Monuments, horse racing, cemeteries and a presidential home. Washington D.C. Arlington Va, Baltimore MD and Mt Vernon, Va

Anyone who knows momma knows that she loves horse racing, especially the triple crown. So for Christmas in 2014 I got her tickets to the 2015 Preakness in Baltimore. I included in this trip metro passes so we could ride the subways around D.C. (momma had never been), and she included at the last minute a trip to Mt. Vernon, as she knows I like presidential history.

Believe it our not in our nation’s capital you can hike nine miles and never leave the city. That’s what we did and momma wasn’t happy. We got a room in Glen Burnie MD which put us between Washington DC and Baltimore.

We drove into the DC suburbs the first day and caught the metro to go downtown.

Washington Monument

We exited the subway near the Washington Monument. We then walked to the Lincoln Memorial.

looking towards the Lincoln Memorial
Abe Lincoln Statute at the Lincoln Memorial

That wasn’t too bad a walk but we then decided to go to the White House, which is back almost to the Washington Monument and then left.

The White House

At the time of our trip Barack Obama was the president. We hung around Lafayette Square looking at the statutes and watching some protestors in front of the White House for a while. We talked to some locals who told us where to stand in Lafayette Square to get this picture without people.

Andrew Jackson looks over Lafayette Square.

our next stop was the U.S. Capitol Building. This was the trip of the scaffolded domes as you will see.

US Capitol Building
U.S.Capitol

It’s a long walk from the White House to the Capitol. It’s a longer walk back to the National Mall which is what we did. We stopped by the WWII Memorial which to me was the best. Do not miss this one if you trek to D.C.

fountain and pool at the WWII Memorial
Atlantic War

The memorial is divided into the Atlantic War side and the Pacific War side. The smaller monuments with the wreaths are representing each state.

Pacific side

We walked down the street to see the government buildings of our nation.

The Castle, this was the original building of the Smithsonian
The treasury Department

To end this day momma wanted to go to the Korean War Memorial since her father served in that conflict. ( mine, by the way, was in WWII)

Korean War Memorial

The next day we drove back to the suburbs to get the metro and rode out to Arlington National Cemetery. It’s pretty neat that the Metro drops you off right at the front gate of the cemetery although you are now in Virginia.

Arlington National Cemetery

Since we had walked so far the previous day and it was pretty hot on this day we opted to take the Arlington Cemetery tour. This way we could ride and we would be sure to see the important stuff. A note about momma; she loves to take guided tours and have people tell her about what she is seeing. A true tourist!

our ride for the next hour or so

As we drove through the cemetery the guide pointed out the graves of important and famous people buried there. Our first stop was at the graves of the Kennedys, John F, Jackie, Robert F. and Edward (Ted). It is pretty hallowed ground in the most hallowed ground in America.

The Eternal Flame

John and Jackie
The wall around the Kennedy graves

We next walked up the hill to Arlington House the home of Robert E Lee before 1860. Lee’s Wife was the great grand daughter of Martha Washington. When the war started the Lee’s left Arlington House. As Union casualties mounted President Lincoln ordered Chief Quartermaster of the army General Montgomery Meigs to find a place to inter these heroes.

Meigs confiscated the plantation at Arlington House. He did it to humiliate Lee for siding with the Confederacy. He buried bodies of officers as close to the house as possible and made it politically impossible to move them thus rendering the plantation inhabitable.

Arlington House
Supreme Court Justices

Some of the names on these graves should be familiar. This is the section where Supreme Court Justices are interred.

Here is the most important part of the cemetery where those who gave their lives for our country rest.
Memorial to the Astronaut of the space shuttle Challenger

To end our time at the cemetery we stopped by the tomb of the Unknown Soldier and watched the changing of the guard one of the most stirring exhibitions I have ever witnessed.

The Tomb of the Unknown
The Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Washington DC from Arlington House
The Jefferson Memorial from Arlington

After our time at Arlington we headed back into the city to the Smithsonian. Not that we had time to see much, but someone, not named me, wanted to see the ruby slippers from the Wizard of Oz.

From the wizard of Oz….the Ruby Slippers

We are beat and head back to the motel. Tomorrow is RACEDAY!

I started early on the best way to get to Pimlico Downs where the Preakness is held. I thought of Uber. It was $20 to get there and an estimated $200 to get back. Supply and demand at work. I found out that our D.C. Metro tickets were also good in Baltimore on their Metro. The system in Baltimore had a shuttle service established from the end of the Train line to Pimlico Downs at no extra charge. Yes! And we found the Metro Station in Glen Burnie almost right next to the Motel.

Let’s talk Metros for a minute. In Washington DC the Metro is clean, safe, fast and totally underground. Oh, not so in Baltimore. It is run down the center of the street, more of a large bus I would say. We were there right after the riots following the murder of Freddy Gray, allegedly by police. The place is not good anyway and the riot damage didn’t help. Now the Area around Camden Yards ( the home of the Baltimore Orioles MLB team) was nice. But for the rest of the city, no thank you. The metro was dirty slow and we rode, especially home after dark, with some pretty sketchy individuals.

Now about the race. Little did we know that we were going to see the first triple crown winner in decades, American Pharoah, run in this race. We knew he would be there but it was still a couple weeks before he completed the triple crown. Momma loved that horse even before the Kentucky Derby. She was so excited to see him run.

We got to the track and made a couple wagers. It was 10 am or so. It’s going to be a long day.

Oh! Pimlico Downs. I am still trying to figure out why such an important race is held in this dump of a place. Pimlico was built in the late 1800’s and except for the new air conditioned area I don’t think anything has been done to it since except some patching of the floors and paint. On this trip even those things were suspect. There are like two restrooms in the whole grandstand area so going was pretty much out of the question.

oh no! it’s just about race time and the weather doesn’t look good.

I thought all sports stopped in a thunderstorm. Not so, horse racing continues. We watched the parade of horses with the skies darkening. Thankfully we were in the old grandstands under the cover so we can stay here to see the race. Others in front of us are scambling to get into their ponchos or scrambling for cover as the thunder begins.

American Pharoah

A few minutes later all hell broke loose with the weather. The track was re-rated from fast to sloppy. Ya Think!

as the starting gate was positioned the rains came
The wet crowd watches as the horses take off.

After the race we went down to collect our winnings. The wagering room was full of water up to our ankles. We said hell no and left our original twenty and our two dollar winnings with the track. It was a long ride home waiting for a bus to the train and then waiting in line at the train depot to catch one back to Glen Burnie. We didn’t reach Glen Burnie until like 10 PM.

Next morning as we were preparing to leave momma made the suggestion that we stop by Mt. Vernon. Of course Mt. Vernon was the home of our first president George Washington.

Mt Vernon main house with the scaffolded dome again!

Yeah, see this was the trip of the scaffolded domes as mentioned before. Mt. Vernon had a short semi guided tour through the house then we were free to roam the grounds. I say semi guided because you just followed the line and at different points there were narrators to tell the stories and answer questions.

As you can see once we left the house it was a free for all

At Mt Vernon like most other National Historic Places in metropolitan areas it is impossible to get a picture without tourists being involved. We went through the grounds down towards the family cemetery.

This was the stables, these carriages etc were originals
Buckboard and sleigh
Path to the cemetery

We found the cemetery and visited the graves of George and Martha Washington.

Graves

We walked to the river. Mt Vernon is on the Potomac River. The views of the river were beautiful.

Potomac River from Mt Vernon

Our tickets also included a tour of Washington’s Mill and Brewery. We boarded a van bus and were taken a couple miles down the road to this site. The mill is a working mill although I believe it was electrified and not using the water wheel for power. There was a demonstration of the milling process and how the good stuff and the chaff were separated. The brewery was neat as it walked you through all the points of the process and how it was accomplished in colonial times.

Many people don’t know that George Washington was one of the largest distillers in America after his presidency. In 1799 his distillery produced 11,000 barrels of whiskey, (a barrel at that time was 31 gallons), netting a profit of $7500 dollars ( $162,000 in today’s money).

Glad we stopped by Mt. Vernon! Good call Momma!

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