Our second day started out a little different than the first. I left Whitney in bed to go locate a grocery store to buy some breakfast/snack foods and some contact lens solution (I had conveniently left mine in the car, which was parked at Fort Myers).
Upon my return, we grabbed some food and headed to the metro station for our first tour of the day: the Pentagon. Tom managed to arrange that on a day’s notice by calling the Secretary of Defense’s office. Upon clearing security and making it into the entrance lobby though, we discovered that not all of the appropriate paperwork had been filed, and after a couple of phone calls, Tom had one of his NCOs push the paperwork through so we could get our tour. Unfortunately for my brother and his girlfriend, they got lost trying to get there (they drove by 5 or 6 times apparently, but couldn’t find parking) so they weren’t able to join us as planned). I had an enjoyable time, and was quite shocked at how astonishingly huge the Pentagon is. To think, over 20,000 people a day work there.
After an hour long tour, we hopped back onto the metro and got off at the stop for Arlington Cemetary and wandered around for a little bit, seeing JFK’s eternal flame and, from a distance, Robert E Lee’s house. We also stopped by the relatively new Women in the Military Memorial. To be honest, I wasn’t very impressed. I felt that the memorial lacked purpose… or that it was being put to a dual purpose by housing a tribute to all of the dead in the latest Iraqi conflict. While I don’t mean to belittle those who have died in service, I would have liked to have seen that display in its own memorial.
We then headed back to D.C. and visited the Supreme Court building. Due to timing, we didn’t get to listen to the presentation in the chambers, but I doubt they’d have said much I didn’t already know. I was rather impressed by overall tone of the building though. Just like most of the other government building, marble predominated in a classical architectual fashion, but the Supreme Court had its own air… one of fairness. Unlike most things in D.C. the smell of politics does not ooze from the walls.
Walking back towards the mall, we grabbed some tickets to tour the Capitol, and after waiting around for an hour (and then another hour in line) we made it into the Capitol building. I was semi-impressed. Our tour guide seemed knowledgeable, but he missed a number of things that would have been interesting that I doubt most people know.
After roaming back to Chinatown for dinner (at a burger place called Fudruckers) we headed back to the Mall and convinced ourselves that the Jefferson Monument wasn’t a very long walk. Wobbling upon tired legs and with parched throats, we began our journey… not learning from our previous experience with the Lincoln Monument. In D.C., the only things close together are the Smithsonians. We finally found our way there and collapsed for a few minutes to rest our feet.
After pausing for water and picture taking, we headed out to the FDR memorial, which, thankfully was closer. Unfortunately, do to the D.C. “winter” none of the fountains were working and it was slightly less than impressive. Afterwards, we began meandering back towards our hostel, taking a quick stop across the street from the White House for a picture.
And thus ended a rather long day of wlaking.