Probably more exciting for James than all of the memorials in Washington combined were the squirrels that inhabited the trees between them. On our way to the Lincoln Memorial, he stopped me, surreptitiously pulled out my camera, and tiptoed over to the base of a tree, where he frantically tried to take pictures before the squirrel got spooked and ran away. I laughed at him, but then again, he laughed at me when I wanted to go see kangaroos, since they aren’t native to my country, just like squirrels aren’t native to his. By the end of the day, though, this obsession had passed, which was unfortunate, given the number of squirrels at my university that will literally walk up and steal food out of your hands (or hide behind trees and chatter as they chuck acorns at you).
When we reached the Lincoln Memorial, we were surprised to see that the Washington Monument was actually reflecting in the Reflecting Pool. It probably hadn’t been earlier, but the rain had finally stopped and the clouds had gotten a little less gray. We did what had become routine by this point—I took a picture of him, he took a picture of me, then we took a picture together—on the steps. After walking up those steps and James realizing that Lincoln was really quite a large statue, we did the same routine, except this time posing with Abe, rather than the building he lives in.
We read both of the inscriptions on the walls to his sides, but there wasn’t really a lot else to occupy us there, so we headed around to the south to the FDR memorial (between the Lincoln and the Jefferson Memorials). I had never seen this memorial before, and both of us agreed that it was probably the best one in Washington. Rather than being a large stone building (or tower), it was a memorial open to the elements (which had turned some of his statues an odd green color), full of stone walls, statues, and plant life. We probably wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much if it had still been pouring rain, but luckily it wasn’t. There was a man giving a guided tour, explaining all of the important parts of the monument, but by this point we were absolutely exhausted and didn’t want to do more than a quick walk through it.
Something cool that we saw on the way to the Jefferson Memorial was the Washington Monument as it would have looked in the late 1800s—the clouds had descended again and left only half of the Monument visible. We just hoped those clouds didn’t bring more rain with them—at least until after we got back on the Metro.
We spent the most time of any memorial at the Jefferson Memorial—not because of interest, but rather, sheer exhaustion. We called Graham to tell him when we planned on catching a train and then spent at least ten minutes staring at Thomas, asking for motivation to get back on our weary feet to walk the reasonable distance back to the Metro stop. We finally found that motivation, solely because we were getting cold and just wanted to find a nice comfy bed to fall asleep in, and managed to navigate our way back to Smithsonian station.
We certainly had a whirlwind tour of Washington, but we made the most of it—even if it did make us sick for the next three days!