July 3 to July 9

July 3, 2011  Arlington Cemetery, Washington, DC (day 6)

We slept well except for an interruption from a thunderstorm that came through last night.  When we woke this morning, it was sunny and humid.  We took our time with breakfast, but knew we wanted to get an early start over to Arlington National Cemetery before the heat and the throngs of people arrived.  We rode our bikes across the Arlington Memorial Bridge to Arlington Cemetery. This is one of two gold statues from Italy that stands guarding the entrance.
It was about a 35 minute ride….flat…and easy.  Our ride took us past the Jefferson Memorial, with a view of the Washington Monument and Capitol as we crossed over the Potomac into Virginia.
We parked our bikes in the rack and entered the Visitor’s Center where we bought tickets to ride the Tourmobile for a narrated tour of the cemetery.
Our first stop was at the gravesite of President John F. Kennedy.  He lies beneath the eternal flame with his wife, Jacqueline Kennedy, and his two children.

Bobby Kennedy and Ted Kennedy both have gravesites marked with wooden crosses.  They are the only wooden crosses in the entire cemetery.
From there we made a stop at the Memorial Amphitheater and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, established in 1921.   The Memorial Amphitheater was quite impressive in itself.

We got a good spot to view the Changing of the Guard ceremony that began promptly at 10:30.
A sentinel of the Third U.S. Infantry maintains vigil around the clock and has since the 1940’s. 
The changing of the guard takes place every half hour in the summer. We were there just in time for the changing of the guard ceremony.

Bob had a front row seat to view everything close up.
From this location at the Tomb of the Unknown we could see down Memorial Drive to the Jefferson Memorial.  It was quite a view.

We could also see the side of the Pentagon where the plane hit on 9/11.  We look forward to our tour of the Pentagon next week.
Across the street, stood the memorials to those that died in the Challenger and Columbia disasters.  
Our next stop with the Tourmobile was at the Arlington House, the Robert E. Lee Home and Memorial.  
The tour was very informative and explained the history of the cemetery and pointed out the locations of significant areas in the cemetery.  
We spent about 3 hours in the cemetery and made the bike ride back to the marina. The area near the Mall was showing increased signs of security for the 4th of July festivities.  We saw this group of policemen on horseback.
We rode back over the bridge and along the river. We saw the dinner boat, Odyssey, out on one of its tours.
This was a collection of debris we saw gathered near the shore.  Now you can see what kinds of things we see in the river that we have to avoid. Check out that perfectly good basketball.
Once we got back, it took us quite awhile to cool off.  We walked Auggie and had some lunch.  Later in the afternoon, we made the 3 block walk to the Safeway grocery store for a few items.  It’s nice to have it so close.   We relaxed in the boat after our shopping trip and had cocktails before dinner.  Bob made dinner tonight.  What a treat!  Around that time, a thunderstorm moved in and there was action out in the anchorage.  A couple of sailboats had their anchors break free and tried to keep their bows pointed into the wind until they could re-anchor their boats.  The wind really picked up and created waves rolling down the river. As we looked on, we felt really lucky to be tied to the dock during this storm.  The white boat on the left was trying to re-anchor.
The storm didn’t last long, so after the rains and wind passed, Bob took Auggie for his nightly walk.  There was still thunder and lightning in the distance, so we weren’t sure if we would be getting any more rain or not.  The sun peaked out from between two cloud banks and set in an orange glow on the horizon.  We were content to watch a movie as evening fell.    

July 4, 2011  HAPPY BIRTHDAY, AMERICA!!   
We had no early plans today, so we could sleep as long as we needed to.  Ahhhhh!  We had a leisurely breakfast, walked Auggie, and got ready to leave for the Independence Day Parade on Constitution Avenue.  We left the boat at 10:30,  rode to the Mall, and then down 14th St. to Constitution Ave.  We locked our bikes to a post and walked a block to where we were able to find a good viewing spot for the parade.  Two ladies were kind enough to offer us a spot to sit down on their mat.  That’s me in the red sitting down in the middle of the picture. 
The parade would begin at 11:45, but we had a lot to occupy our sights while we waited.  There was a lot of “people-watching” to do.  The parade starting promptly at 11:45 on 7th St. (we were on 14th) and moved down Constitution Avenue to 17th St.
There were floats, southern belles, huge balloons, the Budweiser Clydesdales, military personnel from every branch of service, fancy cars, ethnic groups, and marching bands. 


Four of the marching bands were from high schools in Wisconsin.  Can you believe it?  There was one from Mukwonago, Watertown, Clinton, and Green Lake.  They did the state proud! 

We enjoyed the parade and the crowds were not as bad as I thought they’d be.  Everyone was very respectful and subdued.  The parade lasted a full two hours and we were out of there by 2:15.  People were starting to stake out spots for the fireworks tonight at the Washington Monument and surrounding areas.  We stopped for a hot dog at one of the numerous stands along the way back.  Can’t have the 4th of July without a hot dog!  The Fish Market was busy with people. 
We got back to the boat to cool off.  It was cloudy today, but very humid.  At least clear skies wouldn’t add to the heat level.  Boats were starting to pick out their spots on the river for the fireworks tonight. 

We took the time to give Auggie a trim during the lull in activities today.  His beard and face fur were making him look like an Ewok from Star Wars.  Around 4:00 people began setting up for their parties tonight. 
Our dockmates, Diane and Bill, invited us to their party.  The diver, Bill, also invited us to his raft-up party out on the river.  We ended up joining Bill and Diane at their boat for their “christening party” for their new boat. 
They had just bought a catamaran and were going to go through an official ceremony to christen and rename their boat.  Diane put out a giant spread of food…..pasta salad, shredded chicken, shredded Bar-B-Q beef, beverages, and all the condiments.  Everything was very tasty. 
Many people on our dock stopped by for the festivities.  There were parties going on at most docks and out on the boats at anchor.  It started to sprinkle a few times as the sun was going down, but nothing to curtail the festive atmosphere.

It was a great place to be for the 4th of July.
We watched some of the music concert going on at the Mall as they broadcast it on TV, but we were really waiting for the fireworks.  Bob and I took our folding chairs and set them up on the bow of our boat.  We had the Washington Monument on one side and the Jefferson Memorial on the other.  The fireworks started promptly at 9:15 and were amazing.  I tried the “fireworks” setting on my camera.

Someone nearby was playing patriotic music while the fireworks were going off.  It was a nice touch!  There was one colorful explosion after the other next to the Washington Monument, with no pauses in between.  The finale was awesome! 
We had the best view right from the bow of our boat….and without the hastle of the crowds and traffic.  Afterwards, we just sat there with Auggie and enjoyed the evening for awhile.  People were starting to disperse and parties were breaking up. Boats were returning to their docks. It had been warm and humid all day, but now there was a slight breeze and the temp was pleasant.   We could see the skyline lit up by the Washington Monument. 
It doesn’t get any better than this!  Tomorrow our tour will take us up into the Washington Monument for a view from the top!  This is one 4th of July that I’ll never forget!  

July 5, 2011  Washington, DC (day 8)

We woke to a “cooler” day with less humidity (sure) and did our morning routine to get ready to leave for our tour of the Washington Monument.  We left the marina at 8:30 and biked over to the Mall.  There were fewer people milling around this morning, but still lots of tourists.  We had ordered our timed tickets for the tour on-line a couple of months ago, so we were good to go and did not have to stand in line.
We parked our bikes and walked up to the Monument to wait for our tour time at 9:30.  That’s me standing at the base of the Monument.
It was warm waiting in the sun and the 9:30 time didn’t come soon enough.  We went through security and got in the elevator that took us to the 500 ft. level (observation deck) in 70 seconds with spectacular views of the city.  Inside the Monument was one of only a few lifesize statues of George Washington, who we found out was over 6 ft. tall in real life.

We could look out of the windows in each direction…north, south, east, and west.  It was a clear day, so we could see forever.  (The windows could have used a little cleaning.)


We spent some time up in the Monument and then took the elevator down to the ground.  We stopped in the bookstore before picking up our bikes and heading down along the Mall.  We were headed to the National Archives. 
When we got there, we saw a very long line waiting outside the building. The signs let us know that the wait to get in to see the Declaration of Independence, among other historic things, was over 2 hours.  We decided to try another day.  We rode past the Museum of National History, the National Gallery of Art, and the Smithsonian Castle on the way back.
We also passed through the Sculpture Gallery with the amazing Temperance Fountain.  We stood there for awhile because the fountain looked so cool and refreshing.  

We rode back to the boat and sat in the AC to cool off.  It was really steamy outside.  I decided I would use the time to do some wash and Bob would walk Auggie.  It was so hot outside, that Auggie refused to go any farther after awhile and Bob had to carry him back.  I think the sidewalk was hot on his tiny little paws.  We had an early dinner and relaxed until the heat of the day subsided. Tomorrow we have an early appointment for a tour of the Pentagon and a later afternoon tour of the Supreme Court.  Our Congressional Representative from Florida left us some passes to visit the House and Senate Chambers.  We’ll stop to pick them up on the way.  Around 8:00, after it cooled off, we took a bike ride down to the Mall and up to the Washington Monument to view the sunset and see the lights of the city come on. 
The sunset was spectacular and as darkness fell, the lights of the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, and Capitol came on.  We couldn’t stay long as we wanted to because we didn’t have lights for our bikes, but there were plenty of streets lights to light the way back in the twilight.  It was a beautiful time of day to be there. 

July 6, 2011  Washington, DC (day 9)

We set the alarm again for our early morning 9:00 tour of the Pentagon.  We had to be there at 8:30 to check in at security.  Our plan was to ride our bikes, but with further investigation determined that it wouldn’t be such a good idea and the weather was calling for morning showers.  We decided to take a taxi, since riding the Metro at rush hour is more expensive.  We would take the Metro home instead.  We hopped in a cab waiting outside the hotel in front of the marina and were at the Pentagon at 8:30.  We went through security in two different locations and were inside to wait for our tour to begin in the waiting room.  It was interesting to sit there and watch everything going on.  They called for our tour at 9:00 and we went in to hear a list of the do’s and don’ts while  touring at the Pentagon.  A member of the elite Air Force Honor Guard gave us a 45 minute tour of the building and it’s history, while walking backwards the entire time.  We found out there is an entire city of services inside the building….. jewelry stores, banks, groceries, pharmacy, hospital, dentist, 12 restaurants, and more.  Who would have thought?  We got to see where the plane on 9/11 hit the Pentagon and the memorial that was set up there for those people who had died in that attack.  Unfortunately, we couldn’t take any pictures, but it was an informative and interesting tour.  We hopped on the Metro to come back to the marina as it started to rain.  The Metro let us off right at the Safeway grocery store, so we went inside to wait out the rain, have some lunch, and get a few grocery items.  We took the short 3 block walk back to the boat and by now the rain had ended.  We put away the groceries and relaxed a little, checking the weather to make sure the rain would not interfere with our 2:30 tour of the Supreme Court.  Things looked good.  About 1:15, we hopped on our bikes and rode up Capitol Hill to the Cannon House Office Building. 
We were looking for Room 221, the office of Congressman Vern Buchannan from FL.  On our way down the hall, we spotted the office of Nancy Pelosi.  Bob just had to stop for a picture.
In Room 221, we met Christina, the staff assistant to Congressman Vern Buchannan.  He is our Congressman from FL. 
She was very helpful and instrumental in setting up the majority of our tours prior to our visit in Washington.  It was fun to finally meet her after all our emails back and forth. 
We were there to get passes to visit the House and Senate Chambers.  If you remember, they were closed on Saturday when we toured the Capitol.  Christina also gave us a tour of Congressman Buchannan’s office.         
We left there to take our tour of the Supreme Court at 2:00.
We entered the Supreme Court Chambers with our tour group and listened to an intern for the Curator’s Office explain about the building, the Justices, and the history of the Supreme Court itself.  It was very interesting.  (No pictures allowed inside either.)
We walked around the visitor’s gallery to view the portraits of past Justices and the statue of the fourth Chief Justice, John Marshall. 
From there, we walked down the block to the Library of Congress.
It is an amazing building inside. Bob was totally amazed at the decadence of the interior of the Library of Congress.  He felt it was a huge waste of American taxpayer money.  He said, “No wonder the government is broke if they think they can spend this kind of money.” 
It was beautiful and breathtaking just the same.  
We went into the room that contained Thomas Jefferson’s Library collection of over 6000 books.  It was awesome.
We needed to be part of the tour to get up into the main section of the Library of Congress.  From there, we could have seen the ceiling in the dome, but we only saw the drawing of it.  We did get a look at the dome from the outside.
We left there and rode our bikes to the front side of the Capitol and the Capitol Reflecting Pool.
From the front balcony overlooking the Mall, we could see the Washington Monument.
From that side, we could also see the Ulysses S. Grant Memorial statue.  
We rode our bikes along the Mall and back to the boat.  Auggie was happy to see us.  One of his favorite things to do is sit outside and watch what’s going on.  He was able to do that while we cooled off and poured ourselves a cocktail before dinner.  Unfortunately, while we were doing that, a neighbor’s dog jumped on the boat and attacked Auggie.  Fortunately, there was a lot of barking before the dog got on and Bob was able to get there before Auggie became a dog treat.  I never saw Bob move so fast and yell so loudly.  The dog’s owner was there in a flash and had the dog off the boat immediately.  He apologized and then came back and apologized again.  No harm, but definitely a foul.  We showered and dressed for dinner.  We were going to treat ourselves to dinner at Pier 7 on the waterfront.  Dinner was fabulous and the service was great!  We walked back along the waterfront to the boat and relaxed with some TV.  Bob took Auggie for his evening walk.  Tomorrow will be our last day at the marina in Washington, DC.  We would like to wash the boat before we leave, so we’ll try and do that early before it gets too warm.  We want to visit the Senate and House Chambers and the National Archives tomorrow as well.  We’ll have a full day. 
Note:  The shoes I ordered (because Auggie chewed the old ones) arrived yesterday.  They came just in time.  Shoes look good……feet not so much.

July 7, 2011 Washington, DC (day 10)

We were able to sleep in, but still woke up at 7 AM.   We took our time with breakfast and did some Internet work.  My big task today was to wash the boat.  I started about 9 and was finished by 10:30.  Bob took over after I was done and did the cockpit.  Auggie also got a bath.  It was hot today and humid, but the breeze kept it bearable.  We hung out in the shade for most of the afternoon and around 6:00, we walked over to the plaza near the hotel where they have a Farmer’s Market on Thursday with a band.  Today’s band, playing blues and rock and roll, was very good.  We grabbed a couple of beers and sat on the lounge chairs listening to the music.  There were small stands of food and drinks for sale around the perimeter, besides the Farmer’s Market veggies and fruit.  Bill, the diver, and his girlfriend, Linda, showed up and we visited with them for awhile sharing boating “horror” stories.  We left after about an hour to go back to the boat for dinner.  The band played until 8:00 while people sat around enjoying dinner and drinks. It was nice to have a day with nothing major to do.  We were thinking about leaving tomorrow, but the weather report is calling for rain and thunderstorms most of the day.  We can wait until Saturday to move on down the river.  Tomorrow we’ll make use of our passes to the House and Senate Chambers and re-visit the National Archives.  That’s the plan anyhow….

July 8, 2011  Washington, DC (day 11)

Well, today will be our last day in DC.  The weather looks good to go for tomorrow.  The storm front moved a little slower than expected, so the rain will move in around noon today.  After having breakfast, we decided to get on over to the Senate and House Chambers, re-visit the National Archives, and get back to the boat before the rains came.  So we hopped on our bikes and rode up to Capitol Hill.  Security was heavy on the streets, around the subway, and public buildings.  We wondered what was going on today.  We entered the Capitol and used our passes get us into the House Chambers first.  After walking through a maze of hallways and passing three security checkpoints, we finally got into the House Chamber.  We sat there for awhile listening to a presentation for flood insurance reform bill.  We thought that was personally interesting since we need to have flood insurance living by the water in FL .  A few Congressman spoke…one from Iowa whose state was dealing with flooding of the rivers there.  Another Congresswoman from Sacramento, CA spoke about flooding if the levees break on the rivers in the Sacramento Delta.  A third woman spoke about the flooding from Hurricane Katrina.  It was interesting to listen to, but we wanted to check out the Senate Chamber too.  Bob was especially interested in hearing the debate on the budget reform, but the Senate was not in session today.  The Chambers were closed until the Senate resumes its deliberations on Monday at 2 PM.  Oh well, missed it again.  One out of 2 isn’t bad.  We left the Capitol and rode to the National Archives.  There was still a line with a 2 hour wait, so we skipped seeing that.  We decided to ride north on 7th St. about 3 blocks from the Mall to a retail area of shops, restaurants, and businesses.  We rode to H Street where Chinatown begins.  This arch stood over the road at the entrance to Chinatown.  
We rode around the area filled with restaurants from all different ethnic backgrounds.  The lampposts looked like Chinese lanterns and there were Chinese banners and architecture adorning the buildings.
We saw a sign that took us to the Ford Theater where Lincoln was shot on April 15, 1865.  People were lined up to buy tickets to take a tour and go inside.
Across the street stood the house where Lincoln died.  They took him from the theater to this house after the fatal shooting by John Wilkes Booth.
We left there and rode to an area where they had the streets closed off in front of the Verizon Centre.  Bob asked two of the police officers who were standing there, what all the commotion and added security was about.  They said the Dali Lama was coming to the Verizon Centre this afternoon and they always close off the streets here because of all the traffic in the area.  Oh……….now it makes sense.  We rode a little farther to a street bazaar in Chinatown.  It was filled with vendors selling items from Tibet and other Asian countries. 
We decided to stop for a quick lunch at Fuddruckers.  We haven’t been to a Fuddruckers since living in Milwaukee, so we just had to go back and have one of their famous, delicious burgers.  I know…….a burger in Chinatown….. what can I say?  They didn’t disappoint, but they didn’t have the AC on in the restaurant, so we didn’t hang around there long.  Besides, it was getting close to the time that the storms were supposed to arrive. We quickly walked around the corner to check out this old building…the Greater New Hope Baptist Church.  It looked as if the steeples were hit by lightning or the building is somewhat in disrepair.
Our ride took us past the St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, built in 1794.  It was a beautiful building with a gorgeous entrance.  St. Patrick’s is the oldest parish in Washington, DC and was built to minister to the needs of the stonemasons who were building the White House and Capitol. 
As we rode back, we noticed that the sky was dark to the east and the air was feeling cooler.  Something was coming.  We got back to the marina and readied things for the rain.  I took Auggie for a walk and he took his usual afternoon nap.  That dog can sleep anywhere! 
We listened to the weather on TV and they were predicting the heavy rain/severe thunderstorms/wind gusts to arrive around 4:00 and last until 9:00.  Bob worked on renewing our boat insurance and flood insurance for the house while we waited for the storm.  The skies turned dark over the city and we had a short rain shower around 3:00, but it didn’t last long.  The winds picked up and the boat was rocking a little in the slip. We had dinner and watched some TV…the last we’ll see for quite awhile.  We walked Auggie and went to bed early to get an early start tomorrow.

July 9, 2011  Washington, DC to Mattawoman Creek

We set the alarm for 7 AM, just in case.  Bob woke up at 6 AM and I woke up around 6:30.  We turned off the alarm and made preparations to leave.  After getting the boat ready and turning in our gate keys (we already paid the bill yesterday), we were ready to go.  We said goodbye to our dockmates, who helped us with our lines and were on way at 7:45.  It was sunny and cooler than yesterday morning.  We did get some rain around suppertime yesterday, but nothing after that, and not anything near what they predicted.  Other areas got heavy rains and flooding, but not DC.  There was a light breeze blowing and we would be going with the tide, so that would help with our gas mileage.  We still had to be very cautious about logs and debris in the river, especially after the rain yesterday.  It was sad to say goodbye to the city.  This was our view as we left the marina.
We had such a good time and saw so many wonderful things in just 11 days…..and what a great 4th of July!  Lots of good memories to last us a lifetime.  We think we put about 25-30 miles on our bikes with all the riding we did.  Those bikes sure came in handy!  There were lots of fishermen on the river today…..of course, it’s Saturday!  We traveled at 10.8 mph down the river to Mt. Vernon, arriving there at 9:30.  We dropped anchor just off the pier at the Wharf.
We dinghied to shore, bought our tickets (got the Senior discount), and made the steep climb up to the Mt. Vernon mansion. 
The mansion was our first stop!  The interior has been meticulously restored based on a 1799 inventory taken at the time of Washington’s death.  We arrived just before the big tour boat, The Spirit of Mt. Vernon, so that was good.  We started our visit by touring the mansion, room by room (no cameras allowed).  Each room had a guide to explain the items in the room and how the room was used. There are 9 bedrooms on three floors.  It is the largest and most fully restored estate that we’ve seen.  He decorated his home to reflect his wealth, interests, and technology with the latest innovations.  He was farming 4000 acres with over 300 slaves to work the farm, gardens, distillery, gristmill, orchards, and tend to the house and the people in it.  He was a pioneer in so many ways.  
The view of the Potomac River from the porch, high on the hill, was spectacular.

From there, we toured the “out-buildings” such as the Salt House, where the supply of salt was kept and the Blacksmith Shop.
We viewed the Smokehouse and the Kitchen.  
I just had to visit the Paddock and Stable where 2 horses and a mule were kept.  
We also saw some free-range sheep roaming on the premises.  One of the most interesting parts of the tour to me were the Slave Quarters…..one building for the men and one for the women…..and the work they did on the farm.
                       There was a guide dressed as a “house slave” who was describing her life as a slave in the “first-person”.  She was very interesting!  One visitor asked her if the Washingtons ever swam in the river.  She said, “Heck no, they ain’t Indians.”  
We had to check out the “Necessary”, as it was called.  It was an outdoor privy….a three-seater.
Our last stop was Washington’s Tomb, where he, Martha, and other family members are buried.  Washington died in his bedchamber at Mt. Vernon on December 14, 1799.
Just a short distance from the tomb, stood a very interesting tree….with white seed pods about the size of my fist or larger.  The guide told us it was a Cedar of Lebanon tree, planted in 1899.  That makes it 112 years old.  Unbelievable! 
We walked back down to the Wharf to pick up our dinghy at 11:00.  It was a short tour, but we hit the highlights.  We were lucky to come when we did because after the tour boat arrived the crowds got larger and people had to wait in line for a tour of the mansion. 
We were on our way by 11:15, so I made  us some lunch for our ride south to our anchorage for the night at Mattawoman Creek.  The Potomac River was busy with pleasure and fishing boats.  It was warm with temps in the upper 80’s.  We couldn’t feel a breeze since we were traveling with the wind, so it was nice to have our canvas cover over the cockpit for some shade.  We arrived in Mattawoman Creek at 1:00 after 29.8 miles, dropped anchor, and were resting comfortably in the shade of the cabin with the hatches open and a breeze blowing. 
We wasted away the afternoon listening to music and playing Cribbage.  Bob came away from 3 matches as the champion. (I think he cheats.)  We made some phone calls to family and waited for things to cool off before going to shore with Auggie.  After supper, we took Auggie for a dinghy ride to shore and walked in the state park.  He enjoyed the time to run and sniff.  We came back to the boat to do the dishes and turn on the AC awhile before bed.  The sun was going down and there were a few other boats that were spending the night with us.  We relaxed in the AC until darkness fell and then we called it a day.