Friday, July 16, 2010

Washington DC - Segway Tour and More

Last weekend was the annual Close To My Heart Convention and it was held at the Gaylord National hotel in Maryland.  Since it was only a 15 minute drive from the National Mall in Washington DC, we decided to go three days early so that we would have time to visit some of the monuments and museums. 

The highlight of the trip was a Segway tour one evening.  It was a blast!  Learning to ride was much easier than we had anticipated.  In only about 10 or 15 minutes, our great tour guide, Phil, with City Segway had gotten each of the 8 people in our group on a Segway.  In that short time, we each learned to get on, ride forward, turn 180 degrees, and stop.  So, off we went to view some sites.  Our guide warned us that we would become 'minor celebrities' while on the Segways.  And we did - other tourists were intrigued when they saw us and quite a few took a picture of us riding along. 

This is our little group of CTMH friends from around the country - gathered together in front of the Capitol building.  It was fun to plan our adventure beforehand, and then meet up for a great day of sightseeing.  Two of us had teenage daughters with us.  None of us cared how 'goofy' we looked riding the Segway because it was so much FUN!  We covered about 8 miles during the tour, and saw sites from one end of the National Mall to the other and even went by the White House. 

Earlier that day, we had tickets to go to the top of the Washington Monument.  We got some fantastic views from the top.

View from the top - Jefferson Memorial and Tidal Basin:  

View from the top - the White House:

View from the top - World War II Memorial, Reflecting Pool, Lincoln Memorial:

The next day, we had a tour of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and of the US Capitol.  No pictures were allowed during the actual tour in the Bureau of Engraving, but there was an enlargement of the new $100 with improved security features that will be released early next year.  We watched them print millions of dollars worth of the new $100 notes in just a short time.   It was fascinating to watch all the machines printing and cutting the bills.  They certainly have some sharp guillotine cutters that cut a 5" or 6" stack of bills with one smooth motion.  

Adorning the top of the US Capitol building dome is the Statue of Freedom.  

Of course, it is difficult to really see the statue on the top of the dome.  So, it was really nice to find a model of the Statue of Freedom inside the Capitol Visitors Center. 

Another highlight was visiting the National Museum of American History.  There was a special exhibit with The Star-Spangled Banner, the flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write his famous poem which has become our national anthem.  The actual, original, Star-Spangled Banner was on display at the American History museum.  It has been damaged over the years, and is now protected by low light.  Absolutely no photography allowed in the exhibit.  It was very special to be able to see the flag, and to find out that the completed flag was larger than the house of the woman creating the flag.  This very large flag was a special sign for the exhibit with multiple pieces of metal to create the stripes of the flag.

There is so much to see and do in Washington DC.  We saw a lot of sites and museums, but there is so much that we did not see.  Guess we need to plan another trip sometime.

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  1. The photos of your trip are fabulous! We want to take our family in October, so what do you recommend? Sorry I missed seeing you at Convention!

  2. Thanks Haley, and maybe we will be able to meet next year in Anaheim.

    Our absolute favorite part of the sightseeing was the Segway tour. But, the minimum age is 16, so if your kids are younger that is not an option for you.

    Otherwise, just plan to do a lot of walking! You can find a map of the National Mall online so you can see the arrangement of the monuments and the museums. Then you can plan what you want to visit on each day. Basically, everything is within walking distance of each other - but it is a lot of walking.

    If you want to go to the top of the Washington Monument, there are only a very limited number of tickets given out early each morning. But, you can go to the National Park Service website and reserve a specific day and time for up to 6 people. There is a nominal charge of about $1.85 each for processing and shipping. BTW, I reserved our tickets about 3 or 4 months in advance.

    One really nice thing about the monuments, memorials, and Smithsonian museums is that there is NO CHARGE for visiting. Normally, when you visit somewhere on vacation, you have to buy a ticket for just about every door that you walk into. It was really nice not having to do that in DC.

    Hope you have a good time on your trip. There is still a lot of things we did not do, so guess that means we need a future trip. My 17 yo daughter really had a good time on the trip.


Thanks for your comments! It is always nice to hear some feedback. :)