D.C. was officially the second day of our epic NYC trip.  We tried to leave NYC early but had some difficulty because of the stupid sat-nav.  It kept telling us to turn left when the street signs wouldn’t allow it.  Finally we had to make three right turns to finally go left.  It was really cool getting to see the skyline at dawn.  It seems somewhat less imposing than it does when you are in the heart of it.

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It was also cool catching a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty from a distance.  Hopefully next time I make it to NYC it’ll be open again.

Soon enough we were away from the city and on our way to DC.  We stopped to get ourselves some breakfast and I won’t lie, eating Burger King for breakfast was not a good decision.  Sure the food tasted alright, but the grease and overall unhealthiness of it was appalling.  Jaf couldn’t even finish his, but I did because of my dislike of wasting food.  I can say, it was the worst meal we had the entire trip.  Even the Taco Bell we had on the Sunday was better than that.  Anyway.  It was an interesting drive with a few wrong turns, but we finally made it.  We parked at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Centre.  It is just north of The National Mall where pretty much all the monuments are.  The first and most visible was the Washington Monument.

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It was really cool, but you couldn’t get very close to it.  Because of an earthquake in in August of 2011, repairs are still being made to it.  The funny thing about the monument is that at night, there are blinking red lights on the top of it.  Obviously the lights are there as a warning to aircraft.  To me and my ridiculous imagination they looked like like demonic eyes.  I’m crazy I know 😛

Just to the west of the Washington Monument is the WWII Memorial.

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I know it isn’t the best image, but I wanted to get the whole monument in the picture.  There was so much to see there.  There were panels for each state in the country.  Of course Jaf had me stand by the Utah one for a picture as that is where I currently live and where I grew up.  Scattered all around the site were various quotes from presidents, generals and others.  My favourite was from President Harry S. Truman:

THE HEROISM OF OUR OWN TROOPS…WAS MATCHED BY THAT
OF THE ARMED FORCES OF THE NATIONS THAT FOUGHT BY OUR
SIDE…THEY ABSORBED THE BLOWS…AND THEY SHARED TO THE
FULL IN THE ULTIMATE DESTRUCTION OF THE ENEMY.

What I love about it is that he gives credit to all those who fought rather than simply focusing in the heroism of our troops.  He recognised that it was a joint effort.  I love that.

Travelling a little further west, passed the reflecting pool depicted earlier with the reflection of the Washington Monument, is the Lincoln Memorial.

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Around the top of the building were all the states.  Alaska and Hawaii had to be added later as they weren’t states yet when the building was constructed.  The exterior contains a ton of symbolism.  I would write it here, but if you click on the link it’ll take you to the wikipedia page (I know, I know.  It isn’t the most reliable of sources, but it was the most informative other than the government site).  On the inside are inscriptions of the Gettysburg Address and Lincoln’s second inaugural address.  Of course the most recognisable  image from the inside is the statue itself.

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You can only get close to the base of the few stairs leading up to the statue.  I would have loved to touch the statue but oh well.  We didn’t stay much longer there.  There was way too many people.  Our next stop was the White House which took us right passed the Vietnam Memorial.  I do not have a picture of the wall, but it was a lot less populated than most the other monuments.  It was nice.  Meaning not having a ton of people around.  There were a handful of people there searching for names or having a quiet moment with the name(s) they had found.  It made me wonder if any of my relatives had fought in Vietnam.  I believe my grandpa fought in WWII, but I don’t know if any of my relatives were in Vietnam.  Definitely something to find out.

So the White House.  We would have loved to have taken a tour of the White House, but you need to go through background checks and stuff at the latest three or four weeks before you get there.  We had at the most two weeks so we really didn’t have a chance.  My housemate and some other people got to tour it when they went in November.  Jealous yes.

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I also wonder if would could have since we were there on inaugural weekend.  I guess we’ll never know.  The picture is taken with a zoom as there is a nice tall gate far away from the building.  I wondered if there were many Secret Service agents sprawled around the complex just eyeing the crowd waiting for someone to make a wrong step.  I kept my eye out for them, but didn’t see anyone.  We also walked around the back (which had a view of the building), but the stands for the parade blocked the access to get a good view.  Oh well.

This is when we took a break for lunch.  Since my mate is muslim, I wanted to be sure that he got decent meals since not many places have halal food.  We ended up finding this well reviewed falafel place called vFalafel.  It was awesome.  The only other time I’ve had falafel was when I was in Israel.  It is pretty out of the way from all the monuments, but it was worth the walk.  We also found a cupcake place called Hello Cupcake.  The place reminded me of friend Dieneke who has a blog with tons of cupcake recipes.  Just click on her name to check out her blog.  This was a place I knew she would love.  And we loved it as well.  They had six or seven different flavours, but the one that interested me was called something like Pastry Chef Special (it is actually called Samoa).  It was a chocolate cake with whipped caramel buttercream, toasted coconut flakes and homemade caramel sauce.  The guy said it tasted like a samoa girl scout cookie.  That sold me.  We both got it and OH MY GOSH IT WAS AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!  The buttercream was light and fluffy, the flavour was just like a samoa girl scout cookie, and it had the right amount of richness.  Simply amazing.  Find it when you are in DC and you will not regret it.

Now that we were pleasantly full, we opted to take the subway back to The National Mall.  The stop was just in front of the line of Smithsonian museums that we didn’t get to see any of.  Instead we went to see the Capitol Building and the Library of Congress.

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We were actually able to get closer than this, but Jaf took the pictures with his iphone (which he took some pretty sweet pictures with).  It is a very majestic building.  Strange thing that I don’t think many of the people knew was that you could actually get even closer to the building around back.

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I even got to touch the building.  It may seem weird, but I like to have a moment with impressive buildings.  As I walked up to the building, a security guard asked what I wanted and I asked him if it was alright that I touched the building.  I’m sure he thought I was psycho but he said yes anyway.

Sadly I didn’t get any pictures of the Library of Congress.  We thought it was closed so we searched for the entrance and found that it was still open for a bit longer.  We thought that the Declaration of Independence was there, but the lay said the Constitution was.  Turns out she was wrong as well.  It was actually the Emancipation Proclamation.  It was still cool seeing the draft of it.  There was also a huge Mainzer Bible (handwritten and illustrated) and a printed Gutenberg Bible.  Those really excited me (I studied Medieval English literature and manuscript production).  I gave a lecture to Jaf and had a discussion with some random lady about it (she studied history).  We got to look down on the actual reading room (it had been closed for hours already) and also checked out an open room which was set aside for use by members of Congress and their families.  There was a cop in there as well as a couple guys and some children.  Kinda funny seeing members of Congress as normal people.  Also say some Torah scrolls which were cool.

By the time we got out of the Library of Congress, all the museums were closed.  They all close at different times, but generally between 4:30 and 5:30.  We did get to be on CNN though.  Since it was the inaugural weekend (which I had no idea about beforehand), CNN was obviously there to cover it.  There was a crowd behind the stand where the anchors were sitting.  I just wanted to see us and then we could leave. Finally, an anchor was interviewing some people in the crowd when I noticed a time delay with the image.  Then I saw myself in the top portion of the screen and then Jaf appeared on the screen.  Since there was now nothing left to do there, we packed up and hit the road.  But not before getting food at McDonalds like the brothers in the show ‘Supernatural’ (Jaf is a huge fan and wanted to do what they do before going on long trips).

I really enjoyed DC.  Of course there is a ton left for me to see.  There are the many Smithsonian museums, going up the Washington Memorial, touring the White House and the Capitol Building, the Jefferson Memorial, browsing the reading room in the Library of Congress, etc.  Just a quick side note.  Unlike NYC, the weather was clear and when I saw it, the temperature was a lovely 52 degrees F (11 degrees C).  Not bad for January eh?  😉

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