Thursday, August 26, 2010

Washington National Cathedral

Today the kids stayed behind at the Horch home and spent the day swimming with Buzz and Joanna. I don't think that we could have drug them through one more museum or memorial! Therefore, Teresa and I took a trip to the Washington National Cathedral by ourselves. We took a more rural highway to D.C. and it was a beautiful drive. Along the way we saw the towns of Gaithersburg, Rockville, Chevy Chase, Bethesda, and then Washington D.C. We saw the Bethesda Naval Hospital, the National Institute of Health, Georgetown University and right before downtown Washington D.C. we drove along the section of road that has all of the Embassies. I didn't even recognize some of the countries that had embassies there. Very neat! The National Cathedral was really gorgeous and not very crowded at all. The weather was in the 80's and no humidity. After the tour, we drove into town for dinner and enjoyed one last look around the capitol city. Tomorrow morning we take off for home so this will probably be the last blog post for a couple of days. Take a look at today's photos.

A shot of the cathedral.

The light coming through the stained glass window made a beautiful light show.

President Woodrow Wilson is buried in this tomb.

A shot of the inside of the cathedral.

A Chapel dedicated to Mary.

One of the chapel under the main sanctuary.

Apparently all cathedrals have a cat that lives and roams at-will around the building and grounds. This is Katherine of Tarragon. She was there somewhere but we didn't see her.
There were thousands of gargoyles on the exterior of the building. Since the Cathedral wasn't official completed until 1990, they added some suggestions of gargoyle designs from school children. Someone suggested a representative of FUTURE evil. Can you spot the famous evil character in the middle of the picture? Check out a close-up on the next photo.
Darth Vader! Dum dum dum-dum.....
Another exterior shot.

Another view.

A parting shot of the front of the Cathedral.

Downtown we went by the Department of Agriculture. They turned the lawn in front of the entrance into a full fledged garden with just about every vegetable you would want. I thought that was pretty cool.

A shot of the original Smithsonian building, known as "The Castle". It had a bunch of beautiful gardens around it and a rose garden that filled the air with fragrance.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Downtown Washington D.C.

Today we headed downtown, to see some more museums and memorials. The weather was just beautiful - high 70's and only a little humid. It was also very busy! The guys headed to the downtown Air and Space Museum. Of course, I was thrilled since I missed this museum on the day Buzz and I saw the Spy Museum. We even got a chance to talk with a Tuskegee Airmen while we were there. We met up with the girls for lunch and then we all headed to the WWII monument. The girls had visited the Smithsonian "Castle" which the Horches had never been to before. We walked up to the Lincoln Memorial and then by the Vietnam Memorial before heading home to dinner. Here are some photos of the day.

The boys get a chance to look through a telescope at the surface of the sun. They had it set up in their new observatory that they built last year. The astronomer on staff showed them sun spots and explained how they formed on the surface of the sun.

Space Ship One, the first private space plane to reach outer space.

Chuck Yeager's "Glamorous Glennis" which was the first aircraft to break the sound barrier.

The boys get to touch a real moon rock!

Cole poses with Lucille Ball, a frequent flyer of the early airlines.

In front of a Japanese Zero!

Charles Lindbergh's "Spirit of St. Louis" which made the first non-stop air crossing of the Atlantic.

A German V-2 rocket.

At the World War II memorial.

Of course the highlight of the day for the kids was the "Ninja Squirrel" that entertained them for several minutes.

Jack poses at the Lincoln Memorial.
From the steps of the Lincoln Memorial looking out towards the reflecting pool

Taking a break.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Air and Space Museum - Dulles Airport, Virginia

Today the boys went to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. There are two Air and Space Museums, but this was one next to Dulles International Airport. The girls had to stay home and relax today, which suited them just fine anyway!

The museum was the highlight of my trip so far. I saw all the planes and spacecraft that I had read about and saw in pictures my whole life. It even had a McDonald's inside of it (with free refills of Diet Coke). We even saw a real life astronaut! His name was Tom Jones (not the singer) and he was signing some books and I thought he was sticking around. There weren't that many people at the museum today so I probably would have had plenty of chances to talk with him but he had left by the time we got back his way. Oh well! Check out some photos from the trip (only a small sample as I took over 300 today)!

Here is the outside of the museum. You can see the "control tower" section in the middle.

Dad likes the "old-school" planes, but the boys thought the F-15 was pretty cool. They also had the first X-35 prototype which will probably be the plane that they will see flown when they are my age.

Charles Lindbergh's flight suit.

One of my favorite German planes from WWII. One of the only jet planes in the world at the time, and very advanced for its day.

A shot of one wing of the museum. Lots to look at. I could have stayed there for hours more and never got it all in!

Another wing...(pun intended).

Still another wing!

Finally a break for a quarter pounder meal!
A shot of my favorite civilian plane: the Piper Cub.

The actual Enola Gay, which dropped the first nuclear bomb on Japan.

Not the Starship Enterprise, but an Enterprise none the less! This is the first Space Shuttle, which never flew in space but they did fly it off the back of a special 747 and used it to test the glider and flight controls before they built the rest of the fleet.

This was in the "Space" wing of the museum. This is the model of the mother ship used in the filming of "Close Encounters". I had heard that they put some special "additions" to the outside of the hull. I found a few of them and show them on the next few photos.

I found an R2-D2!

Here is a miniature graveyard in the center of the photo. Click on the photo for a closeup.

Can you see the two WWII aircraft ready for take-off?

This is the actual trailer they put the crew of Apollo 11 in after splashdown, just in case they carried "moon fever" or some other biological contaminant after they stepped on the moon.
Here is a shot of a young aviator in the gift shop.

A view of a wing of the museum from the 7th floor observation tower.

The boys try and spot the rental car from the tower. Since it was next to the airport, you got to see jets come streaking by as they landed. They also had a speaker playing the control tower radio so you could hear the pilots of those same jets.

The best part of the day for the boys was playing with the "Mars Mud" silly goop that Cole bought at the gift shop, ALL THE WAY HOME.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Sunday and Monday - Museums

I didn't post anything yesterday, so tonight I will combine Sunday and Mondays blog into one. Yesterday we all went to the Horch's church in Gaithersburg, and really enjoyed it. They go to a large church, but it didn't feel too big and everyone was very welcoming and friendly. They even have a great book store you can visit anytime. After church, Teresa, Kate and I went into D.C. and took a tour of the United States Holocost Memorial and Museum. Then we ate lunch in the Museum of Natural History before coming home. Meanwhile, Buzz took the other kids swimming and they had a great time.

Today we all went into Washington D.C. and spent the day at the different Museums. Buzz and I went to the Internation Spy Museum while everyone else went to the Air and Space Museum, the Natural History Museum and then we all met up at the National Museum of American History. They were all so great! We finished the day with a late Pizza dinner and then headed home. Here are some photos of the last two days.

Here is a shot of their church's sactuary - Covenant Life Church of Gaithersburg (

A shot of the bookstore.

A shot of the inside of the Holocust Museum. It was designed with a 1930's era industrial architecture, which reminded you of the movies you see of Poland and the concentration camps.

The outside of the Memorial and Museum. No pictures were allowed inside the display areas or the Hall of Rememberance. So I couldn't show you much.

Here's the dinasour that inspired the character from The Night at the Museum. They even mentioned that on the sign.

A shot of the inside of the Natural History Museum.


Here is a shot of Hailey and Jack at the Air and Space Museum.

That's one small step for man....

Hannah and Kate next to a full size model of the Hubble.

Jack liked this hands-on plane demonstration. The rudder and stick moved the different parts of the plane so you could see how it really works.

I wasn't there, but Cole took about 2 dozen photos of the actual enterprise model used in the original Star Trek series for his dad. What a great kid. I hope to see it for myself before we leave.

The kids on the Mall. It sure seems a little sureal seeing all of these sites in person after seeing them so many times in photos and movies. The day was just beautiful. Partly cloudy most of the day and in the low 80's with real low humidity. Just beautiful!

The girls pose in front of some pretty flowers.

In the Natural History Museum.

This was a shot of a place that I thought was so neat looking. It was in between two of the Smithsonian Art Museum buildings that used to be outside. Now it is air conditioned and is like a little courtyard for sitting and enjoying the area all year round.
Kate was so excited because she spotted this display right away and wanted a photo. It was from the Carol Burnette Show where she was making fun of Gone With the Wind. In the movie Scarlett made a dress from some old curtains. Carol made the same dress but forgot to remove the curtain rod! Kate loves the Carol Burnette Show and has several of them on DVD.

The real Ruby Slippers!

Archie and Edith Bunker's chairs.

Alan Shephard's pressure suit from his first flight in space.

You could pretend to be the president at the podium. I think he saw too many documentaries about dictators!

Cole looks more like a man of the people.

One of the file cabinets from the Watergate office break-in.

An actual uniform of George Washington that he used for portraits.

Jack stands next to a section of the Berlin Wall.

Colin Powell and Norman Schwarzkopf's uniforms that they wore during the first Gulf War.

Outside the Museum of American History.