US Marine Corps War Memorial

As we headed back to the hotel from visiting the Kennedy Center we had to walk to our hotel as the shuttle wasn’t running at that time.  Our hotel was within walking distance of the Marine Memorial and as we neared our hotel we heard the sounds of a band.  I LOVE bands so I was excited to see what was happening. 

As we approached we could see there was a large crowd gathered at the US Marine Corps War Memorial and that is where the music was coming from.  We took a detour to see what was going on. 

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We learned that during the summer months, every Tuesday there is a performance by the Marine Silent Drill Platoon.  There is also a performances every Friday at the Marine Barracks in DC and you can click HERE for the schedule.

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Navy recruits watching the performance.

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After the performance was over the crowds gathered around the memorial to take photos.  The Marines that performed as well as other Marines were on hand and were so engaging and welcoming.  They answered questions and took photos with folks.  It was a really great experience. 

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I would highly recommend you attending a performance if you are in DC!  It was an awesome experience. 

(((hugs)))  ~lisa

The Old Post Office – Washington DC

One of the cool places that we came across was the Old Post Office.

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As I have mentioned before, Marvin had just retired from the Post Office so this was of course a place we had to stop and explore.

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According to their website, “Originally built in 1899, The Old Post Office Pavilion embodied the modern spirit that was sweeping the country. Today, our architecture and spirit of innovation continues to evolve and thrive.

Once the first government building to have its own electric power plant, today we continue to electrify — with the help of The DC Preservation League. And, thanks to forward-thinking people, you can now stroll through The Old Post Office Pavilion and experience both its glamorous past and fun-filled present with international food, eclectic shopping and musical events … All designed to entertain lunch, mid-day and after work audiences all week long.”

So once inside you realize it’s not like a postal museum or anything although they did have some things to look at.  It does have shops etc. and you can go up into the tower which we did. 

Now I know I’m not the only person that this happens to but glass elevators freak me out a bit.   It’s like you are too close to the edge or something.  Things could happen.  That involve falling and stuff. 

Despite my fears we rode the elevator up. 

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As you enter the bell tower area there is a plaque above a window.  I love the peeling paint and the brick being revealed behind it.

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Here is what the plaque says:

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One of the bells up close. 

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From the Old Post Office website,

The Congress Bells

In honor of our nation’s bicentennial in 1976, the private Ditchley Foundation of Great Britain presented a set of English change ringing bells to Congress. In April 1983, the bells found a permanent home in the Old Post Office clock tower. They were dedicated as an everlasting symbol of friendship between the two nations.

The 10 Congress Bells range from 581 to 2,953 pounds and are replicas of the bells in London’s Westminster Abbey. They were made at Whitechapel Foundry which had cast the Abbey’s bells four centuries earlier. The bells are in the key of D major.

The practice of change ringing combines the disciplines of art and science to produce a unique form of music. Change ringing involves continuously changing the order in which the bells strike. The method of producing these changes is precise and requires extensive training, practice and concentration.

A full peal, which is a continuous performance that takes up to three and a half hours to complete, is rung in honor of the opening and closing of Congress and on state occasions, including all national holidays. To achieve this feat, the tower hosts a weekly practice session for the bells’ stewards, members of the Washington Ringing Society of the North American Guild of Change Ringers.

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The views from the tower were awesome.  Love looking around the city from there. 

We could see the Washington Monument which was under construction at the time we were there.  

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You may have thought that I was trying to take a pic of the Capitol in the distance but you are wrong.  It took me a bit but I was able to take this awesome close up of the wires.  😉

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They did have some items on display.  Here’s a “vintage” mail bag. 

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Some first day of issue items.

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And as we were leaving I gave this sign a H!GH 5 for being awesome!  Seriously, I don’t know if they give you tickets for walking to fast or something in DC but I didn’t want to find out.

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  • What fun unexpected places have you visited lately?
  • Do you have any fears that you have to face when traveling?
  • Where will your next adventure take you?

(((hugs))) ~lisa

A Visit With Owney, Mascot of the Railway Mail Service

I am a HUGE fan of the Roadside America (your online guide to offbeat tourist attractions) website.  In fact, I rarely travel anywhere without first researching where I am going on the website and the app on my phone, and this trip was no exception.

Case in point, we were visiting DC and I wanted to know what odd and unusual roadside attractions that I definitely had to see.  I saw the info about  Owney, the stuffed Postal Dog and knew that it was definitely on the list.  Our trip to DC was to celebrate my husbands retirement after 29+ years of service to the USPS so this cool attraction fit right in. 

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At the top of the escalator, before you head down to the Smithsonian National Postal Museum, there is a statue of Owney greeting you. 

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National Postal Museum – 2 Massachusetts Ave. NE, Washington DC
Hours:  Daily 10 am – 5:30 pm.
Phone:  202-633-5555
Admission:  Free!

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-Photo of a card provided at the National Postal Museum store

So here’s Owney up close and personal.  Don’t let the glassy eyed stare fool you, he was a cute little dog. 

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This little guy was a stray and the USPS mail clerks grew to love him.  He had found his “forever home” except his “forever home” was not just in one place! 

He started taking trips and as the card above mentions, Owney collected tags, tokens, trinkets and medals from his travels.

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I love seeing little quirky things like this.  They are little nuggets of useless info that I will store in my brain for later use.  You never know who might ask if anyone knows who the mascot of the railway mail service is…and I’ll know the answer!

Me – “Alex, I’ll take animal mascots for $1000.”
Alex – “This dog is the mascot of the U.S. railway mail service.”
Me – “Who is Owney?”
::ding::  ::ding::  ::ding::

And then I’ll get the answer right and probably win a million dollars or something. 

I picked up some *OWNEY* postcards to mail to all of our grandkids. I thought it would be cool for them to receive some mail from Nana and Poppy while we were on our trip so I bought a bunch of postcard stamps before we left.  Seriously, I’m singlehandedly trying to revive the whole postcard/snail mail industry.

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-Photo of postcard at the National Postal Museum

  • Have you ever checked out the Roadside America website?
  • What cool places have you been lately or what quirky things have you seen?

(((hugs))) ~lisa

The Smithsonian National Postal Museum

My husband is a retired mailman and the trip to DC was his retirement trip, so of course we just had to visit the Smithsonian National Postal Museum

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The National Postal Museum, a Smithsonian Institution museum, is located in the old Post Office building next to Union Station in Washington, D.C. The Museum was created by an agreement between the Smithsonian Institution and the United States Postal Service in 1990 and opened to the public in 1993.

Museum Hours
The Museum is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., except December 25. Admission is free.

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-Photo of a card provided at the National Postal Museum store

As we rode the escalator down to the museum, the first thing that caught my eye was an LLV – Long Life Vehicle.  This is the type of vehicle that my husband drove for the last 15 or so of his 29+ years with the United States Postal Service

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Of course they also had a mailbox.  For his retirement party I made one of these out of cardboard to hold all his retirement congratulations cards. 

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My version of the mailbox, which I think turned out pretty good if I do say so myself.

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Here is Benjamin Franklin, First Postmaster General.

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They had lots of cool displays and here are some things that caught my eye.

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One of the permanent exhibits that they have, that I particularly enjoyed, was the Mail Call exhibit.  Mail Call explores how the military postal system works and why the mail is an important resource.  Types of mail, transportation methods, and postal workers have all changed over time.  Through innovations in technology and organization, mail has become more diverse and military mail services more reliable. 

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An example of a “Post Office” on a Navy ship. 

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This exhibit hit closer to home as I am a military mom.  The role of the Post Office takes on a greater importance when the mail becomes one of your primary sources of connecting with your loved one. 

One of the activities that they had was a mail sorting “game”.  Marvin tried his hand at it and he did pretty good!

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-Photo of a card provided at the National Postal Museum store

I played a “sorting game” with this vintage machine.  You had to push certain buttons to sort the mail.

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As you can see, I sent most of the letters on the right path.  Yea me!!

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Marvin posing with Mr. Zip

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Me with Mr. Zip. 

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We had a lot of fun and if you have time I recommend stopping by as there are lots of interactive displays to enjoy with your family. 

  • What museums have you seen recently?
  • When is the last time you mailed a letter? 

(((hugs))) ~lisa

Washington National Cathedral – A Quick Tour

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We had scheduled several tours through our Congressman and the first one for the week was The Washington National Cathedral.  Normal operating hours are Mon-Fri. 10am – 5:30pm, Sat. 10am – 4:30pm however, if you book through your Congressman you will actually get to tour before it opens to the public.

We left our hotel at 7:30am and headed to the Metro (read up on how to navigate the Metro by clicking: HERE) and on the way saw Kyle from our evening at the Quarterdeck Restaurant.  Very cool to see a familiar face!

As we approached the Cathedral we noticed this outside.

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Here’s the sign explaining what those stones and why they are there:

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Back on August 23, 2011 there was an earthquake there.  The ground shook for less than a minute but caused the 30-foot central tower of Washington National Cathedral to whip back and forth.  Some of the 50-ton pinnacles (decorative parts of the tower) spun like tops and others fell onto the roof. 

During our tour there were two things vying for my attention.  One was the stained glass windows were captivating. 

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The other thing that mesmerized me was the incredible architectural detail seen throughout the Cathedral.

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From the Washington National Cathedral website I learned that the Washington National Cathedral is called to serve as the spiritual home for the nation. It is a national treasure and an architectural feat.  It is a place for spiritual enrichment above all, whether you come here for worship, a concert, a pilgrimage, or an insightful program. It is a place open to all.

It is truly one of the most beautiful architectural sites in DC.  After completing the tour we decided to go up and visit the Pilgrim Observation Gallery so we could enjoy the generous views of the surrounding area.  From that vantage point, approximately 112’ above the ground.  It is an awesome 360’ view of DC and the surrounding area. 

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  • Have you ever visited the Washington National Cathedral?
  • What was your favorite part? 
  • Would this be on your list of must-see sights in DC?

There’s more to see so be sure and come back and check out my blog to see what other interesting things we saw!

(((hugs))) ~lisa

How to navigate around DC on the Metro

Have you ever ridden public transportation?  Prior to our DC trip we had limited experience, so let me share a little bit about riding on the DC Metro

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This was a new experience for us, so we left the hotel at 7:30a.m. to take the hotel shuttle to the Rosslyn Metro station.  On the shuttle we met a couple from Beaumont, TX.  It’s funny how when you are on vacation, or are away from home for some reason, and you meet someone from your home state that you kind of feel a kinship with them! 

Since this was our first time riding the Metro, we needed some guidance on how it all worked.  We asked the first employee we came to and he was so helpful!  He suggested for us to read the signs.  Okay – maybe not the helpfulness we were looking for.  We were undeterred and looked for someone else who might have a little more patience to explain this to us.  

We met another worker, Ms. Davis, who helped us by trying to explain the difference between the cards and how it all worked.  Depending on how long you are staying and how many times you’ll get on the Metro, we recommend buying the SmarTrip® card because you get the lowest fair that way.  On Metrorail, each trip taken with a SmarTrip® card cost $1 less than those taken with a paper farecard. That’s a minimum savings of $2 per roundtrip!!  More if you are taking multiple trips like we were.  We initially purchased the paper card not realizing we were spending an extra $1 every time we rode the rail.  Good news is, you can transfer the balance to a SmarTrip® card at no cost.  To buy the card initially it is a $10 fee but $5 of that is a credit on the card that you can use for trips.

Basically, to navigate the Metro as a newbie you have to utilize the map otherwise it doesn’t really make sense.  Here’s a copy of the map we used that is available at the Metro and around town.  Also keep in mind the time of day you are traveling on the Metro as they do have a rush hour which sometimes delays the schedules. 

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You will notice our map is a little worn looking.  That’s because we referred to it. 

A lot. 

There are also maps, similar to the directory maps at a mall, placed throughout the various stations.

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Basically, you figure out where you want to go and locate it on the map.  If you open up the map it has a lot of landmarks on there with colored dots (which represent the rail line to use) and the corresponding station that you would need to get off at. 

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So let’s say you are like us, and your first excursion of the day was to go to the Washington National Cathedral.  Your first step would be to look for it in the alphabetical list on the map. 

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As you can see above, the Washington National Cathedral has a red dot (which represents the rail line it is on) and the station that you will get off at is the Tenleytown-AU station. 

Next find the station you will be departing from, and for us, it was the Rosslyn station.  You will then need to find your destination on the map, which for us, was the Tenleytown-AU station.  As you can see, the Rosslyn station is a stop on both the Orange and Blue lines and our destination is on the Red line.  This means you will have to transfer rails at some point on your trip. 

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To figure out what rail to initially get on, you will need to look at the direction you need to go and find the very last stop on the current color line you are using. 

In our example, we were getting on at the Rosslyn station and we are going to use the Blue line for reference even though we could have also used the Orange line. 

::This will make more sense in a minute:: 

So starting at the Rosslyn station trace the Blue line to the right and you will “end” at the Largo Town Center station. 

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The Largo Town Center Blue line will be the one that we need to get on but wait….our destination is actually on the Red line so what do we do??   Following the map you will see that we will need to get off at the Metro Center station and transfer to the Red line in order to get to the Tenleytown-AU station.  The rails run every few minutes so no worries on getting to the rail because if you miss one, another will be along shortly.  

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There are several platforms to catch the rails on so how will you know which one is the one you need?  You will see signs like these in the stations.

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See that big blue dot?  That tells you the way to the Blue line for Largo Town Center.  Listed under the arrow are the station stops along the way.   

They also have these signs on the platforms that tell you when the next rails are coming and unfortunately, I forgot to get a close-up of one.  Here’s an example and again, this will make more sense when you are there.

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Remember, to know which red line to get on at the transfer station, you need to know the last stop on that line in the direction you are wanting to go.  In our case, it was Shady Grove station. 

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All we had to do now was get on the Red Line to Shady Grove and get off at the Tenleytown-AU station and we’d be in business. 

Are y’all ready to try out your new skills?

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The view from my seat.

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To recap, we got on at the Rosslyn station using the Blue line for Largo Town Center station.  The rail stopped at Foggy Bottoms – GWU, Farragut West, McPherson Sq, and when it reached Metro Center station we got off.  We then found and got on the Red line for Shady Grove station.  The rail stopped at Farragut North, Dupont Circle, Woodley Park, Cleveland Park, Van Ness – UDC and finally at Tenleytown – AU where we got off.  The driver/conductor (I am not sure what they are called) also announces the station at the stop. 

WE MADE IT!! 

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Now I thought it was pretty awesome and even more so once we got the hang of it all. 

  • Have you ever ridden the DC Metro?
  • What was your experience?
  • What suggestion do you have to help folks navigate the DC Metro?
  • And is it just me, or was anyone else wondering if you could truly survive if you fell on the tracks and squeezed in between them like you see on the movies?  Yeah…probably just me.

(((hugs))) ~lisa

If you could go anywhere to celebrate your retirement, where would you go?

After 29+ years with the United States Postal Service, Marvin chose Washington, DC.  With so much to see and do, I contacted our Congressman to schedule some tours, and asked my Facebook friends for ideas. To say there is a ton of stuff to do in DC, is well, an understatement.  There is an overwhelming amount of things to do.  I knew I would have to make a list and prioritize what we wanted to see etc.  It was still a long list including: 

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As you can see it’s a combination typed/handwritten/shorthand list.  And it’s longer than it looks because there are things not listed that I wanted to see as well.  I knew we wouldn’t be able to see all of the list but we were going to try!

Mom and Dad drove us to Dallas Love Field (DAL) and they have made some great improvements over the last several years.  There was a long line to go through security but it was moving fast.  After we were through security, we looked for somewhere to get a bite to eat. 

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Can’t go wrong with Whataburger, right? 

It was a very quick flight to Austin Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) and we were ready to get going.

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Our in-flight snack consisted of a complimentary beverage and some peanuts. 

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Yes – we were flying on Southwest Airlines!!  And the peanuts were yummy!

We landed in Austin and we had some time to kill before our next flight.  We found a little spot to get some lunch.

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We boarded our next flight which I knew was going to be a five hour trip so I made sure to use the restroom before boarding.  As I settled into my seat, I realized something. 

I had to go to the bathroom.

Again.

On a plane.

For real.

Those bathrooms are so tiny!!  And then, you have to stand so close when you flush…ugh!!  Those that know me well know I have an issue with public restrooms. ::don’t judge::  And compound that with the fact that it is a small, cramped airline restroom and it just makes it worse.  But with Marvin’s encouragement, I went anyway.  I survived and my bladder thanked me.

Something I like to do when I fly is to critique the safety brochure.  Take a look at this pic.

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First of all, does anyone still own a transistor radio?  Second of all, who brings a remote control car on a plane?  Flight attendant friends, does this even happen? 

Okay, let’s play a little guessing game.  If we were to be judging this plane evacuation, who would win?

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My vote is for the lady on the right.  Not only is she holding a baby, but she is also pointing her toes.  That earns her extra points for form. 

Yes, this is what I do on plane rides to different places.  Plus, I chat with random people.  It’s what I do. 

What do you do to pass the time when you are flying?

Where is your next adventure taking you?

(((hugs))) ~lisa