Gargoyles, Carvings, the Gift Shop and Stuff

So this would be the only pic of a gargoyle that I got.  And that’s because it was one of the ones damaged in the earthquake and was on display in the Pilgrim Observation Gallery.  I guess I need to invest in a telephoto lens or something.   

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All around the Cathedral they have gargoyles and grotesques.  Very interesting and cool to learn about.  I checked out the National Cathedral website and found 5 things you need to know about gargoyles and grotesques. 

  • Gargoyles are part of the gutter system.
  • Grotesques and gargoyles are not the same thing.
  • Nobody knows how gargoyles came about.
  • Gargoyle blocks extend far back into the Cathedral.
  • Our Darth Vader gargoyle is not a gargoyle at all.

The gargoyles and grotesques weren’t the only cool things to see.  The intricate carvings throughout the Cathedral were phenomenal.  Just stunning and many you could get up close and see.

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This carving below, which isn’t really a carving, but more of a representation of Judas.  I am not sure why this one moved me but it did.  It kind of made me sad but I’m not really sure why.  Have you ever come across something that struck a chord with you?

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Moving on to the gift shop.  I LOVE gift shops as I can usually find something unique and interesting that catches my eye.  That day was no exception.

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And as expected, they had a lot of angel stuff.

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And one of my favorite verses of all time. 

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Now what could the other stuff be?  I’m so glad you asked!  Here are some other things that caught my eye.

Maybe I think odd things are cool but look at this.  I can’t remember what exactly it is…but I liked it.

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Helen Keller is buried at the Cathedral.  See how the plaque is worn where the Braille is?  It’s because everyone touches it when they pass by it.  Including me.  Cool stuff.

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I like this because it’s old.  And it’s a water fountain.  Water is refreshing.  Don’t you agree?

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This is a cool view.  I dig cool views.

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This is Marvin in the phone booth.  Except there was no longer a phone there so he used his iPhone.  He’s great at thinking of alternative solutions to a problem.  Like being in a phone booth that has no phone.  Why was he there to begin with?  Because my dad was a phone man so I tend to take a lot of pics of cool phones and phone booths…that’s why.  And he always agrees to model for me.  What?  You don’t do anything weird like that? 

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This stone is from Mount Sinai.  That’s cool to me.

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Ornamented first century stone fragment from along the Appian Way (Queen of Roads) leading into Rome.  Well, that’s pretty interesting too.

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Okay this is a bathroom.  I totally have a thing about bathrooms.  Not necessarily a phobia or anything but some idiosyncrasies about them.  But that’s really a topic for another time.  But this is one of the bathrooms in the Washington National Cathedral.  Just in case you were wondering. 

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What cool things interest you?  Feel free to share….

(((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