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The Pickles Visit Our Tax Dollars at Work in Washington, DC

The Pickles Visit Our Tax Dollars at Work in Washington, DC

Old Oct 19th, 2011, 05:57 PM
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Great report, Lee Ann! It sounds like you had a blast and made the most of your budget.
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Old Oct 20th, 2011, 02:18 PM
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Friday, October 7th

Originally, we planned to be at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing at 8:30 to get tour tickets, but decided to sleep in a bit instead, so today's first stop was the International Spy Museum. www.spymuseum.org and they have a AAA discount, which was nice.

We all really enjoyed this - seeing lots of cool gadgets while learning something about the history of espionage and intelligence gathering. Unfortunately, I had to rush Mr. Pickle through the last parts (he likes to read *everything* in a display) so we could make our lunch date.

Susannah Charleson, author of Scent of the Missing, and I are acquainted through a couple of different websites. She was in DC for a conference relating to her new organization, Possibility Dogs Inc. www.possibilitydogs.org This nonprofit matches rescue dogs with people who need a service or therapy dog, assists with training, etc. (Ok, plug over, but I really admire her work)

Oh, all right, one more plug - Scent of the Missing is in development at TNT. They are about to film the pilot episode.

We met for lunch at Merzi www.merzi.com It's been described as an Indian version of Chipotle. You start with a base of veggies, rice, or naan, then add a meat or vegetable topping, warm or cool sauce, yogurt, raw veggies, etc. It's very affordable and delicious! We had a very enjoyable meal, discussing Patrick O'Brian's novels, our dogs, the latest news from Possibility Dogs, etc.

Susannah stayed at the Harrington, along with many of the Occupy DC protesters, and entertained us by describing the man who rode the elevator with her that morning - over six feet tall, dressed in a Hillary mask and a long black hooded cape with a woman's business suit and sensible pumps. Oh, and a stuffed vulture attached to his shoulder. I was kinda sorry we didn't see him too!

I hadn't had any caffeine yet and was a little groggy. Providentially, Pitango Gelato, right next door to Merzi, makes a great iced Americano! www.pitangogelato.com/index.php
We sat on a bench outside and enjoyed the sunshine while we split a large gelato - a mix of rhubarb, gianduja, and...I don't see it on their site, but it was dried sweetened sour cherries and it was pretty fabulous. I also sampled their mojito sorbet, which was excellent.

The gelato stop meant we just missed the Hubble 3D IMAX film at the Air and Space Museum. We bought tickets for Saturday's afternoon showing, then spent the rest of the day in the museum. Each of us ended up seeing about half of the place; we'd planned to come back Saturday afternoon, so that wasn't a problem.

I'd thought we might look for a Five Guys for dinner - we have one here, but none of us have eaten there yet - until, as I was looking for the closest location, I read a DC blogger who said he preferred Ollie's Trolley's burgers. The price looked right, so off we went. http://www.olliestrolleydc.com/

It was reasonably priced, and while it wasn't the best burger I've ever eaten, it was very good. We spent some time trying to figure out what is in the spice blend they put on their fries, but gave up after a bit and just enjoyed them.

Our last activity for this evening was DC by Foot's "More Than Just Monuments" tour. http://www.freetoursbyfoot.com/dc/ They bill themselves as the only free, tip-based guided tour of Washington. We met Chris, our guide, at 15th and Constition with about 20 other people. Others joined in as we walked. Despite the size of the group, we never had difficulty hearing Chris. He is a history buff, knowledgeable and enthusiastic, and we really enjoyed the tour.

The tour starts near the Washington Monument, goes through the World War II Memorial, then to the Vietnam Veterans' Memorial and finishes at the Lincoln Memorial. Along the way, you see (and hear about) the Capitol, the White House, and the Jefferson Memorial. When the formal tour was done, Chris offered to take anyone who was interested over to the King Memorial, Korean War Memorial, and the Jefferson Memorial. However, we knew we were going to have to walk up to the Foggy Bottom metro stop, and decided not to go.

Lee Ann
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Old Oct 20th, 2011, 04:23 PM
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Great report, thanks so much for sharing Lee Ann! Your monument tour sounded very interesting and looks like it might be a great rec for those visiting DC. Off to check out possibilitydogs.org...
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Old Oct 20th, 2011, 09:52 PM
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Obxgirl, I thought the tour was really well done, and you can't beat the price. Their site says most people tip about $10/person, which seemed very reasonable to us.

Lee Ann
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Old Oct 23rd, 2011, 03:09 PM
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Saturday, October 8th

One of the things Mr. Pickle really wanted to do was visit Georgetown. He'd always enjoyed spending time there when his family lived in Maryland in the 1970s. Once we got into the District, we took the DC Circulator into Georgetown.

Our first planned stop was Dumbarton House www.dumbartonhouse.org, which we thought was on R Street. We got off the bus and went into a branch of the Georgetown library for directions, then walked down the street in search of the house.

I should mention that we had great weather the whole trip - temps in the 70s, sunny, and not too humid, so walking was a pleasure. Good thing, because we did a lot of it!

Eventually we reached Dumbarton Oaks - which didn't open until 2:00 - and we realized Dumbarton House isn't the same thing as Dumbarton Oaks. We got out our map again and discovered we weren't too far from where we wanted to go.

On the way, we passed an old cemetery and walked past Evermay. I liked the plaque on the wall of the property, which said Evermay was built by Samuel Davidson, "a Scot of original character." He sold the government part of the land that the White House stands on, and built Evermay with the proceeds. http://curbed.com/archives/2011/01/2...-nevermore.php

Dumbarton House was built around 1798, and is very well preserved. You can take a tour or walk through on your own. I finished before Mr. Pickle, and while I was waiting in the lobby, I was amused to hear pretty much everyone who came in say, "I thought Dumbarton House and Dumbarton Oaks were the same thing!" I'm glad we weren't the only ignoramuses out that day.

We had another Scoutmob deal for Quick Pita off M Street, and we enjoyed walking past bunches of lovely row houses to get there. This is a fairly quick, tasty lunch option in Georgetown. www.quick-pita.com/

We barely made it back to the Air and Space Museum in time for the 2:15 IMAX movie, Hubble 3D. If you have a chance to see it, it's very good - lots of spectacular shots of space, with the story of the various fixes that have been done to it over the years.

When the movie was finished, we planned to see the exhibits we'd missed Friday afternoon. I went in the restroom, and suddenly heard an announcement that the museum was closed. "What? It's supposed to be open until 5:30," I thought. I went back out onto the second floor, and sure enough, the security guards were politely but firmly ushering all of us out.

The museum is currently hosting an exhibit of drone aircraft, and protesters from OccupyDC were outside protesting their use on humans. Apparently some conservative journalist was stupid enough to encourage the protesters to try to enter the museum with their signs, and the protesters were stupid enough to do it. So we never did get to see the rest of the museum.

Fortunately, the Library of Congress was still open, and we got to spend some time there. Mr. Pickle was happy since we hadn't gotten inside the day before. The architecture here is really lovely and it is well worth a visit. www.loc.gov

At closing time, we walked back to the Mall and waited for a bus, only to discover no buses ran along that street in the direction we wanted. Fortunately, we were within walking distance of Union Station.

We had dinner at a Japanese teriyaki place in the food court - nothing special, but it had a good amount of veggies and was pretty tasty.

Lee Ann
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Old Oct 23rd, 2011, 03:20 PM
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you saw Bo! I'm so jealous. 2 times i've been to the Obama White House and they have never been in residence. The SS agents tell us he is the coolest dog ever.....
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Old Oct 26th, 2011, 04:49 PM
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Lee Ann, please come back and finish. You've given me some great ideas.

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Old Oct 26th, 2011, 07:17 PM
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great report! Glad it got brought to the top. We loved the spy museum and felt the Holocaust museum was a must see as well.

Don't know if you ever got to a 5 guys or not - I really do not eat much red meat and LOVE five guys - way better than In and Out imo.
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Old Oct 27th, 2011, 12:56 PM
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No, we never did get to Five Guys. There is one here near where PickleDude has basketball practice, though; maybe I'll try it for a late lunch/early dinner soon.

OK, Maudie, back to the report...

Sunday, October 9th

Our friend David just moved to DC, where he is working on a doctorate in some kind of international studies. He figures as soon as he's done, the Air Force will ship him off to Afghanistan or some other far-flung place.

At any rate, we haven't seen him in a couple of years, so we went to church with him at Capitol Hill Baptist Church www.capitalbaptist.org

Mr. Pickle spent a while Saturday night figuring out what buses would get us to the church from the Metro. Unfortunately, he didn't know the Army Ten-Miler race was going on Sunday, and several buses were rerouted - including the one we wanted. So we ended up getting back on the Metro and going to Eastern Market, where we walked the five or so blocks to the church. It was a pretty walk, with lots of row houses and a number of places with nicely landscaped front yards.

After church, we walked a couple of blocks to Jimmy T's Place http://www.jimmytsplace.com/ for lunch. It was packed, but we managed to push a couple of tables together and had a good time visiting with David. Their pumpkin pancakes are delicious.

Our plans were fairly loose for the afternoon. I wanted to take PickleDude to the National Archives http://www.archives.gov/dc-metro/washington/ since he hadn't been since he was small.

There was a pretty big line to get in, but eventually we made it into the main room. They've expanded the exhibits since we were last there, but since we were a bit limited on time, we just saw the Declaration of Independence, Consitution, and Bill of Rights, buzzed through the gift shop, and left.

Next stop was the National Museum of American History. http://americanhistory.si.edu/ When I was first in DC in 1997, the Star Spangled Banner was on display; when the kids and I went there in 1999, they were beginning the process of conserving and restoring the flag, and I wanted to see what they had done with it.

The Star Spangled Banner now has its own large room in the museum, with a bunch of interesting, informative displays along the walkways on either side. The flag looks good, all things considered, and it was really fascinating reading about its history and the conservation process.

Since the flag was the main thing I wanted to see at the American History Museum, we left and headed to the National Gallery of Art, where we spent the rest of the afternoon. www.nga.gov Sadly, the impressionist section is closed for renovations, but they have placed some of the paintings and sculptures on the ground floor of the museum, so I still got to see some of them.

We set a meeting time and place, then split up to enjoy ourselves at leisure. I combined time in the Renaissance sections of the museum with the museum's list of most popular paintings, and I pretty much got to see the things that interested me most.

PickleDude and I met at the gift shop. I had bought an address book there a number of years ago, which I needed to replace. Unfortunately, they no longer carry the one I owned, which featured paintings from the museum, but I found one with lovely photographs of the Winterthur flowers collection. PickleDude found a Hiroshige print he liked. As soon as we get it in a frame, it will make a nice souvenir for him.

Mr. Pickle decided he really wanted to see the Jefferson Memorial and the other memorials we hadn't visited during our Friday night walking tour. PickleDude and I weren't interested in walking all that way, and we knew we would have difficulty finding a bus that got us there.

We had seen people riding bikes from Capital Bikeshare all week, and I thought that might be a good alternative to walking. www.capitalbikeshare.com PickleDude and I decided we'd rather just go back to the hotel. We had dinner again at Merzi, Mr. Pickle found a Bikeshare station nearby, and we parted for a while.

He really enjoyed the ride - aside from missing the historical information, he thought it was better than the walking tour, especially since it was easier on his feet. When he was finished, he rode to a Bikeshare station near the Metro and left the bike there. If we go to DC again, I think we'll all give this a try. I'm certainly open to something similar in a different city as well!

Lee Ann
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Old Oct 27th, 2011, 01:07 PM
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Monday, October 10th

We hadn't planned much for our departure day. Our original plan was to visit Arlington National Cemetery. When Mr. Pickle realized it would either involve quite a bit of walking or paying for the TourMobile bus, he had second thoughts.

Instead, we decided to check our bags at Union Station and revisit the American History Museum, since we'd all said we would enjoy spending a little more time there. We split up again and wandered about; I spent some time in the maritime exhibit, saw Julia Child's kitchen, and a few other fun things.

We picked up our suitcases at Union Station, enjoyed a quick lunch at Au Bon Pain, and headed back into the Metro.

The MARC train to BWI was closed since it was Columbus Day, and work was being done on the Green line, so we detoured around that by taking the Red line from Union Station to Fort Totten, then getting on the Green line and taking it to its end at Greenbelt. You can also take Amtrak to BWI, but we didn't buy our tickets early enough, and decided not to pay $33/person. The Metro/bus combination cost $8.25.

At one of the Metro stops, some foolish dad told his son to jump off the train and do something. The kid obeyed and was left standing on the platform, crying, as the train left! Dad received a few choice words from Mom, who got off at the next stop to retrieve their son. Oy!

At Greenbelt, you can catch the B30 bus to BWI. The bus was packed, but it's a pleasant 30-45 minute ride to the airport, and we got to see a little more of the countryside.

We had an uneventful nonstop flight back to Albuquerque, where my dad and our dog were very happy to see us again.

Thanks to all of you who gave us suggestions and helped us plan our trip!

Lee Ann
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Old Oct 27th, 2011, 01:23 PM
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Very nice report. Thanks for your efforts.
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Old Oct 27th, 2011, 02:13 PM
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Good report. This is the city I would love to return to with my grandkids. I'm working on it, but getting so much flack from their sports programs. SIGHH!

I'm looking at your dates, Lee Ann.

When we went in February we just walked in everything. No lines anywhere- about 7 people in the Archives. And they actually opened a back door up for us at one of the Smithso., I think it was Air & Space.

Man, I wish I could get those older kids off of their h.s. schedules for about 5 days. Your report reminded me of that big time. I want to stay in old Arlington and take the Metro in and out. By the water.
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Old Oct 27th, 2011, 04:45 PM
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Lee Ann, thanks so much for finishing your really interesting report. You have given me some ideas that I would never have thought of.

I hope the Impressionists exhibit are open by this time next year, we try to see them whenever we travel.

Is there a special room at the National Archives that houses the main things you saw or are they scattered about?

Did you get the Metro to Union Station? We will be leaving from there and heading to New York.

I had a big smile when you mentioned Columbus Day, we were in San Francisco last year for that event which also coincided with Fleet Week. What a great day we had!

I have so many questions but need to take some time to sort things out in my head.

Thanks again.
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Old Oct 28th, 2011, 09:20 AM
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Yes, there is a Metro station at Union Station. You're all good to go to NY from there.
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Old Oct 28th, 2011, 04:23 PM
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JJ5, I think there were extra people in town due to the Army Ten-Miler, and some families had a three-day weekend for Columbus Day, hence the line at the National Archives. Our DC by Foot tour guide said normally in October he had a lot of Europeans on his tours, and was a little surprised that so many Americans were there.

Maudie, check the National Gallery of Art website - www.nga.gov - for information on what will be open when.

Lee Ann
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Old Oct 29th, 2011, 04:26 AM
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Great report, Lee Ann! I loved seeing Julia Child's kitchen, it's so "normal". We recently moved away from Five Guys territory and while I shed a little tear my jeans now fit better.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2014, 10:48 PM
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Wow... Very interesting report. DH and I will be in WDC in March and we're still waiting for confirmations from our congressman for the different tours. Thanks for all the great details!
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Old Feb 24th, 2014, 03:45 AM
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This is one of the fairly trade times that resurrecting an old report was a good idea.

She is a really good writer, and while I got tired with the way they bounced around from one place to another, I appreciated her low budget approach and was delighted to learn about Dumbarton House ( not Oaks)! This one goes in my downloads.
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Old Feb 24th, 2014, 06:09 AM
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bookmarking - Always good for terrific travel ideas and an entertaining report. Good timing too as I am researching a DC trip with our kids.
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Old Feb 24th, 2014, 03:13 PM
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Thanks, everyone!

Ackislander, we tend to pack a lot of activities into our vacations if we can. Fortunately, we don't need a lot of downtime. And if we didn't travel on a low budget, we couldn't afford to travel.

Lee Ann
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