel leery due to the heat. I’m surprised you ran into so many crowds.
When I was deployed there from Jan-June 2006, I learned that the best time to see the museums is, ironically, when it’s freezing outside (ie, during the winter). Even on weekends, we could see the most popular Smithsonian museums with no problems in Jan and Feb. As soon as Spring approaches, however, they get packed with Spring Breakers, vacationers, etc. I’d love to go back with our family, but it’ll be during the winter!
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