I love taking and giving tours. I like learning about new things, and learning new trivia about things I already know about. In another lifetime, I would love to own a tour company, and spend my life sharing the fun stuff I learn about in my travels. Until that time, however, I must continue sharing my fun adventures here. One of my favorite (and least favorite) things about sharing things via blog, however, is that pictures rarely capture of the beauty of the places I've been. I wish I could take everyone with me everywhere so they could see these places with their own eyes! Alas, I am forced to share my perspective with digital pictures from my low-rent camera. It's not a bad camera, but it's far from professional. Sigh.
So why go into this tirade about pictures and my camera? Well, one of the most exciting things I did during my trip to Washington, DC last month was take a moonlight tour. The tour, appropriately called Monuments by Moonlight, was arranged by the industry association I was traveling with, and was a steal at $15/person. It took us around DC to visit many of the famed monuments, memorials, and building that are best viewed in the dark of night. Along the way, we learned fun facts about the famed locations, including ghost stories, political gossip, and more. It was a lot of fun! That being said, taking pictures at night with a point-and-shoot camera is a bit of a challenge. I did catch a few good ones, though, and thought I'd share them here.
We started our tour at our hotel, winding our way to Capitol Hill to catch the Capitol at dusk. The Capitol building was one of my favorite buildings in all of DC, second really only to the Library of Congress. The architecture is stunning, and the tour guide was correct - it really is best viewed in the pink glow of dusk. There is a lot to talk about when describing the Capitol building, but I'll leave that for another post (with more pictures).
The second stop on our whirlwind tour was at the National World War II Memorial. As impressive as this memorial was during the day, I was still amazed by it at night! The World War II Memorial is located at the end of the Reflection Pool that lies ahead of the Lincoln Memorial. It is also directly across the street from the Washington Monument. The picture above was the view I had as I left the bus. The sky was still light, but the sun had set... isn't this gorgeous?
As I walked down into the World War II Memorial itself, I found that the fountain and the 56 columns were all illuminated for the night. There are no words for how beautiful and peaceful this was...
Not far away in the distance, we could easily view the Jefferson Memorial. Located directly south of the White House, the Thomas Jefferson Memorial was constructed in 1943 to honor our nation's third president (the bronze statue of Jefferson held within was not added until years later). Our 32nd President, Franklin Roosevelt, selected Jefferson to be honored with the monument, and also selected the winning architectural submission, laid the cornerstone, and dedicated it on the 200th anniversary of Jefferson's birth. The site of the monument was subject to huge debate at the time - it required the removal of several cherry blossom trees that had been given to the city by the citizens of Tokyo just a few decades before. We were supposed to visit the monument, but our driver got lost in a detour and I never made it to the site. I will definitely include it in my next visit - I would love to see it up close!
From the World War II Memorial, we headed towards the Korean War Memorial. The emotion I described in my last post about this memorial was amplified in the dark of night. The 19 soldier statues seemed to almost appear up from the ground like ghosts... their hollow eyes seemingly coming to life. It was incredibly moving.
The images in the high gloss granite walls, however, seemingly disappeared under the cloak of night. Only when others took pictures could you see the thousands of faces emerge from the wall - each one a ghost of a different era. When visitors looked at the faces with a flashlight at night, it was their face that appeared to be more ghostlike. It was a very interesting phenomena. The tour guide pointed out one face of note in particular I had not noticed in my previous visit (not pictured above) - the face of Alan Alda, an actor from the television show M.A.S.H. Alan helped spearhead the fundraising for the memorial, and is prominently etched on to the wall. (I took a picture, but sadly, it came out really blurry.)
From the Korean War Memorial, we headed uphill to the Lincoln Memorial. While I thought this was a beautiful monument in the daylight, at night it was simply stunning! Hundreds of people gathered in front of the monument with their cameras, many of them with tripods. The light is vibrant, but still difficult to capture with even the best of cameras. I took several pictures, settling on the above to share with you.
The interior of the Lincoln Memorial, in my opinion, should only ever be viewed at night. The inscriptions seemed to carry more weight, more importance, under the glow of the soft spotlights. Lincoln looked more regal too - I really liked how the inscription above his head appeared almost like a halo or crown in this picture. I can see why so many people flock to this monument. It's truly inspiring, and gives me hope that we'll one day overcome the challenges of today.
Following out tour around the Lincoln Memorial, we headed down towards the Vietnam Memorial. Of all the memorials, that is the only not worth going to at night. It is lit, but the lighting is very dim and make it nearly impossible to see the monument. Likewise, the sets of statues that flank either end of the monument are difficult to see.
The last picture I took of the evening was the above picture of the Washington Monument. As I mentioned in my last post, the monument is currently undergoing repair due to damage it incurred during an earthquake in 2011. I'm not sure if the scaffolding affected the lighting much as I never saw it pre-scaffolding, but the pictures I've seen of the memorial after they added additional lighting are spectacular! Another thing I want to go back and visit during my next trip back east.
If you're ever in DC, make sure to book one of the many moonlight tours. It was definitely worth the money, and I would have gladly paid more for a longer tour. Hope you enjoyed the pictures!
Until next time...