Monday, November 29, 2010

The Capitol Building is Way Cool

Shawn and Sandi had invited us up for the very cool and swanky Pretentious Thanksgiving and Matt swore to them if he had to quit his job to come, he would be there. Sean replied appropriately that that would be very pretentious. So a couple of days after we came back from Montana, Matt and I flew out to Raleigh, NC. We visited with Luke for the night and borrowed their car to visit Jesse the next day. We were able to meet his new girlfriend which we liked quite a bit and hope to see more of her in the future. The next morning Matt and I needed to catch a train up to DC to get to Shawn's house and Jesse drove the car back to the Smithinger house. We lost some time on the drive an barely made it to the train, but all's well etc. Matt loved riding on the train and I have to say, there was an extreme feeling of leisure. Comfort-wise it seems the best way to travel.

We were warned half-way through the ride that Alexandria would be the best stop for us to get off on and I think I confused the lady who was counting heads when we got off too early. We took the Metro the rest of the way and Sandi and Merissa were nice enough to come and pick us up. We had the best time hanging out with everyone. Emmelyn, Shawn and Sandi's daughter is getting cuter by the day. Sandi is pregnant with her second and was a cooking and preparing powerhouse for the party. She was amazing.

As for the event itself, the food was amazing. The tobacco course was really enjoyable, the salad was perfectly light, the sweet potato souffle was flavorful and creamy, the smoked turkey was moist, and the desert looked and tasted great. The wine (and one pumpkin beer) pairings with each course were so fun and I really liked seeing so many of the girls from the wedding. One by one they went upstairs to get in bed with Merissa and we teased Luke about it. He tried to look brave enough for the task. Matt and I were piled on top by the end, Merissa's thigh makes a great pillow.

Shawn and Sandi were nice enough to let us stay for a few days after Pretentious Thanksgiving to see DC. We toured around with Kyle, a friend of the Gremminger family, and saw Arlington National Cemetery, the Lincoln Memorial, the White House, Lafayette Park with it's tame squirrels, the Vietnam Memorial, the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, The National Botanical Gardens, the Library of Congress, and the Capitol Building. I'm so glad I saw everything I did. It was all very interesting and I especially enjoyed the conservatory in the botanical gardens. Apparently when someone gets caught smuggling rare plant species into the states, the US just gives them to the conservatory. There were all sorts of amazing flowers there. I'm sure if I knew more about the different types of rare botanicals I would have been even more impressed. They had the very rare and endangered Ghost Orchid just sitting there, no big deal. You might remember it from the movie Adaptation. I'm thinking that instead of going through all that trouble to get it from the dangerous swamps, they might have tried sneaking it out under their coat from the conservatory. The staff was busy anyway setting up some sort of Christmas event they were shutting down for.

Poor Kyle had visited the Library of Congress' lobby before but it was an entrance that was not particularly nice looking. He assumed it all looked as institutional and drab so he wasn't so hot on visiting it with us. Turns out the Library of Congress has an awesome entrance and a not so awesome entrance. He was so surprised and pleased with the awesome Jefferson side. It was breathtaking. Pictures will be posted to do it justice.

The whole construction of the library was kind of interesting. Congress didn't see much of a need for a huge library but they had been basically forced to take on Jefferson's entire book collection. They kept it in the Capitol building. It didn't grow much until the librarian at the time tricked them into putting the copyright office in the library which adds a copy of every book that gets a copyright. The dude wanted his own building, you can just tell. So when the little library room in the Capitol was overflowing with books, he asked for money to build a larger building. Smart guy. But he died and someone else had to build it. They weren't given a ton of funds though. They really could only afford to build a decent structure. Any extra embellishment wasn't fitting in the budget. So they took a chance and went around to artists and sculptors of the time and said, "Look, we can't pay you. But we're building the nation's monument to learning and you want to be in on that. Do the patriotic thing and work for us for free. They really didn't expect it to work, but it totally did. The interior of that building is fabulous. It looks like there were loads of money thrown at it. Turns out the building finished under budget and ahead of schedule. The only national construction project that ever has, they said. So they used the extra to throw some money the artisan's way. Anyway, I liked the story and those rooms were breathtaking. I appreciate the hard work.

The Tea Party was near the White House.
We left a couple of days later for New York. We made last minute plans to have real Thanksgiving with Matt's family down in Atlanta, so we had time to kill. Sean and Sandi were amazing and we loved seeing DC. Thanks guys!

1 comment:

  1. So happy you had a good holiday! DC was one of my favorites places. I went with Becca a few years ago and hope to take Katie in the next year or so. Hurry home!