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  1. #11
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California



    We left the convenience store after getting ice this morning, just before 8 am, and found our way to US-460 east. It took us about an hour and 20 minutes to meander our way to Appomattox Court House National Historic Park, arriving about 9:20. There is no longer a fee here, though they do take donations very willingly. As is our custom, if there is a guest book, we sign it.

    We looked at the Visitor Center, then went to listen to a 40 minute Living History, where a young man dressed as a soldier in the Union Army, 1865, told about the surrender and reactions to it. He was quite good. This was a good substitute for the slide show that we decided not to attend, and we are both familiar (especially hubby) with Ken Burns' Civil War PBS series.

    Appomattox Visitor Center:

    Clover Hill Tavern, where the Confederate soldiers' parole passes were printed, and where we sat on the porch for the Living History presentation:

    Then we wandered around the village for awhile, seeing the McLean House where the surrender papers were signed, and so much more. The weather was holding for us, not overly hot, but we were there for most of the morning.

    The McLean House, outside, with the well in front:

    Where Robert E. Lee surrendered the Virginia Army, inside the McLean House:

    We drove back down VA-24 to see the Confederate Cemetery and the place where Grant and his troops were camped out, then headed out of town towards Alexandria.

    The rise on which Grant had been camped out:

    Confederate Cemetery:

    We knew we had about 180 miles to drive on non-interstate roads. Lunch was also needed, but rather than return to the townsite of Appomattox, we went on, finally eating in a place called Teresa's Place: A Family Restaurant, which served good "comfort food", either on a menu or buffet style. This was in Dillwyn.

    Most of our driving was done on 2-lane highways – VA-24, US-60, US-15, VA-20, VA-3. Then we hit I-95 which was soupy in places but not the parking lot we expected, and finally, the last 7-1/2 miles was down US-1 to our hotel.

    We are situated in the Towne Place Suites by Marriott Alexandria/Fort Belvoir. The room is a “studio king with daybed”. It has a full kitchen with almost everything you need, a nice bathroom with a shower that looks inviting, desk, closet that even includes a laundry basket. Laundry is free here if you bring your own soap (I have). There is a pool but it's only open 6 hours a day (3 pm to 9 pm). Plus barbecue grills if you care to use them. A small home-away-from-home.

    Safeway and CVS were right down the street, so after a quick swim, we went off to shop. Picked up some stuff that we like for dinners and breakfasts without overdoing because we'll be here only a week.

    This seems the way to go for us, if the price is right, to find places with kitchens/kitchenettes, to be able to make our own dinners, and the bed is comfortable too.


  2. Default

    I’m enjoying reading this. I live outside Fredericksburg, VA near four Civil War Battlefields. Enjoy the history of this area!

  3. #13
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California



    t was a rather solemn day today for us. Today we went to Arlington National Cemetery, a place of great reverence, and walked our feet off.

    First, we had to find the Metro Station. Thanks to Google Maps directions printed out before we left home, we drove right to the Franconia-Springfield Station, which is at the very end of the Blue Line. Parking was not difficult for the truck at all, and on Sundays it's free, which makes it even better. (Who knows what it will be like when we go into DC tomorrow.) The train was waiting and we sat inside it for about 10 minutes before it actually took off. Following on the train line map, we were able to get off at the Arlington Cemetery Station, and you just sort of follow the crowds to get to the cemetery.


    Oh my goodness, we walked our feet off. First stop was in the Information Center to get a map. Let's see....our first stop was at the Kennedy Grave. I have a few memories of that from back in 1964, but if my memory serves, the only thing similar between JFK's "temporary" grave and this one, was the eternal flame. Of course, his wife and son are both gone now, and I notice there is a place for Caroline, his daughter who is about 62.


    We then walked out to the Tomb of the Unknown, and watched the guard for about 20 minutes before the next changing-of-the-guard ceremony took place. That is an impressive guard and ceremony, well worth watching.



    Went up to see the amphitheater, then started to walk to see Audie Murphy's grave. Then walked up to what I have always called the Custis-Lee Mansion, but of course is now known as Arlington House. It is not open for tours until next year (they hope) because of renovations. At the foot of the hill in front of Arlington House, is Bobby Kennedy's grave.




    Walked to a few other things, then made our way back to the information center, then headed out to find the train station. By this time it was well after lunchtime and there isn't food anywhere nearby. Had to wait 20 minutes for the next train since the Franconia-Springfield train was leaving just as we got to the platform. Once back at the truck and near the hotel, we grabbed food and brought it back to the room.

    I spent the afternoon catching up on laundry. One perk of Towne Place Suites are FREE laundry facilities. You just have to bring-your-own laundry detergent, which was not a problem as I had some in the truck. Then we went for a swim afterward. The evening will be spent IN. I am grilling a ham steak in the room, which we will have with baked beans (canned) and corn. We bought one of those SMALL ham steaks, and part of our own cooking equipment is an electric griddle. Should be good eatin' tonight!


  4. #14
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California

    Default National Air and Space Museum



    Another day with lots of walking and a great museum. Today was the day for the National Air and Space Museum, along the National Mall.

    Once again, we took the MetroRail. I tell ya, that's the way to go if one stays in the suburbs and wants to go into town.* Despite the hour later than the average rush hour, we had no real trouble finding a parking space, even for our Beast of a truck. The train was waiting for us.

    On the way in, we realized that the Yellow Line would allow us to skip a lot of stations, creating a shorter ride, by changing from the Blue Line to the Yellow Line at either Kings St Station in Alexandria, or at the Pentagon (underground) station. We chose to try this today, changing at the Pentagon. That avoided going around to the north, across the Potomac at a point further north, then dropping southeast to the same station (L'Enfant Plaza) as we needed.

    Found the entrance to the NA&S Museum and started in. We'd almost finished the ground floor when it was time for lunch. I swear that half of DC is under rehabilitation, because the food court at the Air Museum was closed. We walked over to the National Gallery of Art for lunch -- nice cafeteria over there. On the way over, we looked down the Mall one way to see the Capitol, and the other way to see the Washington Monument (also under rehab this summer).

    One of Buzz Aldrin's spacesuits:

    Replica of the Hubble Space Telescope:

    When we got back from lunch, we took several more hours to finish it up. We couldn't read every single placard, it was detailed. It was wonderful to see the following: the REAL Spirit of St Louis plane that Lucky Lindy flew, the REAL Wright Bros. 1903 plane, the Skylab 4 command module. What was a big bummer to us both was that the Apollo 11 command module is off gallivanting around the country, currently up in Washington State. It won't be back to DC until 2025. Grrrr!

    Skylab 4's command module:

    Spirit of St Louis:
    IMG_0930 by jeanniesisters, on Flickr

    Wright Bros. 1903 flyer:

    One of Amelia Earhart's planes:

    Can you believe, we went off this morning and left behind our good cameras? They've been in the back of the truck for so long, but we took them out when we got to this hotel. We remembered them yesterday, for Arlington, but for some reason, we left them at the hotel today. So we took photos using our phones. In many ways, it was a blessing not to have the albatross around our necks all day, but we had to be careful about using our phones as cameras, especially me. I was down to about 50% power and I still had to use the Metro app to find out departure times and iMaps (which uses a lot of power) to get us from the station to the hotel.

    When we rode the train back to the Franconia-Springfield Station, we reversed what we did this morning. We rode the Yellow Line as far as the Pentagon Station, then got off and waited for the Blue Line -- about 6 minutes to wait. The parking garage at F-S was relatively easy to get out of, just more traffic than there was yesterday. It's about a 10-14 minute drive in each direction to this station from our hotel.

    So far, I've found that we made some good decisions about this trip. The hotel is in a good, fairly quiet location. Though the hotel's location says "Alexandria/Fort Belvoir", it's actually in a subdivision called Woodlawn. It's about 3-4 miles from here to Mount Vernon (on the list of "things to see"). It's 5 miles to the Metro Station which is the end of the Blue Line, and I understand that Huntington Station is about as close (the end of the Yellow Line).

    Last edited by DonnaR57; 06-20-2018 at 04:25 AM. Reason: fixed photos

  5. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Phoenix, Arizona



    I'm really enjoying your trip report. You're in my old stomping grounds; I lived in an apartment in Arlington, walking distance from the Pentagon, and I worked in downtown DC, so I made that run on the Yellow Line to L'Enfant Plaza thousands of times (literally). Count your blessings, that you're not using the Metro at the peak of rush hour. Try to imagine those underground platforms so crowded with people that there's no room to stand, and every train car jammed full like a can of sardines. I loved living in DC; my office was so close to the National Mall that I could visit random sections of the various Smithsonian Museums on my lunch hour. The thing I miss least? That awful commute on the Metro!

    If you enjoyed the Air and Space Museum, I hope you have time to visit the other section of it that was built out by Dulles airport. That's where they out the BIG stuff; think, Space Shuttle, a Concorde, an SRT Blackbird! There's plenty of parking, so that's something you could easily drive to. Another spot that I highly recommend is Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's home, near Charlottesville. It's a bit over 100 miles from where you're staying, so the round trip will eat up half a day (just to drive it), but as long as you stay off I-95 it's a beautiful scenic route through the Virginia countryside, and the old estate provides a truly fascinating glimpse into the life and times of a truly brilliant man.

    Enjoy the rest of your journey--and keep those words and pictures coming!


  6. #16
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Thanks, Rick -- we're going to skip the outer air & Space museum this time around; we'd have gone out there if the Apollo 11 command module was there, but it isn't. Monticello is on the outbound plans -- don't want to miss that, since Jefferson was the brains and financing behind the Lewis & Clark expedition (which we are very interested in).

    As for the Metro, we've been getting on in what's considered "Peak time", but have only left once during a time when it was considered "off peak", at least on weekdays. We've discovered that the further out we go, the less and less people are on the train. On the Blue Line, the Reagan Airport (Washington National) is a prime destination, as is Pentagon (which is also on Yellow Line). Sunday was our time for learning to use Metro, when commuters weren't behind us swearing at the Californians who don't know how to do the SmarTrip card!

    Last edited by DonnaR57; 06-20-2018 at 02:45 PM.

  7. #17
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California

    Default US Capitol Hill and Surroundings


    A trip to DC involves a lot of walking, riding a train or bus, or both. Today, it also meant getting wet. It rained. Fortunately we were mostly prepared by having one umbrella with us -- no easy feat when we were limited on what we could take into the US Capitol Visitor Center.

    This morning we rode all the way from Franconia-Springfield Station (the end of "the blue line") into DC without changing stations. We got off at Capitol South Station and walked (dry at this time) to the Capitol Visitor Center. We had a tour scheduled by our representative for 11:20, but we were there in plenty of time and got to look at quite a few of the exhibits even after going through the Security line and then the "short line" for folks who had reservations for tours through their Congressman or Senator.


    We saw the "sister" of this statue in Tuscumbia a few days ago!

    It was quite a nice tour. We saw a short movie, first, then were taken into the Capitol Bldg. They don't take you to very many places. The Rotunda is the highlight and the focus, and also the Hall of Statues.* We passed Paul Ryan's office and the office of the Majority Whip, they showed us where the Senate and House chambers were and told us how we could get passes to the gallery. Though Trump was scheduled to speak to Congress today , passes were in high demand and therefore not a lot left, so we didn't even try.

    I wonder how many people have photographed the Rotunda:

    or the Room under it:

    We used the tunnel to go over to the Library of Congress, but you can't see a whole lot unless you have a Library of Congress library card, which is a rigmarole to get. It's a researchers pass. There was a small display for George and Ira Gershwin, and some wall displays for Marvin Hamlisch. THOSE got my attention.

    A Gutenberg Bible in the L.O.C.:

    I was in awe.....George's piano. A little background information: when George and Ira were growing up, Ira got the piano lessons and didn't want them, but George wanted them. Ira taught George whatever he'd learned at lesson that day, and this went on and on until Ira complained to his mother, give George the lessons, they're a waste of money on me, all I want to do is write poetry! George got the piano lessons.

    Ira's typewriter. Another thing to be in awe of, as those brothers wrote some awesome pieces now considered classics!

    The Supreme Court Building, though we didn't go in:

    We chose to go back and eat in the Capitol Visitor Center cafeteria, whose prices were "okay".

    From there, we chose to walk to the National Archives. At first it was a pleasant walk, as things were breezy and had cooled down a little. Then it started to rain. By the time we got two blocks from the National Archives, it was coming down pretty hard. Two of us crammed under one umbrella was not fun, especially when the wind was attempting to turn said umbrella inside out! We thought we were at the wrong door for the Archives until the guard said, "this one is for groups and the military." Military? Does retired count? Yes, if you have your ID. Of *course* hubby had his ID, so we got head of the line privileges.

    What an honor it was to see the original Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, as well as the Magna Carta. Awesome, even though NO PHOTOS were to be taken anywhere inside that building. OK, we could live with that.

    By the time we got out of the Archives, the rain wasn't quite so bad. I bought an umbrella as my souvenir from the Archives, so now we had two umbrellas. We walked over to the Archives Metro Station, discovered it was a Yellow Line, and got on the next one heading our way. We then transferred at the Pentagon Station, to a Blue Line. We're getting good at this Metro stuff....scary!

    As you might expect, Security is everywhere in DC. Some museums have airline style metal detectors and have you put purses, bags, items in your pocket through a screening. Most don't allow food of any kind -- not even the Tic-Tacs you might keep in your purse, though they might be okay with the hard candy you keep there if you are a diagnosed diabetic or hyperglycemic. Hubby usually carries a tiny pocket knife with him, but has left it back almost every day.


  8. Default

    Iím enjoying reading a tourist report of my old stomping grounds. If youíre back on the Mall again, Iíve been told the food at the Native American Museum is excellent. Iím sure you are well scheduled already but since youíre headed back to Monticello, if you have the time Montpelier, James Madisonís home, is not that far away. They use to visit. It isnít as ďdevelopedĒ as Montpelier but the archeological digs going on are interesting and amazing to stand in his library where he wrote the Constitution.

  9. #19
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California



    Two very tired people are off our feet and sitting in the hotel room after 4 hours of walking, walking, and more walking. My Fit Bit registered us as 6+ miles just in DC alone, plus getting between the train and our truck. I'm at more than 19,000 steps on my Fit Bit right now and expect to hit the 20K mark soon.

    We took the Blue Line all the way into the city today, getting off at the Smithsonian Station. Our first stop was at the Smithsonian Castle, mostly to use their facilities but we also looked around there a little. Then we started the walk.


    Up first to the Washington Monument, which is surrounded by construction equipment and closed "for the foreseeable future". Elevator needs help as does the stairs and really, the entire structure. Still, it's impressive on the outside just to look at it.


    We then decided to walk over to the Jefferson Memorial on the edge of the Tidal Basin. Very impressive monument, though it didn't have nearly the amount of people that the Lincoln Memorial did, later, probably because it isn't as accessible.* On the way between the Jefferson and the Lincoln, we saw other memorials including the ones for FDR and Martin Luther King Jr.

    Jefferson Memorial:

    Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) Monument. Note how the sculptor hid his wheelchair, but remembered to include Fala, FDR's dog.

    Martin Luther King Jr Memorial:

    The Korean War Memorial:

    At the Lincoln Memorial, we walked UP all those steps to see Lincoln. As I said, far more people were there than at Jefferson. I also found the engraving in the marble for the place where Martin Luther King Jr gave his "I have a dream" speech back in 1963, and photographed it and photos of the Washington Monument and reflecting pool from that point.

    Inside the Lincoln Monument:

    "I have a dream...." speech podium and man here:

    Off we went again, this time over to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and then back to walk along the Reflecting Pool down to the World War II Veterans Memorial. Along that reflecting pool, 'skeeters were out and they seemed to LOVE me. Ugh. Glad to get down to the WWII memorial where there was more of a breeze that blew those pesky things AWAY.

    Reflecting pool:


    WWII Memorial and Fountain (where folks slipped off shoes to get their feet cooled off):

    We walked over to Constitution Avenue, which seemed to be more of a parking lot than a productive place for moving cars. We were definitely making better time on foot than any of the cars were, and we were really exhausted by this point! But we had a goal. We finally reached it: we got to the park called "The Ellipse" and were able to walk up to a fence and photograph the White House. Mission accomplished!

    A most recognizable building to most of you!

    On the way between the Ellipse and the Federal Triangle Metro Station, we found a food truck and bought 2 hot dogs, one for each of us. By then it was after 1:30 so we were pretty hungry!

    It wasn't long before the train came -- 4 minute wait, I think -- and this was a Blue Line that took us all the way back to Franconia-Springfield Station. We talked to some folks that had been on the White House Tour and they wished they hadn't bothered, as they said you don't get to go very many places at all.* (Unlike NYC, people on the Metro *will* talk to each other, especially those who are not locals who pick out others who are not locals by the presence of cameras and the absence of phones.)

    Too tired to cook tonight OR go out for dinner. We got menus from downstairs and found a Chinese place in the next shopping center that delivers! There's plenty left over for another meal, too.

  10. #20
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California

    Default Hopping around the museums!


    And so ends our trips into the city of Washington, D.C.

    We did our last day there by going museum hopping. We took the Metro into the Federal Triangle station on the Blue Line, and walked over to start at the National Museum of American History.

    Because we were choosing to do 3 museums in one day, we wanted to see what we considered the highlights.* In the NMAH, the first order of business was to see the flag that flew over Fort McHenry and inspired Francis Scott Key to write the Star Spangled Banner. Unfortunately NO photos were allowed to be taken in that section, but we were in awe of this beautiful sight anyway. We moved on to American Stories, where we saw a number of inventions including one of the first sewing machines, an early telephone, an early Edison light bulb, and more. Taking one around to more modern times, I was stunned to see things like an Etch-a-Sketch, a Speak-and-Spell, and an old Apple II computer in that section. The Hall of Music and the one about American culture is totally shut down, most of the stuff placed in storage until they can get a new exhibit opened -- this fall. I was bummed again not to see Dorothy's slippers from Wizard of Oz, the Fonzie jacket from Happy Days, and a couple of other things. They did have some furniture from the set of the TV show All in the Family, namely Archie's and Edith's living room chairs. We also went through sections about the American Presidents, just to find Abraham Lincoln's top hat, and Thomas Jefferson's lap desk.

    Prototype sewing machine:

    Archie and Edith's chairs, All in the Family:

    I am officially old. I had one of these in my very first elementary grade level classrooms:

    Abraham Lincoln's hat:

    Alan Shepard's space suit:

    We then hopped over to the National Museum of Natural History, just to see one thing: the Hope Diamond. We were not disappointed. We saw that and a lot of other beautiful jewelry, then moved on again.

    The Hope Diamond:

    This one's for you, AZBuck and PMount. It's the Tucson Meteorite!

    Third museum was the National Gallery of Art, which is NOT a Smithsonian institution. We went through more galleries in there than I could count. My favorite things were mostly the sculptures and the furniture.

    Hubby's DaVinci painting photo. It's the only DaVinci currently on display in the Gallery of Art:

    When we'd had about enough, we walked up to the Archives Metro Station and took the Yellow Line as far as the Pentagon station. We only had to wait about 1 minute to catch the Blue Line the rest of the way, as it was right behind this Yellow Line train. Between the two of us, we probably have $12 worth of fare left on our SmarTrip cards. Since we live more than 100 miles from DC, we can apply for a refund on our cards when we depart the area. I'll wait until we get home to CA.

    Last edited by DonnaR57; 06-22-2018 at 12:24 PM. Reason: fixed grammars and a photo

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