Birthplace of our Nation (08/11/03)

Last updated 8/30/03                                                                                                                                     Russian Translation Here           

After the tranquil, slow-paced Blue Ridge Parkway, the hustle and bustle of Washington DC was a bit unsettling.

<Rant> Let me just reiterate that I *hate* driving in cities, and I really pity poor Daria, who is always in my presence when I begin cursing and condemning city drivers and the poor road conditions which are invariably present in nearly all major cities. This road trip has also helped drive home the practical, day-to-day impact of the 9/11 terrorist attack: quite a few high-profile national landmarks are now inaccessible to the general public in some fashion. Case in point: you wanna go get a tour of the White House? You can't, though you could see the gardens... provided you're around on the TWO days during the year that they actually open the gardens to the public. Also, another complaint specific to our nation's capital:  many of the monuments require a ticket (free, but you need to stand in line) to get in.... doesn't sound like a problem, especially since they're free, right? One little catch is that they only have a certain (read: small) number of tickets for each day and if you wanna visit a popular monument (or any for that matter, since we didn't get into any monument that required a ticket) you need to arrive early in the day to get in the line before they're all distributed. Unfortunately for us, we got to most of the monuments that required tickets during the afternoon, and didn't get to see stuff like the US mint or the US Capitol building. Oh well, enough of the rant and on to what was good about DC and what we actually did get to see. </rant>

Despite the lack of tours, we got to see the White House (see pictures below), including the national Christmas Tree (it's pretty big as you can see). We ended up doing a lot of walking all around the historic downtown region in DC, and walked along most of Independence and Constitution Avenues. Aside from the White House, we stopped at Capitol Hill and were disappointed to learn that we couldn't get tickets for the tour (we got pictures from the outside though). During the day we also visited the Smithsonian Museums (the plural form here is correct since there are actually several different museums -- Natural history, American History, etc) -- according to Daria this is the Smithsonian Mall. We saw a pretty cool science exhibit on DNA and a lot of interesting stuff (including Michael Jordan's jersey, and Judy Garland's ruby red slippers from the Wizard of Oz) in the Museum of American History (those were from the pop culture section). The neatest thing at the Smithsonian was an exhibition on jewelry, which included, among other things, the Hope Diamond (google it for its colored history). We walked around well into the night, at which time we visited the Lincoln Memorial (see pictures below) and the Vietnam and Korean War memorials. Standing at the Lincoln memorial at night was a beatiful sight since the Washington Memorial is reflected in the large pool in front of the memorial (remember the scene where Forest Gump is addressing the crowd at the anti-war rally? I got the feeling that it *would* be pretty cool to address a crowd at that point, and for some reason I imagine that as a speaker you would derive additional strength from that pool of water and the surrounding landscape). I could go on for a lot longer, but I would probably bore you, and by now you should get the main gist of this blog: Washington DC is pretty cool, and you should definitely visit if you get the chance (as Mr Hunter, my 10th grade English teacher, would say "I highly recommend this city to people who like this sort of city").


Whitehouse -- no more tours!       Puneet BIG, whitehouse small...       Puneet and whitehouse       Daria with the Whitehouse Xmas Tree       Whitehouse, seen from afar since you can't tour it any more.

Daria with Capitol Hill in background       Puneet and Capitol Hill       Closeup of Capitol Hill       Capitol Hill views. We couldn't get tickets to actually go in.

Puneet BIG, Washington Monument small       Lincoln Memorial       Lincoln himself       Puneet with Washington Monument, and views of the Lincoln Memorial.