Visit to Washington DC area, May 28-31, 2010.
We flew into Baltimore (BWI), rented a car, grabbed a coffee, and with the assistance of google maps on my cellphone, made it in time for a lunch meeting with fraternity bro Dave Benson (Benny) from back in the day.  It was a great visit.
After the lunch, we braved the traffic of Washington DC, and after much effort, finally found a place to park.  We made it to the Capitol Visitors Center where we met two legislative aids to our local congressman, Sanford Bishop, for a tour of the Capitol Building.  We met at the astronaut statue, which is probably a common meeting place, as there were two other families there waiting to meet people.  I tried to get them to check out the Indian in the corner, but they wouldn't budge.
In the Capitol Visitors Center, there is a replica (here to the right) of the statue of freedom that is on the roof of the capitol building.  The actual statue is in bronze, and somehow, they got it up there in the days before cranes and helicopters!
The space in the Capitol Rotunda is very big, and reportedly could fit the entire Statue of Liberty (without the base it stands on).
I put the camera on the ground with a timer, and shot up, but it's still hard to get a sense of how tall the dome is, especially since some guy got his head in the way!

As we were on the tour, one of the congressional aids gasped, "hey, there's that guy from that movie!"

 

I looked, and she was right!  It was Joe Montegna, who was in town to be an emcee for a PBS sponsored Memorial Day Concert on the Mall.  Unfortunately, I'm not as good as the guys at TMZ about getting the the face of a celeb for a killer photo....

And what trip would be complete without a picture on the steps of the Supreme Court? 

 

Although there were no justices, we had peace.    :)

Merle showing off her tour stickers.
Driving back to the hotel, we caught a glimpse of the White House.

The next day (Saturday), we start with a good breakfast, relying on the age old formula:

 

Merle + pancakes = happiness.

Afterwards, we are off to Richmond, VA, to visit our friends Helen (whom I know from residency) and her husband Claudio.  Here, we stop for coffee at Claudio's shop, Caffespresso, for a blended coffee drink and a panini.  Very tasty!
We did some sightseeing with Helen, visiting the Civil War Center and the remains of the Tredegar Steel Factory.  There was a very interesting film on the civil war.  Amazing how things worked then, like communications.  No cell towers, but I think they did have roll-over minutes.
Apparently, Lincoln visited Richmond, so we visited with Lincoln.

After all the sightseeing, we had a great Italian dinner.  Very, very tasty.  The tiramisu was amazing.

 

Then off to drive back to Wash DC, and not pay attention to the vino in my system.

Sunday, it was time to hit the mall and see some museums.  Here in front of the Smithsonian Visitors Center, Merle checks out the gardens.  We got there before the museums were open.
Inside, there was a bug collection that recalled those of our bud Nathan Schiff. 
 
This bug's for you, Nathan!
We stopped for a picture on the Mall with the Capitol in the background, like we did four years ago.  See if you can guess which picture is more recent!
First stop was the Holocaust Museum, which is a place with many issues that still could be pertinent today.  As economic strife spreads, people get more desperate, and demagoguery can find a foothold.  The visit was very sobering.
Memorial Day Weekend is also the time of the Rolling Thunder gathering, which involved approximately 400,000 motorcyclists descending on our nation's capitol, to remember those still missing in action.
I think about 60,000 of them also were all staying at our hotel.
They were cool, though.
We then walked around the Tidal Basin to the Jefferson Memorial.  When I was discussing with Merle the issue of walking speed, she can be seen here giving the universal sign for "whatever."
We eventually made it.  Still, the memorial is quite impressive, as we hold these truths to be self evident...that Merle made it!  Yay!
As we headed back to the Mall, Merle had a magnetic attraction to some raised bed vegetable gardens outside the Department of Agriculture. 
There were veggies that nobody was picking!!  OMG!!
Merle was able to score some seeds from the national gardens! 
 
What!!??!!
We pay taxes!!
Then off to see more museums, American History (good cafeteria!), National Gallery of Art, a little visit to the National Portrait Gallery, and a good amount of walking in between.
Then off to Air and Space,

but after a few exhibits, realized we were exhausted!!

 

 

Time for feeding and rest.

 All in all, a nice trip.
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