Visiting DC

Your tax dollars at work!

Visiting Washington, DC, for me is mostly about spending time with my son who has lived there for many years.   He is a pretty good tour guide through the city.  Through the years I’ve seen a great portion of DC, certainly the main visitor attractions, such as the giant pandas at the National Zoo.

I’ve also visited a number of lesser known places, and occasionally have seen something that is only rarely open to the public (like the main reading room of the Library of Congress).   For visitors DC offers many attractions.  For the locals, DC is really about neighborhoods.  And at least from where I have been DC has some wonderful neighborhoods.    Cosmopolitanism is one element of city living I love – the diversity of people.  Every storefront virtually represents another country/culture.

There really are many national treasures in DC, all of which are worth seeing.  Visiting DC in different seasons is also worthwhile as  you see the changing beauty of nature in its parks and green areas.  The National Arboretum is an amazing park in the midst of a metropolitan area.   For me the national park system is federal money well spent.

Narcissus at the National Arboretum

New to me on this trip were visits to President Lincoln’s Cottage at the Soldier’s Home the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial, and the Congressional Cemetery.   The view of Georgetown from the bridge to Roosevelt Island (to me at least) has a European city feel to it.

DC is a marvelous city for museum lovers.  The Smithsonian Institutes museums are first rate.  Special for me this visit was a rare chance to peek inside the Smithsonian Arts and Industries Building.

The Arts and Industries building was “mothballed” in 2006. It remains closed but is now undergoing renovations.

I had opportunity to join some Smithsonian volunteers on a tour of the rather amazing building.

There are thousands of people who have volunteered through time to help make the museum visitor friendly.  In the photo is one of the knowledgeable and hardworking volunteers who made it possible for me to see this building being renovated.

Here is looking into the East Hall of the Arts and Industries building (the people give you the sense of the size of the building):

Looking up at the central rotunda ceiling:

A now rare view of The Castle (The Smithsonian Institution Building) from within the Arts and Sciences building:

DC is also full of American symbols – natural ones as well as man made, animate and inanimate.

An American Bald Eagle at the National Zoo is one living reminder of our country.

You can find all my photos from this month’s trip to DC at Washington, DC April 2015 Photos.  Saw lots of things I don’t have time to mention in this blog.  Also visited several great restaurants.

You can find links to other photoblogs I’ve posted at Fr. Ted’s Photoblogs.

George & Martha Washington’s homestead at Mt. Vernon


A Bright Week Visit to DC

Following the intense services of Holy Week and the exuberance of our Paschal celebration, I had scheduled a few days off to visit with my son in Washington, DC.

John like many DCers doesn’t own a car, so we got around on foot and by public transportation.  Probably just the small town Midwesterner in me, but the Metro appears at times futuristic to me.  Maybe it is significant since we often conceive the idea that the future of our country, if not liberty itself, is in the hands of the leadership in DC.

Some these days see Washington as a ‘sign’ of what is wrong with America.  I remember when John was a child and was really into GI JOE, and the nefarious enemy COBRA.  Lots of memory associations for me at the Hirshhorn Museum of Modern Art.  Art as a sign – of memories of a childhood, or political forces afoot in America, or maybe hopeful signs of the Chinese Zodiak and years to come.

Of course DC is not just about the present or future, but enshrines the past as well.  The Capitol Columns at the U.S. National Arboretum might be signs of lack of political foresight or that some things really do change in DC.  They may also be a sign that once the government does something, we have to deal with it for the rest of our lives as citizens.  The shadows cast by some of the Corinthian columns conjure up images of past DC figures who haunt or inspire leaders today – hooded specters or maybe heavenly watchers.

To keep things in perspective, the above Bonsai was in training since 1625  and is the oldest Bonsai in the National Bonsai and Penjing Museum which is in the U.S. National Arboretum.  This Bonsai tree is considerably older than our nation, and has been “in training” for close to 400 years.  It should humble us Americans when we think about our traditions and appeal to the founding fathers.  This Bonsai was already 150 years in training before the Declaration of Independence was signed.  Our American sense of what is old shrivels before this one Bonsai.

The Glenn Dales at the U.S. National Arboretum are covered with Azeleas which happened to be in full, gorgeous blossom.

The Arboretum is a real treasure of our country, and one that doesn’t receive all the attention from DC visitors or residents that other sights around the city receive.  But for the nature lover and photographer it is a hidden gem.

Lacebark pine cone

There are many unusual and beautiful plants as well as Ikebana floral displays.  And the Arboretum is only one location for floral beauty, for the U.S. Botanic Garden also houses a wonderful collection of plants.

The Botanic Garden was featuring an Orchid show.  The orchid is probably my favorite flower to photograph.

Relatively speaking, I guess most visitors to DC don’t go there just to see the flora.  There is also the fauna at the National Zoo!  And you can get the picture that I didn’t go to DC just to see bricks, mortar and marble statues.

It is as true in DC as anywhere else that birds of a feather flock together – so too for donkeys and elephants!

You can find a set of my favorite photos from my visit to DC at 2012 DC Favorites or you can find all of the photos I took in sets at DC Collection.

A complete list with links to my photo blogs is at My Photo-Blogs.

Special thanks to John and Lauren for their hospitality.

Imagine living in that place in America where Washington’s Monument always looks over all.  There is an American ideal when we don’t lose sight of it.

Visiting Washington, D.C.

Was able to spend a few days with my son in D.C., which was a joy.  

If you want to see a Collection of my Washington Photo Sets, just click on the link and then click on any of the thumbnail photos to enter the sets.  Once in any set the thumbnail versions of the photos of that set are visible.  Click on the Slide Show link in the upper right hand of the screen to see full size versions of the photos in that set.  

A set of various things I saw in DC can be found at Washington DC Sights.

The DC buildings (paid for by we the people!) truly are impressive,

 The Library of Congress is the most ornate, artistic and extravagant building that I saw in my days in the nation’s capitol.  

DC creates an American mythology mixing an endless collection of monuments to American heroes and leaders with  historical figures of fame from the ancient past and mythological gods and goddesses as well as anthropomorphicized virtues and vices.  Power and might is the message, though interestingly enough little of the current president is evident in the city, unlike the cities and states run by dictators which display more images of their current leadership than their past.

We really had a beautiful evening view of the Reflecting Pool, Lincoln & Washington Monuments (DC at Night) complete with a shining full moon on a cloudless night. 

We took the guided tours that were scheduled through Congressman Mike Turner’s (R- OH) office.  We toured the Supreme Court, the Capitol Building and the Library of Congress.  We also did the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.  Each of the tours was informative and worthwhile.   Among other things, I learned that the U.S. hasn’t printed any bills greater than a $100 bill since the mid-1940’s.  Checks and credit cards have made the larger bills obsolete.

 I still find God’s creation and creatures to be the most beautiful to see (The National Zoo, Geckos at the National Geographic, US Botanic Garden).   Geckos are a most versatile and fascinating creature, a wonder of God’s creation and one that has evolved into a wide variety of divergent and adaptable reptiles. 

The orchids at the US Botanic Garden were a joy to look at and had a beautiful fragrance.   As usual I took few of people (none of me) and John makes a cameo in a couple of the photos.  You can view some of my Favorite DC Photos.

Best of all, I got to spend time with my son who was a patient tour guide and made lots of allowances for my making the visit into a photo safari.  We did a lot of walking, and saw an incredible number of things in a few days.

Considering DC and Democracy

While in Washington, DC, visiting my son, we did take a tour of the Capitol Building led by an intern from my Ohio congressman, Mike Turner’s office.   As part of that tour, we watched a 13 minute documentary about congress and its role in the American government system.  It seemed to me that emphasized in the documentary is the fact that the house and senate are that part of the American government (of, by and for the people) most closely attuned to the American democratic political tradition.  They most closely represent the diversity of opinions throughout America.  They are that part of government in which debate on and discussion of issues is done within their assemblies and is part of what they are supposed to do.  It is the designed process by which government of, by and for the people comes to its decisions.      (My photos of DC are at

Historically, its roots are in those original debates which the leaders of the thirteen colonies engaged as they struggled with their relationship to the crown in England.  And anyone who has read American history knows those debates were rancorous and passionate.

In a democracy, such rancorous debate is the very means by which decisions are expressed, considered, dissected and decided upon.  (And I will admit by nature I am not always personally comfortable with such passionate and adversarial disagreement.  I hope for and prefer more agreement and greater harmony and tranquility).

John Adams

Certainly even in the days of the second president of the United States, John Adams, there already existed partisan debate and political trickery and dirty works.  Pseudonymous postings in papers that came into existence solely to promote a partisan point of view were common by 1800.  Vice-President Thomas Jefferson worked to politically undermine his President, John Adams.  Though they were powerful co-conspirators in the American Revolution, they became bitter political enemies in the partisan debates in the beginning of the Republic. 

James Madison too engaged in similar underhanded behavior against a government headed by his one time revolutionary compatriots.  He too was not afraid to engage in underhanded dealings to subvert those he disagreed with – not just their ideas, but those he considered political rivals.

It does seem to me, however, that in our current political polarizing partisanship, that some push for ending serious debate.  Some want one party rule.  Some want rivals and opposition silenced. 

Yet the political health of a democracy, like the strength of a species for surviving in a hostile environment, lies in its diversity and variations.  For democracy if anything is based in the consideration of and conflict between ideas; this is also its strength.   Ideas are improved on the anvil of debate, or, to change metaphors, in that heated cauldron which produces stronger alloys and new combinations of polymers with vital adaptability to the changing needs of people. 

Vote.  Pay attention to the issues at hand.  Learn about the debate, not just about what agrees with your opinions.  For a one party system is the basis of every dictatorship and all despotic rule.

Visit to Washington, D.C.

I had the chance to visit my son, John, in DC (where he lives and works).  We visited many sites in 2 days of roaming the city.   Below are a few of my Flickr slide shows of places we visited.  You can click on “Slideshow” right above the set of small photos to see the photos displayed.

ArlingtonCemArlington National Cemetery    —    Our days were very overcast, but that certainly helped keep the temperature down.  Crowds were generally sparse everywhere.  This was our first stop.  The size of the cemetery and the numbers buried is staggering.   One is really confronted with the toll that death, which St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:26 calls God’s last enemy, takes on humanity.  I also thought about the numbers who have serve our country, putting their lives at risk for the sake of the nation, for our freedom, for me.   They certainly do represent one form of heroism. 

NatAquariumNational Aquarium   —

The National Aquarium in DC is rather small, but if you like to see aquamarine life you do get a chance to see things you can only see in a few places on earth.  I like looking at tropical fish in aquariums in any case.  Something notably beautiful about them.  They represent the beauty of the world which is normally hidden from our eyes.  We are transformed when we see the beauty.

HillwoodHillwood Estate Museum  —

This was the mansion and playground of Marjorie Merriweather Post.  The opulence in the mansion makes you realize she had more money to play with then some of the kings of Europe.   I was amazed at the kitchen and dining room.  Photos aren’t permitted inside, so these are of the outdoor gardens and orchid greenhouse.

WashMonumentWashington Monument  (with views from the top)  —

I last went to the top of the monument probably in 1963.   It is an impressive work.   The trip to the top is worth the price.  The views from the top are wonderful – and I say this even though we had totally overcast skies and rain.


NatCathedThe National Cathedral   —

Another impressive and massive structure.   The lines and lighting of this Gothic Cathedral do catch your eyes.   I am not particularly fond of Gothic and much prefer in a church the simpler Romanesque style, but it does convey the sense of a Great God. 

SFaireyArtStreet Art (including Shepard Fairey)

Much of this art was in an obscure alley in NW DC.  John is a fan of S. Fairey.  This is the kind of thing you know about only by living in DC.   Some of it is art for arts sake.

If you go to my flickr page there are other sets of photos as well, including photos of the White House, Scenes around DC, the Smithsonian Natural History Museum, and the Marine Corps War Memorial (Iwo Jima).