The Oz Blog View about stuff while living in the Land of Oz

27Feb/10Off

LSW JROTC DC Trip

The Pony we rode to DC

The Pony we rode to DC and back

Well despite what we were told was bad weather or the bus driver just made it look easy we seemed to encounter no problems getting to D.C. despite everything being closed for what we were scheduled for on the day that we arrived which was suppose to be the Arlington Cemetery and watch the changing of the guard.  The changing of the guard is a ceremony that everybody, especially a Marine (such as myself) should see. I also think that it would be an incredible learning experience for high school students, especially if they learn every detail about the members of the guard.

 

If you don't love it, then you probably won't like it

 One of the best things we were able to experience on our trek to DC was being able to eat at a White Castle, which is something that I haven't been able to have in approx. 15+ years, and even for me trying to cut weight and being good about what I eat. I think I did pretty good and didn't over indulge on the amazing sliders, which I was about the oldest that didn't mind having the White Castle. White Castle is not famous just from the movie Harold & Kumar go to White Castle, but not only do I think that it help re-surge the company, but I think that it could be an accurate movie about what some people will do to just taste those tiny little burgers. Oh and just like Lays potato chips. You can't eat just one.

 

The very nice, yet small breakfast serving hotel we stayed at.

The very nice, yet small breakfast serving hotel we stayed at.

After spending a couple hours in the mall, and having dinner, we were finally able to check into our hotel which was the very nice Westin in Alexandria. Everybody had to get to bed somewhat early, because we were suppose to get up early to make our way to the Capital building for our first tour since Arlington National Cemetery, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Changing of the Guard, Kennedy Grave Site, and Iwo Jima were all closed due to the small amount of snow that D.C. received. I mean it was only like 2 feet worth.

 

First stop on our tour through our Nations Capital

View of the Capital Building from either the North or South side, Can't really remember.

 First stop Friday morning (well after a two hour delay) was the Capital building. Due to everything being delayed two hours, our tour of the Capital was a bit expedited, but still very informative. The tour guide we toured around with was extremely knowledgeable. He showed us and told us about all sorts of things that I, nor probably even some of the smarter people in our group new. Not only was our first guide very knowledgeable, but every tour guide we had including the Pentagon which was our next stop was telling us about all sorts of Military history that I'm sure a lot of military enthusiast don't even know. Like the court yard in the middle of the Pentagon houses what has been deemed as Cafe Ground Zero, this is due to the reason that the Soviets (during the cold war) were so sure that the building comprised of the the Pentagon, was some sort of a fortress that was protecting what was in the middle (The Cafe) and felt that they needed to point a few of their Nuclear Warheads at said cafe. That was just one of the few interesting stories we got out of our trip to the Pentagon. One of the other facts I pointed out to the group was that the tour guides (Members of the respective services Honor Guard) must have some amazing calf muscles, because they will literally conduct the entire tour walking backwards, and at an amazing pace.

The Pentagon, south parking lot side

The Pentagon, south parking lot side

 

 After a long day and what felt like running a marathon and a half (the full part of the marathon being inside the pentagon, which is very possible) We went out for a buffet dinner and follow that up with a relaxing movie, or so we thought.

View from outside of AMC after a fire alarm went off

The view from outside after the fire alarm went off and the fire truck just showed up.

Approx a half hour after getting into the AMC and getting tickets, and just before we were suppose to go into our movies, a fire alarm went off. Thus pushing us outside in the middle of February in Washington DC. Luckily we found a nice closed off breeze way that wasn't as cold as outside. After about another half hour of waiting we were finally able to get into our movie with about another 15 minute delay. Any body that knows me, knows that I love movies, and am pretty easy going when it comes to watching movies, but even I was pretty irritated by this point. What I should of done was just go back to the hotel and watch the opening ceremony for the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. Want to know that movie I saw. It was Legion, and although not a bad movie, it wasn't great enough to go through all that trouble. After the movie we made our way back to the hotel by walking, and I must say that for being the middle of February and in Washington D.C. the weather was actually quite pleasant, so the walk was pretty nice, and luckily the hotel wasn't too far away.

 

From inside the main room, that holds the Declaration of Independence

From inside the main room, that holds the Declaration of Independence

 And so we start early Saturday morning, just like Friday, except with the 2 hour delay. First stop for the group I was with was the National Archives, yes just like in National Treasure, and no I didn't try to steal the Declaration, sorry I don't exactly want to be charged with a federal crime. It was pretty amazing to see peices of what is considered the birth of the United States of America. I've seen some amazing pieces of history in my blip of an existence on this world, but this was by far one of my favorite things.

 

Maybe an old picture, but the I have come to find out that the Smithsonian is not just one building.

Maybe an old picture, but the I have come to find out that the Smithsonian is not just one building.

Next stop after the National Archives, was the Museum of Natural History, which is just one of the many building of the Smithsonian. I was under the impression that the Smithsonian was just one giant building that would take days to go through if you tried. I was wrong. Probably a good thing too. The Museum of Natural History is pretty much that. There are a lot of animals, past and present. With that there are also other things that pertain to rare items that can be found in the world, such as Crystals, Diamonds, and other artifacts. I've always wanted to go to the Smithsonian, and I think to a certain point I can still say that I want to go. Only because I visited one building in the many, and in my opinion you can almost count that as not going. Even for as much as much as I saw, I didn't see even what amounts to a fraction of what the Museum has to offer.

 

Yeah its and old picture, but click on it if you want a better, newer view.

Yeah its and old picture, but click on it if you want a better, newer view.

Final tour stop for Saturday was the National Mall, which depending on what your looking at includes the buildings that are the Smithsonian, and The Capital Buidling, but for the purposes of this paragraph, it will be just the monuments. The monuments being Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Vetereans Memorial, WWII Memorial, Washington Monument, Korean War Veterans Memorial, and the Thomas Jefferson Memorial. Yeah, I know that was a mouth full, and there are actually a few other Memorials included into that. We didn't have very long, and didn't really have time to fully enjoy the memorials for what they were meant, but it was still incredible to be able to see these. My Brother and I ventured by ourselves, starting off at the Lincoln memorial, and working our way to the Vietnam Memorial. We were on a mission to see all the memorials, but the snow and ice slowed us down quite a bit. Something else that we quickly decided was a mission upon seeing other people do it, was make our way down the frozen Reflecting Pool (length ways) which with using his camera to record video, took us 7 and a half minutes. The reflecting pool being 2,029 Feet in length, which is a couple hundred feet short of half a mile. Yeah I know that is some terrible time to make it across, but neither one of us is use to ice skating in regular shoes, plus we fell in a little bit in a few places. Still incredibly fun though. We were able to get to a few other memorials, but missed the Korean War Veterans Memorial.

 

Inside the Jefferson Memorial shortly before sunset

Inside the Jefferson Memorial shortly before sunset

We were able to also make it to the Jefferson Memorial, which is just across the Tidal Basin which is like a small lake between the rest of the Memorials, and is just off the Potomac River. Again we were not really afforded much time to actually take it all in, but I was able to get some good pictures, and it is just cool to me, to be able to visit some of these places. Not realizing how close together they actually are. Especially for someone like my self. I come from Kansas City are (Missouri side) and although it is a big town a lot (out of the few) attractions we have are spread out all over the metropolitan area. So being able to go to a place like DC and having as many things as a person can see in one day is truly amazing. Especially when it involves so much of our country's past. After leaving the memorial we headed off for another buffet dinner, and then back to the hotel, so that all the cadets could pack and just enjoy the evening.I decided to go to the fitness center to do some running and bike riding, and after about an hour of that, which part of it was with one of the other chaperons, The other chaperons and myself decided we wanted to go and try to get something to drink. There was suppose to be a small convenience store just across the street. Well about a half hour later we found a pizza place that was getting ready to close down and was nice enough to let us grab some stuff. I realized just before coming across the pizza place that the hotel was in the middle of a business district and that even all the convenience store were closed on the weekends. Its times like this, that I wish Quik Trip was nation wide.

Panoramic view of the Hall of Remembrance

Panoramic view of the Hall of Remembrance

Our last day started off at the Holocaust Memorial Museum. This is a pretty busy place for receiving what seems to me, to be little press about it. We arrived about 15 minutes before and had to wait about another 15-20 minutes to get in after the doors opened. So after about 30 minutes of waiting we only had about  another hour to look through 4 floors of Holocaust history, which is not very much time. I think that any one person, depending on how concerned they are could easily take a hour per floor. We had to skip so much stuff, so that we could get to our next stop. If your ever in the Washington D.C. and have the time, you must go to this Memorial. It is an amazing experience with lots of video and pictures to see, which is a good thing considering your pretty much not allowed to take any pictures, besides the Hall of Remembrance, which you can see in the picture above.

 

Front view of Iwo Jima MemorialAfter the quick stop that we had at the Holocaust Museum, we made a run by Arlington Cemetery and the Iwo Jima Memorial. For any Marine, present or prior service it is almost like a right of passage to visit this statue. Click on the Iwo Jima link above to see the history of the Battle of Iwo Jima. Don't like reading, See the movie directed by Clint Eastwood called Flag of our Fathers or even the Japanese point of view (if you like reading subtitles) Letters from Iwo Jima. Both movies are incredible. And incredibly long. I digress. I set off on this trip with this memorial being my number 1 stop. I am extremely glad that it was cancelled the first day, because it let me fully enjoy all the other amazing stops that we had on our 4 day tour through D.C. Luckily we were able to stop by real quick on Sunday before we left. You know its big, but its truly incredible how big it really is. I know I under estimated how big it truly is. Only one more stop before our 18+ hour trip home.

 

SR-71 at the National Air and Space Museum
SR-71 at the National Air and Space Museum

Final stop of the trip was the National Air and Space Museum, which is part of the Smithsonian, but is located in a completly different location. I don't know if it was just because everybody was tired or what, but a lot of the people seem to be in agreance that we would of rather spent more time at the Holocaust Museum, because although this place was huge and had tons of planes, it was primarily just a look and see what all is here, and take pictures. There were planes from all over history. Planes that were used in WWI all the way to the YF-35 which is probably one of  the newest planes there. Other planes of notoriety included the SR-71, one of the space shuttles (which is enormous in person, holy cow!), and the Enola Gay.

 

Well after that, ven I'm exhausted, and I think that all the cadets, might of actually slept half way home. It was truly an incredible experience and I cannot wait to be able to go back. I just hope its a lot warmer, a couple less feet of snow, and a lot more time to be able to fully take it all in and really enjoy all there is in Washington D.C.

McBeth
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