Monday, 7 February 2011

Jan 1 - Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

At the Lincoln Memorial

Jason and Andrew left early in the morning for Miami, which left the Koh girls and us to explore Washington DC on our own. Today was our last full day here so we wanted to make sure we saw the rest of Washington DC’s major highlights. We started our very first day of the year nice and early at the Lincoln Memorial. There were no crowds. In fact, there was no one else around! I guess not everyone else was in bed before 1030pm like we were. We had the big man to ourselves and we were able to admire him in peace. The Reflecting Pool, sadly, was being refurbished and was half frozen. We left on cue as the first of the other tourists arrived.

The view as seen from Lincon's perspective
The big man himself
The Gettysburg Address
A last look at the Memorial as we set off for our next destination
We ambled past the Vietnam War Memorial and the World War II Memorial toward the Washington Monument. It was a very relaxing stroll and it didn’t take as long as we had anticipated. We made it to the Washington Monument well before our reserved time. Fortunately, they let us go up with the earlier group. The Washington Monument, completed in 1884, was the tallest building in its heyday before being taken over by the Eiffel Tower. It was a pity that it was so hazy that day. The view from the top would otherwise have been spectacular.

Part of the Vietnam Memorial
Ambling towards the Washington Monument
WWII Memorial

The Washington Monument
The 2 colours a bit more obvious indicative of the big break in construction

The view back towards the Lincoln Memoral
The view towards the US Capitol and the Smithsonian Museums

Next on our to-visit list was the National Zoo. As part of the Smithsonian Institution, admission! The children had a fantastic time as did the adults! The zoo was easy to navigate and it was bigger than I expected. We saw so many interesting things. The invertebrates were a surprise hit! We saw blue swimmer crabs being fed, learnt all about arthropods, echinoderms and nautilus. We saw monkeys, apes, big cats, reptiles, elephants, and even giant pandas amongst other animals. The staff were friendly and wonderful. There were many of them around to show and explain various exhibits to the children. My personal favourite for the day though, would have to be the naked mole rat. They were, unfortunately, very difficult to take a good photo of! So you’ll just have to google them yourselves...Our walk through the zoo ended at the bottom of the hill where we found the children's farm. It was a nice way to end our visit. However, if you didn’t want to walk all the way back UP the hill, taxis were not easy to find. All we could see was a big car park. Malcolm finally managed to hail a taxi. At the taxi driver’s suggestion, all eight of us squeezed into the one taxi for the ride back to the hotel! We were somewhat relieved as we had young children with us and were worried about leaving half the party behind.
After some afternoon tea, the rest of the day was uneventful. We rested and then had dinner at the hotel. Tomorrow we travel to Orlando to return to the house of the Mouse.
Giant cockroaches...charming
The biggest hermit crab I have ever seen!
Abstract art anyone?
Another big creature invertebrate

The children admiring the elephants

Sloth bear
Giant Panda
It was no use trying to tell the children that this was a meerkat and NOT King Julien

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