Monday, September 10, 2007

If you are planning a trip

If you are planning a trip to one of the places that we have mentioned in our blog, please check out our favorite travel websites and travel guidebooks listed in the right margin. Happy trails!

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Back on the Road...East Coast

After one week in Lake Powell with Michelle's family we headed out to Bethesda, MD for Michelle's regular medical check up at the National Institutes of Health. After four painful needle sticks and a gamut of tests everything is looking up. We have been spending the last week seeing the sights of the Washington, D.C. area; here are some of our favorite things we've seen:

National Air and Space Museum Udvar-Hazy Center at Dulles Airport
This is the lesser known companion to the Air and Space Museum on the Mall in Washington, D.C. It's collection is housed in an airplane hanger and it is packed to the brim with planes, engines and spacecraft. Some of its more notable pieces are the Enola Gay (which dropped the A-bomb on Hiroshima), the last remaining NASA space shuttle Enterprise, and one of the last remaining of the Concord jets. We recommend taking the tour to get more background info about the craft because the plaques appear to be written by engineers.

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Though the brochure says it should take you 1.5 to 2 hours to see the permanent exhibit we were there for six hours. We learned a lot about World War II and the events leading up to it in addition to the tragedy of the holocaust. The exhibit is very well done and doesn't play off of shock value. They do a nice job of telling the story and letting the events speak for themselves. It was an exhausting day but powerful as well.

Manasses National Battlefield Park
This is the site of a few Civil War battles. It was interesting to see the largely-unchanged countryside where the battle took place. This site offers a walking tour to various plaques located throughout the field. It was very educational and provided good insight into what happened there.

National Zoological Park
The zoo in D.C. is great and it's free. Matthew really likes the Amazonia building. It contains an ecosystem recreation complete with fish, sting rays, birds, monkeys and a whole array of Amazon plant life all living together in one humidity controlled room. Michelle's favorite part is the Bird House. Here we were able to see a kiwi bird, New Zealand's national symbol, which is very rare because they are only active at night and they blend in really well in a dark space. This zoo is known for it pandas. When we were here two years ago a baby panda had just been born. We saw it last week and it had grown a lot!

U.S. Capitol Building Tour
The tour through the capitol building is something you have to get tickets for so we hadn't done it on our previous visits. As it turns out, tickets are easy to get if you show up on a day when there aren't a billion tourists roaming around D.C. The tour was interesting. They take you through the rotunda, give you historical tidbits about the building and the artwork it contains, show you through part of the House of Representatives wing and then let you look around it unrestricted areas on your own. We learned that each state is allowed to place two statues in the building. We found both a Wyoming's statues (Esther Hobart Morris--a gal from Wyoming who was the nation's first female justice of the peace, and Chief Washakie, a Shoshone Indian chief who wanted to make peace with white men) but we were only able to find one Idaho statue that being of Senator George Laird Shoup.

We've found that September is a great time to visit Washington, D.C. because it's out of the tourist high season. It's much easier to enjoy the great museums and sites without the feeling of being in the midst of a stampede. We haven't taken any pictures here because we felt it unnecessary to document things that are already in a museum so please use your imagination for now and make the trip out here to see it for yourself when you can!

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