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Friday, March 30, 2001

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National Monuments

There were actually blue patches in the sky when I left the hostel this morning. I still took my muffler and knit hat, and did use them all day, but it didn't rain. It's suppose to rain again tomorrow so I guess it was too good to last. I did the monuments volkswalk and included the extension so it was 17 kilometers in all. It took me all day with stops but it was a good day for it.

I started near George Washington University and walked down to the Lincoln Memorial, which is a favorite of mine. It is just so imposing and yet you feel like you're welcome there. I went next to the Korean War Memorial which I don't recall from last time. It is a field with lifesize soldiers, made of stainless steel, walking through with full equipment. They look very lifelike. Behind them is a black, shiny wall with pictures of soldiers and nurses etched faintly on it. It is almost ghostly. Very well done. I took pictures and I hope the ones of the wall even show the faces.

From there I walked along the reflecting pool and checked out the Washington Monument. You can't go inside yet, but at least the scaffolding is gone. I noticed that the flags around it and other flags I could see were at half mast and realized I hadn't really seen much news in the last couple days. Later I asked a police officer and he said a senator had died.

Then it was back around the Tidal Pool to the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial which I also think is very well done. It's more like wandering through his life and mind than a usual memorial of stone and marble. The Jefferson Memorial was next, and while very imposing I've always felt it was rather cold.

I rambled up the mall, past the museums to the capital. I'd never approached the capital from this direction as I took a bus last time and it came in from the opposite side. It is a wonderful vista to look from the capital down the mall to the Washington Monument.

There were a few protesters on the steps of the capital but they did seem to be behaving themselves. One had a sign that said "Stop the penis butchers". Hmm! Across the street, in front of the Supreme Court was a lone guy with an empty baby buggy protesting abortion. It's so nice to see people able to say what they want.

I next went to Union Station. It is a mall with trains coming through. I couldn't believe all the shops and restaurants of every kind from McDonald on up. I checked to see where I would meet Lisa on Sunday so I wouldn't be wandering around at the last minute. With all the restaurants at Union Station I found a little place where I could get a salad, good parmesan bread sticks and cold milk. That's a nice meal. I get tired of fast food, and have eaten very little of it this trip, but it's hard to find just simple things to eat.

The walk then took me back down the hill and along Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House. The mall is for tourists, but this is where the real work of the country gets done. There were plenty of places you could take tours but it didn't have nearly as many groups wandering through. There is every kind of building from the beautiful old post office to the ugly FBI building, which is yellowish and looks like bad Stalinist work.

At the White House I curved around to the front and got to see a motorcade come out with, according to a guy who was closer, the president himself in it. The windows were tinted and I wasn't close enough to make him out myself. Then as I walked to the Vietnam Memorial streets were closed off so I suppose something was going on. I had hoped to try to tour the White House today but yesterday found out all tours were off.

The Vietnam Memorial gave me a lump in my throat, as always, and I noticed more than one person wiping their eyes. Two young girls who were at the hostel last night said they spent all day yesterday at the memorial and were awed by it. Since they weren't even close to being born while it was going on I thought that was a testimony to it's power.

It was back to the start point and then a chance to relax on the Metro coming back. I had enjoyed my salad at lunch and stopped to have a Cobb Salad. I know that's not really low calorie with all the bacon, blue cheese, cheese, olives, eggs, etc., but it always seems like a light meal to me, while filling me up.

While eating I finished reading "Skeleton Dance" by Aaron Elkins. This series with Professor Gideon Oliver combines two loves of mine, archaeology and murder mysteries. What a great combination. This book involves murder and mayhem at a very staid, academic institute in France that is studying neanderthals. With the help of his wife, Julie, Gordon figures out who is being killed and who is killing them. Not only are these good mysteries but I always learn something new about bones and forensics when I read them.

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Rachel Aschmann 2001.
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