2011-10-20 - 7:55 a.m.
all photos © 2011 by elaine radford
Saturday, October 15
A beautiful blue day. There were a great many monuments and memorials to inspect, although the world-famous view of the Reflecting Pool from the Lincoln Memorial was not as I remembered it.
The Vietnam Memorial was also disappointing, not because of any ongoing construction work but simply because, as DH put it, "I didn't realize that it's a retaining wall." I agree. They sure don't photograph it like that. Every photo I've seen has been of the center, tallest slabs. Unfortunately, in life, there's no way to escape the reality that, hey, folks, it's a retaining wall that sort of leads you into a pit of Asian bus tourists snapping photos and then back out again. Symbolism, I suppose.
The Jefferson Memorial didn't disappoint, and it provided fine views of the water, as well as the Washington Monument and the new MLK Monument, which was to be dedicated on Sunday.
The stroll continued to the FDR Memorial, which is somewhat of a puzzle piece of fountains and niches -- one of the most interesting of the monuments and perhaps the most intimate in the way that it draws you in to where FDR sits with his little dog. But, aha, the dog is not so little...I hope that the pretty girl doesn't mind that I included her in the picture, to show the scale.
However, there is no denying that the star of the weekend was the new Martin Luther King Monument. I cannot resist showing a detailed close-up of this almost unbelievably flawless stone. In fact, in person, the stone is of such perfection that I said, This almost can't be marble. There isn't any left this size, this good, is there? I'm afraid I was guilty of suspecting a reconstituted stone. But I have investigated it further and learned that this beauty is actually white granite. Most impressive.
DH decided to put his feet up, but the day was still too nice for me to stop strolling. Because of our location, it seemed that I passed the White House at least four times every day.
On this occasion, I happened to be strolling behind a group of black folks wearing UAW shirts, I'm guessing a family in town for the MLK dedication weekend. They stopped in front of the White House, and one of the men exclaimed in obvious surprise at the size of it, saying something like, Obama don't never live there and, by tone of voice, clearly expressing his delight. It reminded me of a long-ago visit to Hot Springs, with the signs proudly posted to congratulate Bill Clinton, "Arkansas's FIRST President!"
I dropped into the Renwick Gallery, which had an exhibition of decor from the White House on the first floor. It was about what you'd expect. The second floor was much more interesting. When you first turn to your right, you see Larry Fuente's Game Fish, a colorful swordfish made up of such things as toy soldiers, old yoyos, dice, poker chips, and so on. In the next room, you find Beth Lipmann's Bancketje (Banquet):
In the next alcove I found this charming odalisque, Karen LaMonte's Reclining Dress Impression With Drapery.
I also wanted to include a photo of Kim Schmahmann's "Bureau of Bureaucracy" but I guess I'll have to do it another day, because I'm getting too many photos on this page already.
I next thought I might stroll to the Capitol to check out the Botanic Garden. It was a beautiful day in a beautiful season for it, with leaves everywhere turning to gold and red, but I got detoured at the Old Post office, where the sign promised me a "Free Tower Tour." Two elevators and, I think, 12 stories later, I was inspecting the Capitol building and much of the rest of D.C. from the sky.
It was now too late to venture toward the Botanic Garden, as the sun would be setting at some point in the festivities. As I headed back, I noticed that they were still allowing people into the American History Museum. I dropped in long enough to inspect the vehicles that won the DARPA challenge that DH, erm, didn't win. They were considerably larger and better funded than I'd suspected.
That's a photo of Ghostrider, the motorcycle that picks itself up when it falls down. Man, those robots are pretty smug. Seems to me that all of us mere mortals are expected to pick ourselves up when we fall down, and we don't get in a museum about it. As for Stanley, the main prize-winner, it was the size of a Volkswagen van -- perhaps it once was a Volkswagen van -- and it proved too large for me to get a decent picture of it, in the close space of the museum.
But, wait, there's more! Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion of our D.C. Discount vacation.
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