Saturday, July 10, 2010

Vacation Day Seven

Friday was our last day in Washington DC. We started off by going to the Old Post Office building. It was built in the late 1800's and was an innovative and modern building when it was finished. It was used by the Post Office for about 15 years before they wanted a newer and better building. When they moved out the Old building was used by a variety of different agencies. The building was really interesting. The main entrance was only for government employees. But there was a side entrance which led to the food court and shopping center. The lower floors were used as a mall, while the upper floors were for government "work". On the way to the Old Post Office building we passed the EPA and IRS buildings. The EPA has a large, very nice building (with no visible green plants or "green" innovations). The IRS building looked like a fortress, which I guess it appropriate.

We went to the Old Post Office building because it has the second tallest tower in all of Washington DC, and no one knows about it, so it's easy to get in. Unlike the Washington monument, which runs out of tickets by 8:00am, we got to the Old Post Office building, waited 5 minutes and then got to ride up to the top.

Here are two pictures of the Washington skyline.
I was really surprised with the roof garden on a neighboring building. I think the building is an apartment complex or maybe a hotel. The garden seems to be for one of the restaurants in the building.
The bell tower in the Old Post Office building contains a number of bells. Here's a poor picture of some of the bells.
And on the floor below the bells is the pull cords to ring the bells.

Here's some information on the bells, and on the bell ringers.

The interior of the Post Office was really cool. We took an elevator to the 9th floor and then walked around to another elevator that took us to the top of the bell tower.

This is looking down into the food court in the center of the building.

After the Old Post Office, we went over to the Smithsonian. This time we visited the Natural History museum. The kids had been looking forward to seeing the museum, since they saw Night at the Museum 2.
Here's the whale in one of the halls. He shows up in the movie.
I just liked this fish skeleton. The head's about 2 ft long, and those are some nice fangs.
Here are the kids in front of the Elephant in another of the halls in the Natural History Museum. The Elephant also shows up in the movie.
Molly and I got chased by a dinosaur. After 7 days of visiting sights in the city, Molly what pretty tired of walking. She spent A LOT of time riding on my shoulders. Of course she didn't want to sit in a convenient place. She wanted to be carried and to lean out as far as she could, to try to through us off balance. But she didn't get to choose...

After a long of day of carrying her, and listening to her ask for " Uppies!!", I'd had enough. We found a handy alligator and...
There was actually a kids center in the museum. They had a bunch of animal skulls and this stuffed alligator head. All the kids had fun putting their hands in the alligator's mouth.

They also had dress up clothes from around the world, along with a variety of other interesting things.
Here's Abby in a Panamanian style dress. She really got a kick out of the outfit.
And here's Molly in a Japanese style dress.

After playing at the kids museum, we headed to the hall of gems and minerals.
Here is the Hope Diamond. It's in an armored box surrounded by tourists. The diamond was interesting for a few seconds, but I really liked the minerals and rocks.
This is a flow stone. It looks like an abstract sculpture sitting on the pedestal. If you squint just right you can see all kinds of shapes in the rock.

A really cool crystal. It looked like frozen fireworks.
The kids touching a giant amethyst.
And another explosion of crystals.

After visiting about 1/4 of the museum, we decided to head to the Air and Space Museum for a little longer. As we got ready to go, Thomas commented that he was ready to go since we'd seen the whole museum. He wasn't even close.
Looking over the balcony into the hall with the Elephant. Look how BIG he is.
We left the Natural History Museum and headed across the Mall. We walked past the Smithsonian Castle, but didn't even walk in the front doors.
While we were walking, I caught this picture of Thomas and Molly being sweet to each other. When I stopped to take this picture, another pedestrian stopped also and told me what a great picture that would be. We talked briefly about children and how fast they grow up before we went on our way. I was glad that the kids were being good instead of fighting.

We went to the Air and Space museum again.
In one hallway, they had about a dozen drones, which were new from the last time I was at the Museum. The drones looked like alien space ships.
And provided a nice contrast to the airplanes from the Golden Age of Flight.

In one of the side galleries, they had about a half dozen airplanes in different stages of restoration.

We finally found the Wright flyer in a side gallery. Since they first flew in North Carolina, Amy really wanted to see the plane.
Amy and the kids all posed in front of the original flyer.

After seeing the first airplanes and modern drones, we were done. The kids had endured dozens of historic sites and museums, and they were done. We headed back to our hotel for some swimming.

Thomas swims like a fish, and is confident in just about any water. Abby is not quite so good...

Here she is holding onto the side, with her Dora floaties. Now if she'd stop licking the plastic.

Molly loves swimming, but isn't very confident in the water. She has floaties and a back-up flotation ring, to make sure that her face never touches the water (unless she's drinking the pool water).

The next morning, we headed out to the airport and left DC. By the time we got home I needed a vacation to recover from our vacation.

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