Washington DC - Day 1
I spent most of this week in Washington D.C. - Hilary had another conference she was going to do some sight-seeing before and asked if I wanted to join. Perhaps less fun than Disney, but closer and cheaper so I said "yes!" We got in Tuesday evening, making Wednesday our first (and Hilary's only) real sight-seeing day. Before we left we had discussed the National Museum of African American History and Culture being a priority. Because all the timed passes that you need to access the museum (although it's free) had been reserved long before we even knew we were going, we were left with waking up at 6:30 to attempt to get two of the limited day-of passes they release daily. Lo and behold, they weren't doing day-of passes that day because they're rolling out a new ticket option, "Walk-up Wednesdays." So we arrived at opening time, stood in line, and were admitted a half-hour later! Not too shabby. The museum itself was gorgeous, inside and out. Here are some of my favorite photos (and quotes!) from the museum.
We ate lunch at the museum, and it was excellent! Easily the best museum food I've ever had. For the galleries, we had to decide early on that we just didn't have time to read absolutely EVERYTHING because there's just so much information. It could easily be a three day journey. It was very well put together and well-presented. Highly recommended! My only complaints? The above-ground galleries that could have natural light, don't, because of an outstanding lack of windows. It was a shame to miss out on the sunshine on such a lovely day! Along the same lines, some of the many (MANY) placards were ill-lit and challenging to read, which seems to defeat the purpose. Last, in the history galleries, there was a statue of Thomas Jefferson (as seen in the gallery above) in front of a wall of bricks. Each front-facing brick had the name of one of his slaves. The placard said the bricks represented SOME of his 609 slaves (including 6 of his own children). I think the wall should have included all 609 bricks, or at the very least tell us how many bricks it contains (is this representing 1/4 of his slaves? Inquiring minds want to know!). All in all, small complaints!
Naturally, when we were done around 4, I had to get a sketch of the exterior of the building.
We had enough time to get back to the hotel and rest for a bit before heading back out on a Monuments-by-Night tour we had signed up for. We were brought to the Capitol Building (the tour wasn't full so we got to vote if we wanted to do the Grant Memorial and Capitol Building or WW2 and it was unanimous that we'd rather do the Capitol!), the MLK and FDR memorials, and the Lincoln, Korean War and Vietnam memorials. We had between 20-35 minutes at each stop, and our tour guide Vince did a great job of also pointing out other buildings and giving us some history between each stop. Me being me, I sketched at every. Single. Stop.
First off, the Capitol! This was our shortest stop, and I stayed within 20 feet of the bus so I could both maximize my sketching time and guarantee that it wouldn't leave without me! I did this one in 15 minutes.
Next, the MLK and FDR Memorials. They are connected by a few pathways, one that leads right along the Tidal Basin. It offered a great view of the Jefferson Memorial, which we weren't visiting, and I decided to paint that. I realized at this point that my booklight was running out of batteries, so I did this basically color-blind in the half-light and hoping I knew my palette as well as I thought I did. Pretty happy with the result, though!
Last, the Lincoln Memorial, flanked by the Vietnam and Korean War Memorials. Before exiting the bus, Vince told us how the Korean Memorial was ver powerful and his personal favorite. If you look at the back left soldier, he's the radio man and is looking off over his soldier, like he's heard someone approaching. Vince said he loved seeing people's photos and, having seen me sketching at the first stop, that there was an artist on board and he'd love to see what I did with it. Well, I really wanted to sketch the Lincoln Memorial but I'm not one to back down from a challenge, so I decided to do both. I did Lincoln in 15 minutes, booked it to the Korean War Memorial and did a sketch of the soldier in under 10 (with help from Hilary for that one, she held up the flashlight on her phone so I could better see what I was painting! Good team work!). Vince was pleased.
We had such a lovely, full day of sight-seeing and I still had two more to go!