Your Congressperson’s office can help you schedule many Washington tours–for free! This was our second visit to the Library of Congress. If you don’t schedule through your Congressperson, show up twenty minutes before the first tour time in order to get your place. You can wander throughout the building on your own, but having a good docent lead you is the best way to go.
I am determined that one of these trips I will have the pre-planning arranged to go into the reading room. It’s open to all Americans—you simply have to have a purpose. I’m always sad that you only have a few minutes—literally three minutes—in the observation area above the reading room.
There are stories to be told about every mosaic tile, each stairway, the murals above your heads. The entire Library is a work of art, so don’t rush through.
This building has been closed for a number of years and was undergoing a major renovation. That fell through, but lucky for us this time, the building found use as part of the Smithsonian Folk Fest. This year’s festival was Sounds of California—okay, been there, seen that, liked it—and Basque. Ah, now this was brand new for us. Basque is a cross-country region in northern Spain and southwestern France. The tagline was “Innovation by Culture” and wandering through the various exhibits was enlightening.
While the Festival covered the entire Mall area, in the A&I building were vendors with a variety of foods and crafts for sale and a stage with musical guests. We heard the “Tmba Ta” – an Armenian Music group.
We were glad to see the scaffolding gone from the Capitol and the Statue of Freedom looking glorious as usual.
You can get overwhelmed by the size of the buildings in DC. The Eisenhower Executive Offices and the Herbert Hoover Building—they each take up at least a block. But this trip, we discovered these statues at the corner of Independence & South Capitol St SE. We’ve wandered up and down Independence any number of times, but this is the first time this beauty attracted our attention. Lesson: don’t forget to look around when you’re walking.
The Vietnam Wall continues to be an emotional experience. The silence surrounding it is always startling in the midst of the hubbub of so many tourists.
The Washington Monument is a grand marvel.
And finally…outside the White House on a sweltering, post-thunderstorm July day I picked this Secret Service Agent to ask: “How do you bear the heat?” He responded, “I think about the 20 degree days out here and on those days I think about today.” He tried very hard not to smile, but I applauded him with a huge grin and we moseyed on.
DC…so many treats to see and conversations to have.
Also published on Medium.