We ventured back to DC proper yesterday with the main intent being on a Capitol tour. We got up on time, out the door on schedule, caught our public transit route down to Union Station, and walked to the Capitol building.
“Do you have any food or water with you?” - the first question asked by security guards when we walked up.
Well, duh. Between having several kids to keep happy and the crazy DC prices for food ($6.25 for a McD’s quarter pounder sandwich only from a food cart? $3.85 for a 16 oz bottle of Coke at the Natural History Museum?) of course we had both food and water with us.
Well, as it turns out peanut butter sandwiches and water bottles are a threat to the security of our nation’s capitol. And no, they don’t provide a place to check them before going in. So, scratch that. Touring historical places is great and all but sometimes the burden they place on families is too great. We decided to wait for the tour until after we had ingested all the questionable materials.
We instead followed crazy DC dancing and muttering man down to the National Gallery of Art where security is much lighter and they do offer a checkpoint for bags and coats. We enjoyed a couple hours walking around, mostly identifying pieces featured in Night at the Museum - Battle of the Smithsonian - yea, we are classy like that. I think the two boys were in the Art Museum about a minute-thirty before ditching us and going back to the Air and Space Museum across the mall.
We lunched and made our way back to the Capitol for our tour. They start with a 15 minute film, then break you up into groups for moving people through. The galleries where the “work” actually gets done were closed since it was a Saturday, but we still enjoyed the Rotunda, the Statuary Hall, and the Crypt.
Did you know our Nations Capitol actually deifies George Washington? The main “neck-stretching” painting in the Capitol Rotunda is “Apotheosis of Washington” and shows him becoming a god with attendant maidens and figures representing Liberty and Victory. This, a man who turned down positions of power in the government, didn’t want to get paid when he accepted them, and didn’t want to be buried in the crypt under the Capitol. I couldn’t help but feel he would be embarrassed by this painting. I did like seeing both of my kids ask questions during the tour however - they have never been shy in that respect.
From there it was back to collect our bags at the Gallery of Art and make our way home. We detoured through the sculpture garden on the way and enjoyed some of its pieces.
After day two of this we were exhausted, sore, and a bit overwhelmed. But not so much that we couldn’t enjoy some sweet potato pie and a hard cider in celebration of my 46th birthday.