Sunday, May 11, 2014

Visit to Washington: WAMU, Baseball, Monuments & Museums

We checked into Cherry Hill RV Park on Monday afternoon after a pleasant drive from our stopping off place near Harrisonburg, VA. Cherry Hill, located in College Park, MD is not only the closest RV Park to Washington, D.C., it's the best urban park we've ever stayed at, well organized to provide all the services necessary for tourists visiting the nation's capital, including easy transportation to the nearby Metro system, which offers access to almost all sites downtown. At the desk, they provided us with a Senior Pass ($2.00) which we filled up at the kiosk on our first visit to the Metro and never again worried about the cost of transportation - convenient and easy.

Irene Heads into the Maw of the Metro

Our friend Katy Daley is the longtime drive-time host of WAMU's Bluegrass Country. WAMU, whose history goes back to before NPR was founded, is a service provided by American University. Bluegrass Country, as far as I know, is the only terrestrial radio station in the U.S. providing round the clock bluegrass music 24/7. It has been an integral voice in the development of bluegrass music in the Washington area, and now is streamed worldwide over the Internet. The station moved into new, spacious studios early this year, and we visited to get a sense of the facility as well as to see Katy at work. The facility is a state of the art building with lots of room provided for expansion of services. A radio station is a strange place, because what we hear when listening suggests more action than is actually seen in the station. Katy sits behind a large electronic desk with computer screens providing access to the entire recorded catalog of Bluegrass Country. She selects songs, introduces them, clicks a button, and they play. Between sets of songs she reads announcements of coming events, public service announcements, the weather and traffic. Her friendly voice is familiar to hundreds of thousands of people in the D.C. area, to a spreading regional radio audience via local transmitters on HD radio, and to a world-wide audience streamed by the Internet. Bluegrass Country hosts numerous live interviews and performances of bands coming through Washington, and has used its new, larger performance area to provide live streaming with video of band performances. Look for this activity to expand.

Katy Daley at Her Broadcast Console

Performance Area for Live Visits

Large, Flexible Studio for Shows with Audiences

Studio Engineer for Diane Rehm Show

Bustling Offices - Programming, Development & Much More

At 10:00 AM Katy signed off after four hours on the air, handing the show off, and we headed down to her car parked behind a heavy, metal garage door which opened at the press of a button, and headed out to see Washington through the eyes of a lifetime resident. While tour buses, open air London-style buses, and even an amphibious duck that takes people on land and water trips ran up and down the streets, we saw the city through the eyes and spirit of a person who loves her city and loves introducing it to friends in a personal and direct fashion. While we have visited the District before, we had never seen it in such a way.

The Marine Corps Memorial

The Marine Corps Memorial is a giant sculpture by Felix de Weldon made from the iconic photograph by Joe Rosenthal picturing the raising of the American flag over Mt. Suribachi on Iwo Jima on February 23, 1945. It stands in Arlington, VA commanding a wonderful view of the District. When we were there, two Marines were busily running flags up and down the flagpole for presentation to veterans. 

Katy Daley & Me in Front of the Marine Memorial

The United States Air Force Memorial

This stunning monument, designed by James Ingo Freed (who also designed the U.S. Holocaust Memorial) depicts the expanding contrails of the Air Force demonstration team, the Thunderbirds, as they head into the sky. Located near the Pentagon, it commands another iconic view of the District.

Washington Monument from Air Force Memorial

National Cathedral from Air Force Memorial

Bronze Honor Guard at Air Force Memorial

Arlington National Cemetery

I suspect that most people visit Arlington to watch the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and to see the perpetual flame at the John F. Kennedy gravesite  as well as a few convenient sections of nearby graves. The overall impression is one of quiet rest after the ultimate sacrifice. A little known feature of graves at Arlington is that spouses of the dead may be buried in the same site as their spouse with their names placed on the reverse side of the stone. Another revelation to me is that the plain stones that dominate are not required, and that families can pay to have more elaborate or informative stones. 

Abner Doubleday - Credited with Inventing Baseball

Edmund Rice Medal of Honor Grave & Memorial

Lincoln Memorial from Arlington

Martin Luther King Memorial

I found this newly opened memorial to be particularly moving. The inscription on Dr. King's statue reads, "Out of the Mountain of Despair, A Stone of Hope." The symbolism of the three granite blocks is obvious. It was designed by the ROMA Design Group and opened 2010.

Jefferson Memorial from MLK Memorial

A Drive-By of the U.S. Capital Dome 

Katy Drops Us at the Metro

Back Into the Tunnel

Clean, Fast, Inexpensive

Home Base Metro Stop

The Nats - Dodgers Game - How the Other Half Lives

Katy Daley & Bill

Dave, a friend of Katy's scored seats for us at National's Stadium. None of us expected them to be in Jefferson Suite 49.

Liberty Suite #49

Yee Haws Giddy with the Joy of Discovery

Two Hour Rain Delay

Irene, Bill & Katy

Concession Area 

Where "Everybody Else" Waits for Rain to Stop

Our Section

Great Game: Nats - 3, Dodgers - 2

The Presidents Race Around the Outfield

Abe Charges through for the Win!

Teddy Enjoys It All

Our Seats

Where Did These People Arrive From?

A Peek at Another Suite

After the game we were treated to more details as we drove to dinner, with appropriate commentary about the District history, including the lowdown on why there's no Metro in Georgetown. We went to nearby Bethesda, Maryland for dinner at the China Pavilion, one of the best Chinese restaurants we've had the pleasure of visiting. It's hard to imagine not getting a meal with something to everyone's taste there. 

The Return to Reality

On Friday we again boarded the Metro to do some sight seeing on our own, visiting museums along the Washington Mall between the Washington Monument and the Capitol. Along the way I saw a sign which summed the Smithsonian up pretty well. It read, "So many museums, so little time." How true!

Out of the Metro at the Smithsonian Stop

The Capitol

The Washington Monument

Smithsonian - National History Museum

The Original Smithsonian Institution

Smithsonian - American History Museum

We were told that if you were to read the information and view each of the exhibits at the Smithsonian, it would take 85 years. Of course, if you did that, by the time you finished everything else would be changed and you'd have to start over. We had only a day and the limits of our stamina, so most of the day included general impressions, except for our visit to the Holocaust Museum

A Travel Trailer from the 1930's

The United States Memorial Holocaust Museum

The Holocaust Museum, dedicated to exploring the horrors that Hitler and his Nazi regime visited upon the Jews of Europe with the subsequent loss of six million lives as well as the callous response of the rest of the world to their plight until after the war ended, requests that visitors not take pictures in the major part of the museum, so all the photos used here are ones I've taken from Google Images. As people enter this exhibit, they pick up a profile of an individual person, who they follow through the exhibits from Hitler's ascension to power in 1932 until the end of the war in 1945. What struck me most was how people's behavior and attitudes changed as they were led through the exhibits. They became quiet, and then a spirit of almost worshipful silence developed as the horror of the holocaust took charge. I had studiously avoided this experience, but found myself glad I had finally faced and embraced it. Visiting this museum is, indeed, a powerful experience.

The Holocaust Museum

The Hall of Remembrance

We're leaving Washington this Mother's Day for the Gettysburg Bluegrass Festival, but Gettysburg itself seems a fitting place to be next week. Do plan on visiting the Holocaust Museum, though. And our deep thanks to Katy Daley and Bill.