We flew to Washington DC for the last week of October, to visit our daughter. We took a midweek trip to the Shenandoah Mountains to see fall colors and hike while she was working. There is always so much to see in our nations’ capital. We visited all three branches of government, several museums, had some delightful meals with our daughter and her friends, and also visited some cousins in Maryland. Plenty of scope for thought, and art to appreciate, on this trip.
10/21 – Flying east –
We had cloud cover until after the Rockies. From my window seat, I watched the land beneath me change from the flat patchwork of the agricultural midcontinent to the wrinkles of Appalachia.
10/22 – National Portrait Gallery, and Alexandria, VA
On Friday we had some business downtown, then had time for a brief visit to the National Portrait Gallery.
My daughter wanted to show us the new portraits of the Obamas. Unfortunately, they were on loan to another museum, but we did visit some favorite presidents:
I also found a few women to admire:
After driving through a slow traffic jam that provided a great view of the Washington Monument from every angle, we followed the traffic out of town, and ended up at the Alexandria Waterfront, where we found a delicious Thai dinner on an outdoor patio overlooking the Potomac River.
10/24 – Old Ellicott City, MD
During our stay with cousins in Baltimore we visited Old Ellicott City on the Patapsco River. This city dates back to the 1600s, and is famous for its historic mill, railroads, and frequent flooding. The architecture reminds me of towns I’ve seen in England. Recent flooding repairs are ongoing. The town is known for public art, though being a Monday, most shops and museums were closed.
Shop windows showed Halloween decorations. Pumpkins made of many media caught my eye: ceramic, glass, wire, beaded, painted, fabric, even knitted!
We spent the next three days in Shenandoah National Park, to be described in the next post.
10/28 – The Supreme Court, The Library of Congress, the US Capitol, the National Museum of the American Indian
On Friday afternoon, we returned to DC and set out to see more sites. Our first stop was the Supreme Court Building, which I had never been to before.
We had time for a quick look around the Library of Congress before our US Capitol tour.
There were many exhibits I would have liked to examine in detail, but will have to hope to return another day.
Our daughter’s friend offered us a Capitol tour. I had been once before, more than ten years ago. There is so much to see in this building – I was glad to go again. We began in one of the Congressional office buildings, then were escorted through underground tunnels and security checkpoints to the Visitor Center.
The main hall of the Visitor Center has lots of space for tour groups, and a selection of statues of famous Americans.
Next we passed the original Supreme Court Chambers.
The main Rotunda is massive, and nearly impossible to photograph. Our guide said the Statue of Liberty would fit in this space.
Our next stop was The Old Senate Chamber.
We didn’t go into the active chambers – but it was pointed out to us where the building had been repaired after the January 6th insurrection. Next we walked through Statuary Hall. Here are a few of the women represented there:
Our time was up. We returned to the Office Building where we began, with a stop to see artwork celebrating the western states.
A one hour tour is hardly enough time to begin to see all that the U.S. Capitol building holds. Each wall, floor and ceiling is embedded with meaning, signifying historical events. As we walked through, our guide told us interesting facts about the architecture, the statuary, the building’s history. We could hear other guides emphasizing different aspects of the building. It was a privilege to get to view a slice of it, and I would be willing to go back again, for another view.
And we were not done yet! On our way back to our hotel, we walked through the National Museum of the American Indian, with just enough time to view one exhibit hall:
There were many styles of indigenous art on show. We passed these hallway pieces on our way to the gallery with the Preston Singletary exhibit:
Preston Singletary is a Tlingit American artist, who represents traditional stories and subjects using various forms of glass. Part of the gallery was a walk through the story of the raven, and there were many other beautiful pieces on display. :
It was nearly closing time for the museum, so we left without seeing the other galleries – another place I would like to return to. We exited the mall side of the museum.
As we crossed the mall, we got another view of the Capitol, with the current construction scaffolding, and the Washington Monument.
10/29 – Hirshhorn Museum Sculpture Garden, National Mall, the White House, Potomac River Walk, Flying Home
Our last day in DC was a beautiful sunny fall day so we opted to do outdoor things. We started with a picnic lunch in the Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden, a sunken green space filled with a variety of outdoor art pieces.
Double Candle by Stirling Ruby.
This modern glass and steel grid had interesting reflections and transparencies:
Next, we walked across the mall, past the Washington Monument, and then the White House.
Later, we took a walk along the Potomac River near Mt Vernon before heading to the airport for our flight home.
After we boarded the plane, I could see the quarter moon rising. We flew west, chasing the sunset, with the moon visible over the wing the entire way, until we dipped below the clouds in Oregon.
I was ready to be home, in time for Halloween in Portland.