Be forewarned – this is a long post 🤪
We have read a few books and also recently watched a series on PBS about the Civil War, so as we crossed over the Potomac River from Virginia into Maryland, we totally sensed the historical significance of where we were.
Cherry Hill Park RV Resort is located near the University of Maryland and rivals the size of the RV park we stayed at in Vegas, but the sites here are larger and there is much more greenery and foliage. There is a shuttle that takes you around the park to the various water parks, mini golf, restaurant and office. Plus, there is a bus depot at the entrance, which makes it very easy to transport to the train station. This will be our home base for the next 10 days or so.
Look who took the red-eye from California to Washington, DC 🥰 to join us for the weekend! Crazy kids, but we’re so happy they did!!
We took the train in to the city, it was easy and we didn’t have to worry about parking. The first Smithsonian we tackled was The Museum of American History. The size and content is mind boggling, so suffice to say, we saw a lot. Our personal favourites included the Ruby Slippers from The Wizard of Oz, George Washington’s original uniform ( he was rather tall and muscular), several of the First Ladies Inaugural Gowns, the Transportation Exhibit and Julia Child’s actual kitchen.
Our second Smithsonian was The National Museum of Natural History, which was even larger than the last one 😳, and is the size of 8 football fields! We thoroughly enjoyed this museum and each of us had a favourite exhibit. Henry – the Mammal Section (especially the Jaguar), Joanne – the precious gems (especially the diamonds), Joseph – a tossup between the gem exhibit and the Human Evolution exhibit, and Hannah – the Bones (especially the trachea of the swan).
After closing another museum, we wandered over to the Lincoln Memorial, which overlooks the Reflecting Pool and The Washington Monument. It was awe inspiring to be that close to the President Lincoln Memorial and is something we’ve wanted to see for many years. We got a tingly feeling reading his most historical speeches that are etched in stone on the walls of the monument – The Gettysburg Address and his 2nd Inaugural Speech, which he addressed to the nation just a few months before his assassination.
And of course, no trip to Washington, DC, would be complete without a visit to the White House!
The kids had to fly back to California 😢 but there was just enough time for a quick visit to one more museum, on the way to the airport! We really needed a few more hours, but they had a flight to catch so we saw as much as we could.
We were pretty proud Canadians walking around the Space Shuttle Discovery and seeing the Canada Arm 🇨🇦 and how important it was to the space program!
The tours are free and last several hours. Our docent was engaging and extremely knowledgeable, but we did run out of time so had to leave the tour early. The building is as huge as you would expect, considering it houses a Space Shuttle, the Concord, a Boeing 707, the SR-71 Blackbird (fastest plane ever!) and approximately another 180 planes and displays.
Thank you so much Joseph and Hannah for flying across the country to spend the weekend with us! We had so much fun and sure enjoyed our short, but intense, journey through history with you 🤪. Love you lots 💕
On our own again as we continued exploring. Arlington Cemetery was a somber, yet powerful, experience. To see the grave markers of so many Americans that gave their lives for their country, was very moving. The location of the cemetery was chosen during the Civil War because Arlington was the vacated family home of Robert E Lee and the Union wanted to make sure he would never return to it.
President John F. Kennedy had been standing on the porch of Robert E. Lee’s house and taking in the extraordinary view of the National Mall and made a comment stating ‘I could stay here forever’! When he was assassinated 9 months later, Jackie remembered that and insisted he be buried near the porch and that a flame burn eternally in his honor.
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is here, and has been guarded 24/7 since 1946. We watched the changing of the guard and were amazed to see how the stone is worn from the marching of the guards.
Whenever we can, we love to take the Hop On Hop Off bus around a new city to get an overlook, and to save our feet! Back in Washington and once around the city, we hopped off at the Washington Capital. Such a beautiful building with amazing history. The dome of the building was not completed at the time the Civil War broke out, but President Lincoln pressed on, trusting the Union would stand. He was still alive when the exterior of the dome was completed, but unfortunately assassinated before the interior was fully finished.
We did a tour of the Capital Building. Nancy Pelosi was very busy and we didn’t get a chance to meet her, but we did see Bernie Sanders! He acknowledged the Canadian Contingency 😁
As expected, the interior of the building was spectacular. Regrettably, we did not get a photo of the best thing we saw . . . . a group of men in suits wearing front facing carriers containing dogs!! 😳 At first we though they were Dad’s carrying their babies, but no, they were definitely dogs! We figured these dogs belonged to important senators, as they were whisked away through some back hallways with their own security detail. More than likely heading to one of the many bullet-proof black Suburbans awaiting out front!
To put it in perspective, the fresco at the top of the Dome is 180 feet above the floor and 4600 square feet in size! It’s a painting of George Washington seated next to Liberty and Victory, surrounded by 13 Maidens representing the original 13 States. The painting is called The Apotheosis of Washington.
A valuable lesson was learned today . . . . never trust a local when asking about the Trail markings for bike paths! 😬 They know the back roads and where to avoid traffic and probably just assume the signs are posted everywhere. Well, they’re not! What started out as an easy 15 mile trail from our campsite to downtown Washington, turned in to 25 miles of dipsy-doodling around. 50 miles round trip, 7 hours on the bikes and walking around, was well worth it. It was so cool to be cycling around the monuments and especially fun to be in the bike lane cruising down the center of Pennsylvania Avenue. 😎 At least our bottoms weren’t as sore this time since everywhere we rode was paved and relatively smooth!
Being in the US Capitol for the Memorial Day weekend was pretty special. Memorial Day is a federal holiday in the United States for remembering and honoring people who have died while serving in the United States Armed Forces The patriotism of the Americans was overwhelming, yet humbling. Our thanks and utmost respect go out to those who have served and are presently serving to protect our freedoms, in all our countries. At the Korean Memorial, we witnessed a gathering of veterans honoring those that have fallen. It was very touching.
The Memorial to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was lovely but is usually spectacular and highly recommended to see, especially at night. Unfortunately, the water falls and features were not working due to a major flood in the tidal basin that damaged all the electrical for the water pumps. But, it was still really nice.
More history as we took a day trip to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. It’s staggering to imagine how many men died at this one battle – the bloodiest battle ever fought on American soil that lasted 3 days from July 1-3, 1863. An estimated 51,000 soldiers were killed, injured or taken prisoner.
President Lincoln delivered the 272 word Gettysburg Address on November 19, 1863 on the battlefield near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
“Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, on this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived, and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives, that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate—we cannot hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
We did the Auto Tour and downloaded an App that gave us commentary at each spot. It was so interesting and surreal to drive and walk along the battlegrounds and the cemetery. There is so much to see and experience.
The next two photos are of Robert E Lee looking towards the Union Army who were situated at Little Round Top, and General Warren, looking back out at the Confederate Soldiers, across what became known as ‘The Valley of Death’.
It was quite sad walking through the cemetery, reading the names of the soldiers and seeing so many that were ‘unknown’. It was a very moving experience.
On our way back to Maryland we thought it was about time that we enjoy some Maryland Crab! So after touring around Baltimore, we stopped at a fun restaurant – Mama’s on the Half Shell- for a crab feast, and oyster shots!
Our last day in the Washington, DC area and it was 93 degrees and humid – perfect for another cycling adventure 😎 We put the bikes in the truck and headed to the C & O Canal. It’s an old towing canal that was used to transport coal and other goods from the Appalachian Mountain Range to DC. Horses would pull the barges filled with coal along the canal, thus resulting in the tow path. There were locks along the way to deal with the elevation, dating back to 1831. They eventually closed in 1924. The path led to a nice waterfall called Great Falls. It was a relaxing day and much cooler riding in the shade paralleling the Potomac River.
Hawaii is well represented in DC 😎 Our friends from Molokai, Speedo and Lulu (Bob and Linda) are traveling in their 5th Wheel also, and just arrived to the same RV Park as us! They started in Montana and are a few weeks behind us on their journey. It was so fun to catch up with them and talk story. We had some great adventures to share and laughs about the RV Lifestyle! What a fabulous way to end our time in Washington, DC.
We left Canada 2 months ago today and have driven 7,650 miles / 12,311 kms. We’ve added a few more states to our list in the past month, including Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania. Washington, DC is not a state, so it doesn’t count 😉 It is the Capital of the USA, a city inside the District of Columbia (DC) and a federal district, but not a state.
It was a sad day as we laid to rest our Canadian Flag that has so proudly flown from the antenna of our truck. It helped us out more times than you can imagine, as we quickly stood out as tourists and other drivers actually became slightly more courteous, most of the time! It was also a great conversation starter with our neighbours at the campsites. In its tattered condition, we felt it was not doing our country proud, so goodbye diplomatic friend. 🇨🇦.
Our journey on the east coast has just begun and we look forward to exploring and enjoying everything it has to offer.