North America · Travel

D.C. Road Tripping – The Great Monuments

As we drove in towards our hotel in Georgetown along the Potomac River the night we arrived, everyone got excited when we saw the lit up Washington Monument in the distance, and decided that’s where we should go on our first day in D.C.  Now, we certainly did not pick Washington D.C. as our road tripping destination in hopes of escaping the harsh midwest winter.  However, as luck would have it, the week we visited (between Christmas and New Year) saw D.C. with some unseasonably low temperatures.  Combined that with the windchill factor, it sure made walking outdoors for any extended period of time a not-so-pleasant experience.

Our first day in D.C. just happened to be such a frigid day, and of course this mommy forgot to instruct the kids to put on long johns under their pants before leaving the hotel.  On top of that, one kid woke up with a headache and stomach ache that morning, so he pretty much felt miserable the entire time while we were out bracing the cold.  Luckily there wasn’t too much whining and everyone just pressed on bravely.  We took the blue line metro* to the Smithsonian station where its exit puts you right onto the National Mall.  No amount of discomfort could stop anyone from feeling the awe when Washington Monument first came into sight as soon as we exited the station.  And the expansive green on the National Mall is honestly one of my favorite things about D.C.  Had we visited in a warmer month, I would’ve loved to just hang out on the Mall for a while, and maybe play some soccer or frisbee with the kids.  Unfortunately it was just too cold to not keep moving that day so we headed towards the obelisk on the Mall next.

Washington Monument
This tallest structure in D.C. was built as a tribute to George Washington of course.  Its construction started in 1848, but it ran out of money to continue with the work when the structure was at about 150 feet.  Then with the ensuing of the civil war, the construction did not resume until a few years after America celebrated its 100th birthday (in 1876).  And since the structure was built in two phases, the original stones used could not be matched.  This is why you can see that there are 2 shades on the monument.  At 555 feet, it was actually the tallest structure in the world when it was opened to the public in 1888.  Unfortunately it didn’t hold the title for long as the Eiffel Tower was completed in 1889 at 984 feet.

Normally visitors can reserve tickets to enter Washington Monument.  However, it is currently closed to the public until spring 2019 for the work on modernizing the elevator.

(50 American flags surrounded the base of the monument representing the 50 states)

World War II Memorial
A beautiful memorial located between Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial, bordering the Reflecting Pool.  The memorial is in elliptical shape, with 56 surrounding pillars representing the U.S. states, territories, and the District of Columbia.  The north side of the memorial illustrates the war in Europe (Atlantic), and the south side illustrates the war in the Pacific.  In the center of the memorial is a pool/water fountain though it was drained for the winter season or it would’ve been really pretty.

 

E Pluribus Unum – out of many, one (the motto of the US)

To me personally, the most somber part of the WWII Memorial has to be the Freedom Wall.  It’s a curved wall with just over 4,000 golden stars, each stands for 100 American soldiers who lost their lives during the war.  400,000+ lives is just such an astounding number that it breaks my heart to think about it.

(source)

Lincoln Memorial
As all four of us have been completely obsessed with the Percy Jackson book series (and thus Greek mythology), Lincoln Memorial is definitely one of our favorite buildings in D.C. as it was modeled after the Greek temple the Parthenon.  According to the National Park Service’s website, “architect Henry Bacon felt that a memorial to a man who defended democracy should be based on a structure found at the very birthplace of democracy”.

I really liked Lincoln Memorial being so grand yet simple, with the huge Abraham Lincoln statue occupying the central chamber, and two of his most famous speeches (the Gettysburg Address and his Second Inaugural Address) inscribed on the north and south walls of the memorial.  Unfortunately I didn’t really get to see much at Lincoln Memorial and of its surrounding areas (namely the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Korean War Veterans Memorial) because I stayed behind with the sick boy at the bottom of the steps while the others went explore, as he did not want to climb the stairs with his stomach pain.  I only did get to run up to snap a quick photo of the statue after the rest of the gang returned.

(This was as far as he got to Lincoln Memorial 😦 )
(The spot where Martin Luther King, Jr. gave the famous ‘I Have a Dream’ speech on the steps of Lincoln Memorial)

At this point the ‘sicky’ was about at his limit, and considering we still had a long walk back to the metro station in the freezing cold, we reluctantly decided to call it the day.

*D.C. Metro -We utilized the metro quite extensively during this trip.  Before the first ride, we purchased the rechargable SmarTrip cards from the machines at the station at $10 per person ($2 for the actual card and $8 for the fares), we would then replenish the value on the cards whenever the balance is running low.  The single ride fare is between $2-$2.50 for our stops.  The fare is higher during peak-hours and also the further you ride.  This may or may not be the most economical way as there may be passes we could have purchased at a more discounted rate.  But since we didn’t do the homework, we just paid for single ride fares as we go each time.

 

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