Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Washington DC is a great place to be a tourist!

Ian and Amy are in Washington DC at the moment, but next week we will be in Panama! As in Panama canal and land of many birds. This is very last minute, Ian decided last week to go birding there with his friend Andrew, who is 24 years old. Joe and I gave him our blessing, then after some thought decided I should go along as backup support, should it be needed. Airfare is very reasonable from DC,  $316 round trip, so now I'm going to explore Panama on my own.  Ian and I will fly there together and then the 4 birders will take off in a rental car. Yes, 4 birders, after Andrew and Ian booked their tickets 2 more young birders decided they could skip school for 10 days and go, too. They are going to have a blast!

I've never traveled on my own, so this will be a very new experience for me. The first night all of us will be staying in a backpackers youth hostel, Luna's Castle, in Panama City. Unless a private room becomes available, I will be sleeping in a coed dorm with 12 other people, wow! If I like it there I'll stay a few more nights, then possibly head to the countryside to the town of El Valle located in an inactive volcano. Not sure where I'll be really, I'll decide as I need to.

So more adventures are in store for the 2 of us in Panama, and I think I'll have lots of time to blog about them. Panama seems more sophisticated than Ecuador, it's a major banking capital, and has a good bus and road system. Along with beautiful countryside and the amazing engineering marvel of the Canal I'm looking forward to exploring as much of it as I can in 10 days.

Back to DC...
Ian and I have had a great time getting ourselves around on the metro to the many museums and sites of DC, one better than the last one. It's an incredible place to be a tourist, easy to get around, centuries-old architecture and it's all free! The cherry trees have budded up and should be beautiful by the time we get back from Panama.

The dignified Capitol has stood for 200 years as the symbol of democracy, and it lives up to it's reputation inside and out.

We went on a tour scheduled by our representative in MA, but I'm not sure that was necessary. Anyone can just show up and go on the tour we had. Our guide was excellent, knowledgeable and enthusiastic. Highly recommend visiting the Capital.

The Rotunda.

Abraham Lincoln.

Hall of Columns.

The  Supreme Court was originally located in the Capital with very poor lighting, even back then.

The Crypt.

Ian and I walked over to the building next door to the Capital where our senators offices are located and got ourselves passes for the Senate and House Chambers. They are free for the asking, we didn't even need an ID, and are good for the entire year. It was very exciting to see our government in action and the next evening Joe and I went back and watched the Senate approve the Stimulus Bill! 
Supreme Court building.

National Archives of the United States.

 Ian and I enjoyed seeing The Constitution of the United States of America, the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. The foundation documents of our nation. The lighting was very dim to protect the fragile pieces, so photography was a challenge.

Museum of Natural History, another first rate museum that is open to everyone free of charge.

Real live growing Orchids, a whole room full of them.

Not so alive. 

Some day I'd love to have my work hanging in this amazing exhibition.... :-)

It could be Ian's photo in that spot...

One of my favorites, and I had many favorites.

The Hope Diamond.  Big, very popular and too heavy to wear.

The wonder of it all.

Ian psychedelic. 

Enjoying the Natural History Museum Gem and Mineral collection.

The Castle, first building built on the National Mall and the visitor center for all things Mall. Located directly opposite the entrance to the Natural History Museum.

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