Final Day in DC-Waterfalls and Air Museum

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By Day 4 in the DC area, we were ready to avoid the 45-minute drive into DC and take in a little nature! So, Troy, our Host and good friend, suggested we take a trip to Great Falls National Park. His friend, Anna, suggested we visit another Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum that’s by Dulles International Airport. I wasn’t too sure how the girls would like the Museum but it turned out… these were both great suggestions!

Great Falls National Park, Virginia

The beautiful 800-acre park is only 15 miles from the Nation’s Capital.  The Falls are created when the Potomac River builds up speed and force, as it falls over a series of steep, jagged rocks and flows through the narrow Mather Gorge. Three overlooks give different views of the Great Falls.

History: The Patowmack Canal offers a glimpse into the early history of this country. Back in Virginia, the Potomac presented physical obstacles to travel. Narrow and winding in places, it drops over 600 feet in 200 miles from Cumberland to sea level. Spring rains swell the river to dangerous heights and summer droughts make it impassable. To make the river so it could be navigated by boats, the Patowmack Company had to dredge portions of the riverbed and create five areas of falls. The most demanding task was building a canal with locks to bypass the Great Falls of the Potomac. Roaring over the rocks, the river drops nearly 80 feet in less than a mile.

We used the Park and backdrop for some great photos… and some silly ones. The nice ones are at the end of the post. The funny ones are coming up in another Blog Post!!!

National Air & Space Museum: The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center

This was our next stop and it is HUGE, MASSIVE, ENORMOUS! It’s a MUST on your to-do list when in the DC area! It’s the companion facility to the Smithsonian Air Museum on the National Mall in DC but located in a large Boeing Aviation Hangar to hold more artifacts! It opened in December, 2003, and has enough space for the Smithsonian to display the thousands of aviation and space artifacts that cannot be put on display on the National Mall site. The two sites together showcase the largest collection of aviation and space artifacts in the world.

The Center was named in honor of its major donor. Aircrafts are displayed on three levels, hanging from 10-story-high trusses. The centerpiece of the space hangar is the Space Shuttle Enterprise. The girls loved this area and spent a lot of time in here. And it is huge! It was fun to see the other space artifacts including an astronauts suit, and gloves, the Gemini VII space capsule and the Mobile Quarantine Unit used upon the return of the Apollo 11 crew.

The Observation Tower was a cool attraction. We went up 7 stories high to watch air traffic at Dulles Airport, just a mile or so away. It also offered great pictures of the Fall colors which we don’t get a lot of here in Phoenix. The girls were snapping away on their cameras! (More photos at the end of this post)

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
A movie that was filmed on location is always a big interest to teenagers! The film Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, was filmed in part at the Udvar-Hazy Center. It features the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird as Jetfire, a wise, elderly, former Decepticon (an evil Transformer) turned Autobot (a good Transformer). This exhibit case includes historic Transformers toys, aviation- and Jetfire-related characters, and props used in the film….and a clip of the film playing so visitors could see exactly where it was filmed. It was fun to see the girls pointing and reacting to the film saying, “Wow, they were standing right here, and here, and here!” A link about the movie is http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1055369/

More Photos below from this day!

NEXT POST…. NEW YORK CITY… WHERE THE GIRLS NEVER STOPPED SMILING!!!

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