The early bird and the monument ... battle of the wills part one

Wednesday 7 June 2006, 8:43 am


Tuesday, June 6

Were there elections in California today? We have our home phone forwarded to our cell phone, and every day I've been getting recorded messages, campaign workers calling me, and surveys. It's really annoying, and you probably agree. I hope we stop getting these calls after today.

OK, so today we really did get up early. 7:00 am is really early for us. But by the time we worked our way through commute traffic to the train station, we were already way late. We got to the Washington Monument just after they gave away the last ticket. We were disappointed.

Did I mention that we are staying at the south end of Alexandria, near Van Dorn, but I didn't like the train station there so we are driving up to the West Falls Church station instead? That station is in a much nicer neighborhood. It's around the corner from where Calvary Chapel meets. It's right next to a university (I don't remember which one). That station is about twelve miles away from us by freeway. Late at night, it takes only fifteen minutes to drive. But in the commute, it's more like 45 minutes. Taking surface streets instead also takes about 45 minutes. So this does cost us some extra time at each end of the commute. But I think it's safer to park the car at the Falls Church station with the laptop inside.

Anyway, we trudged on up to the Capitol instead. We were able to get a 2:30 ticket to tour the Capitol. In the meantime, we went to the Air and Space Museum again. We got through quite a bit of it, but when we left there we had still finished only one floor of two. The place is huge and very interesting. We might try to get back there to finish more of it.

The basic Capitol tour takes you to the Rotunda (inside the dome), the old House room, and the basement below the Rotunda. Our tour guide was a character. He rolled his eyes a lot while talking about the lawmakers, past and present. Anyway, the basic tour was pretty short. The only reason it took more than half an hour is because there were 50 other tour groups in the same room at the same time, and you had to force your way through one group to get to your next stop.

Rotunda Ceiling
In order to see more, specifically, the galleries (upstairs in the actual house or senate chambers), you must get a ticket from your congressman's or senator's office. I don't even know who our house representative is, but I told Mary I know who our California senators are (snicker). She said she did not want to see them. I said, you go to the office, the senator is busy, a staffer gives you the ticket. Anyway, a couple nearby us overheard our conversation and gave us two tickets to the House gallery. Someone had just handed them a handful of tickets; they kept enough for their family and gave us the last two. So we didn't even have to walk across the street to the congressional offices.

The house chambers were beautiful but disappointing. We went in around 4:00 pm. The House was in session but they had just finished an appropriations bill when they realized some last-minute paperwork was missing, so they took a recess to fetch it. They would not return from recess until 5:15 pm. We did not want to wait that long. I counted the seats and came up with more than 360. (There are about 450 congressman.) A guard told us about the statues and moldingsj around the room. There are 22 famous lawgivers around the ceiling. We were sitting under Moses, my favorite. The guard told us we could find more information at the Architect of the Capitol web site.

By the time we finished here, the Air and Space Museum was near closing time and had lost its appeal for today. We wandered next door to the Hirschhorn Museum, which houses relatively modern art (mostly apparently collected during the 1960's). We got through one floor of four before closing time. We are not real fans of art, modern or otherwise, but it was relaxing.

OK, got to take my shower and check out of the room ... will try to post more later tonight.

2006-trip/20060606a