Our final stop this trip, and the whole raison d’être for this journey, was where it began—Washington, D.C. As you’ll recall, I was asked to go to Capitol Hill to assist the National Air Traffic Controllers Association with their congressional visits this year. In all, I visited with staffers from four congressional offices and with one real, live congressman—my very own representative, Congressman Sylvestre Reyes from Texas’ 16th Congressional District. But more on that boring stuff in a later blog. Let’s get down to the fun stuff.
You simply cannot go to Washington and get the most out of your visit without a camera. There are simply far too many photo opportunities in such a relatively small area. Of instance, since I was up on Capitol Hill, I took a bunch of photographs related to that one feature. And if you’re in front of the Capitol, you’re also in line with the National Mall and the Washington Monument that anchors the Mall at the end opposite of the Capitol.
Running along both sides of the National Mall are various venues of the Smithsonian Institution. So, while I was visiting various congressional offices, Ursula and my oldest daughter, MSgt Cherry Fleming (USAF), made the rounds not only at the Museum of Natural History (and, no, dear, I’m not buying for you the Hope Diamond . . . it’s cursed), but also the Vietnam, Korean, and World War II Memorials and the memorials for Presidents Lincoln and Jefferson. Unfortunately, I was unable to accompany them and produce a photographic record of their adventures.
That’s not to say I didn’t also enjoy a little sightseeing. After my visits were over, and Cherry left us to report back to work, Ursula and I visited two of my favorites—the National Gallery of Art and the National Air and Space Museum (hey, I am a former air traffic controller, remember?)
Unfortunately, the National Art Gallery is a bit touchy about photographing their exhibits, so my pictures there were limited to architectural items of interest. That’s really unfortunate, because on this trip we got to see the incredible Chester Dale Collection of impressionist and modern works, a fantastic Paul Gauguin exhibit (Gauguin: Maker of Myth), and an unbelievable collection of 18th Century Venetian landscapists (Venice: Canaletto and His Rivals) including the incomparable works of Canaletto, his equally talented nephew Bernardo Belloto, and other contemporaries.
Luckily, there are no such prohibitions on photography in the National Air and Space Museum, so I got to go a little nuts with some shots that really cried out for some creative cropping.
We were finished with our museum tour when disaster struck. American Airlines texted Ursula with the news that our flight was cancelled, “ . . . due to weather.” Now, here’s why I hate flying nowadays. Weather? There was no weather in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, where we were to change planes for El Paso. The weather was the day before the cancellation. It was now an equipment delay, as American was still checking over their aircraft for hail damage. But if they blame the weather, they get out of paying for your unscheduled stay.
Note: Nice try, American, but you haven’t heard the last on that one. Using your definition of a “weather delay,” you could deny reimbursement months after any weather incident that damaged an aircraft enough to take it out of service. You really think that’s going to fly (pardon the pun) when I file my complaint with DoT?
Thus, after securing following day accommodations on Delta (another long story, but the short version is that American “reserved” us on a Delta flight that they knew to be overbooked just to get us away from the counter), we took more reasonable accommodations in Alexandria. The hotel staff uniformly raved about a restaurant called Clyde’s, and even shuttled us over there for dinner. Well, all I can say is, this dinner almost made up for the American Airlines debacle. Almost, American, but not quite . . . especially as you guys didn’t even spring for dinner because of your equipment problems.
So, here we go. Pictures of everything from Capitol Hill to the Washington Monument and lots in between, followed by a pictorial tour of Clydes. Enjoy: