Washington Trip

April 22nd, 2010 Permalink

Exams are done and I have a two week break before the start of my work term.  As anyone who pays attention to this blog could tell,  I have been away from my camera for the last month or so due to my exam study schedule.  Now that I am done and I am going […]

Exams are done and I have a two week break before the start of my work term.  As anyone who pays attention to this blog could tell,  I have been away from my camera for the last month or so due to my exam study schedule.  Now that I am done and I am going to be in Washington for the next few days, I thought I would continue to update this post with some of the photos I take which will be accompanied by some stories of our travels.

Day 1

We left at around 11:00 am on Wednesday April 21 with a van packed with bikes and anything else we felt like bringing.

Washngton Trip

Just before departing from Fonthill

We got to the Fort Erie-Buffalo border and picked a line which seemed to have a problem in it as the line wasn’t moving and the green light switched to a red light.  We decided that the red light probably wasn’t a good sign and so we moved into another line for which we were the second car.  When it was finally our turn to go next the car in front all of a sudden was surrounded by border patrol and the two occupants were escorted from their vehicle and into the building.  This was all happening while our origional line had re-opened and had served at least 6 cars before ours was open.

We ended up having no problems ourselves and were on our way.  The first stop on our journey was Springville new york which is a small town on the way to the ski hill I used to frequent when I was younger.  I had been to springville many times but had never even noticed a dumpy looking bar just off the highway.  We decided to have lunch there and enjoyed the food!  We then drove for a long time through mountainous countryside.

PA Wind Turbines

After about 8 hours on the road, we arrived near Dulles Airport where we decided to stay the first night since the National Air and Space Museum hanger is out here and Hotels were cheaper anyways.  We went searching for a place to eat and found a very authentic mexican restaurant where the server could hardly speak english.  It was very good and very authentic, I don’t think many non spanish speaking people go there very often.

Tomorrow we are going to the National Air and space hangar and possibly to a baseball game downtown D.C. Apparently attendance is up there with the Blue Jays so tickets might be hard to come by HA.  I look forward t a day filled with airplanes, comic books, cameras and baseball.  Catch you tomorrow.Washngton Trip

Day 2: Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center

Today was an exciting day with a trip to the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center which is part of the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.  It is a very large hangar which houses a large number of the museum’s aircraft and spacecraft.

Smithsonian Hangar Smithsonian Hangar

We heard a very interesting talk about the cameras used in Ed White’s spacewalk and I added to my pressed penny collection with a few of the aircraft on display.  We ended off the morning with a stop in the gift shop where I acquired some new patches for my Waterloo Coveralls.

After leaving the museum we made our way towards our next hotel which was closer to downtown Washington, and on the way stopped off at a comic shop and a Camera store.  I checked the price before leaving, on various lenses and accessories and found that the 50mm f1.4 was over $100 cheaper at a store in virginia then the cheapest price in Canada, so i picked one up.  We arrived at the Hotel and then took a walk down the street to Target where my Dad got a new, stronger bike lock (so we can bike to where we want to go) and some cherry coke zero.  We were also looking for a place to eat but nothing in the direction of target sounded promising.  So we walked the other direction and ended up at a fancyish looking chinese restaurant where we ordered a peking duck.  It was delicious and fairly inexpensive which now makes us 2/2 on good dinner picks.

Tomorrow we plan on biking to arlington national cemetery and taking a quick peak at the exterior of the pentagon.  We might continue our ride into downtown DC and possibly catch a Washington Nationals game as well.IMG_6390

Day 3 : A bike ride to remember

Today the plan was to ride our bikes from our hotel to Arlington national cemetery and explore the massive area with our bikes.  We followed googles bike route and ended up cutting through a military base to get to the cemetery.  Turns out there are not bikes allowed in the park and so we were only allowed to ride through on the designated path and then walk all the way back through.  The walk was nice and there was plenty to see including the Arlington house, JFK burial site, the Canadian cross which honored American citizens serving in the Canadian armed forces as well as memorials for the two space shuttle disasters.
Washington Day 3 We saw the changing of the guard at the tomb of the unknown and saw the solider on duty pace 21 steps, pause for 21 seconds and then turn and do it again in the other direction.  From Arlington we rode our bikes to the pentagon, but since you can’t really get close to it and we couldn’t go in, we saw it said we were there and then turned around and headed over to the national mall.  We wandered around and eventually made it to the Smithsonian museum of natural history where we saw dinosaurs, rocks and two very famous diamonds, the hope diamond (largest, most perfect, blue diamond in the world) and the Wittelsbach-Graff Diamond which are very rare blue diamonds worth over $25 million each.Washington Day 3 After finishing up in the natural history museum, we rode along Pennsylvania ave with a stop at the white house and continued along the water to Georgetown, where we had dinner at a popular student restaurant named “The tombs”.  It was great food and a fun atmosphere with lots of rowing memorabilia on the walls.  After dinner we started our trek to the new hotel which is on the other side of the river.  Maps can be deceiving sometimes because it was a little bit further and WAAAAY more uphill then expected.  I have been doing a bit more biking so dropped off my backpack and rode to yesterdays hotel to pick up the van and bring it to the new hotel.

Tomorrow, we have a capital building tour booked and we are going to the downtown version of the National Air and Space museum! I think the metro is going to be used this time as both of us are pretty tired from riding our bikes all day.
Washington Day 3

Day  4 : The Capitol and Air and Space museum

Today, we took the metro from our hotel top the National air and space museum.  This was one of the main reasons for our trip so it was pretty exciting.  We arrived to find a redicululous number of famous aircraft hanging from the ceiling and on display in the front entrance. IMG_6570 We started touring the exhibits and before we knew it, it was time to go to the capitol building for our tour which I had booked almost a month in advance.  It was an interesting tour which taught me a lot about american politics as well as american history.  After our tour, we headed back to the air and space museum to finish off the other half of the museum. IMG_6587 We got to the museum at around 10am spent about 2 hours in the capitol and then headed back to the air and space museum, and we just finished everything by 7:30 when the museum closed.  We took the metro back to the hotel and had a little bit of a break before heading out to dinner.  We ended up having dinner at the rocky mountain brewery and restaurant which was a few minutes walk from the hotel.  The waiter was really nice and after a little bit of a chat he brought over two free pint glasses from the restaurant as a souvenir.  We picked up a growler before leaving and brought it back to the hotel to finish later.  Washington Trip

After a very long day of learning and walking, we are both very tired and I am looking forward to getting a good night’s sleep, tonight.

Day 5: Lincoln and National Cathedral

Today we ventured downtown with our bikes but this time took the subway downtown instead of riding there which saved a lot of time and energy.  We didn’t really have a solid plan for this day so we just kind of went with the flow.Washington Day 5 The first thing was trying to get tickets to go up the washington monument.  There are a limited number of same day tickets which are free or you can book ahead for a $2 convenience fee.  We checked the same day tickets but the sign said they are usually gone unless you line up an hour before they become available, which is 8:30AM.   We continued our ride West to the Lincoln memorial which had a band set up in front of it.  Upon locking our bikes and checking out what the band was all about we learned that in celebration of the 65th anniversary of the meeting at Torgau.  There was a Russian band and choir from Moscow who played along with an american band.  There were speeches by members of the military from each nation and one of them mentioned that the two musical groups had to practice over the internet  which was kind of neat.  We spent some time around the monument and then took a look at the Vietnam war memorial. After a short stop to pick up some suncreen we set off to the National Cathedral which was built on the highest point in washington, which is not a good thing when biking to it.  We rode past a lot of the embassies on maschitutets Blvd as well as the Vice presidents mansion.  After a very long hill we arrived at the cathedral.  We saw the space window which contained a moonrock presented by the crew of apollo 11 as well as the Darth Vader head located on the outside of the cathedral.  After leaving the Cathedral we enjoyed a very fast easy decent back to the city on our way to see Union Station.  I had read somewhere that the station had a lot of restaurants and food so we decided to go there to see the architecture and grab a bite to eat.  The basement was filled with fast food type places but most of them were independent vendors so the selection was great and so was the food.  From Union station we rode past the Canadian Embassy towards the mall where there was a big earth day celebration going on. Sting was supposed to play later int he evening and James Cameron was there as well._MG_0693 Washington Day 5Washington Day 5 By the time we got there a lot of the tents and displays were out of the free stuff they were giving away or had closed up for the day. After walking around the celebration for a few minutes we headed back to the subway to go home.

We went out for a late dinner that night and ended up at the rock bottom brewery and restaurant which had fresh brewed beer, delicious food and a very nice waiter who after talking to us for a little while gave us two free pint glasses as a souvenir.  After a long day we were both tired and ready to hit the sack.

Day 6: Spying on Portraits

Last night was our last night in the Hitlon Ballston and since it’s Monday the hotel rates jump considerably compared to the weekend.  Since today was our last day heading downtown we didn’t need to stay close to DC anymore. _MG_0798 We left the car parked at the Hilton and took the subway downtown to the International Spy museum.  This is one of the first museums we actually had to pay for as most of the national museums and all of the smithsonian museums are free but it was pretty neat.  We spent a few hours in the spy museum and then crossed the street to the national portrait gallery and national gallery of art.  They had a strange policy that all bags or backpacks had to be carried in front of you instead of having it on your back.  While we were in the American President’s section of the gallery a guy asked if we would look at the art for him while he took our photo for possible inclusion in next years Washington DC froiders book.  After a little while of carrying my big camera bag on the front instead of on my back I was tired and soar plus there are only so much art I can handle in one day.  We left the portrait museum and took a break across the street at the Gordon Biersch brew pub just in time for happy hour.  Despite constant forecasts for rain and thunderstorms we had been lucky with weather until today when it began to rain while we were in the restaurant.   After our break we headed to the Ford Theatre where president lincoln was shot.  By the time we got there, the last opportunity to go inside the theatre was over but the gift shop was still open and the lobby was open which gave us a bit of information about it.  _MG_0807 We walked by the national museum of american history to see if it was open until 7:30 but it was not so we decided to head back to the car and move on to the next hotel, which was out by Washington-Dulles airport.  When we got to the hotel I took a nice relaxing dip in the hot tub and then enjoyed some pizza from a local pizza place before retiring to the room to watch a mythbusters marathon on discovery.

Day 7: On to Utica

Today we began our journey back north but instead of taking a direct route home, we are making a pit stop at the FX Max Brewery.  We left the hotel near Dulles and headed north towards Utica New York passing through Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania on the way.  We also drove through Scranton PA which is where “The Office” takes place.  It was neat driving through the mountains because you could see all of the patches of rain and sometimes there were random sun spots on the sides of the hills.  Most of the drive had decent weather but after coming into New York it started to snow and it snowed on and off until we got to Utica.  The Hotel had the best selection of TV we have seen as they had “VS” which is where the americans show all of their hockey.  They also had a kingston feed of CBC which allowed us to watch a bit of Canadian programming before the hockey game started.  We went to dinner at a really good burger joint and then came back to finish watching Detroit walk all over Phoenix.

Be sure to click the HD button!

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