Our Washington visit -- part 1-- 02/22/09

So, as noted in my previous entry, this being "winter break" for the school system where Nancy teaches, we decided to treat ourselves to a mini vacation and on Thursday morning we hopped on an Amtrak train. (Catch the train at our station about quarter past seven, reach Washington about two in the afternoon.)

Our hotel was only a few minutes walk from Union Station, which also meant we were just a couple of blocks from the capitol.

After checking in, we took a walk up around the Capitol and then to the United States Botanic Garden, a magnificent collection of huge indoor displays of plants and trees and flowers... just what is needed to brighten a late winter day.
(Ever since first visiting it in 1980 I have referred to it as The National Arboretum but I have now learned that the proper name is The U.S. Botanic Garden and that there is a separate site, The National Arboretum, that is about three or four miles away. I definitely need to plan on a visit to that place someday.)
Kate & Jim said I needed to show pictures, so here are some more flowers. (We certainly enjoyed looking at the gorgeous blooms that filled some of their exhibits.)
Garden catalogs can be fun, but not as much as seeing the real thing...
And that a thrill to wall through a tropical forest...
And you not only can walk through the greenhouse, you can climb stairs up to a second floor walkway and then up another flight to a third floor walkway (there is also an elevator) so that you can see the upper parts of the rain forest. (See those benches? There are a number them throughout this huge greenhouse and there were people seated here and there reading in this warm and humid tropical forest, escaping from a cold February day. Well, it's certainly cheaper than a flight to Hawaii.)
When we left the botanical garden we crossed the National Mall by the Reflecting Pool with its view of the U.S. Capitol building (which, for those of you outside the U.S., is where the two houses of Congress meet).

For those who are not familiar with the layout of the National Mall area, here's a rough idea. Left is west, right is east -- from the steps of the Capitol to the Washington Monument is 1.2 miles (the Lincoln Memorial is west of the Washington Monument -- it's 1.9 miles from the Capitol steps to the Lincoln Memorial).
National Museum of American History National Museum of Natural History sculpture garden National Gallery of Art (West) National Gallery of Art (East)
The National Mall reflecting
The Smithsonian
Hirshhorn Museum
National Air & Space Museum American Indian Museum Botanic
So... now with the Capitol at my back, I've turned to snap a picture of the Washington Monument -- 555 feet tall -- the tallest man-made structure in the world when it was built (surpassed by the Eiffel Tower) and still the tallest stone structure in the world and the tallest obelisk.

Ah, but the hour grows late and I must pause here and resume tomorrow...

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