Monday, October 10, 2011

Trip to Washington DC - Day Three

We spent the first half of our day today at Mount Vernon (not far from our hotel).  What a BEAUTIFUL piece of land!  It was so relaxing and peaceful there.  It was acres and acres of lush, green, very manicured and well kept land.   There were lots of gardens, forested area, and beautiful paths to walk along in the cool of the morning.  When you enter there are lots of people in period clothing giving tours or even working the fields.

Our first stop here was at the mansion where George and Martha Washington lived.  I was not allowed to take pictures inside the mansion, but what an amazing tour!  To see the bed our first President slept in, the desk he worked at, the dishes he ate was really neat!

The building to the right of the mansion was a kitchen area.

This is the back porch of the Mansion.  The hill the house sits on slopes gently down to the Potomac River.  It was such a peaceful and magnificent view.

This is the kitchen area in the building to the right of the Mansion in the previous picture.

This is another view from the grassy area just off the back porch of the Mansion.  That's Bryan, Morgan, Colton, and Kyle in this picture.

Looking back at the back porch of the Mansion...

The Wharf on the Potomac River that George Washington used to support his farming and fishing activities.

This was part of the farm.

Straight ahead here is the Trestle Barn...

The Treading Barn was a 16-sided barn Washington designed to keep wheat clan and safe from weather.  How did the 16-sided barn work, and why did George Washington see a need for it? Traditionally, wheat was threshed by hand. After harvesting, workers would undertake the slow and backbreaking process of beating the wheat with a flail to break the grain out of the straw. Alternatively, wheat was sometimes "treaded out," or trampled by horses, on open ground. Although this second method was more efficient than the first, it had the disadvantage of being highly unsanitary – in that dirt and horse excrement would become mixed in with the grain. Further, with both methods, the grain would be exposed to the vicissitudes of weather throughout the threshing process. So in order to operate more efficiently, reduce loss, and improve the quality of his grain, Washington decided to move the treading process indoors.  

A 12-foot-wide oak threshing lane encircled the center section. Horses would run around and around within the lane, treading the grain out of the wheat. A farm worker was present to make sure that the horses did not stop running, because horses do not urinate or defecate while they are running. Washington designed the flooring for the barn's treading level so that there were 1 1/2 inch gaps between the floorboards. As the horses treaded out the grain from the straw, the grain fell between the gaps to the first floor, where it was gathered up and stored until being taken to the gristmill to be ground into flour.

This is the Tomb of George and Martha Washington...

Here is the marble casket containing George Washington...

and here is Martha's...

We spent the rest of our time wandering through several beautifully manicured gardens and taking a walk on a pathway through the forest here.  On our way out we stopped for one last shot of the mansion (and the two cuties in front of it).

After Mount Vernon we returned our rental car and took the subway as our transportation for the remainder of our trip.  The kids thought that was a blast!  It was very clean and felt very safe.  We really enjoyed it.

So our first trip on the subway brought us out near the White House where we ate at a nearby Subway.  Then it was on to the National Archives.

The National Archives was another spot where I was DYING to take pictures but alas, it was not allowed.  This was where we were able to see the original Declaration of Independence, the original Bill of Rights, and the original Constitution.  Those were the highlights, but there were many other really neat things to see here.  The exhibits included telegrams from Abraham Lincoln to his generals, audio recordings from the Oval Office, letter to Elvis Presley from his fans (one of them begging him not to cut his hair when he went into the funny!), letters to the President, citations for military bravery, handwritten letters from George Washington.

At the gift shop our kids all purchased reproduction of the Declaration and Constitution.  Mark and I purchased the larger ones to display in our home, and I found a couple of really fun cookbooks (surprise surprise).  One is written by the former chef to the White House and has lots of really fun inside stories.  The other contains recipes from all the different President's and their family members starting with George Washington.  Fun!

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