Thursday, June 24, 2010

Vacation Day Five

On Wednesday we spend most of the day driving. First we went to the National Zoo. Driving through DC's streets (even with a GPS) was terrible. Everything was under construction or didn't go where we thought it would. Eventually, after touring a number of roundabouts and dead ends, we got to the zoo. Like the rest of the Smithsonian, it's "free". That is, it's free to enter, but you'll pay like at Disneyland for everything else. $15 for a stroller (and I had to surrender my drivers license to get it), $2 for a map, etc...

One thing that really interested me was the "O line" at the zoo. The Orangutans have a compound and also a research center. But the two are across the zoo from each other. The "O line" is a line of cables about 40ft off the ground that run from the compound to the research center. In the morning if the Orangutans want to go from the compound to the center, they just start climbing the cables and go hand over hand across the zoo. The towers the support the cables have a resting place, but have a electrified fence below the platform. And I guess the cables are too high for the Orangutans to let go and drop to the pavement. So, they have the freedom to move around and swing over tourist heads, but can't run free.
Here's an owl that I liked, since it's perched on a cactus.
This is one of the pandas that the zoo "rents" from the Chinese, for about $1 Million a year.

After the zoo, we headed up to the Washington DC temple. We wanted to show the kids where we got married. We went to the visitor's center, and were about the only people in there. So, we got some Sisters to show us around and tell the kids about the Temple. The kids each got Future Missionary tags and a picture of Jesus. Then, we went and watched a short video in one of the video rooms. While we were watching, Molly said to me "Daddy, my hand's getting tired. Can you hold Jesus up so He can watch the movie?" She'd been holding her picture up so He could see the movie with her.
Here's a picture of us and the temple. I had my little (4" high) tripod, so this picture ended up looking a little off center and strange.
Here's a couple pictures of the temple and the fountains.

After the Temple, we headed over to Arlington National Cemetery to see Amy's grandfather's grave. We stopped off at the main building to have them look up which section and gravestone was his. Once again I was stuck by how the staff (that's supposed to handle looking up records) seemed put out that we asked them to do so. However, everyone else there was really great. Once we had a pass, we got to drive into the cemetery and visit the graves. It was an overcast and drizzly day, so it was perfect for visiting a cemetery.
After searching around, we found Amy's Grandfather's grave.
Here's his tombstone up close.

After we left the grave, we headed up to the tomb of the unknown soldier. We got there in time for the Changing of the Guard and a Wreath Laying Ceremony.
Here 3 of Guards escort a wreath out for the Ceremony
One of the soldiers marching in front of the tombs. By now, the rain had really picked up. It was just pouring down.

They guard the tomb 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in any weather. The guard marches back and forth with exactly 21 steps, turns, stands for 21 seconds, turns again and marches 21 steps back. According to the guide book, the mat that they march on, wears out in specific spots from the soldier stepping in the same place again and again.
As the guard marches past the line of tourists and the wreath. Even though there were about 20-30 tourists watching, you could nearly hear a pin drop. The Tomb of the Unknown soldier was the only place where everyone was quiet.
The Mausoleum with the Tomb of the Unknown soldier in front. The tomb is the smaller, marble box in front. The box is for the unknown soldier from WWI, the Unknowns from WWII, Korea and Vietnam are under marble slabs behind the tomb. This polished, white marble was super slippery in the rain.
Looking over a field of headstones near the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Finally, here's a video of the Changing of the Guard that we took at the Tomb.

After Arlington, we quickly drove home, cleaned up and then drove back north of DC to visit one of Amy's friends from North Carolina. Bethany and Chris Call have lived near Washington for several years. So, we went and had dinner with them at crazy-busy Mexican restaurant that was about half way between their house and our hotel. We had a fun visit and it was good to catch up with them.

1 comment:

Blarney Girl said...

Love the DC Temple!! I used to live in Norfolk, VA and that's where I took out my endowment. Looks like you all are having a wonderful time! :D