Monday, April 20, 2015

National Arboretum: Dogwood Collection



Date of Visit: April 19, 2015

The Dogwood Collection was the main reason I wanted to visit the National Arboretum this time of year. There is parking near it, but it was full and we ended up taking the last spot in parking up the hill for the Asian Collection.


There is a short paved path to a little area with some benches, but it really doesn't get you close to any of the dogwood. The grassy areas you can go on to further explore the collection aren't too hard to navigate, although it is a hillside and there are some holes and Dad almost dumped Mik when he wasn't paying close attention. The path also leads to an overlook of the Anacostia River.



Destination Info:
National Arboretum
3501 New York Avenue NE
Washington, DC 20002

National Arboretum: National Bonsai & Penjing Museum


Date of Visit: April 19, 2015

The National Bonsai & Penjing Museum is one of the main reasons we visited the National Arboretum and what Mik was most interested in. He really enjoyed seeing the different varieties and styles of bonsai. I think he still wants to grow his own, but he's already hoping to revisit these next month for World Bonsai Day.


Currently, the Japanese Pavilion is being renovated, but those bonsais are currently in the courtyard so they can still be enjoyed.


The Chinese Pavilion was interesting in that they incorporate rocks and small statues in many of them. There is also a small garden path in the middle, although Mik didn't enjoy walking through that because the wheelchair barely fit on the path and there were plants that rubbed against him.


The North American Pavilion was the least accessible as the paths were gravel, which was quite thick in parts, but it did have Mik's favorite bonsais. He particularly liked the California Junipers.





The Tropical Conservatory is also very accessible except for the fact you have to go through the North American Pavilion to get to it.

Destination Info:
National Arboretum
3501 New York Avenue NE
Washington, DC 20002

National Arboretum: National Capitol Columns


Date of Visit: April 19, 2015

There is a parking area including handicap spots near the National Capitol Columns area of the National Arboretum, but we just walked over from where we had parked at the visitor center. The route from there is partially a road closed to general traffic and then there's a sidewalk path that angles towards it.


There columns and stones were originally part of the East Portico of the Capitol and are set up on a hill. There is sidewalk path up to the right and left. The floor area between the columns is not entirely even, but they are originally steps from the Capitol and certainly still very accessible, especially compared to how it is offroading to really explore much of the garden collections.



Destination Info:
National Arboretum
3501 New York Avenue NE
Washington, DC 20002

Sunday, April 12, 2015

National Air & Space Museum: Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center




Date of Visit: April 12, 2015

The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center is kind of out there for a D.C. area attraction, but it is one of the more interesting Smithsonians and because it is out there it is much less crowded making it a great option to do today with family in town rather than deal with the crowds in D.C. again.


You enter the museum on the level that has the overlook paths for the hangar. There is ramp to go down to the first level, which is long and doesn't seem too steep, but it says not for wheelchairs and we just listened to it and used the elevator by the IMAX theater. Mik pointed out that this actually led to us noticing some aviation artwork in the halls back to the hangar that we wouldn't have seen if we hadn't used the elevator.



Mik really enjoys the airplanes on display at this museum, but this visit we mainly just focused on the Space Hangar since we mostly came to see the Standard Missile-3 full scale model. Thus, we only did the overlook near the entrance, but the area on the other side is definitely worth going up to and there are at least two different elevators up to it to access it.



After the space hangar and before heading to the gift shop, he looked at the map and decided there were only two planes he wanted to check out (most he remembers from our last visit several years ago). One was the Boeing 307 Stratoliner Clipper Flying Cloud. The other was the Concorde, which he wanted to see because he had heard about in a Jack Ryan book.


The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center is mostly about the big stuff in the National Air & Space Museum's collection. However, there are also some exhibits with models, which Mik particularly enjoyed when we happened by a case with various models as part of an exhibit on business aviation.

Destination Info:
Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
14390 Air and Space Museum Parkway
Chantilly, Virginia 20151

Friday, April 3, 2015

National Museum of American History: Lincoln's Carriage

Date of Visit: April 2, 2015

Since we were already going to be nearby on our walking the National Mall and Memorial Parks yesterday, we decided to quickly pop in and see Lincoln's Carriage. It actually is a really easy pop in and see thing if you enter from the Constitution Avenue side, which we always do because until today I didn't even think the other side had an accessible entrance, but according to the Smithsonian access map it does (Note: I don't totally trust it because it's over a year old and I know last time we went to the Air & Space the Independence Avenue entrance was closed, but it is likely the American History now has an accessible entrance on Madison and I just remember it not being accessible before the major remodel).

Lincoln's Carriage is temporarily on display on the First Floor of the National Museum of American History through May 25, 2015 as part of the 150th anniversary of Lincoln's death. It's just a the carriage and a few signs with info, but it's still interesting to get an up close look at his carriage, which they rode in to Ford's Theatre the night he was shot.

Destination Info:
National Museum of American History
1400 Constitution Ave NW
Washington DC

Metro Accessibility Note: Closest metro station is Federal Triangle (Blue/Orange/Silver). Smithsonian (Blue/Orange/Silver) is often also recommended as nearby for this museum and if you take the escalator exit it probably is closer or same distance as Federal Triangle, but the elevator is several blocks further, so Federal Triangle is definitely closest if you are exiting Metro via elevator. Of course, we are always partial to Archives (Yellow/Green) since it's a shorter train ride for us to take Yellow instead of Blue into D.C. and it's only a little more walking.

National Mall and Memorial Parks: Lincoln Memorial

Date of Visit: April 2, 2015

It's been about four years since we've posted a review of the Lincoln Memorial, although we have been here at least one other time since then. For the most part our comments are the same, but since there are a few things we noticed and did differently we decided to do a whole new one instead of just a brief update and just referring to the other review here.


To start off, we discovered that walking over the Memorial Bridge from Arlington National Cemetery is a very convenient way to get to the Lincoln Memorial when using Metro. It's still not all that close (~1 mile), but it seems smoother/simpler and also more scenic, although it can also be windier, which was not so nice on the way back when we were going into it. Note that the elevator you take back down the platform depends on which direction you need to go and the sign that says which side it is for is above call button (we think it should say right up top!).


To get up to the memorial there are ramps up on the right and left sides of the stairs. There are a couple points where you can access the landings of the steps, so you can enjoy the view like if you take the steps up. This also allows you to cross over from the right side to the left when you get to the top of the ramp because that's the side with the entrance to the area with the elevator. In rereading our old review, I was reminded that we were annoyed by them have a wheelchair symbol and no button that time. I can't remember if they have any buttons now, but this time both doors were propped open, so getting in wasn't an issue even though we were like the only ones there at the time. I actually was a little concerned we would have to wait for it to be 9am because the exhibit area technically doesn't open until then, but it was around 8:45am and it was open.


After experiencing the Union Station metro elevator, Mik has a greater appreciation for the one at the Lincoln Memorial. Yes, it still seems odd to have the doors on adjacent walls, but it is plenty big enough to maneuver in at least.


We didn't spend much time inside the Lincoln Memorial. Just enough to get the typical picture of Mik doing the A and L in sign language.


We did, however, spend at least 15 minutes on the backside of the memorial. How we have never done that before I don't know, but we decided to walk around the whole outside of the memorial up top (partly to waste time before bookstore opened to quickly get a stamp for our National Park passports). Mik really enjoyed playing around with the modes and taking pictures of the Potomac from there including the below watercolor mode one.



Destination Info:
Lincoln Memorial National Memorial
Lincoln Memorial Circle
Washington, DC 20037

Arlington National Cemetery Metro Elevators

Date of Visit: April 2, 2015



It's convenient when you only have to take one elevator to get from the train platform and street level, which is the case for both sides of the platform at Arlington National Cemetery. But since it isn't a center platform station, there are two different elevators. They are actually some of the easiest ones to find for an underground station. It isn't really that difficult to figure it out (there's a sign above call buttons) and they are very close to each other, but it would be even better if the top signs clearly labeled which platform they go to.



Destination Info:
Arlington Cemetery Metro Station
1000 North Memorial Drive
Arlington, VA 22211

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