Columbus – July 2017 – The Ohio Theater

The Ohio Theater is a grand old theater downtown that was built in 1928 in an exceptionally ornate style to ‘separate the patrons from their everyday life’; it was originally built as a movie theater. It currently has seating for over 2700 people in the main level and the balcony, and features a massive ‘Robert-Morton’ organ.

 

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While the theater hosts the symphony, opera and ballet we were there for a screening of the movie classic ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’. The screen is massive, and the sound quality was superb.

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The impressive ceiling has a more impressive chandelier.

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The lobbies are equally ornate.

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We chose a seat in the balcony.

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The loges are no longer used for seating, rather they serve as lighting structures.

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The maestro served as the organist, performing for 30 minutes prior to the movie, during intermission, and during the exit period after the movie. A visit to the Ohio Theater is worth it just to see the building; to see a classic old movie is even better.

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Moundsville, WV – July 2017 – West Virginia State Prison

When West Virginia split from Virginia during the Civil War it instantly found itself needing many institutional venues that were previously served by those now located in Virginia.

One of those venues was a prison, so in the late 1860s they started building a prison in Moundsville, just south of what was then the state capital of Wheeling.

The Moundsville Prison was generally regarded as one of the most violent prisons in America, with numerous murders and other acts of aggression regularly occurring. Eventually in the 1990s it was closed, and now serves as a tourist spot and training facility.

 

Visitation Area

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Gallows  – There were over 90 executions at the prison, initially by hanging. It is thought this was the first location for the gallows, they were later moved to the ‘Death House’, which is no longer standing.

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A cell block.

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The exterior wall.

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New Vrinabad, WV – July 2017 – Palace of Gold

In the extremely unlikely locale of the West Virginia Northern Panhandle is the Prabhupada’s Palace of Gold. Built in the 1970s it is a magnificently ornate building that is showing it’s age, with a multi year restoration effort ongoing.

Despite this, it continues to attract thousands of tourists a year to seek it out (my navigation system took me down a dirt road that wanted me to cross a creek with 2′ of water running through it.)

Once we did arrive we were fascinated with the thought of a Hare Krishna temple just up the hill from numerous fracking wells and their associated tanker trucks, and the oil workers and their giant 4 wheel drive pickups.

While not something I want to do often, it was worth the adventure of finding it and spending an hour or two.

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Bloomfield Hills, MI – June 2017 – Cranbrook Art Museum & Saarinen House

The Cranbrook Academy of Art was founded in the 1920s by George Booth, who asked renown Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen to design the campus and buildings. Eventually the campus was expanded to include both boys and girls schools, a Science Museum as well as the Art Museum.

The Saarinen House has been restored to it’s 1930s look, and the museum offers tours, which we attended. The house itself (in my opinion) was somewhat disappointing as it did not give the ‘wow’ feeling that I often have when going into other famous homes, such as many of the Frank Lloyd Wright homes of the same period. Instead it seems more ‘practical’ and commonplace, in a 1930s art deco way.

The grounds of the campus are very nice, with gardens scattered about, along with numerous sculptures and fountains. The museum was somewhat smallish, but had some interesting artifacts including the chair collection.

 

The Art Museum

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Gardens and Fountains

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The interior of the Art Museum

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Saarinen House

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Columbus – May 2017 – Historical Markers

The Ohio History Center has arranged for over 1,500 Historical Markers to be erected throughout the state, with over 100 in Franklin County (Columbus) alone. Each of these markers provides a snippet of information about a person, place or activity that took place on or near the marker.

We spent the day wandering around looking for a few that were associated with structures of interest. In the end we visited 12 unique locations.

The text for each photo is the transcription from the marker (thank you Ohio History Center for the signs!)

Worthington Masonic Museum

Worthington was the center of Masonry for the central Ohio area in the early years of the nineteenth century. New England Lodge, with its original charter from the Grand Lodge of Connecticut dated 1803, is the oldest lodge in continuous existence in Ohio. This building, erected in 1820, is the oldest Masonic Temple west of the Allegheny Mountains.

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Groveport Log Home

Built on Main Street, circa 1815, this two story log residence was later sided. In 1974 during new post office site preparation, the log structure was discovered and moved to present location along Ohio-Erie Canal route. In adjoining Groveport Cemetery a monument honors local resident, John S. Rarey (1828-1866), internationally known horse trainer and owner of famous horse, Cruiser.

 

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Canal Winchester Covered Bridge

In March, 1887, the Franklin County Commissioners announced the building of a bridge in Madison Township over Little Walnut Creek at Kramer’s Ford. Area citizens had petitioned for a bridge to transport agricultural products to the canal and railroad. Michael Corbett of Groveport contracted to construct the abutments and the Columbus Bridge Company built the covered bridge for $2,690.00. Reuban L. Partridge, company vice president, supervised the building, using his patented truss system consisting of double and triple truss members constructed of pine and oak. Back Text: In the 1930’s the road traveling over the bridge became State Route 674 and in the 1950s the road was redirected to bypass the covered bridge. In 1990, the county contracted with Abba Lichtenstein & Associates to evaluate the condition of the bridge. The W.J. Seidensticker Company repaired and restored the Bergstresser bridge using original and new materials. This, the last covered bridge in Franklin County, was rededicated September 1, 1991. At this time the ownership of the bridge was transferred to the Village of Canal Winchester.

 

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Grandview Heights – The Bank Block

Built by pioneering retail developer Don Monroe Casto Sr., the Bank Block was dedicated in 1928. Considered one of the earliest regional shopping centers in the United States, it innovatively featured 350 free parking spaces-complete with uniformed attendant-to accommodate the rapidly growing numbers of automobile-owning suburbanites. The Bank Block’s first tenants included several competing national grocers (Kroger, A&P, and Piggly Wiggly), the First Citizens Trust (later Ohio National Bank), a stationer, barber shop, and pharmacy. It remains the nucleus of Grandview’s commercial district. Casto, once described as “the man who changed the shopping habits of the free world,” also built the Town and Country Shopping Center in Whitehall and was a dominant figure in retail commercial development in the Midwest for much of the 20th century.

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Worthington – Orange Johnson House

The original pioneer structure of this house was built by Arora Buttles in 1811. It was purchased by Orange and Achsa Johnson in 1816. Orange Johnson came from Connecticut as a comb maker; he became a farmer, landowner, turnpike commissioner, paymaster for the militia, banker, and railroad stockholder. In 1819 the Federal style addition was constructed on the west side of the pioneer house, and the Johnsons continued to live here until 1863. Restored and owned by the Worthington Historical Society.

 

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Columbus – Original Airport Terminal

The original Port Columbus Airport terminal was founded by the people of Columbus and was one of the first airport facilities in the United States. Dedicated on July 8, 1929, Port Columbus was the first transfer point in the westbound transcontinental passenger service, which was operated by the Pennsylvania Railroad, Transcontinental Air Transport (TAT), and the Santa Fe Railway. Its first passengers departed by rail from New York City on July 7, 1929, and boarded TAT Ford Tri-Motor aircraft at Port Columbus to fly to Waynoka, Oklahoma, the following day. They then traveled by rail to Clovis, New Mexico, and completed their journey with a TAT flight to Los Angeles. The scheduled 48-hour trip was celebrated in Columbus, marking the beginning milestone of national airport travel. (continued on other side) Back Text: (continued from other side) With the nation sinking into the Great Depression, the national air travel venture at Port Columbus was not profitable enough. As a result, the scheduled train-plane operation was suspended and replaced with coast-to-coast air service in 1930. The arrival of mail service at the airport in 1930 helped, as did a huge contract with the Curtiss-Wright Corporation in 1940. Curtiss-Wright leased 83 acres of airport property to produce 6,000 planes, including the SB2C Helldiver and SO3C-1 Seagull aircraft. The federal government took over airport operations in 1941. In 1942 a Naval Air Facility was established adding several new buildings and lengthening runways. This building served as the passenger terminal until the present terminal opened on September 21, 1958.

 

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Columbus – Lincoln Theater

The Lincoln Theatre, originally known as Ogden Theatre Lodge, opened on Thanksgiving Day in 1929. Developer Al Jackson was spurred to build the theatre because African-Americans were segregated from the other area theatres. Among the bands that have played at the Lincoln was the Eckstine Band, which launched the careers of a number of legendary jazz stars such as Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, and Sarah Vaughn. The Lincoln Theatre retained a high level of integrity during a period of unequaled African-American cultural, social, and economic strength in Columbus.

 

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Columbus – Toledo and Ohio Central Railroad Station

The only remaining Columbus railroad station, The Toledo & Ohio Central (T&OC) Railroad Station was constructed in 1895 and was the departure point for William McKinley when he left for Washington D.C to be sworn in as president. Designed by noted Columbus architects Joseph Warren Yost & Frank L. Packard, the pagoda style roof and tower have become Columbus icons. By 1900, the T&OC was purchased by the rival Hocking Valley Railroad and in 1911 the tracks were elevated above Broad Street. Later the New York Central Railroad gained control and used the station until 1930 when passenger service was transferred to Union Station in Columbus. Restored after the 1913 Flood and major fires in 1910 and 1975, the station was headquarters for the Central Ohio Volunteers of American from 1930 to 2003. The building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. Back Text: The Macklin Hotel was constructed prior to 1895 and predates the Toledo & Ohio Central Railroad Station. It was located adjacent to the station and had three towers and a pagoda style roof matching the depot. The Macklin Hotel was located at 387 W. Broad St. in front of the crystal ice plant which supplied ice to the railroads prior to refrigeration. After the hotel closed, the building was used for several restaurants and cafes until its demolition in 1955.

 

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Grove City – Beulah Park Race Track (Abandonded and mostly demolished)

The origin of Beulah Park Race Track began in 1889 when local businessman A. G. Grant petitioned the village of Grove City to create the Beulah Addition housing development on farmland once owned by town founder William Foster Breck. Grant named the new addition, located west of Harrisburg Pike, in honor of his daughter, Beulah. Grant, whose grandparents ?Hugh and Catherine Grant? were Jackson Township’s first settlers in 1803, added a recreational park to the development to attract potential buyers. The beautifully wooded park attracted visitors who enjoyed picnics, concerts, speeches, and baseball games there. Soon the park was expanded to include a small racetrack on the grounds. Back Text: The new track grabbed the attention of Franklin County Fair officials who held the fair on the site intermittently until 1918 when it was relocated to Hilliard. Shortly thereafter, Colonel James M. Westwater purchased the grounds and added improvements. In 1922, Westwater sold his interest to the Capital City Racing Association and, in 1923, the Association founded Beulah Park ?Ohio’s first Thoroughbred racetrack. The main entrance of the park was located on Grant Avenue, a street named in honor of Jackson Township’s first settlers. In 1931, pari-mutuel wagering commenced under the supervision of the Ohio Racing Commission. In 1983, Beulah Park was the first track in Ohio to offer simulcast wagering on the Kentucky Derby.

 

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One interesting building we came across that did not have a historical marker was the Wagnalls Library in the small town of Lithopolis. This library is a result of Mabel Wagnalls Jones, who was the daughter of Adam Wagnalls, a co-founder of the Funk & Wagnalls Publishing Company.

Built in 1925 it has graced this small town for nearly a century.

 

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While we were in Canal Winchester looking for an Interurban station we came across their Main rail station, along with a couple of restored cabooses. We never did find the Interurban station.

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Washington & Baltimore – Late Fall 2016 Road Trip – Day 3

We woke up in our top floor room to a great sunrise with a view of the Capital.

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Sunday morning started out by getting the car back from the valet, and running around the mall area with the car, since there was no traffic. After finding a spot near the Lincoln Memorial, we walked over to check out the monument, and the view down the mall.

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On our way back to the car we had a nice walk along the Potomac River.

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Returning to the car we wanted to see the FDR Memorial but found all the streets to it were closed, a recurring theme downtown. Instead we drove to Georgetown where the homes were old but well-kept and stately with upscale shops in the business district.

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From there, we drove until we reached the White House encountering more closed streets for a cancer benefit marathon made it difficult to find parking. I realized that parking is a premium in this city and there seemed to be very few parking garages, so we made our way to Capital Hill where we found an open spot to park on First Street near Louisiana Avenue and walked the four blocks to the Newseum.

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The Newseum is dedicated to communication, journalism, radio, TV, and the internet from America’s historic start until today. Our self-guided tour began with a ride up a glass elevator to an open observation deck that provided a great view of Pennsylvania Avenue, the U.S. Capitol, and the Smithsonian as we moved along reading the historical timeline of communication and journalism that stretched the length of the open deck.

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Upon reentering the building 800 front pages of different newspapers of major cities from around the world hung on the wall. This was a clear picture of how the same news is viewed from around the world by different cultures on the same day and what constitutes as headlines news for different areas.

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Situated near the elevator on the ground floor were slabs of concrete from the original Berlin Wall. The eight 12-foot tall slabs erected side by side were painted with graffiti of slogans as “You Are Power” and “Step by Step” from the West Berlin side of the Wall. A three-story East German guard tower that loomed near Checkpoint Charlie — Berlin’s best-known East-West crossing stood behind the Berlin Wall slabs.

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One of the most interesting exhibits at the Newseum was “Inside Today’s FBI.”  The FBI exhibit explored how the FBI fights crime in the age of global terrorism and cybercrime with news stories and dozens of artifacts. We got to see the work of the FBI and how they detected and solved crimes.

Real evidence of actual cases such as: The handcuffs and fingerprints of the Boston Marathon bombers; the Unabomber’s cabin filled with items of the Unabomber; and bomb materials used for a failed car bomb at Time’s Square. Engine parts and landing gear from United Airlines Flight 175 that crashed into the World Trade Center South Tower on Sept. 11, 2001, as well as, materials of terrorism from the Atlanta Olympic Centennial Park and Oklahoma City, and shoes worn by shoe bomber Richard Reid in an attempt to blow up an American Airlines flight in December 2001 were shown.

We also saw the confiscated terrorist’s machine gun from a thwarted attempt to blow up the U.S. Capitol in 2012 and an abandoned car filled with explosives found at Dulles airport on 9/11.

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Another room encased 400 front pages from newspapers and magazines stacked atop each other and slid out for viewing as part of the largest exhibit of the museum. The News History Gallery boasts a timeline of news stories from the 1400’s to the present time. I was able to view newspaper headlines from the 1700’s.

The archive held sport championships, news of war and other historical noted events. Videos of current TV programs ran clips of Stephen Colbert, skits from Laugh-In and Saturday Night Live in relation to modern modes of communications within this gallery. The News History Gallery confronted war reporting, sensationalism, media credibility and objectivity. I thought that the volume of early material was really impressive.

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The 9/11 Gallery had the upper section of the 360-foot antenna mast that toppled from the World Trade Center’s North Tower when the building collapsed. The antenna served most of New York City’s television stations. The antenna was mangled and twisted within its metal frame. Next to the antenna was a wall with an inscription “Peace be with you, You live on in love” Julie. As I read this inscription, voices of survivors and their families telling their personal stories of the tragedy from that day were heard.  On September 11, 2001, the lives of 2,749 people were lost. These first person accounts of that day were heartbreaking.

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A fun factoid at the Newseum stated that 20% of Americans can name all five Simpson characters but less than 10% of Americans can name all five freedoms of the 1st Amendment. The five freedoms of the First Amendment are: freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom to assembly, freedom to petition the government for a redress of grievances, and a free press.

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As we moved down the multi-level building exploring the exhibits level by level, we came upon the Journalists Memorial Gallery. The soaring, two-story glass memorial bears the names of reporters, editors, photographers, and broadcasters who lost their lives reporting the news.

The gallery also featured photographs of hundreds of the journalists whose names are etched on the memorial’s glass panels. Each year, the Newseum selects a representative group of journalists whose names are added to the memorial and whose deaths illustrate the dangers faced by journalists around the world. I looked up at the soaring wall of photos and felt so much grief knowing that these people died due to conflict of others misunderstandings.

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We ate lunch at the Newseum cafe when we reached the ground level then left to see the Spy Museum. The Spy Museum was very crowded and so we passed on it thinking that we would not have enough time to go through it and make it on time to the restaurant in Baltimore to meet our friends for dinner.

We left Washington D.C. on the Baltimore-Washington Parkway and once again got stuck in traffic. After an hour we arrived in Baltimore, we went to Federal Hill and hiked up the steep grassy slope to the park with great views of the Inner Harbor and the city of Baltimore.

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The camera lens let us zoom in on a submarine, a tall ship, yacht, and Navy warships at the Inner Harbor. The harbor was also filled with many personal yachts. The city looked renovated from when we last visited here with new commercial businesses, townhouses, and condos.

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Leaving the park , we drove the streets discovering new sights as we tried to get to Camden Yards, the baseball stadium. This proved to be frustrating as we were unable to get to the stadium because we got stuck in traffic again from the release of fans from the Steelers/Ravens football game that just ended. Every way we tried to maneuver resulted in a traffic jam.

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We gave up seeing anything else downtown so we went to Barracudas Restaurant, a classic neighborhood restaurant near Fort McHenry to meet our friends for dinner. Our dinners were tasty and the time passed quickly with an easy flow of conversation.

We left Baltimore for Annapolis where we reserved a hotel room at the Springhill Suites, arriving fairly late in the evening.

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Washington, DC – Late Fall 2016 Road Trip – Day 2

Our morning in Cumberland started out a crisp 34oF. The day would find us eventually in Washington, DC, but with a few stops on the way, starting with a drive along the Potomac River south from Cumberland, until we reached the Paw Paw Tunnel. This  3,118-foot long canal tunnel is located on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal located near Paw Paw, West Virginia.

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The tunnel was built to bypass the Paw Paw Bends, a 6-mile stretch of the Potomac River containing five horseshoe-shaped bends. The town, the bends, and the tunnel take their name from the pawpaw trees that grow abundantly along nearby ridges.

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Building the tunnel was underestimated as to the difficulty of the job by the construction company.  The tunnel project created financial problems and nearly bankrupted the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Company. The lengthy construction and high cost forced the company to end canal construction at Cumberland, Maryland, in 1850, rather than continue to Pittsburgh as originally planned.

The tunnel was used by canal boats until the C&O closed in 1924.  The tunnel was badly deteriorated until the National Park Service made major repairs to the tunnel, including replacing fallen bricks, filling cavities along the towpath, stabilizing rock slides, and repairing the facade.  Today the Paw Paw Tunnel is part of the C & O Towpath which is part of a major bike trail connecting Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C.

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We hiked the half-mile path from the parking lot through the woods to reach the tunnel sheathed in fog.  The colorful autumn leaves brightened the surroundings as we entered into the tunnel feeling a cool breeze within it.   As we walked on the bumpy dirt towpath where mules once pulled canal boats on this trail, the tunnel turned darker the farther we hiked.  Our flashlights and the railing helped to guide our way to the other end of the tunnel.

After reaching the end, we turned around to walk back through the tunnel again.  We did not climb the steep and strenuous looking two-mile long Tunnel Hill Trail over top the mountain to see where the tunnel builders lived during construction but I enjoyed our short trek into the tunnel to see a bit of history and engineering marvel.

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The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center is the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (NASM)’s annex at Washington Dulles International Airport.  The 760,000-square-foot facility was made possible by a $65 million gift to the Smithsonian Institution by Steven F. Udvar-Házy, an immigrant from Hungary and co-founder of an aircraft leasing corporation.  The main building, located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C, had always contained more artifacts than could be displayed, and most of the collection had been stored, unavailable to visitors.

The exhibition areas at the Udvar-Hazy facility have two large hangars, the Boeing Aviation Hangar and the James S. McDonnell Space Hangar.  The museum is connected by a taxiway to the Washington Dulles International Airport.  The observation tower at the museum provided a view of landing operations at the airport for us to see some large jets land while we were there.

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Entering the lobby of the museum offers a visitor a direct view of the space shuttle at center stage.  It was like walking through a timeline with so many historic aircrafts in one building.

In addition to the space shuttle, other crafts on display were: The Enola Gay, the B-29 that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima; the Gemini VII space capsule; the SR-71 Blackbird Reconnaissance aircraft; the Air France Concorde; the Gossamer Albatross, which was the first man-powered aircraft to fly across the English Channel; the special-effects miniature of the “Mothership” used in the filming of Close Encounters of the Third Kind; the Virgin Atlantic Global Flyer piloted by Steve Fossett for the first solo nonstop and nonrefueled circumnavigation of Earth; and a piece of fabric from the Hindenburg disaster.

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We also saw gliders, satellites, military and commercial planes, flying platforms, missiles, boat planes, and farm duster crop planes.  A mobile NASA quarantine facility for the astronauts return was there.

The catwalk elevated us to a perch overlooking the planes and crafts on the floor and a view at eye-level of the aircrafts hovering from the ceiling.  We were able to peer inside the small suspended crafts to see the controls and sometimes personal items of the pilots in the congested airspace of the hangar.  There was a plethora of aircraft and spacecrafts to see but clearly the surprise of the initial look into the hangar to see the space shuttle and the close up of its tiles and many components is most impressive.

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Gravelly Point Park near National Airport was our next stop.  The park at the edge of the airport runway was filled with people enjoying the nice weather.  A maintenance crew was replacing bulbs in the landing lights as we looked on.  We stood at the edge beyond the landing lights while jets flew a hundred feet directly above us roaring noisily. The park also provided a good spot for us to photograph the D.C. buildings from across the river.

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We made our way to the Embassy Suites downtown, receiving an upgrade to the top floor.  It was a nice walk from the hotel to the National Building Museum.  The museum is all about building and construction obviously and so showcased different aspects of this theme.

The museum had paper models of famous castles and other famous buildings and homes.  There was a display of dollhouses.  Another room presented a technique of building tall structures and high rises from wood instead of steel.  The technique is a new trend of incorporating renewable resources in modern construction.  Stumps of wood and panels of engineered wood filled the room for us to learn how wood could be as strong as steel, lessens the impact on the environment, and reduces waste.   Miniature wooden models of multi-leveled structures were displayed for us to see examples of the early projects.

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The National Building Museum itself was very interesting with colossal 75-foot Corinthian columns reaching to the vaulted arches above in the great hall.  Outside a frieze depicting a parade of Civil War military units 3 feet high wrapped the building.  President Grover Cleveland hosted his inaugural ball in this building in 1885; since then this building has been the grand space for Washington’s social and political functions.

The design of the building was inspired by two Roman palaces, the Palazzo Farnese, and the church of the Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels and the Martyrs in Rome built by Michelangelo in the mid-sixteenth century.  Arched windows and arched niches reached fifteen stories high from floor to ceiling with a row of 234 white busts of men representing the building trades held in niches in the center court.

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Our view from the second story looking down into the great hall offered a geometric pattern similar to the Spirograph art that I made when I was a kid.  The table arrangement below was for an event and resembled colorful gears with cogs from high above.  The tables dressed in bright blue tablecloths and blue chairs against a terra cotta floor with stemware, silverware, and napkins had such an interesting look that I sent the photo out as the picture of the day asking his followers to guess what the photo was other than the blue shaped pattern.  The view from our elevated position did not easily reveal its true image.

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From the National Building Museum, we walked to the National Mall to see the Washington Monument, the midpoint between the Lincoln Memorial and the U.S. Capitol.  I was so stunned to see the unsightly overabundance of food trucks catering to the tourist that lined the street perimeter of the National Mall.  We opted to go to SEI Restaurant with a modern Asian cuisine and sushi bar.  The menu featured small plates for us to try California rolls, kimchi fried egg rice bowl, Kobe beef roll and short ribs.

We resumed our walk to the Smithsonian American Art Museum for a quick tour before the hockey game we planned to attend.  The art was inspiring to see objects made of bottle caps, buttons, mixed media and other uncommon materials.

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The Verizon Center is the home of the Washington Capitals, a rival of the Pittsburgh Penguins, although on this day they were playing the Florida Panthers . We sat in the upper level among loud drunks to watch the hockey game, obnoxious enough you would’ve thought we were in Philadelphia. We left after the end of the second period and ambled in to a sports bar on 8th street for a bite to eat, and watch the Ohio State football game. Ohio State destroyed Nebraska 62-3, completing a really good day.

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