Friday, August 14, 2015

Mr. Koko Goes to Washington

We felt like having one last getaway before school starts in a few weeks, so we decided to head back up to Grandma's house. While we were there we took a day trip into Washington, D.C.

Even though there are a TON of places we could have visited in D.C., we chose the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. In the area between the Capitol and the Washington Monument (or giant pencil, as I referred to it as a kid) there is a long grassy area with trees called the National Mall, and the Smithsonian has several museums along that stretch- art, natural history (science! dinosaurs!), air and space (airplanes! rocket ships!), a postal museum, and MUCH more! It's actually the world's largest museum and research complex. We'd visited Air & Space and Natural History in recent years, but I'd never taken the kids to the American History museum- and it's my favorite. :-) 

The first area we visited was all about the history of transportation. They had some cool statues to add some "life" to the exhibit. Here a kind statue is giving Koko a hand while they wait for the trolley.

This gentleman was waiting for a subway train. He kindly shared his bench with the kids and his book (and his lap) with Koko.

Here Tyson and Charlotte pretend to be sitting on the steps below an elevated train platform in Chicago. We thought it was cool how they painted the walls to make it look more realistic! Charlotte is pretending there's a LOUD train going overhead!

This steam engine was HUGE! They even had some kind of a machine that made it sound like the engine was idling- we could hear the steam puffing and hear loud rumbling and clanking. (Oh, and that horse in the background is another statue!)

This display showed how cargo was transported. Koko made friends with this teddy bear who was preparing for departure.

So, you like Legos? How about this GIANT American flag made entirely of Legos! The largest Lego American flag in the world! (read more here)

This was a neat part of the museum called the "Spark Lab". It's a hands-on place where you can do your own inventing. Koko was working on a car. 

When he was done Teeny brought him over to see what Tyson had made- cool stuff!

Ever heard of a little movie called The Wizard of Oz? ;-) Well, here are the famous ruby slippers! In fact, there were several pairs of ruby slippers, but they know that these were probably used for dancing scenes on the yellow brick road because they have felt on the bottom (made the dancing less noisy). 

It isn't easy being green- but it's easy being a part of history. Here's an original Kermit the Frog! 

We were really excited when we came across this exhibit- it's the sunstone capital from the Nauvoo temple!

Here's a little more info about it.

One of the girls' favorite exhibits was the collection of all the first ladies' (wives of the presidents) dresses from the inaugural balls, which is the dance they have as part of the inaugural celebrations when a new president is sworn into office. Here is Audrey with Michelle Obama's inaugural gown. She loved it!

Another favorite was this incredible dollhouse. 

Here's one tiny room.

If possible, you can zoom in and read more about this neat little (BIG) house.

When we finished touring the museum (after spending 3 hours there we only saw about 1/4 of what there was to see!) we stopped by the gift shop. That was when Koko ran into this bin of Wizard of Oz Totos. 

You might notice that this American flag has fewer stars on it than the one you normally see. This is a replica of the famous Star Spangled Banner, the actual flag that inspired our national anthem, which is on display at the museum. It is HUGE and we got to see it, but it is so old and disintegrating that it is in a special display where no photography is allowed. You can read more about it here, but the basic story is that the anthem was written about the Battle of Baltimore, in which British forces attacked the Baltimore harbor. The song says:
Oh, say can you see by the dawn’s early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

What they 'so proudly hailed' was the American flag- they could see it when the sun set, and could see the flag periodically from the light of the fiery explosions of battle, and then...

On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
‘Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

It was there! The flag was still there, and that was what told the people that our forces had held the harbor and fought off the enemy, and that America was still free. 

It's a beautiful story and really touched me when I saw that giant, tattered flag all laid out in the museum. Really cool. There's your American history lesson for the day. ;-)

After the museum we went outside for some more photos. Here's the kids and Koko with the Washington Monument in the background. Unfortunately, there's a lot of construction going on in D.C. right now, so the mall itself was closed off and the Capitol was covered in scaffolding for cleaning. Oh, well!

Koko picture! Wait, he wasn't looking...

There. That's better.

Street selfie!

With the museum in the background.

I snapped this photo out the back window so you can see what a street in D.C. looks like. 

A closer view of the Washington Monument as we drove by. See the circle of American flags around the base?

Snagged a pic of the White House as we went past too! Hi, President Obama!

Hope you enjoyed Koko's visit to our nation's capital! 

We grabbed one more pic on our way home today:

This was at a rest stop along the interstate highway, and this rest stop also had a Virginia Welcome Center. Virginia's state motto is "Virginia is for Lovers," and there are these big LOVE signs all over the state in various locations (in fact, I have a friend who is currently on a road trip to try and visit every single one!) We thought Koko should definitely get some LOVE (see him there in the V with Tyson?)

Whew! What a trip! But the summer's not over yet...stay tuned... ;-)


  1. That looks like it was a fun trip. We love history museums too! Is the Smithsonian the same Museum where Night at the Museum (2 or 3 I can't remember) was filmed?
    That Lego flag is very impressive! That would have taken a lot of bricks.
    That's interesting that the Sunstone is in the Museum. I thought the Navuoo temple was rededicated. I wonder how the museum ended up with the Sunstone there?
    I got very excited when I saw the ruby slippers picture. Other than 'The Sound of Music' that is my favourite movie! When I was about 5 years old I'd dress up in my best church shoes, a dress, and carry my toy dog around with me everywhere.

    1. Yes, the Smithsonian is the same one from Night at the Museum 2! We wanted to see it the night before we went but we couldn't find it on Netflix. I love that movie. :-)

      That's a good question about the Sunstone...maybe they made a new one?

      I LOVE the ruby slippers too! When I was about 14 I watched a documentary all about the ruby slippers and I got to go see them at the museum about a year later. One of my favorite things to see there!