Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Day three, The United States Capitol

On the third day my allergies kicked in and I was really starting to feel crummy but I had a date to meet Katy at her office in the Sam Rayburn office building.  Her boss was out of town so she had some time free to give me a personal tour of the Capitol--and I wasn't going to miss it.

I did not have any trouble navigating the Metro--I was already a seasoned rider.  And it brought me to within two blocks of the Capitol.

As Katy and I traversed the underground halls to the Capitol I learned that each state has its seal and flag mounted on the wall.  Like kids in a family--if one state gets a flag or a seal or a statue then the other 49 will get one too. You can't play favorites or someone's feelings will get hurt.

   The building was every bit as impressive as anything I had seen in Italy

I wanted to stop and look at every detail but it soon became clear that I would have been there all day if I had.

Here is the "Hall of Columns" where each state selected a statue to stand between the columns.

The Old Supreme Court Chamber is no longer used because it  is too small.  But it is open for viewing as a museum piece with all the original desks and benches.

The center dome of the Rotunda is called "The Apotheosis of Washington" and was painted by Constantino Brumidi in 1865.  Brumidi was born and raised in Rome and painted some for the Vatican before emigrating to the US.  These figures in his painting are 15 feet tall and are over 180 feet above my head.

I was able to get a few pictures before the security guard told me to put my camera away.

Well, that's probably a good idea or I would have taken pictures of all 50 statues and you would have to look at all of them.

This is the little subway that carries congressmen from the Rayburn building to the Capitol.

I sat in the House Chamber (third row on the Democrat's side of the aisle) and saw where the President stands for his "State of the Union" address.  Also, I saw where the first lady sits and where the House Majority leader and Vice President sit during the speech.  Katy did a great job explaining how votes are taken and told me a lot of the 'inside machinations' that occur when something big is coming up for a vote.  Now I have a new perspective when next I watch CSpan.

Thanks Katy for a great tour.  Maybe I'll see you again when I get to Minnesota.

As I left the building I noticed this metal plate rise up out of the intersection of the road after those cars entered. And as I walked along the street I saw more of those metal plates and realized that traffic around the mall was very regulated and the plates provided an efficient way to keep cars away from an area. Every building has a metal detector at the door, bags and purses are checked and security guards are everywhere. All are signs of the changes since 9/11.   I think the oddest of all must be the 'evacuation route' out of Washington.  It is well marked with signs all along the way--however the streets are very narrow, congested and at no time did I travel on one faster then 10 MPH.  If the city really did need to evacuate I am afraid it would be bedlam.

Another battle scene.  See the poor guy on the ground about to get trampled by the horse. 

Ulysses S. Grant

Just another view of the Capitol

US Supreme Court Building

Library of Congress

By this point I was really feeling sick.  My diagnosis was a sinus infection brought on by rampant allergies.  The cure: two days in bed with chicken soup and a tea with lemon and honey.  And Sigh Me to keep my spirits up.


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