The train to DC was enlivened by a happy guard who virtually sang the names of the stations as we drew into them. As the train passed on low bridges over the Delaware river The scenery passing the window gradually became more leafy.
Arrived in DC just after midday and set off from the hotel for a walk round the nearby Arlington Cemetary. Along the way I passed the immediately recognisable Iwo Jima monument which had some great views over the river into the heart of DC. The cemetary itself was impressively sprawling and gave a great scale to the deaths incurred in many wars. Nestled amongst the rows of gravestones was the eternal flame at the Kennedy grave, and a short trek away the tomb of the unknown soldier.
The following day was spent on and around the National Mall, starting with the White House, a familiar sight and of course us public were kept a good distance away. Along the mall itself the Lincoln Memorial contained a smaller statue than you would expect from photographs, and it was quite odd that the point on the steps from which Martin Luther King gave his "I have a dream" speech was virtually ignored. I had to ask a group of tourists to step aside so I could take a photograph.
Nearby were the memorials to the Korean and Vietnam wars, with their reflective dark marble surfaces, engraved respectively with faces and names of those who fought.
In contrast to the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument was immense. Seemingly visible from all over the city, it towers over the Mall and provides a great focal point. Of course it was encircled by Stars & Stripes flags, but unusually for a US monument, bridge, building, burger van, it didn't actually have a flag ON it.
At this point is was starting to rain, so most of the afternoon was spent in the free Smithsonian museums. Starting with the Natural History Museum and checking out the dinosaurs and mineral displays, including the Hope Diamond, which is an impressive dark blue. Spent most time nerding out over the craft in the Air and Space Museum with Sputnik, Pioneer probe, Burt Rutan's Voyager, SpaceShipOne and the Wright Brother's Flyer. An amazing collection of 'firsts'. As always I thought the lunar lander looked like a shoddy museum replica. Maybe it's the bacofoil exterior and flimsy looking construction that does it.
Rounded the day off strolling amongst the Rembrants, Vermeers and Reubens of the Art Museum. I got a bit over-excited by the number of lions in the paintings and sculptures. Sadly I was ejected, not for being loud and traumatising the other visitors, but because the museum closed before I managed to complete the tour.
Anyways, next stop Billings Montana and the start of my driving tour. Look out other road users...