Living most of my life on the West Coast I have always had the desire to see Washington DC. I have had some chances to see some of it on quick trips previously. On those trips I went to the some of the museums. I never had the opportunity to go up in the Washington Monument. This trip would be unique. My wife stayed back at the hotel as this was going to be a grueling morning and she was not up for that.
The first order of business was parking. Not an easy task. I was caught off guard by the construction going on at the mall. My plan was to find street parking. After a bit I was lucky to find an available spot offering 3 hour parking. Beware – the signs vary from block to block about who can park where. Do some homework about parking if you plan to drive into the district.
After parking came getting a ticket to go up in the monument. You need to get tickets at the Washington Monument Lodge out front of the monument on 15th street. The tickets are free on a first come first serve basis for that day only. They are divided into half hour time slots. They are distributed once the doors open at 8:30 am and are usually gone quickly. I arrived about 9:30 knowing this but took my chances anyway. Sure enough I followed a few people in to overhear that they were indeed all gone for the day – bummer.
I left the Lodge a little dejected but not surprised at all. I stood there for a moment gathering my thoughts as to how I was going to make the most of my 3 hours of parking time. It was then that I heard a voice shouting only an arms length away “I have one ticket available”. I shouted that I was one person. The ticket was good for the next time slot in 10 minutes. I felt like the luckiest person alive at that moment. I thanked the man as quickly as I could then took off running to get in line. I am very grateful to him and would like to thank him if he ever reads this.
The lines form outside of the entrance building. A bit of warning about the weather. It gets hot in DC in the summer – VERY hot and humid. There is no shade near the building. You will need water and cool clothing.
Here are many more warnings. Of course I carry a pocket knife where ever I can. This is not one of those places. I thought I might be able to leave it somewhere. Trust me, they mean what they write. You will go through a metal detector once entering the building and no one will want to watch over your stuff. I was only left with throwing my knife away (which I hate to do) or leaving it outside the building and hope it was there when I get out (it was – whew!).
For all the trouble that I went through I was finally inside. I was met by some fascinating elevator doors. These are actually the exit doors but they face the entrance and you pass by them as you enter on the other side behind them. As plain as it looks on the outside, it is very ornate and gorgeous on the inside. This was only the beginning.
The elevator ride up is filled with facts spewing from our guide. He also answers questions from visitors. There are no views so it is not until you get to the top that you get more visual beauty.
The views are the highlight and they are stunning.
There are signs at each window that help you identify various features that you are viewing. Although it is hard to get your eyes off of the view.
One of the interesting items are the pictures of the view that you are looking at in past years. This one is of the west view as it was in the 1940’s. Interesting to compare.
Of course while there are many interesting displays on 2 levels, the main event are the gorgeous views of Washington DC. This northern view is of the White House and surrounding buildings.
Here is a close up of the Pentagon off in the distant southwest.
The words kinda get choked up in my throat just thinking about this experience. This is truly one thing you should put on your bucket list. This is an American icon that rivals any other. Make sure you get tickets and go to the top. You will not regret it at all.
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