Around the National Mall

On the grounds of The National Mall, you find the memorials and monuments I blogged about in my previous post. Surrounding the National Mall, you can find many more famous buildings. These include, The United States Capitol Building, Bureau of Engraving and Printing, the White House, and the Smithsonian Institution.

I have seen and walked through all the places listed above. First we went to The United States Capitol Building. This building is unique for all its architecture. The Capitol Building has a tall dome in the center of the building, rising higher then the other parts of the building. On top of this dome stands the Statue of Freedom. “Lady Freedom” is bold because she is bronze while the rest of the building is an off white. Now we take a look inside the building. This building consists of 540 rooms in which are divided into five levels. Most of these rooms are chambers and meeting rooms for the United States Congress. Other then the rooms there is a main atrium where tourists can walk around storing statues of past presidents and The Declaration of Independence. Next up was the Bureau of Engraving and Printing building. Out of all the sightseeing I did in DC, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing was my favorite. My family and I got to see where all the money in the United States gets made and printed. I also got my picture taken and put on a $20 bill. Finally, the place everyone had been waiting to see, The White House. The White House was hosting the olympians the week we were visiting DC so we just got to walk by it. Super neat to see especially since you always see The White House on TV and in pictures. Lastly, we gave our attention to the Smithsonian Institution on the last day. Included with the Smithsonian Institution is many exhibits. We went to the air and space museum, historical museum, the butterfly pavilion, and the library. After all this we were very wore out.

There is only so much you can see in DC for a weeks worth. We got to see everything and even more then what we had planned for. Washington DC was a great experience holding several facts and historical importances no where else in the United States has. I suggest everyone to make a trip to DC sometime and take in all the information DC has to offer.


Monuments & Memorials in DC

Standing in Washington DC are many monuments and memorials. Most of them are memorable and very significant. My family vacationed one summer to the DC area to sightsee. There wasn’t much relaxing as we were on our feet more then laying horizontal.

We saw almost all the sights you could possibly see in Washington DC. The most memorable sights I saw were definitely the monuments and memorials. The first memorial we went to was built after Thomas Jefferson. This memorial was a huge circular mosque looking type building with many pillars bordering the outskirts of it. It was neat how the creators of the memorial added a statue of Jefferson in the middle. Next we walked over to the Lincoln memorial. At this memorial you would take many steps up to Lincoln perched in a chair at the top. Within these steps there is a distinct spot marked where the “I have a dream speech” by Martin Luther King Jr. was given. Straight out from the steps of the Lincoln memorial, you find the reflecting pool. Specifically this reflecting pool is the largest in Washington DC and to the east of it you view the Washington Monument. Of course we couldn’t miss out on riding up to the top of the 555′ tall monument. The Washington Monument was next on the agenda, we got to ride an elevator to the top and look out on the city. This monument was named after George Washington, our first president who was once also Commander-in-chief of the Continental Army. Our next interest was to see the the Vietnam Veterans memorial. This memorial was a quick look, including a black wall kind of in an “L” shape. The Vietnam Veterans wall spread 246 feet, 9 inches long and honored those who died in the Vietnam War. At this wall you will find many people in tears. Onto our last memorial, World War 2 in which we got to see in the starlight of the evening. This memorial was my favorite, the way it was designed was amazing. At night, we got to see all the waterfalls and every block of the memorial light up with spotlights. At the World War 2 memorial, I learned it was dedicated to Americans who served in the military as civilians during the war.

Every memorial and monument I visited was really informational and impressive. It is awesome how the United States honors and remembers important people from time to time. I suggest if you’ve never seen the monuments and memorials in Washington DC, you tour them soon. They are all symbolic and leave a good message with you.

Biltmore Estate

Found in Asheville, North Carolina is the Biltmore mansion. Taking six years and hundreds of construction workers, this mansion is made up of 250 rooms. The finished home contains over four acres of floor space. “How incredible!”

When I was 7, my family took a vacation to North Carolina and on the way we stopped at Biltmore. I was so intrigued with the mansion. I couldn’t believe how big it was and that people actually lived in it at one point. My whole family received audio sets with headphones and walked through every room of the house listening to all the historical background. There is fours floors to the house, every floor decorated exceptionally well. The room names include, music, breakfast, billiard, smocking, gun, Sheraton, Chippendale, Old English, Mr. Vanderbilt’s bedroom, Louis XV1, Oak sitting, Mrs. Vanderbilt’s bedroom, south tower, north tower, Raphael, Earlom, Watson, Van Dyke, Maryland, Madonna, recreation, halloween, servants’ bedrooms, kitchen’s, pantries, storage, dining, sitting, work, laundry, main, and drying. The Vanderbilt’s had a specific name for each and every room. Some unique features to the house include, a swimming pool, gymnasium, bowling alley, tapestry gallery, library and an elevator. I couldn’t believe they had an elevator installed; I guess if you were tired you wouldn’t really want to walk up four flights of stairs.

My favorite part about the house was that it had a swimming pool. I have fantasized ever since I visited about installing a pool in a home of my own. In the summer I use our above ground pool on the daily and then the pool has to be taken down for the winter. I believe I would get a lot of use out of an indoor pool like the Vanderbilt’s.

Not only was the inside of the house unbelievably gorgeous. Around the outside of the house is 125,000 acres of land in which are kept up nicely as well. In the spring, you will find 100,000 different tulips with brilliant colors. Ponds, trees and other decor also border the mansion. Every part of the property is very admiring.

I highly suggest you to visit the Biltmore mansion if you ever get the chance too. The mansion is definitely something you don’t see on a daily basis. After touring such an expensive home with multi millionaire owners, you realize money can go a long way. Take a look for yourself and see how massive the Biltmore Estate is.


The Outer Banks

Days, hours, minutes, and seconds went by as my family drove halfway across the United States. Finally, we made it to North Carolina where my family would be spending the next two weeks. Knowing my family we like traveling to beaches. Before relaxing on the beach, we had to sightsee a little.

The first place we arrived at was the Duke University Chapel. The chapel was gorgeous with a huge stain glass window. Next on the list was to walk to the Cameron Indoor Stadium. This stadium is the home of the Duke Blue Devils Basketball Team. Nothing special, just a basketball court with wooden chairs surrounding it.

“Mom when can we go to the beach?” Yes, I was super excited for the beach not really too worried about Duke. We were on the way to our home for the week, “The Flamingo’s Fancy.” Our house was a blue two story house with an in ground pool. We shared this house with some close family friends of ours from Kansas City, the Switzer’s.

“Life’s a beach,” was a saying in a picture frame in the house. I agree, the beach was my first priority. My family packed up quick and headed to the beach. At the beach I got to burry my dad under the sand and go on a search for seashells. I think I brought home 500 seashells this trip.

The next day my parents took us to the Wright Brother’s National Memorial. We got to view where the Wright Brother’s first took off in their glider. Also, we got to see the model of the first glider consisting of a 17 foot wing span. Everything at the memorial and museum was really interesting to my dad since his job at Rockwell revolves around airplanes.

What more can you do on The Outer Banks? There are many lighthouses in North Carolina, these really caught my attention due to the height, view and appearance. I compared the two lighthouses I entered on how tall and how cool the lighthouse looked. Our first lighthouse adventure was up into Cape Hatteras, this castle contains 269 steps. The Ocracoke Lighthouse was the other one we got to see being the oldest operating in North Carolina. Orcacoke is 75 feet.

Lastly, fun fact about North Carolina, the jelly fish don’t sting on the shores there. We arrived on our last beach off of Ocracoke Island. This beach was my favorite on the trip because It was more private and well kept. I found many sand crabs and seashells on this beach as my brother boogie boarded.

The North Carolina vacation was very memorable and I would love to go back. I would even be interested looking into a college there due to the warmer climates and close beaches. If you visit North Carolina I suggest you go to some lighthouses and Orcacoke Island.

Options in Texas

Having three siblings and being quite an age difference apart from them is hard to keep up with everyone. My dad has an older sister, and two older brothers. His sister, RoseAnne lives in Michigan for half of the year and for the other half of the year she lives in Utah. One of his brothers, Tom lives in Chicago and the other brother, Bill lives in Texas.

My family doesn’t see Bill as much as we would like to because of the distance between our states. Although the distance is drivable, we don’t head south to Texas at all. I would like this to change. I have been looking into colleges down in Texas. Texas acquries a warmer climate that I feel I would enjoy. Also, Texas has many colleges and a couple of them have a big population meaning I could meet many new faces.

One of the Texas school’s I am seriously looking into is Texas A&M. This one comes to mind not only because it consists of around 60,000 students but also because of their tuition rates. At Texas A&M if you can receive a $1,000 scholarship, you can get in state tuition from the university. In state tuition would save me about $10,000-15,000 a year. Other then that, I like their colors and that they have decent athletic teams. In addition, Texas A&M is know for agriculture and mechanics. I am not looking into those two topics but they also have a program for business. Texas A&M is definitely a school I am thinking about and I would like to tour it someday. Hopefully when I go for a visit I can ever see my uncle Bill.

The second college in Texas I am interested in is the University of Texas. Yes, the atrocious orange and white longhorns. This college sparks my interest not only because it is one of the biggest colleges in the nation, but also because they have one of the biggest greek systems in the country. I would love to be in a sorority someday with a bunch of sisters, always meeting people and doing fun activities. Another great consideration is that the University of Texas is in Austin, Texas. Austin is a huge city with plenty to do, eat, and see. I wouldn’t ever have to worry about being bored.

Everything is a possibility and I am excited to visit both Texas schools and maybe attend one someday. College is so far away but at the same time, so close. Living in Texas could be great for me and I would even get to see my uncle Bill more.

Holcomb, Wisconsin

Flashback to when both my grandparents were alive and healthy. My dad’s parents, my grandpa and grandma retired into a lake house in Holcomb, Wisconsin. Holcomb is a very small town in Wisconsin that not to many people know about. There isn’t much to do but boat, be in peace, and go out to eat at the same restaurant.

Every summer my family would make the 8 hour drive to as my mom calls it, “the middle of no where.” We would pack like we were going camping except we had a place to stay. My mom would bring meals to cook for breakfast, lunch, and dinner because my grandparents just kind of ate little by little and didn’t buy groceries often. The drive was awful but as soon as we got there everything was splendid. There at the lake house you could find a big scary dog named tiger, many water activities and I remember the annoying cuckoo clock that would ring off the wall along with the ginormous deer head. The house was weird in a way but my grandparents made it homey.

My favorite part about going up to the lake house was the fact we would always take a long day on the lake boating and relaxing. Grandpa Jamrok owned a speed boat, pontoon boat, paddle boat, kayaks, and the most important his two jet skis. The day we went boating we would always ride up to the sandbar and my grandma and I would through in the water chairs and just relax in the warm sunshine. She loved having her feet dangle in the yucky lake water. I think the thing she enjoyed most was seeing all the green lily pads float along the entire surface. It was very pretty I would have to say myself. Another one of my favorite memories is whenever my grandpa would steer the boat, I would always sit upon his lap and feel like I was the one in charge. He loved my company and I loved being the “queen.”

These days of boating and being on the lake shortly came to an end. By the time I was in first grade my grandma was already in a nursing home and unable to boat. Then when I was in third grade, my dad received the news. His dad had died. This started the process of selling the lake house and all the memorable toys we use to play on. It was hard to see everything go but the time had come, at least I got to enjoy it while it lasted.

The Big Island

After spending four days on Maui I’m not quite sure we were ready for all the sight seeing on The Big Island. The Big Island was not meant for relaxing, we got a house on the side of a volcanic mountain. Around our house lived many native animals being deer, wild chickens, geckos, birds, and bears. We felt as if we were in the middle of no where. Where we had our house the temperatures were a little cooler then Maui considering we were elevated.

The first day we got to walk around the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Here we walked on rock and debris from the last volcano eruption. We also got to see the holes and rock formations that the volcanoes left. After walking around and touring this site we drove down the mountain to the hot springs. The hot springs are pools in which were heated from the lava. They were hot but not unbearable, on the signs around the pools we would see them saying Watch Out For Eels. These signs made me hesitant to get in but with my bravery, I jumped right in.

Secondly, The Big Island was known for its black sand beaches and monsterous turtles. We had to spend a day at the beach with the lazy turtles on the burning hot blackened sand. These turtles are not your everyday turtles, they were the biggest of the biggest and most lazy creatures I’ve seen. You could walk right up next to their shell and they wouldn’t crawl an inch.

Lastly, we decided to venture through a rainforest to the Akaka Falls. This waterfall was highly recommended and my dad wanted to see it more than anyone else. After a long hike, we made it to the beautiful 442 foot tall falls. I remember after viewing the falls, I wanted to go down to the bottom and swim under it. I was warned that the water was very cold and It probably wouldn’t be as enjoyable as it looked.

Although The Big Island was interesting and adventurous, our whole family was ready to move onto some more sunshine and relaxing. We all packed up our things and headed for the airport. I would suggest you vacation to The Big Island if you’re interested in learning about Hawaii, the nature of it and how the Hawaiian Islands came to be. This island can be relaxing but it is geared towards the sight seeing. Going to The Big Island is a great time filler if you’re trying to view multiple islands like I did.