Day 4 in DC is our third day visiting Museums…and the girls are still going strong! Lara says reading all the displays often makes her tired — it’s called Language Fatigue — but she’s hanging in there! If you think about… it probably gets tiring seeing so much information in another language about things you don’t really know about!
The first stop… the Memorial honoring Thomas Jefferson: Author of the Declaration of Independence, first Secretary of State and third President of the United States. Located on the Tidal Basin next to the National Mall in Washington, DC. Modeled after the Pantheon of Rome.
Inside, the bronze statue of Jefferson is impressive… 19 feet tall and it weighs five tons. The interior walls are engraved with passages from Jefferson’s writings including the Declaration of Independence. Officially dedicated on April 13, 1943…the 200th anniversary of Jefferson birthday… the monument cost more than $3-million to build. Beneath the monument is a museum with a dateline of Jefferson’s life and accomplishments. Lara and Brittany enjoyed the long walk to the Memorial… quite a distance from the parking lot and other memorials…. but loved the amazing views of DC. For teenagers… they were quite impressed with all that Jefferson accomplished for America.
And Lara took the opportunity to be a little silly! (You’ll be seeing other pictures that show their “true ” personalities in another post.)
Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History
Just when we thought we’d seen everything about American History, we enter into ANOTHER massive display of information about early human origins, the development of world cultures, mammals, amphibians, insects, sea creatures… and even JEWELS!
The Earliest Traces of Life was an overview of early life, like the oldest fossil and the evolution of mammals 65 million years ago. There are mounted skeletons of mammals depicted in murals, many that were put together from fossils unearthed by Smithsonian scientists. We even witnessed the cleaning of fossils. That was awesome to see! Not sure I could sit still for that long doing what they were doing! In the area titled, ” Eternal Life in Ancient Egypt” we saw the re-creation of a tomb with a mummy and its coffin (150 BC to AD 50 ), and the process of mummification.
One of the girls’ favorite areas was What Does It Mean To Be Human. It looks at the connections that human beings have had with the natural world over time including an interactive human family tree showcasing 6 million years of evolutionary evidence. The interactive display comparing man to apes was a hit among everyone! There was a screen in which you had your picture taken and then it showed what you would have looked like as an Ape. And of course… with today’s technology… you could email yourself the picture. It’s a little funny…if you think about it… learning about the beginning of man but being able to email yourself a picture of yourself as an Ape. Lara and Brittany’s pictures were pretty funny! This one is Lara’s! Brittany’s didn’t come thru on email but it was funny because it had her braces on the ape!!
Another favorite for us girls… the Geology, Gems and Minerals exhibit. This is where Brittany and Lara took a lot of pictures! Trust me…when it comes to BLING…Brit is ALL IN!! To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the donation of the Hope Diamond and the museum’s centennial, the museum is showing the Hope Diamond in a new temporary setting called “Embracing Hope.” The setting was chosen by more than 100,000 people in an online vote, sponsored by the Smithsonian Channel. It’s set in platinum with 340 baguette diamonds. The Hope Diamond will be returned to its historic setting in November, 2011.
There are also 2,500 other minerals and gems like the Cullinan Blue Diamond Necklace with nine extremely rare blue diamonds totalling 5 carats and 251 additional diamonds. And there’s the National Gem Collection featuring a 263-carat diamond necklace and a tiara given by Napoleon to Empress Marie-Louise. Looks like our Christmas Wish List just grew!
Not to outdo the jewels… the Insect Zoo was quite the charmer! Well… maybe not! The girls squirmed a bit when one of the workers allowed a big black insect to crawl in his hands…or anyone else’s hands who volunteered. Lara and Brittany did NOT volunteer!
One of the girls’ favorite displays was Against All Odds: Rescue at the Chilean Mine… probably because it’s something they witnessed just a year ago. The event captured the world as rescuers in Chile ferried 33 miners to safety after nearly two months trapped in a collapsed mine. One of the capsules used for testing the rescue shaft, new video footage and mementos from the miners help re-create the scene of this dramatic event and reveal the rescue effort and the miners’ story.
Old Town Alexandria
After a day at the museum, you would think the girls would be tired. But no!!! They were ready to walk and shop the streets of Historic Alexandria, Virginia…. just a 10 minute drive outside of DC. Alexandria’s Old Town district was established in 1946 as only the third historic district designated in the United States . The city has a collection of over ten historic museums that preserve the city’s important heritage amidst modern day delights including the Potomac River waterfront with vistas of Washington, D.C., acclaimed restaurants, chic boutiques, a thriving arts scene and an eclectic business district. It’s the hometown of George Washington and Civil War General Robert E. Lee and the 38th U.S. President, Gerald R. Ford, also called Alexandria home until shortly after being appointed to the presidency.
And although the girls wanted to try their hand at some boutiques and shoe stores… they quickly learned that stores like Forever 21 — that they visited the day before — might better suit their style and budget. When they walked into one shoe store, I told Terry to give them less than 5 minutes inside. They walked out in about 3 minutes and said, “The shoes were $250!” So much for shopping in Alexandria!
So, we’re in this historic town with quaint little restaurants, but big prices… and we can’t find a place where we all agree to stop for dinner. Terry’s liking the local Pub, I’m a fan of a tiny Greek place that actually knows how to spell REAL Greek food entrees. But where do we end up??? 5 Guys for Burgers and Fries. The girls were in heaven!
More pictures will be added below…and the NEXT POST…our last day in DC with a stop at the Air & Space Museum and a nature trip to Great Falls National Park!