Saturday, March 21, 2009

George Mason visit - final day and final thoughts

Having traipsed around Washington, DC for the last couple of days, for our final day we decided to do something different. Part of this was dictated by having a hard stop on our activities, since we had a plane to catch. After some discussion, we ended up heading down to Mount Vernon.

Mount Vernon, located south of Alexandria, VA on the banks of the Potomac River is of course George Washington's estate and final resting place. The estate was purchased from Washington's great-grandnephew, John A. Washington, Jr., in 1858 by the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association of the Union. The house and grounds had fallen in to a state of disrepair by that time. During the Civil War, despite fighting all around it, Mount Vernon was treated as neutral ground. See the Wikipedia article for an extended history.

I confess, though this was my suggestion, I thought it might end up being a bit of a bore. Not so.

The main estate has been thoroughly restored, with lots of information posted throughout. Guided tours are conducted through the residence, led by well-informed volunteers. While much was made of Washington's political life, his life and accomplishments as a farmer were also extensively documented, and indeed, Mount Vernon can be seen as a excellent example of a large Colonial era working farm. Washington's tomb is also on the grounds.

The information centers had educational exhibits focusing on the life and times of Washington that rivaled anything I saw at the Smithsonian. I'd definitely recommend anyone add it to their itinerary when in the DC area.

Random thoughts upon returning home

We did a lot of stuff, and there was a lot more we didn't do (we'll be back though).

  • Didn't make it to the White House. Next time hopefully
  • Didn't make it inside the Capitol building. Again, next time hopefully
  • Didn't make it to the National Air and Space Museum Udvar-Hazy Center. Again, next time hopefully
  • Not a single art gallery. This was a concession to others in my group.
Here's a few thoughts that didn't seem to fit anywhere else.
  • Buying a 1 day Metro Pass is the smartest purchase you'll ever make. That and a pair of good walking shoes.
  • The bookstore at the Lincoln Memorial is the smallest, most claustrophobic space I was in the whole trip. About the size of 3 phone booths back to back.
  • I was a block from the Founding Church of Scientology, enjoying a martini and just didn't make it by. One of the best damn martinis I've ever had.
  • Fairfax has the best, cheap Indian food I've had in a long time.

Since we'll have a student in the area soon, hopefully the omissions we made this trip will be filled.


The Whited Sepulchre said...

I've got to get up there sometime soon. Great pics.

Dr Ralph said...

I highly recommend it. More pics on my (undisclosed) Facebook page.