Finally, a late start! We took our time getting ready and then headed to the International Spy Museum for Operation Spy. We were in dropped into the country of Khandar and our mission was to retrieve a nuclear trigger through a number of methods, including surveillance, decryption, searching an officials office, riding a freight elevator and truck and interrogation of a possible double agent using polygraph. It was quite interesting and we did a pretty good job, receiving 4 out of 5 from the director for the good job we did!
We then split up and Brianna and I headed to the National Portrait Gallery. It was quite interesting to see portraits of a number of influential and important people that shaped America. They were seperated into decades, with each portrait in the decade they had influence over. Katherine Hepburn's portrait was accompanied by her four Best Actress Academy Awards, which was quite special to see.
We then moved onto the National Archives, where we saw a Magna Carta, Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights (and some drafts of these, each with workings from different very important people) and then wandered through the Public Vault, which displays just some of the many documents, photographs, audio and video that are stored by the Archives, including an 1850 Census book, early Internet websites for places like the White House and old maps.
Next stop along the Mall was the National Museum of Natural History. Amazing again, and my favourite is still the Hope Diamond. It is currently in a different setting for an anniversary and it looks amazing. It will soon be changed back to its original setting. There is also a new forensic anthropology section and more specifically, how they identified the many unmarked graves and skeletons unearthed that dated from the late 1600's / early 1700's. It was quite interesting.
We walked further down the Mall to get a closer look at the Washington Monument and then on to the World War II Memorial (again, a favourite of mine). Tonight, we had booked onto a tour to go out to Mount Vernon, the estate home of George Washington, for a candlelight Christmas tour. It was really interesting and very well organised but didn't give much time to take in the rooms inside the mansion. The place is enormous and there were about 10 outbuildings that we could get to, including seperate slave quarters for male and female staff, gardners house, salt house, weaving house, wash house, blacksmith and stove house (where they kept fires burning to heat air that circulated through the greenhouse next door). The view from the back porch was amazing, even in the dark, and I'm sure on a summer's evening would be to die for! No photos unfortunately on there is no photography in the house as alot of the furniture and paintings are original from George Washington's days. He is buried at Mt Vernon and not in the crypt below the Capitol, which is where the government wanted him buried, but that part of the grounds was not accessible tonight.
They had actors playing various roles in the House and surrounds, including Lady Washington, granddaughter Nelly and the General's personal secretary. There was also carollers and English country dancing (kind of like Irish ceili dancing, but a bit more formal). Brianna volunteered to participate in the demonstration and was disappointed afterwards that it wasn't faster...so ceili next year for her!! We also had hot apple cider and ginger cookies (yum!) and they had a camel called Aladdin. Apparently, George liked to see exotic animals and for Christmas in 1796, he hired a camel for his guests to admire and ride over the holiday period.
Tomorrow is Redskins game day - our first American football game! Go Redskins!!