Monday, April 25, 2011

April Adventures

Since the last post, April took off with a flying start and was a very busy, final month in DC. One of my friends from New York City came down to DC for the Cherry Blossom Festival. Luckily, there were still enough blossoms outside. We spent the weekend seeing all the different memorials and went to Tidal Basin area twice to see the blossoms. There was also a kite festival taking place on the National Mall by the Washington Monument.

On the final day that we went to Tidal Basin, we stopped by the Jefferson memorial. We happened to be there at the right time on the one not-rainy day that weekend, and there was a group setting up for a wedding. There were two guys with guitars under trees outside waiting for it to start. Because the bride and groom are not supposed to see each other that day until they are at the altar, the wedding party had set a privacy screen and a tiny plastic chair outside for the bride to stay behind until the wedding started.

On Tuesday, April 12, our Farsi conversation class decided to go to the E Street Cinema to catch one of the Iranian films playing in the Film Festival that month. We ended up seeing "Dog Sweat." It was a pretty interesting and well-made film. And definitely better than sitting in a classroom.

That Saturday, the weather was raining again, so I went to the one place that I knew was guaranteed to have good weather - the Botanical Gardens. The rooms there are very cool, especially the Jungle Exhibit. The jungle room has a tropical rain forest in it, and there is a catwalk up above so that you can walk around the perimeter of the exhibit at the canopy level and look down. From the Gardens, I went to walk around the Capitol Building and spent a bit of time in the Library of Congress. Now that I've got my nifty LOC library card, I was able to get inside the Thomas Jefferson main reading room through underground tunnels and get into the room's alcoves. It's pretty much the closest thing to a Beauty and the Beast library that I've seen in real life. I want it.

On Sunday, April 17, I met my cousin and we drove to the National Arboretum. It is so beautiful and there are very nice trails for walking, biking, and driving. There is a bonsai tree museum part that has trees from the late 1800s. There is also what looks like a temple sitting on the grassy hill. Those columns are actually from the portico of the Capitol Building that was taken down in 1958 in order to make the expansions on the building. The reflecting pool in front of the columns in the National Arboretum is made of marble taken from the old wall of the Senate wing of the Capitol Building when renovations were being made.After spending some time both walking and driving around the National Arboretum, we made our way over to Annapolis, Maryland. We crossed the 5 mile long Bay Bridge over the Chesapeake Bay to get a view of the water and then turned around and headed straight into downtown Annapolis. Our first stop was a quaint ice cream shop downtown by the marina and Naval Academy. We walked around the marina area for a little bit and found a statue of Alex Haley, author of Roots.
We then walked into the US Naval Academy (USNA) and strolled around the campus. We walked around past the really nice houses that are homes to the families of the Deans of the USNA. Past this area, the USNA has a gorgeous chapel and a huge courtyard that has a statue of the figurehead of the USS Delaware.
The USS Delaware was one of the first ships that the US Navy built. It was scuttled by Union troops during the Civil War to prevent the Confederate Army from using it. When the Union soldiers returned to the wreckage, they found that the ship's wooden figurehead had survived completely intact. The bronze cast statue of the figurehead is now a good luck symbol for students come exam time.On our way out of Annapolis, we passed St. Johns College. It was originally named King William's School, founded in 1696 in the Maryland colony, and officially chartered in 1784. It is obvious that the area surrounding this school is pretty old itself by the architectural styles of the houses and the narrow streets. We also passed the Maryland state capitol building, which apparently is pretty cool. If I get a chance to go back to Annapolis, then I will have to make sure to visit these places.


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