Sunday, December 25, 2011

George Washington Masonic National Memorial in Alexandria, Virginia


The memorial is located in Alexandria, Virginia, outside of Washington, D.C. If not traveling by car, you can take the metro. The monument is dedicated to our first president, George Washington. It is 333 feet tall and overlooks the Potomac river. It was patterned after the Lighthouse of Alexandria. A 36 acre plot of land was originally purchase by Masons. The first cornerstone was laid in 1923. Its winter hours, October 1 through March 31, are 10:00am with closing at 4:00pm. On Sunday it is open 12:00pm to 4:00pm.



This room is a replica of the Alexandria-Washington Replica Lodge as it was back in 1802. It is now a museum room where visitors can see original furniture and paintings from that time period.

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This chair is one of the antique furniture pieces in the room.

Stained glass

As you enter the Masonic Memorial, several colorful stain glass windows embellish the walls. From Benjamin Franklin to General Lafayette, each window honors a famous person from our history. This window is of General Mordecai Gist in his uniform of the Baltimore Independent Cadets.

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This mural depicts President George Washington as he receives a silver plate which is to become the Cornerstone of the United States Capitol at the Masonic Ceremony held under the influence of the Grand Lodge of Maryland.

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Various monuments and even a wax statue honor George Washington who was our first president.


The George Washington Masonic National Memorial also exhibits the Shriners Hospital for Children. This exhibit of fezzes (Shriners hats) is in the Shrine Theater where visitors can watch a video presentation which introduces the history of the Shriners of North America.


The Shriners Hospitals for Children is a network of 22 non-profit hospital which span across the United States. The resolution to establish the hospital system began in 1920 with the Imperial Session of the Shriners in Portland, Oregon. The first hospital was opened in 1922 in Shreveport, Louisiana. The hospital takes in children even when parents are unable to pay.


I enjoyed sharing this excursion with you and hope you have a chance in the future to visit The George Washington Masonic National Memorial.

Friday, December 16, 2011

National Air and Space Museum in D.C, “Prepare for Flight”


The National Air and Space Museum has the largest historic collection of aircraft and spacecraft and in addition to that it is the second-most popular of the Smithsonian museums! It is easy to believe that the space reaches an area of 161,145 square feet when it is taken into account that full size aircraft are suspended from the ceiling and displayed on the floor level. This museum is a great place to brush up on aircraft history.

Wikepedia was helpful in supplying facts:

Also visit the official website: 


The interactive exhibits make a visit to the Air and Space museum more exciting. This exhibit allows visitors a glimpse of the inside of an aircraft.


The Spirit of St Louis hangs suspended from the ceiling of the National Air and Space Museum. The aerial view provides a different perspective. It can be viewed from both the first and second floors. Before our tour continues, I would like to uncover some history. The foremost fact that’s in most school textbooks is that The Spirit of St Louis was flown by Charles A. Lindbergh on May 20-21, 1927. He completed the first solo transatlantic flight in history! Even more impressive back in that day, is that it was accomplished in 33 hours and 30 minutes.


This beauty, known as the Boeing X-45A, is specifically designed for combat operations. My interest is not particularly in aircraft, but this swift-wing Boeing spiked aroused my curiosity. Its use is for combat so it carries two internal weapon bays in the fuselage. With the availability of more modern technology, new Boeings have been created such as the C version which has a greater fuel capacity to allow longer flight.



To end this section, I wanted to include this propelled vehicle that reminds me of the movie “Fly Away Home.” The movie is about a young girl who raises a flock of geese and leads them in a vehicle much like this through the migration route.

Exploring the Planets

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Our solar system is what keeps our planets in motion. The sun is what keeps a gravitational hold on the planets to keep them in orbit. I do not believe this was an accident, but the result of a all powerful God who spoke and it was so.


This full-scale replica should help give you an idea of what Voyager 2 really looked like. It visited the realms of the outer planets including Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. According to Wikipedia on December 15, 2011 of this year, it has been operating 34 years, 3 months, and 25 days!


The Viking program was the most expensive mission ever sent to Mars with a price tag of about 1 billion US dollars! “Its main purpose was to obtain high-resolution images of the Martian surface, characterize the the structure and composition of both the surface and atmosphere, and search for evidence that life on Mars exists” (Wikipedia Viking Program).

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For the billions who will never set foot on the moon, the National Air and Space Museum gives the opportunity to feel part of space travel. Space travel has come a long way and the few that have lost their lives in those efforts, deserve to have their name down in the history books. Though they have not literally fought in battle for our country, they have fought the battle in discovering the secrets of what lies beyond our home planet, Earth. I hope you have enjoyed this tour and I look forward to sharing more entries with you in the future!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden, D.C.

The National Gallery of Art was our next tour during our family journey in Washington D.C. It was created in 1937 for the people of the United States by a joint resolution of Congress. It was made possible through the gift of financier and art collector Andrew W. Mellon. Now, join me, as I take you through this unique collection of sculptures.


The “Spider” by Louise Bourgeois, reminds me of a Daddy Long Leg on the prowl! Thankfully, I don’t have to worry about my paths crossing this large specimen. Only in the movies would I worry about that sort of occurrence.


This is my favorite sculpture and is called “Thinker on a Rock”. It was created by Barry Flanagon. It is a nice twist to the famous sculpture by Auguste Rodin called “The Thinker” which is located in Paris.


The Pavilion Cafe is becomingly placed amidst the sculpture garden. The menu includes salads, sandwiches, pizza, and beverages. It is a nice place to rest and relax while you get a bite to eat. As a bonus, you get to enjoy a view of the garden while you eat.


This unique tree appears as if it was taken out of a story book. Its leafless metal branches give the tree a whimsical look. I’m sure the birds enjoy perching on its branches. Now, you can say you have seen a metal tree!


A garden does not feel quite complete without a water feature. This one adds a pleasant touch to the sculpture garden.


This next sculpture is the “Four-sided Pyramid" by Sol LeWitt. This structure was constructed on site by the creator along with a team of engineers and stone masons.


This last sculpture I will share with you is more of a modern looking creation that made me think of a computer part as I walked by. The name though implies something else. The “Typewriter Eraser, Scale X” is by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje Van Bruggen. Claes Oldenburg was a Swedish sculptor who is known for his public art that features large sculptures of objects that we see every day. His artistic partner was actually his late wife. This was a nice ending to our tour of the sculpture garden.

Elizabeth’s Traveling Tip: The National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden is located on the National Mall in Washington D.C. It is on the corner of Madison Dr. NW and 9th St. NW. Remember to bring your camera and sunglasses.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Exploring the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C.

Capitol and Elizabeth

Standing in front of the U.S. Capitol was something I will never forget. This is where many of the most important decisions of country are made. I was excited we discovered that touring the Capitol is free! We made it just in time for the next tour. You can book your own tour at the link below.


Upon approaching the U.S. Capitol, its extreme size becomes apparent. It has 540 rooms that are divided amongst five levels. Each floor is dedicated to a different purpose. First, the ground floor hosts the Congressional office. Going upwards to the second floor in the south wing is the chambers of the House of Representatives and in the north wing is the Senate. The third floor is where Congress goes when in session. The area where we were able to tour for free is known as the Rotunda which is under the dome in the center of the Capitol Building. Continuing below, you can view this level.


Here on the ceiling of the Rotunda is a large fresco painting called The Apotheosis of Washington. The rotunda is the tallest part of the Capitol reaching to heights of 180 feet 3 inches with a diameter 96 feet. The creator of this master piece was the Greek artist Constantino Brumidi. It was in Italy where he served as an artist for several aristocrats as he painted palaces and villas.


The next area to catch my attention was the “Frieze of American History.” As the name implies, it takes visitors through 19 scenes straight from our country’s exciting history. What appears to be carved stone is actually painted. This work was started by Brumidi who painted seven and a half scenes. After his death, Filippo Costaggini completed eight and half scenes followed by Allyn Cox who completed the frieze in 1951.


The rotunda also contains eight large historical paintings that measure 12 by 18 feet. This particular painting is most likely familiar to you. It is known as the Declaration of Independence. It was painted by Trumball who was commissioned in 1817 to orchestrate this famous masterpiece.


Discovering the Portrait Monument of these three famous women, who made women’s suffrage possible, came as a surprise to me. I had seen it in history books, but never face to face. We owe much gratitude to these ladies Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Susan B. Anthony. Thanks to them, I will be able to vote in the next election!


The next part of the tour took us to a room where we were able to stand where some of our most revered presidents stood. To be able to put my feet where they would have sat or stood instilled in me a feeling I can’t express with words. The best I can say is that at that moment I was proud to be an American.


I took a deep breath as we made our way to the Library of Congress. Finally, after desiring to see for many years, I stepped through the passage way.   IMG_3970

Here is a view looking down on the Great Hall Interior of the Library of Congress. The new Library of Congress was opened in 1897. This impressive space was designed after the Paris Opera House. Attention to detail is evident in the Great Hall. We did not step into the portion where the multitude of books are kept, but we did get a taste of the beauty of this structure.

I hope you enjoyed this tour of the U.S. Capitol. Please visit my blog again in the upcoming weeks to see more entries on my adventures in Washington D.C!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

United States Botanic Garden, Washington D.C.


When visiting Washington D.C, it can be difficult at times to decide what to visit. In future blog entries, I will allow you to experience the many sites we were privileged to see. I hope my pictures give you a sense of participating in my tours and helps you decide what exhibits and museums you may wish to visit in the future.

This blog entry will take you through the United States Botanic Garden. They are actively working in partnership with programs to conserve threatened plants. One of their goals is to educate visitors about plant conservation. The following picture will reveal how they have made their gardens sustainable and more eco-friendly.


The clear glass allows sunlight to radiate into conservatory. High-efficiency fans move with high velocity, but use minimal energy when compared with the traditional paddle fans. The flow of air helps to the plants healthy and vigorous.


Upon entering each exhibit, a sign displays the habitat. World Deserts, Medicinal plants, Orchids, Hawaii, Rare and Endangered Species are just a few or the many beautiful rooms.

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The different exhibits host unique plants with their native habitats. the tropical flowers are a welcoming sight.


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The water features dispersed throughout the gardens adds a tranquil feel and helps to add humidity to the climate.


Orchids are one of a kind. In their own way, they seem to enrapture the viewer. Is it the array of color, their graceful appearance, or just the multitude of names they instill in us awe? Maybe you just wonder what provoked such unusual names such as Beard orchid, Camel foot, and the Chicken foot orchid of Peru!

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You don’t have to travel far to see desert cactus at the Botanic Gardens. No camels needed, but bringing a camera along is a good idea.

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In the Medicinal Garden there is much to discover. You will learn about many plants and how they are used for healing. Click on the sign to read about the Castor Oil plant.


In another room are various displays that show different plants and their uses in supplements, vitamins, body products, and more.


Finally, we were able to see some of the technology that will help to make our homes and environment more sustainable. I thought it was pretty neat to put grass on the roof. Maybe one day we will be able to grow vegetables on our roofs!


Whether visiting in spring or winter this is great place to visit. I hope you enjoyed this tour and will consider visiting the United States Botanic Garden in the future.