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Monday, November 9, 2015

Back in the District Again

The Chinese Communist Party's English-language mouthpiece "China Daily" stands uncomfortably close to the "Epoch Times", put out by the Falun Gong

It's been two months now since we returned to the Washington, D.C. area, but it wasn't until today that we ventured as a family back into the District. Truth be told, considering all the sightseeing we did the last time we were here, we thought there wouldn't be much left in Washington for us to visit. Initially we'd planned this weekend to go hiking somewhere in Maryland or Virginia, but yesterday's heavy rainfall suggested that would be an exercise in mud accumulation. Today's clear blue skies were too good to pass up, however, so it was decided a nice walk along the National Mall would be just the right way to enjoy a crisp, autumn Sunday. 

We began our stroll at the Capitol, where the iconic dome is covered in scaffolding as the structure undergoes some much-needed restoration work:

We crossed the plaza, walked around the north wing of the Capitol and made our way down Capitol Hill to Olmsted's Summerhouse (aka the Grotto), built over a natural spring:

Peace Circle is the locale for Franklin Simmons' Peace Monument, with its depiction of Grief crying on History's shoulder over the Northern sailors who were killed in the Civil War: 

The view of the West Front of the Capitol, where presidents have been sworn in on Inauguration Day since 1981:

Looking past the Capitol Reflecting Pool toward the Washington Monument:

Stopping in at the U.S. Botanical Garden:

Down Maryland Avenue from the botanical garden is the National Museum of the American Indian. Due to time constraints, we didn't go inside today. Also, I've heard poor reviews of the museum, and the building's exterior is hardly exciting. Still, we may check it out before we're due to depart next spring:

My daughter was excited about the to-scale representation of the planets in our solar system that stretches along Jefferson Drive in front of the National Air and Space Museum. We started with the Sun and got as far as Uranus before crossing the street:

We walked to the other side of the Mall and the National Gallery of Art's Sculpture Garden:

Changing perspectives:

Then it was back to Jefferson Drive and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, taking a walk around the sunken sculpture garden. The grounds contain 60 or so works, including Auguste Rodin's Crouching Woman and Yoko Ono's Wish Tree:

We bypassed the main building, instead cutting through the courtyard to Independence Avenue to enter the Mary Livingston Ripley Garden:

The solitary path led us back out to Jefferson Drive and the small Kathrine Dulin Folger Rose Garden...:

...before entering the Enid A. Haupt Garden, located behind the famous Smithsonian Castle: 

A noted feature of the garden is the Moongate Garden, supposedly inspired by the Temple of Heaven in Beijing

From the Castle it's a short walk down Jefferson Drive to the Washington Monument. We didn't linger too long here as we have tickets to go inside the obelisk this upcoming Veterans Day holiday, but I did walk around the structure to take in the views of the White House, Jefferson Memorial, Lincoln Memorial and Reflecting Pool:

Walking downhill from the monument, we passed through the World War II Memorial, which we had previously visited back in June 2012. The green wall of the memorial contains 4048 golden stars, one for every 100 Americans killed in the war:

At the algae-plagued Constitution Gardens pond, Amber fed some bread to the resident ducks and geese:

From the pond, the footpath brought us to the Vietnam Women's Memorial, while the Vietnam Veterans Memorial could be seen off to the right:

Our walk fittingly ended at the Lincoln Memorial:

One thing I hadn't noticed on our previous visits were the words marking the spot where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stood at he gave his "I Have a Dream" speech on August 28, 1963:

No matter how many times I've been to the memorial,  Daniel Chester French's statue never fails to impress:

Just as she did the first time we came here, my daughter had her picture taken with a police horse:

Washington remains one of the most magnificent capital cities in the world, its noted museums and monuments so familiar and yet still amazing. If you've never been here, you owe yourself a visit. Let me know if you're going to be in town...

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