Day 14 - Into the Belly of the Beast
This is a day to tick off some of Ethan's list after he tolerated my unseemly space geekery yesterday. First up, a tour around the rather impressive Capitol Building.
It all happens here
I found it all quite fascinating (although obviously, I would not admit this to Ethan) and got an interesting slant on the revolutionary and independence aspects from our Scottish tour guide. The building is quite spectacular but has on several occasions turned out to be sadly inadequate as the US expanded beyond the initial 13 states. Still, can't fault the decor or the statement of intent.
In fact, all of the buildings in DC could comfortably be in Rome or Vienna. I guess if you build a capital city from scratch, you can design it however you want. Apparently, the obelisks etc. are a consequence of the founders being masons and obsessed with Egyptian stuff.
Which way is up?
It seems that DC was supposed to take land from Maryland and Virginia and was designed to be a perfect diamond. At some point, Virgina balked at giving land over to the federal government and asked for it back. Congress apparently voted to allow it, but I can't help thinking that some of the congressmen would have been gently rocking in their seats, thinking of what this would do to the symmetry...
It's supposed to be a diamond. it's supposed to be a diamond...
Anyway, from the Capitol, on to the botanical gardens to see the stinking corpse flower (well why wouldn't you?). Apparently, this plant flowers once every 7-10 years and just happens to be this week. Right place and right time for once. Didn't seem all that stinky though so maybe the cold hasn't entirely cleared up. I wasn't too disappointed!
Stinking corpse you say?
Onwards to Arlington and the Pentagon (strictly drive by) and then back to the history museum. We were greeted by this guy...
I'm not sure he would approve
Now Washington as a national hero: yes, father of the nation: sure, but Greek god? I think not. The guy had hippopotamus teeth for goodness sake. You can see why he had to work so hard not to be anointed God-Emporer.
Still some interesting stuff inside.
Last tourist trip of the day to the National Archives to view the original copies of the Constitution, Bill of Rights and Declaration of Independence. I maintained that I didn't think that the Declaration of Independence looked valid, but I didn't sense a lot of support for the notion.