May 26, 2014

Washington D.C.

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Washington D.C.

What is it about visiting the nation's Capitol that gives me tingles? My third time visiting and I was still awestruck by the biluildings and monuments that surrounded me...even in down pouring rain (three days of down pouring rain to be exact).

I visited Washington D.C. at the end of April to attend Promising Practices 2014, a conference that promotes tobacco free active living and healthy eating in low socioeconomic communities. I have attended this conference two other times, both in New Orleans, LA, and each conference has been a great learning experience. This year I presented a poster on Tobacco Free Health Care Campuses and assisted with an oral presentation about a project that worked with Head Start programs to incorporate systems to address the use of tobacco with families.

Although the conference lasted most of the day, we were able to do some sightseeing each evening. 

First up...the Washington Monument, which was dedicated in 1885, nearly 40 years after construction on the monument began. There was a long hiatus in construction from 1854 to 1877 due to political movement, a lack of funds and the intervention of the American Civil War, which lasted from 1861 to 1865. Upon construction, the Washington Monument was the tallest structure in the world until 1889 when the Eiffel Tower was completed.

We then headed to the National World War II Memorial, which is one of my favorite memorials. The memorial is dedicated to Americans who served in the armed forces and as civilians during World War II. The memorial consist of 56 pillars and a pair of small triumphal arches that surround a plaza and fountain. 

The World War II memorial opened to the public on April 29, 2004 and was dedicated by President George W. Bush on May 29, 2004, two days before Memorial Day. The memorial is administered by the National Park Service under its National Mall and Memorial Parks group. 

We then visited the Lincoln Memorial, which was dedicated in 1922. Interestingly, the building is in the form of a Greek temple that contains a seated sculpture of Abraham Lincoln and inscriptions of two well known speeches by Lincoln, The Gettysburg Address and Lincoln's second inaugural address. 

The memorial was the site of Martin Luther King Jr's "I Have a Dream" speech, and has therefore been a symbolically sacred venue for the Civil Rights movement. 

A view of the Washington Monument from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

We went on a night tour of a few of the monuments one evening. Although we had seen some of the structures during the day, seeing the monuments at night was beautiful, even in the pouring down rain. 

The Marine Corps War Memorial...

The Three Soldiers, which commemorates the Vietnam War and compliments the Vietnam Veterans Memorial...

Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial...

A coworker and I decided to extend our trip by one extra day to allow for more time to see Washington D.C. We began our day with a cup of coffee from Chesapeake Bay Roasting know you're out East when you're drinking Chesapeake Bay coffee. :-)

We toured the Spy Museum...

...and visited the National Museum of the American Indian, part of the Smithsonian Institution and dedicated to the life, languages, literature, history and arts of the Native Americans of the Western Hemisphere. Much thought went into the design of the building that houses the museum. The architects were Douglas Cardinal, a Blackfoot Indian from Canada, and Johnpaul Jones, an Indian from the Cherokee and Choctaw tribes. 

I was thrilled to see the Rasmuson Theatre, which was dedicated on April 8, 2005, in honor of Elmer and Mary Louise Rasmuson, prominent figures in Alaska who were dedicated to improving the quality of life for people throughout the state of Alaska through the Rasmuson Foundation. The Rasmuson Foundation contributes to healthy, enriched and productive lives for Alaskans of all ages by addressing basic needs, arts and culture through projects that address special circumstances. Rasmuson Theater is located not he first level of the museum and provides the setting for stage plays, storytelling, dance and music presentations, film and video viewing and lectures and seminars. 

The Mitsitam Cafe is the cafeteria in the National Museum of the American Indian. We decided to eat lunch here because it was highly recommended on Yelp. The food celebrates the indigenous foods of American Indian cultures from all over the country, including the Northern Woodlands, South America, the Northwest Coast, Meso American and the Great Plains. Each of the five food stations depict regional life ways related to cooking techniques, ingredients and flavors found in both traditional and contemporary dishes. 

We then ventured on to Old Town Alexandria, which was the perfect ending to our day. King Street was stocked with local and national clothing stores and local restaurants. Although it was pouring the entire afternoon, we enjoyed soaking up the culture and doing a little shopping.

The King Street Trolley...

We saw a few cherry trees that still had their blossoms...

We ended the evening at T.J. Stones, a highly recommended food joint on Yelp. We both ordered lobster mac and cheese and enjoyed a local brew...

Washington D.C. was a great adventure. As I mention often on this blog, I am so thankful for a job that allows me to travel across the country to present on projects that I work on every day.