Our friends, Steve and Jo, and their three kids came down from PA to visit us. They were our 2nd visitors (Mom and Dad had been here in October). We've been pretty lonely here, so it was great to see familiar faces and to spend time with them. We all feel comfortable around each other even though we are not exactly the same generation (not quite old enough to be their parents, but too much older to be siblings). They came Sunday afternoon and we talked until quite late. Not too late, though, because we needed to get up for our big day of touring DC!
It was so much fun to have their three kids with us. Everything was an adventure for them and I never once heard one of them whine or complain. It's always refreshing to see things through the eyes of children. Maybe that's why Jesus said we should come to Him as little children.
After the experience in which our friend's car was stolen at the metro station, plus the fact that we don't have a Park 'n Ride pass, we decided to just take the bus to the metro station. We got out there a bit early and had to stand in the bitter cold waiting for the bus. At the station it took us forever to figure out how to buy tickets. I don't believe anything is obvious in Washington DC! But finally we were on our way.
Our first stop was the Portrait Gallery, one of the Smithsonian Museums. Our metro station came out right at the Gallery, but we discovered it didn't open until 11:30 so we had 45 minutes to waste. The guys ran across the street to the Spy Museum (which cost too much when they'd only have 45 minutes there). Us girls browsed in the tent shops that were set up outside the museum. Little Miss C was given a job of helping to arrange some cards in a basket at one of the shops. I must say that she can wrap anybody around her little finger. Not because she tries to but she just has an honest and innocent way of speaking to people that endears her to them.
The museum finally opened its doors. We went to see a display of Norman Rockwell Art, but we had to go through this atrium to get there. I just loved this room. Because the ceiling is glass, it is all natural light. The floor seemed to be tiled with something that absorbed sound. So it was like even if people spoke at a normal level, it just felt quiet in there. And I love natural light, so this room was full of it. It was also decorated for Christmas with trees and poinsettias, yet it almost felt tropical.
Norman Rockwell has always been one of my favorite painters because his pictures tell stories (generally if I have to try to figure out what in the world the artist is trying to say, I don't like it!). The display showed how he would pose his subjects and then he usually took photos of them. He might take three or four photos of different aspects of a picture and then combine those photos in his painting. For example, there was one of a sole lady on the jury and she was the only one with a different opinion, so the 11 men were trying to convince her to change her mind. He had a picture of the woman sitting at the table alone, a picture of the table littered with papers and cigarette butts, etc. and a picture of the jurors around the lady. Then he combined those three pictures into one picture. There were pictures of his in the display I had never seen before. And of course some of my favorites weren't there. He painted thousands of pictures and they are in different collections.
From there we made a quick trip to Burger King for lunch and then over to the Ford Theater where Lincoln was shot. There is a museum in the basement, so we went through that. It could take hours to read every single thing, so we didn't do that. It was interesting, but the highlight was to go in to the theater. Of course, back in the day when Lincoln was shot, it had been bad for business and things fell in to disrepair. It wasn't until years later that it was restored. In Lincoln's day the theater sat 1,000 people. Today it only seats 650. That's because the seats are much wider today than they were back then. Also, the 2nd balcony had been benches and were .25 cent tickets, so people just crammed in there. Now the entire 2nd balcony is sound booth. This is the presidential booth and it is replicated as close as possible to the way it was the night Lincoln was shot.
After touring the Ford Theater, we got back on the subway. The ladies went to the Museum of American History and the guys went to the Air and Space Museum. We girls wanted to see the 1st ladies' inaugural gowns. Many of the gowns weren't on display but there were pictures of them. One of the prettiest gowns is Michelle Obama's. We also got to see Julia Child's kitchen. "Bon appetit!"
By then it was getting dark out and we wanted to see the national Christmas tree and the White House all lit up with Christmas lights. Not only was it dark, but it was incredibly windy and extremely cold. The temps were in the 30s but the wind chill factor was down in the teens. If we all look a bit funny in these pictures with our scarfs around our necks and our hats and hat hair, well, it's just because we were trying to stay warm!
Us girls walked down to the tree, going near the Washington Monument on the way. While waiting for the guys to come, we took shelter in an alcove of a gift shop building. It's hard to see in this picture of the monument, but the flags were flying straight out. It was a bone-chilling wind, let me tell you. Finally the guys came and we let them warm up a bit before we went out to the tree. The idea is that you walk around the tree through a path that has barriers on either side and when you get to the other side you can also see the White House. When we got up to the fence the Park Ranger said he couldn't let us in because it was temporarily closed and he didn't know when it would open. (We had just seen a helicopter flying very low, so I imagine President Obama had just been brought home for supper! Who knows?) We took a vote and decided it was too cold to just wait for who knows how long to see the lights on the White House. That was the closest to complaining anybody got all day! So we headed back to our metro station. Have I said it was cold??? Boy, were we glad to get on the train and be headed home. Back at the home station we caught a bus...one we knew went near the college where we live. Unfortunately it didn't drop us off right outside the gate like the one we had taken in the morning, so we had more walking to do in the cold. Boy, did the warmth of home ever feel good!
By the way, just so you don't think I'm exaggerating about the cold or anything, the weather man says this is one of the coldest Decembers on record. So far we've only had two dustings of snow.