Saturday, July 6, 2013

Mr. Tiny Goes to Washington

I had every intention of publishing a patriotic post for the 4th of July, but in preparing for the big day I was all consumed by shopping, cooking, and cleaning.  In the battle for independence, America was the victor.  In the battle for holiday precedence, hot dogs won the day.

It would have been entirely apropos for me to post this in a timely manner; after all, what better way to celebrate the independence of the United States of America than by visiting its capitol, Washington, D.C.?  As much as I wish Jean Arthur was there, I'm glad that I was able to visit as a tourist rather than a pawn in the corrupt machinations of corpo-political graft a la Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.  Nevertheless, I did feel a bit of Frank Capra's dichotomous reverence and revulsion for the workings of our political system as I wandered the busy streets of my nation's capitol (for the very first time) looking for the wacky tacky.

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)

I know that there is much more to be seen than we were able to accomplish in just two days but we really got a solid primer of Washington, D.C. thanks to some last minute planning and a good friend.


The first stop on our whirlwind tour was actually outside of the city at the home of none other than George Washington, Mt. Vernon.  Nestled along the banks of the Potomac River, this country estate really did offer a view into the life of our first president and into early America.  Sadly, visitors are not allowed to take photos of the home's fascinating interior but images can be viewed here.

Mt. Vernon's Neoclassical facade was actually achieved through a technique called "rustication" (chiseling, painting, and applying pulverized sandstone to standard wooden siding to give the appearance of stone blocks)....seems like a lot of work.

A view from George & Martha's back porch

Mr. Tiny makes like Mr. President

Mt. Vernon Travel Tip:  The docents don't like when tour guests make reference to George Washington's flatulence when viewing his private bed chamber.  Nor do they like it when tour guests say, "Bye-bye, have fun at the glue factory," to a small herd of goats that have just been loaded up into a cart.

It goes without saying that the history and grandeur of Mt. Vernon were
built on the backs of slave laborers.  We saw where George Washington was
originally entombed and his current resting place; the most hallowed ground,
 however, was the plot of land filled with the unmarked graves of Mt. Vernon
 slaves.  As we stood there thinking about the troubling realities of American
 history, this turtle emerged from the graveyard - spooky and thrilling!!!

Since we were in the area, we also saw another historic home with presidential
provenance.  This is the house in which my mother spent her high school days.
The car port on the left was built by my grandfather using lumber reclaimed
from the platforms used at LBJ's inauguration.


It was kind of a progressive, presidential real estate tour.


When I asked for recommendations on what to do in D.C., overwhelmingly the response was "The Smithsonian."  The Smithsonian Institution is comprised of many museums, galleries, and research centers so one could ostensibly spend many days in the exclusive pursuit of seeing each and every one of those facilities; we couldn't afford that luxury.  We did happen to be in town on the best possible day as the three museums (American History, Natural History, Portrait Gallery) that I had to visit were open late.  Gladly, we made it to all three.
A portrait of famous abolitionist, John Brown.
This looks a little too close to some of my
 immediate family members for comfort!

Beyond Kermit and Julia Child's kitchen, I had no idea what I'd be seeing at the
American History Museum.  Other visitors had no idea that the squeal I let out upon
seeing the fritillaries cape from Now Voyager from across the room was emanating
 from a grown man.  What can I say?  I love Hollywood history...and Frito's!!!

Some people want to meet the man who put the "Bop" in the
"Bop-shoo-bop."  I want to meet whomever signed off on this
stunning interpretation of wildlife - spread-eagle, giraffe taxidermy!

Mr. Tiny as ancient man...and wife.


One of our oldest family friends works as a political advisor for a senator and she arranged a private tour of the Capitol Building for our ragtag bunch.

The Capitol Dome

The Capitol Building is beautiful and full of history but the most awesome part of our visit
 was the opportunity to ride in the underground subway/trolley reserved for senators
 (pages, interns, advisors, etc.) to get to and from their offices and Capitol Hill.

Corny cornice???
Technically, it is the "capital" but cornice sounds better, doesn't it?

"Dome" seems to be the operative word; they're everywhere!

Inside the Capitol Dome
It is interesting to recognize the inherent religious symbolism and the effort to deify George Washington.


My favorite part of the trip to Washington, D.C. and the moment I felt closest to Jimmy Stewart's character was visiting Abraham Lincoln.  Maybe I was getting overly dramatic but it became clear that this memorial was a place of redemption, a reminder that even great wrongs can be made right.  It was a place to acknowledge that every life has meaning. 

Mr. Lincoln & Mr. Tiny
I'm not too proud to say that I got a little (if altogether unexpectedly) weepy upon
meeting Mr. Lincoln.  I'm sure it is some combination of "Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln"
being one of my favorite attractions at Disneyland, the fact that Lincoln is one of America's most
venerated presidents, and my admiration for a man who used his life with real and significant

It wasn't all solemnity though.
This blurry photograph is to show the Lincoln Memorial's incredible, if unintentional, marble slide.
Did I have to shove a few kids out of the way to get a turn?  Yes.
After seeing me slide down at lightning speed only to fall off the end
and land on my butt, did a mother run over to see if I was okay?  Yes.
Did I walk a little funny for the rest of my trip?  Uh-huh.
Was I going to let an opportunity to desecrate the monument pass me by?  No way.
Would I do it again?  You betcha.  FUN!!! 

I loved this place!

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
Filibuster Scene

We saw so much in the short time we had in Washington that we left feeling nearly as exhausted as Jefferson Smith in the waning moments of his filibuster.  Yet we'd still love the chance to return with more time and a better idea of the cool neighborhoods and surrounding areas.

When someone offers you the opportunity to sit in the lap of a genius, you'd be awful dumb to pass it up!!!

Have you ever been to Washington, D.C.?  What was your favorite part?  What did we miss?  I hope you had an awesome 4th of July whether you are a U.S. citizen or not!


Mr. Tiny


  1. My husband took me there 4 years ago when I was 3 months pregnant and morning sickness lasted all day. We walked EVERYWHERE that day, and we went to all the usual spots but finished up with the WW2 Memorial. Keep in mind the miles of walking a miserably pregnant woman was forced to do and keep an open mind as I tell you I sat at the end of the fountain there and dipped my feet in as I thanked God for the cool relief. Not five seconds later my husband yanked me up and shouted about disrespecting veterans who made it possible for me to feel so miserable that summers day. We were to go back this year but being pregnant again my husband didn't want to risk me shaming him again.

    1. Yes, it is definitely a walking town and we put a lot of miles on the old shoe leather! I can only imagine the agony of having to do it while pregnant!!! I don't think it was disrespectful; I think that is a very American perspective - "Look but don't touch." Fountains, ponds, etc. should have a practical element to them as well. I'm sure chivalrous veterans would do their best to accommodate the needs of a pregnant woman.

  2. Hi Chris!!! How are you?
    You travel a lot lately!
    We was in Washington in 2000, what we love the most was SMITHSONIAN muséums of course! US muséums are more fun that european often boring ones....
    What did we do for the 4th july... absolutly nothing!!! We are waiting for our 14th july, french national day.

    1. Bonjour! I guess I have been traveling a lot lately - and I love it. I love exploring places that I have never been before and there are so many places within the US that I have yet to see. I hope we can travel abroad soon as well. I hope you and Sylvain have a wonderful 14 July!!

  3. You oughta read "The Secret Zodiacs of Washington DC" by David Ovason; it actually made me LONG to visit Washington DC! All the secret Masonic symbolism tucked away around DC that makes the book read like a Dan Brown novel! I would also like to take a whole week just to visit the Smithsonian, as well.

    Here's a little American tidbit re that column with the corn on it: America was literally built on two things: corn and TOBACCO. There is also a column around there carved with TOBACCO leaves. It is also a fact that I am the direct descendant of the man who established the first commercial tobacco plantation in North a side note , he ALSO married Pocahontas; his name was John Rolfe. It is kind of weird to think about the historical facts of the establishment of America and think that one has a 'living" connection to it in one's very DNA; it is also a weird fact that I have other ancestors who were Loyalists i.e. they were loyal to the British monarchy and opposed all attempts to secede from England; so much so that our family branch still has the right to sign "U.E.L." (United Empire Loyalist) after their names.

    1. Speaking of corn, it is probably the corniest, most inaccurate version of revised history, but I love The National Treasures movies. I love the dea of all the hidden (and not so hidden) symbolism. It would be great to do a tour of D.C. from that perspective.

  4. Mr. Tiny!

    What a wonderful post! I have been really enjoying your trip (LOL) and hope you take me/us on another one soon! Seriously, this has been a real treat reading along with your adventures...while I am stuck here in a veritable hell of heat and isolation in Phoenix. I look forward so much to your posts! :-)


    1. At least it's a dry heat, right?! Hahahahaha!!! I'm so glad that you're enjoying the posts; there are plenty more! Thanks!

  5. It was a great trip! We saw a ton in those two days. I was grateful to see our nation's capitol and appreciate all the history there. All the walking kicked my butt and the humidity was crazy. Wish we could have spent more time there. There is so much to see. Your blog definitely highlighted all the great things we did. Come back and we will do another DC trip and see some different stuff. But, I have to say my favorite trip moment is when Patrick stood up at the end of the George Washington movie and yelled: "I love Washington." He still talks about George Washington like they are playdate buddies. Haha! Good times in the DC!

    1. That was the best when he jumped up and expressed his love for our most illustrious founding father!!! I miss him so much already - even when he is being a huge, albeit patriotic, stinker!!!

  6. Is it bad that the best part of reading this post was seeing Bette's cap from Now, Voyager?! I think I would have broken the glass, grabbed it and ran. I'd wear it in jail. Fabulous!

    1. They also had her outfit from Dark Victory - the little collegiate beanie that she wears after having brain surgery. Move over Declaration of Independence; I've got Hollywood history to discover!!!

  7. how fun! i want to visit washington! i went in 8th grade as a school trip but i remember more about the drama on the bus and getting to stay in a hotel room without my mom than anything we actually saw.
    we had one hour to look around the smithsonian. which is INSANE and I ran around trying to find the set of M*A*S*H but couldn't. it was in my M*A*S*H book but i guess it wasn't important anymore by the time i was there.

    1. You know, I don't think I saw anything M*A*S*H* related. I think they're trying to gloss over Vietnam thinly-veiled as the Korean War part of US history. The museum was much more focused on Julia Child and the inauguration gowns of the first ladies! We had about 4.5 hours at the Smithsonian and we barely saw anything!! You must go back!