Monday, January 2, 2012

Trip into Washington DC

It got up to 42 degrees F. today and right now it is only 28, so today I made a double batch of healthy, nourishing, warms the end of one's nose when it feels like a Popsicle, vegetable soup.   This is Gregg's favorite and I decided to make enough for several meals.  I will probably be freezing more for many a cold night as Other-Half says once again I have made enough for an army.  

Last Friday the day was a lovely 59 degrees and we decided this would be a good time to drive into Washington DC.  One of our favorite pastimes is to walk along the Mall and visit any of the Smithsonian museums.  I had also wanted to see the Christmas display at the U.S. Botanical Garden and it was due to end on January 2nd.

We have both taken several photos in today's selection.  

After driving around for a while and not finding a parking space anywhere - it was very crowded and it seemed that the whole nation decided to get out and enjoy the weather - we went to our usual underground parking lot about three blocks away.  It is always a nice walk and after a short hike we end up by the Air and Space Museum, and next to it The National Museum for the American Indian.  

We didn't go into either today but I just had a flashback from years ago when I first came to the States and Gregg took me to the Air and Space Museum for the first time.  I remember coming out in absolute awe.  I also suddenly found a microphone a few inches from my nose as I was confronted by a Japanese news crew who were doing a piece on the museum.  They were interviewing people as they came out of the exit for Japanese television.  I can't remember what I said to the smiling, friendly interviewer but a deer being caught in the headlights might be an apt description, and whatever sound I produced out of my mouth probably ended up on the cutting room floor.  I was dreadfully shy in those days but now I can be a regular 'chatty' in the right company, can't I Gregg?  And yes he is smiling.  Gregg is an eloquent speaker and is very comfortable talking in front of a hundred or so people.  Me?  Not so much, having a camera only a few feet from my face, horrible!  No thank you!

We walk along the sidewalk which takes us through part of the grounds where over 33,000 plants indigenous to the Chesapeake region (of which Washington is a part) are planted.  It's quite a lovely sight in blooming season and even now has a quiet elegance.   Behind me in the top photo and in the one below is part of a 'family' of five sculptures built by hand.  The artist is Nora Naranjo-Morse from Santa Clara Pueblo, Espanola, New Mexico.  She was the winner of the outdoor sculpture design competition.  The materials she used are organic and non-toxic, and the collective piece is called "Always Becoming".  Ms. Naranjo-Morse is the first Native American lady to create an outside sculpture in Washington DC.  It's a marvelous sculpture and frankly my photos don't do it justice.

We are still next to the American Indian Museum and Gregg is standing by a huge rock which is called the Southern Marker.   I read that "The outer boundary of the museum landscape incorporates four large stones called the Cardinal Direction Markers."   We have never looked at them that closely on our previous visits.  "There are no tags or signs to identify them, a conscious decision to preserve a natural presentation.  These Markers are no ordinary stones."

The Southern Marker weighs 7,000 lbs. and comes all the way from Chile, estimated to be from the Cretaceous Period (between 65 and 145 million years old).   It's journey of 18,000 miles began on the slope of an open field that looked northward across the bay to Argentina, where it was chosen and put on a flat-bed truck and transported to Puerto Williams.  It was then unloaded and placed in a sea container,  shipped by boat up the coast of Peru, through the Panama Canal, up the Atlantic Coast and to the Baltimore Harbor.  From there it began the final part of its journey to Washington DC.

Below is the Cardinal Direction Marker, East.  Its marker reads,

"Did you know that this type of stone was used to make arrowheads?

This 544 million year old rock (from the Cambrian period) is quartzite, a very hard stone once used to make arrowheads by the local Nanticoke peoples.  It came from Sugarloaf Mountain in Maryland's Monocacy Valley.  It is one of four Cardinal Direction Markers around the museum."

It was the last stone to be sent to the museum and was found near Dickerson, Maryland.  It is also widely believed by many Native peoples in the mid-Atlantic, that quartz contains healing powers.

You can read more about these stones if you click here.   

We head on to the Botanic Garden and pass by holly bushes with their own natural tree ornamentation,  bright red berries in abundance.

In the National Garden we say hello to Mr. Twig Moose who reminds us of the real ones we saw on our trip to the northwest a few years ago.  We are both looking forward to heading back that way again one day.

These people are on a Segway tour......

and we see them several times on our walk that afternoon.

We see the Capitol Building not too far away and after leaving the Botanic Garden we head in its direction to get a closer look.  That will be in another post.

Gregg gets a great shot of the figure on top of the dome.  It is called The Statue of Freedom.  You can read all about it here.

We also see the statue of Ulysses S. Grant who was the 18th President of the United States.  For more information on his memorial you can go here.

I will share more posts from our walk during the next week.


  1. Awesome photos ! Looks like a fun place ! Right now we are having a big snow storm ! Have a wonderful evening !

  2. What great DC photos. I haven't been to all the museums etc since 1991.

  3. I'm in love with the twig moose!
    Jane x

  4. Love the holly with the red berries. And the Indian sculptures, too. Soup also!♥♫

  5. Great post, Denise, and so informative. Like Country Gal, we are in the midst of a big snow storm!

  6. Thank you for the little tour, Denise. I'm looking forward to more. My husband and I visited DC in the summer of was blazing hot and humid which was difficult, but we did get around the Mall and see most of the museums. How marvelous that you are so close you can go anytime.

  7. Interesting post, Denise, I have never been to D.C.

  8. It would be amazing to just drop into the Smithsonian museums on the capitol mall!

  9. Hi Denise, You are so lucky to live close enough to be able to visit the Smithsonian at various times... AWESOME pictures... Thanks!!!

  10. Great tour!

    Happiest New Year wishes
    with Warm Aloha from Waikiki
    Comfort Spiral

    > < } } ( ° >

  11. Thank you for taking me on tour with you.

  12. How lucky you are to be able to walk in this area. I would have loved to stay longer in Washington and visit the Smithsonian Museums. Oh well I am lucky to have you show us around and take us for a walk and I am glad to be sitting here in shorts and tshirt enjoying the scenery on your blog without having to put on layers of warm clothes.

  13. Oh Denise I love the sculptural pieces! What awesome public art! I should check it out when I travel to the USA.

  14. Thank you for all your wonderful comments!

  15. Since I am not much of a walker, I wouldn't mind touring on a Segway! Lol.

  16. One of the things I regretted the most when we left Virginia last May was that it would now be much more difficult to make a family trip to D.C. (and to a dozen other places in Va itself!) I so very much want to show all of the museums and important buildings and monuments to our grandson. Our daughter went to D.C. with us many times while she was growing up but our son-in-law has also never been. Maybe we will get there one of these days. I hope so. This post sure made me want to go back, in a big way! Loved seeing what you had to share here.