The Smithsonian! The National Archives! The US Capitol! Monuments! The International Spy Museum! The Library of Congress! Friends! Family! It’s a wonder we ever got on the road again but we were lucky enough to have almost two full weeks in the Baltimore and Washington, D.C. area. My parents lived in Ellicott City, Maryland for almost 20 years, so we thought we had seen most of the sights, but D.C. has an amazing ability to remain fresh and interesting. Even museums we visited just a few years ago were seen in a new light, especially given our recent trips to Boston and Philadelphia. Independence Hall in Philadelphia had George Washington’s rising sun chair; the National Museum of American History had his military dress uniform. The Henry Ford in Detroit had Abraham Lincoln’s rocking chair from Ford’s Theater; the Smithsonian had his familiar top hat. And it was a moving moment to step into the rotunda in the National Archives and see the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, documents we had been following since Boston.
We toured the US Capitol building (something we had never done) and even got passes from Senator Merkley of Oregon to watch the Senate in session. It was very cool to see our government in action (inaction?). Even better was getting a “behind the scenes” look at the setting of so many presidential inaugurations and funerals, impeachments and filibusters.
One of our favorite museums in D.C. is the International Spy Museum, a monument to skilled (and not so skilled!) clandestine agents from around the world. They have devices and stories from ancient history through the Cold War, including a letter from General George Washington authorizing establishment of the first American spy network during the Revolutionary War. As if that wasn’t enough – 50 Years of Bond Villains on special exhibit! It was awesome!
Of course, the real draw to the D.C. area, and one our favorite things about this road trip, was visiting with family and friends. Some memorable moments – dinner at the Ellicott City Brewing Company with Darla and Mark; campfire and football with the Mulvaneys; a delicious dinner and a great evening with the McGowan family (friends from Breitenstein! felt like a big warm hug); Indian food with Killian, Melissa, and Caden (hottest vindaloo ever!) that led immediately to ice cream next door. We got to spend a couple of great days with Matt and Anja and Max, our godson; Dan and Bryn, our old shipmates, even joined us there for poker night – so much fun!