Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Day 31 Summer 2011 Road Trip

Well we did get a good nights sleep last night, no loud noises or bumps in the night.   We got up around 8 and headed downstairs for breakfast.  We packed a light lunch and snacks and then got in the free shuttle van that the hotel provides to run guests back and forth between the hotel and the Metro station.  The station is about 2 miles away from the hotel.

We got to the New Carrollton Station and purchased our day pass tickets but they are not valid until 9:30 am so we had to kill some time before boarding.

The Metro system is very easy to figure out with the maps provided.  I had downloaded the Metro DC app for my Android phone, but I am slowly learning that these apps are useless without a 3G data signal and GPS access to the satellites in the sky.  The app was supposed to tell me arrival and departure times of the trains and when the next train was supposed to arrive at the station… all useless when underground with no data or GPS.
The other apps that didn’t work as advertised were the Great Smoky Mountains National Park app and the Blue Ridge Parkway app.  There are no data towers in the National Park or along most parts of the Blue Ridge Parkway.  The apps are useless without the data signal to run them.

Anyways, we are aboard the Metro heading into Washington DC for a few hours of sightseeing.  The main purpose of our journey today is to learn the Metro system and to check out Bus Tours for the sights around Washington DC.

I have figured out where we need to get off to go and see the White House, so we will do that first.  And here we are.

1310 Washington, DC - The White House 1306 Washington, DC - The White House - Karen 1308 Washington, DC - The White House - Bill

Next door to the White House is the Department of the Treasury.  The Treasury prints all the paper money and mints all the coins.  You can smell the newly printed money as you walk past on the sidewalk.

1314 Washington, DC - United States Department of the Treasury

Through all of the traffic congestion you can see the Capital Building.  The Senators and Governors are all down there hashing out the final details and will be voting today to raise the debt ceiling.

1324 Washington, DC - U.S. Capitol Building

We got to see the vegetable garden that Michelle Obama planted,  I really expected to see her out here pulling weeds, but I guess she did that earlier before we arrived.

1330 Washington, DC - The White House Kitchen Garden 1331 Washington, DC - The White House 1333 Washington, DC - The White House

From here we turned around and got this good photo of the Washington Monument.  This was built to commemorate the first President of the USA.

1327 Washington, DC - Washington Monument

From here we got back on the Metro, here is what it looks like in the station tunnel.

1349 Washington, DC - Metro Station

We headed to the stop near the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum and spent a couple of hours wandering around in the nice air conditioned building (92 degrees outside) looking at the exhibits.  The museum houses the largest collection of historic spacecraft and aircraft.  A lot of them are the original or the backup to the original.  I saw the original Apollo 11 capsule but it is encased in a plastic coating to protect it and the plastic just reflected everything and made for terrible photos.  Saw lots of moon rocks and moon dust, but again, as with most things in the museum, photos just aren’t worth taking because of the protective plastic or glass preserving them.

1350 Washington, DC - Smithsonian Institution National Air and Space Museum 1355 Washington, DC - Smithsonian Institution National Air and Space Museum 1362 Washington, DC - Smithsonian Institution National Air and Space Museum - Bill in Space

1375 Washington, DC - Smithsonian Institution National Air and Space Museum - DC-3 airplane 1379Washington, DC - Smithsonian Institution National Air and Space Museum - Lunar Module 1380Washington, DC - Smithsonian Institution National Air and Space Museum

By this time we had been walking for 4 hours and decided that we had had enough so we boarded the Metro and headed back to our hotel.  The day was well spent, we now know how to buy our day passes and to navigate the Metro system.  We found out where we can board the tour bus that goes to 30 different sights around the Washington DC area.  We can buy a pass to board the tour bus and the pass is good for 2 consecutive days and we can get on and off the bus as many times as we like at any of the stops.  This seems to be the best way to get around and cut down on the walking between the different attractions.

I am watching CNN right now as I am writing this blog and the Breaking News is that someone has just jumped the security fence at the White House.   NO… that isn’t me who just jumped the security fence at the White House… I am here at the hotel writing the blog… Whoever that guy is, he has some explaining to do.  

To see all of our photos from today you can click on the link to our FLICKR site.

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