By now, we were beginning to know our way around and the weather had been perfect, except for that first day. My right knee has been affected by osteoarthritis and gradually getting worse these past few years. It was not so painful, but very knock kneed and that was making it hard to walk very fast. I had a cane to help me. The most difficult times were crossing wide streets. We only crossed at signals, and there was a countdown to help you judge how fast to go. But I could only go so fast. Because walking was difficult for me, and we did about a mile or two each day, I was usually exhausted at the end of each day.
Day 6—Sunday, Oct 6
We got up at 7, had our fabulous buffet, and leisurely discussed plans for the day. We walked to the Smithsonian Art Gallery and Portrait Gallery. It was a few blocks on the other side of the National Mall. It was much too long a walk for me, and I was exhausted. Every bench I saw, I rested.
We were Impressed with both galleries, which seemed to intersect with each other. We had our quickie lunch in a shaded park-like area near the museums. That evening I was too tired to go out to dinner. So we bought a bottle of wine and frozen enchilada dinners at the hotel’s tiny store in the lobby. We used our microwave to cook them. It was much too expensive for what we got, but we enjoyed it. I was in bed early.
Day 7––Monday, Oct 7
We got up at 6:30 and after our fabulous buffet, we walked to the trolley stop near the Air & Space Museum. That’s when we discovered that the main entrance and main hall and some exhibits of the A & S Museum were no longer open to the public because of major renovations. Boy, were we lucky to have seen it when we first arrived.!
We caught the trolley to the Washington Monument. This was the first of our two days to use the trolley. The monument is spectacular. At 555-feet high, it can be seen for long distances. I did not know and was surprised to find out that the stones are stacked, not mortared in place. Prior to our trip, it has been closed for nearly two years for renovations. The elevator is now working, and I really wanted to ride it, but we would have had to return about 7:30 a.m. the next day to get tickets and make reservations and then return again to take the elevator. (Because it had been closed for so long, there is incredible pent up demand to ride it.) That was too many trips for me, so we didn’t get to do it. Darn!
Then we caught the trolley to the spy museum. It was great. Very interactive. Thoroughly enjoyed it. We learned about real-life spies as well as movie spies. The actual Aston-Martin that 007 drove in a James Bond movie was on display. We all signed in at computers, answered a few questions, then we were assigned a name, occupation, home location, a spy location, and a code name. I forget my name, but I was a teacher, lived in New Mexico, would be assigned to Tokyo and my code name was Viper! The whole experience was fun! We ate our quickie lunch of banana, yogurt, and hard boiled eggs at the trolley stop, before taking it back to the A & S stop. Then we walked to the Bistro restaurant at the Holiday Inn for another terrific meal. This time sandwiches. Salmon sandwich and steak fries for Edna and pulled pork and steak fries for me. It was more filling than a regular meal. Another great day!
Day 8––Tuesday, Oct 8
We were up at 7 and off to fabulous buffet before using our second day on the trolley. We walked to A & S Museum to catch it. (Can do this in our sleep by now.) We got off at Jefferson Memorial. It was totally under scaffolding, and that was disappointing. So we went inside and took photos. The statue of Jefferson was much larger than I imagined and impressive.
Next we caught the trolley and got off at the Lincoln Memorial. From there, we walked to the Vietnam Memorial. I was not as impressed as I thought I would be. It is sort of a black retaining wall with names. I was impressed, however, with the old soldiers who were there with flowers and wreaths. Then we walked over to the Korean Veterans Memorial. Here I was impressed. Every soldier was different and I was also impressed with how they were displayed.
We then hopped back on the trolley and got off at the Natural History Museum and enjoyed the Origins of Man exhibit. And the entry rotunda with its massive columns and the elephant in the center. All of the animal exhibits were incredible. We returned to the hotel where we had a free dinner, which happens once a week. We took them up to our room to eat. Another great day.
Day 9––Wednesday, Oct 9
Up at 6:30 and had our fabulous buffet. We then walked to the Rayburn Office building. That was the easy part. Finding out which floor was which and finding Peter DeFazio’s office took asking directions more than once. We finally found it, and once there, chatted with the friendly staff. They even asked me to send copies of my books for the office! Hey! Hey!
We were there at an appointed time, because I had contacted the office to see about a tour of the Capitol. A few other folks arrived who had made the same request. There were about eight of us, and one of the staff led our group. We used underground tunnels to get there, which I found fascinating.
The Capitol is such an impressive building inside as well as outside. Inside we saw the rotunda and Statuary Hall. Jason Lee was the statue for Oregon. We also got to see one meeting room left in its old-fashioned splendor before electricity. I posed next to replica of the statue that is atop the Capitol dome. We also walked past Nancy Pelosi’s office and those of other familiar names. Congress was not in session.
After the tour, Edna and I walked through another tunnel to the Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress. It is the most elegant of the three buildings that comprise the L of C. And it’s elegant inside too. There were several exhibits, including one of the women’s movement. There was a great mural of a young woman adding ‘and women’ to Declaration of Independence.
Then we went to the Madison building and I filled out paperwork and had a photo taken to create a library card for me to enter one of the 21 reading rooms. Edna urged me on.
With her encouragement, I walked up to a man behind a desk and asked about my five books. I felt a little stupid as I stood there and said, “I’m an author, and I’ve sent a copy of each of my books here and received a control number and just wondered if you could tell me where they are.“ They have millions upon millions of books and prints and other items there besides mine. But he did not roll his eyes. He simply led me over to a chair next to where he then sat at a computer. I gave him my name and the titles. He found out that The Oregon Coast Guide to the Unexpected is shelved in the Jefferson Building. I was thrilled. But it was downhill from there.
Around Florence and Crossings are housed at L of C storage facilities at Fort Meade, which is in Virginia. They can be requested and sent to any public library in the country but cannot be checked out. Only Congress can do that.
And The Crossings Guide came in in 2012, but has not been shelved yet. When I pointed out that Unexpected was sent only a year ago and it’s shelved. He said the place was like a giant pinball machine. Books came in and spun around, sometimes for years, before they find a home. I thought that was hysterical, but he said it with a straight face.
And there was no record at all of Devil Cat. Yet, I have L of C control numbers for all five books. So he suggested I send another copy each of Devil Cat and Crossings Guide, which I will do.
Before heading back to the Marriott, we toured Bartholdi Garden on way back and rested on a bench enjoying the wonderful fountain designed by Frederick Auguste Bartholdi, the architect of the Capitol. There were paths bordered by lovely flowers and shrubs and trees all around and most were labeled. When we got back, I napped and Edna read. For dinner, we got pizza next door and took back to our room. I was so thrilled to have learned about my books. This day was a highlight for me.
Day 10, Thursday, Oct 10
We were up at 6 and had our fabulous and familiar buffet. We went online and found out about the National Cathedral and, also, made arrangements for a cruise on the Potomac to Mt. Vernon.
Then we walked to the Newseum. What a fabulous place. We spent much of the day there and planned to return the next day because the tickets are good for two days. Highlights included seeing the five-story high first amendment on the front of the building, all of the Pulitzer Prize winning photos, coverage of 911, New Yorker cartoons., Edward R. Morrow exhibit, Jon Stewart exhibit, and much more. We walked home, which was becoming very familiar. That evening, we had left-over pizza from night before. I had no idea, I would enjoy the Newseum so much. So another great day!
So many incredible sights. Tune in next week for Part III.