Wednesday morning, Reagan's grandmothers arrived at our home. Grandmama Zeigler took Reagan (sniff, sniff). My mom took Sophie & I. Sophie was dropped at the vet, & I was dropped at the Monroe Airport. It's a good thing they built the new terminal, because I don't know if the old one could've handled the flurry of activity that typifies Monroe Regional.
I enjoyed some alone time with my Chick-fil-A coffee & MacBook, browsing the Internet courtesy of the free Wi-Fi Monroe Regional provides. When I finished my coffee (which is a security no-no), I gathered my two bags & removed my shoes & coat for the 3 people working security, which put the security personnel to passenger ratio at 3:1.
I don't care for small spaces:
Thankfully, it's a quick flight to DFW, which was a bit busier than Monroe Regional:
After a quick sandwich & a latte from Starbucks, I made my connection to, where else, Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport:
Trey met me at the airport, we ate some dinner, & then retired to our room to watch the press conference announcing Joe Paterno's firing. The ESPN analyst (whose forte was obviously sports analysis & not serious matters like devastating child molestation charges) told us this was one of those "where were you when . . ." moments, so mark it down; we were at the Crystal City Marriott in Arlington.
It was a little overcast & drizzly at times Thursday, but we didn't let the weather slow us down.
A shot of the Washington Monument, as well as some of the fall foliage:
We went to the Museum of American History at the Smithsonian first.
Me in the middle of an exhibit that had something to do with the evolution of the automobile (it wasn't my fav):
Thomas Jefferson's Bible:
The flag Francis Scott Key saw that inspired the writing of "The Star-Spangled Banner":
(it's very dark in the area where the flag is displayed, & you're not supposed to take pictures . . . shhhhhh!):
Trey & I posing in front of a statue of George Washington:
Ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz:
Ronald Reagan's spot in a timeline of all the American presidents. They sandwich him in between Carter & Bush 41 like he was just another American president:
The Reagan's 1987 Christmas card:
A dinner plate (made by Lenox) from the collection Nancy Reagan had specially made for White House dinners:
In the 'American President' section of the museum there was a special tribute to Reagan in honor of the centennial of his birthday earlier this year.
Some memorabilia from his campaigns:
Let me say, as someone who loves her country, it was sad viewing all the reminders of Reagan's time in office while milling around the Smithsonian mere miles from the White House, whose current occupant is a complete & utter failure. It was a bit discouraging.
Hat worn by General Sherman during the Civil War:
Furniture from the surrender at Appomattox Courthouse. According to the plaque, Grant & Lee actually sat in these chairs & signed documents on this table:
There is a section of the museum dedicated to 'America at War,' and there is memorabilia from each war America has fought. As we browsed the WWII section, we walked alongside several elderly men, all of them being pushed in wheelchairs, wearing hats and other gear with "WWII Vet" emblazoned on it. They were quiet as young men rolled them past pictures, guns, propaganda, & other paraphernalia from the war they fought over 60 years ago. It was a tad sobering.
Next we visited the National Archives. We saw the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. You'll just have to take my word for it, because they will throw you out of there if you even think about making a joke about taking a picture. Despite Trey's claims to the contrary, Nicholas Cage was nowhere to be found.
I did pick up this book for Reagan in the gift shop:
We left the Archives and toured the Museum of Crime & Punishment. This one does charge an admission fee, but it was worth it. By this point in the day I was too tired to take many pics, but this is a gun Trey asked me to take a picture of, though I can't remember why:
Trey left early Friday morning in search of the National Firearms Museum. Located in Fairfax, Virginia, his journey to this museum involved not only the Metro, but some time on a bus. I stayed behind & enjoyed a leisurely breakfast in the room.
I ate & enjoyed the view from our room while I watched the yearly Veterans Day tribute at Arlington National Cemetery on Fox News, muting the TV when Obama spoke. It was way too early in the day for that:
Once Trey returned, we hopped on the Metro headed to the Newseum, a museum dedicated to the news. This is a shot of the Capitol I took as we headed inside the Newseum:
One of the neatest things at the Newseum, this is the largest section of the Berlin Wall outside of Germany:
(the West Berlin side . . . there were other people around, so I resisted the urge to stand there & say "Tear down this wall"):
A piece they allow you to touch. This was exciting for obvious reasons, it being a piece of the Berlin Wall, but also because in museums, they don't let you touch anything:
An actual watchtower that was part of the wall:
The Eastern side (they didn't allow graffiti, apparently, being Communists & all):
Part of the September 11 exhibit, these are cell phones & pagers collected from the rubble of the towers. The plaque, titled "Phones Kept Ringing," explains that rescuers and clean-up crews were haunted by the cell phones that continued ringing long after the towers fell as frantic people tried to reach their loved ones.
If the cell phones don't have you in tears, keep reading.
This wallet & these credit cards belonged to Ruth McCourt. McCourt & her daughter Juliana, featured in the picture, left their home in Connecticut & were en route to Disneyland on the plane that hit the second tower. The wallet & cards were recovered in the rubble.
Part of the antenna that sat atop one of the World Trade Center towers:
A wall in the Newseum that features front pages from around the world dated September 12, 2001:
A "freedom of the press" map in the Newseum. Green areas are free, yellow areas are partly free, & red areas are not free:
View from the terrace of the Newseum:
The last exhibit we saw at the Newseum was a gallery of Pulitzer Prize winning photos. Just a few:
The Newseum does charges an admission fee, but it is worth it, in my opinion, just to see (& touch!) the Berlin Wall & view the September 11 exhibit.
Faced with the prospect of what time we needed to get up to make our Saturday morning flight out of Reagan, we sought comfort:
Saturday began very early and ended well.
I got up at 4:45 Saturday morning (3:45 central time), so there are no photos of our return trip home. If I had taken a photo, it would have been of the TSA squadron at Reagan Airport (but they didn't strike me as a group interested in a photo op). It was a markedly different experience than going through security in Monroe.
It was a typical day of travel: it began early, involved small spaces shared with strangers & a perpetual search for a good cup of coffee, & the always difficult decision of holding it or using the tiny bathroom on the airplane.
I had a wonderful time, but I don't think I'll be leaving Reagan again anytime soon. As my mother said, it's a bit like leaving an arm at home. Every time I left our hotel room with only my purse on my arm, I'd pause, certain I had forgotten something because I was traveling so light. I've never been a nervous flier, but each time I boarded a plane (especially the tiny ones that take you to & from Monroe), I wanted to stick my head in the cockpit & tell the pilot to be extra careful because there was a precious 11-month-old waiting for me at home. Being a planner by nature, I decided that if there was a hint of trouble while we were flying, I would text my mom & tell her the usual I love you, etc., & that if anything happened, to take Reagan to church.
So that's what my advice/hopes/prayers boil down to, I suppose: take her to church. Lord willing, I will be doing just that for many years to come.