Markels Making Magical Memories–Day Three

Washington D.C.; 37,465 steps

Our first full day in D.C., we did pretty much everything and almost nothing. We could have stayed there a week and not seen and done all of the things we wanted to do, but we did our best to hit all the highlights, starting with a ride on the Washington Metro. I love riding trains in different cities, and I really loved the design of their stations!

We found plenty of pigeons as soon as we arrived downtown:

Our first stop was at the nation’s capital’s castle…the Smithsonian Castle. It’s a beautiful building with a lovely garden, and the workers there were very helpful in showing us where all of the various museums are located (our one big sadness was that the Air and Space Museum was closed for renovations).

From there we headed to what may be the most recognizable monument in the country, where we had a Hamilton moment…”She tells my story.”

We continued our walk down the National Mall, stopping to see the WWII Memorial, which turned out to be my favorite memorial in the city (full details in the future…stay tuned!):

Of course we also saw the Lincoln Memorial (and lots of ducklings along the way, while we played “On Your Left!”):

We visited the not-quite-complete Korean War Veterans Memorial. Maybe it’s because we watch M*A*S*H so much, but this was another favorite of mine.

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial was probably the busiest (outside of the Lincoln Memorial), and there were many flowers and notes:

There is also a separate Vietnam Women’s Memorial:

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial is even more impressive in person, and there was something especially humbling about visiting it around Juneteenth.

There is also a District memorial (the only such memorial in the city), the District of Columbia War Memorial, which recognizes those from the nation’s capital that served in WWI. Both General John J. Pershing and John Philip Sousa were present at its dedication in 1931.

The nation’s WWI Memorial (which is not fully complete) is not located on the Mall near the others, but we did stumble across it, and the statue of General Pershing, eventually:

We weren’t sure what the Eisenhower Executive Office Building was when we first saw it, but the French Second Empire architectural style is easy to identify:

I’m not going to lie…we were a little underwhelmed by the view of the White House…between the fencing and the distance the public is kept from it, it’s hard to feel like you really saw it:

Until you realize that there is a much better view from the other side! Our house is a very, very, very fine house! And we got to do the Cha Cha Slide in the street out front. I was hoping to do our favorite group dance on our trip, but I was not expecting to do it at the most famous address in America!

We also walked through Lafayette Square, where we admired the statues of Lafayette (of course), Kościuszko, von Steuben, and Rochambeau, making it a park dedicated to Europeans (two Frenchmen, a Polish general, and a Prussian), who assisted the new nation in the Revolutionary War.

We stopped to get a Philly cheesesteak of all things from a D.C. food truck…I’ve never been to Philadelphia myself, but Ryan tells me it was pretty authentic!

Then it was time to visit some Smithsonians. We started with the National Museum of American History. I was very disappointed that the gallery that houses the Ruby Slippers was being renovated, so we didn’t get to see those, but I did especially enjoy a display about the nation’s First Ladies:

Moose was interested in the section dedicated to American music:

And Chickadee was very excited to see Abraham Lincoln’s actual hat:

We also visited the National Museum of Natural History, where the main attraction was the Hope Diamond.

There were lots of other cool things to see, too (we even touched a piece of Mars!), even though the layout of the museum made it a little challenging to figure out where to go next.

We also visited the National Archive (no photography permitted), where it was a moving experience to see not only the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, but also the 1297 Magna Carta, which strangely few people seemed interested in.

Afterwards, we stopped at an ice cream truck outside the museums:

And then got on the train to grab dinner at Ben’s Chili Bowl. Full details on our meal there in the future, but it was delicious!

After eating, we hopped back on the train to return to the National Mall. Near the station, we came across another memorial. The different branches of the military have their own memorials scattered throughout the D.C. area. We didn’t see them all (and photographed even less of them), but I really thought the design of the United States Navy Memorial was cool:

We located a statue of John Paul Jones, and I continued my tradition of not being able to remember the phrase he is famous for saying (“I have not yet begun to fight!”).

I liked seeing how the evening light made the Washington Monument look as we took another lap around the reflecting pool:

We even found someone willing to take a family photo!

We stopped by the German-American Friendship Garden, which I felt a particular connection to.

Our evening walk also took us past a statue of a “hometown hero” from my childhood, Kazimierz Pulaski. I was never really clear as to why he was so popular in Illinois and especially Chicago, although I suspect the large Polish population in the area has something to do with it, but it was still cool to see someone from the Revolution so obscure to so many but so familiar to me!

The Waldorf Astoria isn’t particularly significant…I just thought it looked pretty:

Up next: A tour of the US Capitol!

Lafayette Square

I already shared a few photos of our trip to the Lafayette Square neighborhood of St. Louis on my birthday; now I’m going to take a closer look at some of my favorite features of the area.

There are a few historic sites in the park, including a trio of cannons from a British warship which was sunk in the harbor of Charleston during the Revolutionary War. There is a also a bronze casting of a famous statue of George Washington…the only one for which he posed!

The park itself is beautiful…our favorite location was this little area by the Grotto Bridge:

We saw many beautiful flowers in the park, including one of my favorites, the hydrangea:

The park house, which was originally a police station, is also lovely:

The streets surrounding the park are filled with gorgeous homes, some of which still have mounting blocks out front!

And the Lafayette Square Fountain is just down the street!

This is definitely one of my favorite neighborhoods in St. Louis, and I’m looking forward to going back as the seasons change so I can capture more beautiful moments!

Happy Birthday to Me!

It’s my birthday…I woke up to a party this morning!

My family gave me some wonderful presents (as always!):

The one thing I really wanted to do today was go somewhere interesting and see something beautiful. I decided on the Lafayette Square neighborhood of St. Louis, where we got to see a charming park and some stunning architecture (plus a little history thrown in, for fun!):

Since we were visiting a park named for “America’s Favorite Fighting Frenchman,” I wore my French Market skirt from Pinup Girl Clothing, and accessorized with my favorite color, purple:

When we got home, I attended an all-penguin birthday party on Gloriana:

I’m so happy Roald came to my birthday!!!

We watched one of my favorite movies this afternoon (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off), and I kept that theme going with a Chicago-style pizza for dinner:

Speaking of Chicago, my birthday cake was a copycat of the Portillo’s chocolate cake recipe. Bunny baked it, Ladybug frosted it, and Chickadee sprinkled it:

I ended the day watching our favorite pitmaster, David Sandusky of Beast Craft BBQ, compete on the premiere episode of season two of BBQ Brawl on Food Network (he advanced to the next round!), and visiting Chickadee’s island for a birthday celebration at her house:

I had a great time celebrating my birthday with my family!

Lafayette Square

When you hear the term “Painted Ladies,” it’s likely that the first thing that comes to mind is that famous row of houses across from Alamo Square Park in San Francisco. St. Louis also has a neighborhood full of these beautiful and colorful Victorian style homes, centered around Lafayette Park, the oldest park in the city of St. Louis and west of the Mississippi River. Although much of Lafayette Square was destroyed by a tornado in 1896, the neighborhood retains its historic charm, and has recently experienced a burst of revitalization.