Our next stop on our summer of travel was Maryland. Neither of us had ever been to this area. We decided to stay a month as there was SOOOoo many things to see and do in the Baltimore/Washington D.C. area and boy were we glad we did!
First we had to travel UNDER the Chesapeake Bay! Yes, you read that correctly U N D E R water. For those who know me and my RESPECT (insert fear) of water know that this little jaunt under the water while riding in a Circus Train was causing me a bit of anxiety! We asked plenty of folks in our campground what to expect in attempt to quell my fear. Knowledge is power right? Well, let me just say it kind of kicked it up a notch when they told us there may be an issue of us going through the tunnel with propane on board….and boy howdy we certainly do have a fare amount of it on board….to the tune of 35 lbs of it! Tunnels under water plus propane gas could equal trouble! After doing a bit more research we were told we could indeed enter the tunnel, but we would need to make sure the tank was turned off prior to entering. Now I was really sweating! Would we blow up the tunnel if there was an accident of sorts? As travel day approached my apprehension grew and GREW! My Handsome Chauffeur’s cool, confident and collected manner did help a wee bit, but as we approached the tunnel I could feel my palms start to sweat. We pulled over as directed and were met by an attendant who greeted my Chauffeur and collected information i.e. license plate and measured our height to see if we could even enter the tunnel. The attendant escorted my Chauffeur and observe him turning off the propane. When we were given the go ahead we entered the tunnel and went to the depth of 108 feet below sea level traveling for 3.2 miles! Finally as I saw the light at the end of the tunnelthe sweating palms subsided and off we went. Next stop Fort Meade, Maryland!
The travel day went without any glitches. “Lola” (our GPS) was cooperative. As we approached Washington D.C. the traffic became congested as usual. It seemed to take a longer than usual to get to our Fort Meade, but traveling any where on the east coast we have found you measure your trip in minutes not miles. More often than not it takes double the amount of time per mile. The closer we are to big cities depending, if we hit it around Rush hour, the time can easily be tripled! BINGO… we hit D.C. before Rush Hour! Score one for team We Be Winging It!
As we crossed the Potomac River we could see the Capital and the Washington Monument off in the distance. I got huge GOOSEBUMPS! For me, it was seeing the Cinderella’s castle at Disney World! This stop on our summer tour was definitely one of our Big Ticket Bucket List items! We were so excited to hit the ground seeing all we could!
We are blessed to know some folks that actually live in D.C. and we were given WONDERFUL advice and recommendations on what to do and see while we were in the area. One recommendation we really tried to abide by was not driving into the city. We were excited to find that there was a commuter train station just 2 miles down the road from Fort Meade which we could also bring our bikes aboard on weekends. Score another big one for Team Winging It!
Up early, bicycles in our truck, map of Washington D.C. and the train schedule handy, off we went on our first of many missions to see as much as we could systematically checking off our list of MUST do and see! We exited out of Union Station downtown D.C. and the view was breathtaking! The sun was glimmering off the Capital. I no longer had goosebumps, but GOOSEMOUNTAINS!
Using bicycles to navigate the city was a breeze! We were able to cover so much territory in a short time. I could have taken a million photos. Here we were among monuments that we read about in history classes and saw on television each night on the news. I was pinching myself!
We rode our bikes over the Potomac to Arlington Cemetery. Tears were hard to keep at bay as we walked the entire cemetery approximately 2 miles around the rolling hills.. We saw all of the major stops, Kennedy’s resting place, changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider and Arlington House which were so impressive. The thing that stuck with us the most were the acres of White Tomb stones as far as we could see! Over 400,000 Americans and their family members make this their final resting place. From the Revolutionary War until today. 25-30 burials can take place a day! The cost of our freedom is visualized here! I wish every citizen who lives in our country would take a walk through this resting place. The lines of stones covering this 623 acre sacred place makes me reflect on what so many take for granted. I don’t think a person can enter and not leave the cemetery unchanged
Our first of many trips into D.C. under our belt. We got back on the train back “home” exhausted! We were so very thankful we had booked a month stay! Our age was apparent. Our feet were soreand our minds full as we reflected on what we saw and learned. We were excited to take a day of rest and then off we go AGAIN!
The next time we ventured into the city my feet were better prepared We spent the day touring the Capital, Library of Congress and just walking all over the Hill. It was a weekday so the city was not only filled with tourist like ourselves, but Congress was in session so it was a busy bustling area!
We took the guided tour of the Capital and learned so much. We highly recommend it if you get a chance to visit. All that we saw was bigger than life to us! Now when we watch the nightly news interviewing Congress members we know that we too were in that room!
Much to our disappointment we were unable to tour the inside of the White House. In fact, the day we were trying to get close they had the roads cordoned off. Sirens were blaring in the distance we could see a motorcade of black Suburbans pulling up to the White House. We asked a reporter and camera man near by if there was something happening? We were told that they were not aware of anything…. “maybe the President was coming home from playing golf?!” This photo illustrates how far we were all kept away! At least I can saw we were there! Through the “magic” of cropping and zooming WA-La the White House!
We took a ride to Mount Vernon and were not disappointed! The grounds of the plantation and buildings are amazing. I can see why President Washington called this beautiful place on the Potomac home. As we walked through the home I couldn’t help but think of who the President and Martha entertained.. Jefferson, Franklin… the list goes on and on. We also learned that Washington died from a throat infection. Today, we treat an infection with antibiotics and considered not a big deal. Poor Washington didn’t have access to the medications we do. Instead he was “bled” a few times to try to get the infection out of his blood stream. Yikes… a clear case that the “cure” probably was a contributing factor to his demise. It’s hard to believe that he fought in the wars to set us free and a throaty infection took his life.
He died in the bed he shared with Martha. In her grief she left that room and would have the room secured, never for her to sleep in her marriage bed again. After the death of her beloved husband she gave his slaves their freedom per his wishes in his will. She died two and a half years after the love of her life. She grieved for the entire time after his death. They are joined in death buried on the property.
I grew up hearing that President Washington had wooden dentures. Prior to becoming a Professional Nomad I was a Registered Dental Hygienist aka Smile Maker 😊. I looked forward to seeing these “wooden” dentures. Much to my surprise the President’s “chompers” were NOT made of wood! They were made of ivory, human and ANIMAL teeth with a base made basically of a “concrete” with a spring hinge connecting the top to the bottom arch. HOLY COW MOLARS….I have no idea how he wore them comfortably let alone eat with them!Next to these dentures was a display of dental scalersWe have come a long LOONNGGgg way in dentistry since his day! Thank goodness!
Before going to D.C. I had no idea that there are nineteen Smithsonian museums and galleries as well as the National Zoological Park. Seventeen of these museums are located in Washington D.C., with eleven of those located on the National Mall. There are two in New York City and one near Dulles Airport in Chantilly, Virginia. HOLY COW… where do we begin? We thought having a month in the area would would be plenty of time to see it all. After the very first museum we knew that was going to be an impossible task for us to complete. We decided to narrow our scope down. We wanted to take our time exploring and learning. We were given a list of must places to see by friends and family who have been to D.C. It was easy to spend anywhere between 3-4 hours touring and learning. We compiled a list of those museums we HAD to see on this trip. We ended up spending time at only seven! Our feet were sore from walking and standing, our brains full of new found knowledge and sights we took in, and we knew right away we will make a return visit to see the museums we didn’t see! So many photos were taken….here are a few highlights Orchid in The Botanical GardenNational ZooThe Hope DiamondDiscovery Space Shuttle
On top of going to the Smithsonian museums we were privileged to get a personal tour of the Pentagon from a friend of ours that works in the Pentagon. What an AMAZING place!! It is a museum inside along with a work place for many Americans both Military and Civilian. A person could actually take hours if not days to taken it all in!
Below are some of the facts about this amazing buildingThe original plan for the building allowed for four floors, but a fifth floor has been added. As we went around the rings of the inside, the corridors are filled with artifacts from all branches of service, there is a corridor dedicated to Humanitarian services, NATO and POW/MIA. The area that brought tears to my eyes was the Chapel and 9-11 Memorial.
On September 11, 2001 at 9:37 in the morning American Airlines flight number 77 deliberately crashed into the Pentagon killing everyone aboard the plane and 125 people in the building. As we walked through the corridors of this amazing building there are no windows in the center rings. I noticed that there are arrows in a row lining each side of the wall that are close to the floor directing towards an exit. I also noticed that although there were escalators and stairways through the building there were also LARGE ramps. I asked our friend who was showing us the building about what I was observing. He solemnly stated that the arrows are close to the ground to remind people to stay low when exiting in case of an emergency and the corridors were filling with smoke, the ramps help move people faster than stairs. According to Wikipedia there are 23,000 military and 3,000 Civilian employees in the Pentagon. After being within the confines of this beautiful structure it amazes me that there were not more loss of life when the plane came through those walls. How they all got out of the building especially on the side that was hit is truly amazing! With windows only on the outside ring it is easy to see how a person can lose your sense of direction and truly have no idea what hit them!
Reagan National airport located in Arlington has planes taking off and landing every few minutes. While we were outside we saw planes making their descent approaching the flight line in order to land. We were astounded to see how close they appear to come to the monuments and buildings. On that fateful September 11, 2001 planes were doing just that.. taking off and landing. It would appear as a normal day planes flying close, but as we now know America Airlines Flight 77 was not heading to the flight line.
Inside the Pentagon they have a beautiful chapel that is dedicated to those Americans that we lost. It is a beautiful and somber area. Panels on the left and right represent the medals awarded to the military and civilian casualties. The panels on the back wall have all the names etched into stone ALL of the names of the victims. A large book contains pictures and biography of each person who lost there lives from the youngest victim, 3 year old Dana Falkenberg to the oldest, John D. Yamnicky, who was 71 years of age.
Outside of the Pentagon on the side that was hit there is a beautiful memorial as well.there are 184 Memorial units located on an age line of the victims birth year denoted by stainless steel strips that cross the grounds of the memorial. Above these stainless steel markers etched in Limestone reads “September 11, 2001 9:37 a.m.” The direction of each marker is symbolic in that those pointing towards the Pentagon are for those who perished on American flight 77 hitting the building and the monuments facing away were those who lost their lives in the building. All of these precious lives became intertwined in eternity,
As we stood in the Memorial looking at the building itself, we could see the repaired area as it is slightly different in color… a scar if you will. Nearly 20 percent of the Pentagon structure was affected by the attack, offices in the undamaged portions were kept open and the business of our nation’s defense went on. In fact, in less than a month after the attack, some employees were able to move back into their office near the crash site. Amazing!
Not far from the Pentagon is the Air Force Memorial The United States Air Force Memorial honors the service and sacrifices of the men and women of the United States Air Force. Located on a hill in Arlington, Virginia, overlooking the Pentagon and adjacent to Arlington Cemetery, the Air Force Memorial is easily seen on the skyline of Washington, D.C. and Northern Virginia in Arlington county. My Handsome Chauffeur served in the Air Force and took part in many fundraising campaigns for this memorial. It was wonderful to see it in person. The Memorial’s formal dedication was in 2006 eleven years after he retired.
As we stood within the memorial we heard sirens coming our way. There was a bus being escorted to the Memorial. As it approached and the passengers disembarked we found out the they were a group of folks touring D.C. as part of the Honor Flight. Another goosebump moment for me!
An Honor Flight is conducted by non-profit organizations dedicated to transporting as many United States military veterans as possible to see the memorials of the respective war(s) they fought in Washington, D.C. at no cost to the veterans. Currently these organizations are focused on bringing veterans of World War II to the National World War II Memorial, and any veteran with a terminal illness to see the memorial of the war they fought in. Organizers plan to “naturally transition” their programs to focus on veterans of the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and subsequent wars as the veterans of those wars get older.
It was an honor to personally thank these heroes for their service and to thank those who were escorts of these wonderful folks. There are many ways we can serve those who served our great Nation. Here we saw service in the actions, be it assisting those in wheel chairs or just an arm to lean on to get up close and personal to the monuments. To me this was love and respect in action and I am so thankful I got to witness the gift!
As our time came to a close in Maryland we headed to Annapolis. We had visited this beautiful city a few years back with good friends. We love the seaside. We had spent most of the month visiting and touring in cities. It was so nice to be back on a coast, breathing in the salty air while taking in the beauty of the harbor we were familiar withWe thoroughly enjoyed our visit to D.C. and plan to return again as we only scratched the surface of all the Smithsonian Museums seeing only 7. Our day trip to Annapolis got us excited about our next stop along our tour this summer.
Big wheels start turning .. nextstop the coast of Massachusetts! Oh the places, things and people we will meet!