By: Paul S. Cilwa Viewed: 12/5/2019
Occurred: 4/15/2016
Topics/Keywords: #Travel #65thBirthdayTrip #Washington #DistrictofColumbia #SmithsonianMusuems Page Views: 2146
All about the seventh day of my 65th Birthday Trip.
Map

Today's schedule had us visiting Washington, DC and the Smithsonian museums.

Many people think there's only one Smithsonian "Museum". That's the old building that sits on the National Mall. But, actually, most of those buildings are additional Smithsonian Museums, such as the Museum of Modern Art, the Natural History and the Air and Space Museums, and of course the newest addition, the Native American Museum. Which we didn't actually go in to see.

But we did walk halfway around the mall, almost six miles (including our walks in the Metro stations), as measured by the app in my phone.

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In the morning, we awoke to a delicious donut breakfast, then scrambled to get ready for the day.

Rob Simpson

Rob drove Keith and me to the brand-new Weihle-Reston Metro station for the start of our Washington adventure.

I was pleased that the interior of the cars was as clean as I remembered from when I lived in Reston and commuted into D.C. It made our approximately 40 minute ride all the more pleasant.

But the changing views (most of the trip was above ground) kept us entertained and, before we knew it, we had arrived at the Smithsonian Station, beneath the most famous Mall in the world.

We did pause for a moment, though, to appreciate the archecture of the old-school underground Metro stations. I pointed out that some of the stations north of here, actually have stalactites growing from the ceilings due to water seeping through limestone and the number of years since the stations' construction. The first stations opened in 1976. Oh my...that's 40 years ago!

We made the same mistake I've made every time I've tried to use the Smithsonian exit: I couldn't figure which exit was which. I'd wanted us to come out in the Washington Mall, which is an impressive view after riding underground for awhile. But instead we came out on a street adorned with serious stone buildings and had to walk a block to the Mall.

We made the same mistake I've made every time I've tried to use the Smithsonian exit: I couldn't figure which exit was which. I'd wanted us to come out in the Washington Mall, which is an impressive view after riding underground for awhile. But instead we came out on a street adorned with serious stone buildings and had to walk a block to the Mall.

It was just as well. The Reconstruct Turf and Soil National Mall project was underway; the Mall entrance to the Metro was surrounded by cordons, mounds of dirt, and heavy equipment. It was interesting, however, to see how many buildings have been constructed beneath the Mall, their dull concrete tops exposed by the removal of the old soil and sod from above them.

We started our circumnavigation of the National Mall on the southern, Constitution Avenue side.

Keith spotted the old Smithsonian "Castle", the original home of the museum when it could all fit in one building.

Keith Jim

This is the new Museum of the American Indian that is supposed to open this year. It may have been opened, but there were barriers and DOOR LOCKED signs and we couldn't figure how to get in.

By this time Keith and I were both famished, and the prices of even the fast-food concessionairres on the Mall were outrageous. So we stepped away into the morass of stone edifaces and found more affordable fast food nestled into a cranny.

Unfortunately, it just isn't possible to see all the museums in a day. It takes more than a day to see all the exhibits in the Natural History Museum alone. So, given just one day to see as much as possible, makes today's overview make more sense. Sort of like reading the table of contents before starting the book. So I pointed out the Arboretum, one of my most favorite of many favorites here.

That brought us around to the reflecting pool in front of the Capitol building.

We went around closer and saw a small demonstration against gerrymandering gathered in front. Apparently not as many as the previous Monday, when hundreds from the same coalition of progressive groups were actually arrested! (Apparently they had gotten too close to the actual steps. That, you know, they and we own.

We were now on the northern, Independence Avenue side of the National Mall.

However, the National Archives, which Keith did not want to miss, is located a block further north.

We got to see the Declaration of Independence. It's badly faded. Apparently it didn't fare as well being stolen by Nicholas Cage as National Treasure led us to believe.

We also made a stop in the Natural History Museum. Keith wanted to see the dinosaur exhibit, but sadly it was closed for remodeling and maintenance.

Halfway to the Washington Monument (which itself is dead center of the National Mall, with the Capitol at one end and the Lincoln Memorial at the other), we stopped to rest and realized we wouldn't be able to go any farther and still get back to Reston in time for dinner with Karen and Rob.

Paul S Cilwa

So were limped back to the Metro station and waited for the next car of the new Silver line heading our way. (This wasn't it.) We must've just missed one, because the station was nearly deserted when we got in. It quickly fill up though, as this was the end of a workday.

So we took the Largo (Blue Line) car anyway, intending to change trains in Rosslyn, which would give me a chance to show Keith the tallest escalator he'd ever seen.

Outside, crazy construction was going on in every direction we could look. And finding a restroom was a real challenge.

Sam Kittner

But we managed, and then returned to the Metro station, boarded our Silver Line train to Wiehle-Reston, and after being picked up by Karen, met Rob back at home where he and I bonded.