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Bald Eagle

April 18, 2013

Washington DC – Thursday, April 11

I was ready to head back downtown again today after my break yesterday. This will be my last day here, and there are still a few things I want to see. Once again, it took some time to find a parking space, and before it got too hot, I set off on a 3 mile walk up and down the mall while Tula stayed put in the car. I sort of wanted to get all the way down to the Lincoln Memorial to actually climb the steps into it, but didn’t want to leave Tula that long since it was heating up. I’ll head back there later this evening. I got back to the car and still had a good 20 minutes on the meter, so I turned the air on for Tula, and headed to the National Gallery of Art because I happened to be parked nearby. I’ve never been in there before, and a quick peek told me I wanted to have some time there. So I went back to the car and put more money in the meter and then headed back to the gallery to wander around for a while. I do not know art well – I’m just one of those people who know what I like and that’s about it. I seemed to be drawn to old Dutch paintings and some French seascapes (of bad storms and ships sinking, oddly enough!) and random other paintings. I wandered through a sculpture gallery (not in the mood for that) and a furniture gallery, and then back to some more paintings. It’s interesting how different paintings grab different people!

I was disappointed today to discover that although I had charged up my camera’s battery and remembered to put it back in, when I went to take a picture it still seemed dead. Turns out I had left the camera card back at the motel in my computer from when I was uploading pictures. Ugh! That’s the first time I’ve done that. So I got some good pictures today, but they’re on my phone, and I don’t yet know how to get those onto the computer – or if it’s even possible!

Then I was ready for a bit of a drive cross-town. I had decided to “adopt” a bald eagle at the National Zoo today for my donation. Their website had indicated this was a fund-raising choice, and about a half dozen animals were available for adoption. I figured that adopting a national symbol of our country while visiting the National Zoo in our national capital was an appropriate way to wrap up my week in Washington DC! It was another slow drive there, with some big roundabouts and pedestrians all over the place. I definitely wouldn’t drive on a regular basis in this city if I lived here! Just getting around the Dupont Circle area alone took a long time! And I began to get worried about gas – there are not a lot of gas stations in town. But I found one of them, and then got to the zoo. Since I had already spent time walking, and then visiting the National Gallery of Art, it was mid-afternoon, and some people were leaving the zoo. I was actually able to find parking on the street nearly right next to the zoo entrance. And once again, I locked Tula into the van with the air conditioning so that I could go make my donation. I was directed to the gift shop area, which is where the administrative offices are, and one of the employees brought down the necessary paperwork, and I “adopted” my eagle. I’ll get a photo and updates from time to time. Now I have a bald eagle from the National Zoo and a wild horse from Assateague Island – I wonder if I will add more animals to the menagerie in the second half of my journey?!? Since I had parked so close, I decided to take a power walk through part of the zoo. I saw the zebras and cheetahs, and watched a very active otter doing flips against the glass enclosure. I saw the bald eagle exhibit, which was my goal, and stopped in the panda display and watched a chubby panda chowing down on bamboo – they must have some pretty sharp teeth! I went to the new elephant barn, but they weren’t in it – they were apparently all outside. I don’t generally like to see man-made structures for wild animals, but I have to say this looked like a really nice place for elephants!

After my visit to the zoo, I wanted to battle the traffic again to head back to the mall and visit the last few monuments I wanted to see one more time. Along the way I made a hasty stop at Noodles and Company to pick up some dinner (with a police officer reminding me my car would be towed in 18 minutes if I didn’t come back!) – but they were quick at the noodle shop and I was back with 6 minutes to spare! It took me a long time to head back to the mall, and then I had to circle a bit to find a spot at a meter. I got out with Tula and enjoyed my dinner in the park, and then walked Tula for a while, and it seemed like she was perking up a bit. But I was still pretty far away from the places I really wanted to see, so I decided I would circle around a couple more times..and a couple more. Right when I was just about ready to give up, a good spot opened up, and I headed out for 3 miles of walking on a beautiful evening. The first thing I saw was a “snowstorm” of cherry blossom petals – they don’t last long, and when the wind blows, they fall off the branches in large numbers and swirl around like snowflakes and cover the ground and land on people. It was pretty! From there I returned to the Korean War Monument – I think that’s my favorite. There’s 19 life-size statues of soldiers, and the expressions on their faces show the utter fatigue they feel carrying big packs under ponchos in bad weather. But their expressions also show the care and concern they have for their comrades – it’s a wonderful piece of work. Then I headed up the steps to the Lincoln Memorial – with the unfortunate timing of the arrival of several large 8th-grade groups. But I managed to have a nice look before they all stormed the place! And then I went on to the Vietnam Memorial. Tula wasn’t allowed in that area, so I hadn’t been up close to that one yet. I’ve visited that one in the past, but it never fails to be a moving memorial. Then, as I was walking back to the car, I went all around the World War II monument. There are 56 columns (I counted!) – one for each state and territory. The only difference from all the states/territories that are represented on the columns and all of my state/territory visits was that they had a column for the Philippines instead of Northern Mariana Islands – but they’re all in the same region. The evening was a beautiful way to end my Washington DC week.

In the end, adding in my last long walk, I walked more than 56 miles, and I finished all 7 donations – two to DC Kitchen (one for the children’s Healthy Returns snack program and the other a donation of 11 $5 gift cards), Smithsonian Institute (flag display), National Geographic, Bread for the City – Art with a Heart Fundraiser, Armed Forces Retirement Home, and National Zoo (adopting “my” bald eagle). Heavy rains were going to be moving in tonight, and I headed back to my motel – having seen and explored a big chunk of the city! And, this is the halfway point of my journey, and I can hardly believe it’s half over.

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One Comment
  1. Nancy permalink

    Wow—I can’t believe you’re half way through either! I’m enjoying each and every entry!

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