Monthly Archives: February 2012

Washington, DC (Part 2)

        The Smithsonian Museums  make up the world’s largest museum and research complex, consisting of 19 museums and galleries, the National Zoological Park and nine research facilities. Most of the museums are free and are open everyday excluding Christmas. Eleven of the museums are located on the National Mall. Over 137 million objects, works of art and specimens are in the museums and range from ancient history to modern art.  The museums include: Smithsonian Institution Building (the castle), Smithsonian Arts and Industries Building, Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum, Smithsonian Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Natural History Museum, Smithsonian American History Museum, Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian and the National Zoo.

        The Smithsonian Institution was established with funds from James Smithson (1765-1829), a British scientist. Smithson left his estate to the United States to found “at Washington, under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge.” Smithson never stepped foot in America.


My favorite of the Smithsonian’s is the The Smithsonian National Museum of American History. This museum displays artifacts from ever era of our country. I think the most moving of every display is “The Star-Spangled Banner,”  the flag that inspired the national anthem. The most fun of the exhibits is the Popular Entertainment section of the museum. This section includes famous athlete’s memorabilia, pop icons clothing, popular movie props and so much more. One of the most popular items in this museum are Dorothy’s ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz.

War Memorials:


        The Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC was dedicated in 1995. The memorial pays tribute to the troops that fought the Korean War (June 1950- July 1953). The memorial is in the form of a triangle intersecting a circle and the walls are made of black granite. The walls have images representing the land, sea and air troops who supported those who fought in the war are sandblasted into it. There are 19 stainless steel statues that represent a squad on patrol, drawn from each branch of the armed forces (fourteen of the figures are from the U.S. Army, three are from the Marine Corps, one is a Navy Corpsman, and one is an Air Force Forward Air Observer). They are dressed in full combat gear, stand over 7 feet tall and weigh about 1,000 lbs. each. Between the statues is strips of granite and juniper bushes which represent the  terrain of Korea.

        The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is one of my favorite memorials in DC. The memorial is made up of three parts: Three Soldiers statue, the Vietnam Women’s Memorial, and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall.

        The Vietnam Women’s Memorial consists of a statue of two women in uniform tending to the wounds of a male soldier while a third woman kneels nearby. The women are named appropriately; the woman looking up is named Hope, the woman praying is named Faith, and the woman tending to a wounded soldier is named Charity. This statue represents the important role women played in the Vietnam conflict.

        The Three Soldiers statue is a  life-size bronze statue of three young servicemen. The leading statue represents a Marine and the other two represent Army soldiers. The men were made to represent 3 different ethnic groups;  Caucasian (the lead man), African-American (man on right), and Hispanic (man on left). The statue was dedicated on Veterans Day, 1984.

        The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall is a black granite wall inscribed with the names of 58,209 American’s killed or missing in the Vietnam conflict, but as of May 2011, there are 58,272 names. The wall is  246 feet 9 inches long. There are often people making pencil rubbings of names off the wall. Directories are located on  podiums to help visitors  locate specific names.


Capital of it All: Washington, DC (Part I)


Flower: American Beauty Rose

 Bird: Wood Thrush

Tree: Scarlet Oak

Motto: “Justitia Omnibus,” which is Latin for “Justice for All.”
Song: “Washington,” written by Jimmie Dodd, a former Mouseketeer, in 1951.

 Seal: DC’s official seal has a picture of a woman, who represents Justice, hanging a wreath on a statue of George Washington.


  • The District of Columbia was named after the explorer Christopher Columbus
  • DC is a very international city, home to more than 170 embassies and international cultural centers
  • Woodrow Wilson is the only president to live in Washington, DC after his terms in office
  • Washington, DC covers 68 square miles
  • The city was founded in 1791

Washington, DC is one of my favorite places to explore; there is so much history and many sights to see in such a small area. As a teenager growing up in NOVA, DC was in my backyard and always gave us a place to go. I like the fact that every time I go to DC there’s different events, people, and exhibits to see. From the hectic business men walking to work to the interesting tourist from numerous places, there’s somewhere for everyone to visit in our nation’s capital.

Growing up so close to DC, it was a popular spot for field trips and to take relatives when they visit. The historic and symbolic importance of the city is something I find interesting and I never pass up a trip to DC.

The White House was built starting during Washington’s presidency although he never lived there (1792- 1800). Washington signed an Act of Congress in December of 1790 declaring that the federal government would reside in a district “not exceeding ten miles square…on the river Potomac.” DC then became the capital instead of Philidelphia, where business had previously taken place. John Adams, the second president, is the first to have lived in the White House. In 1814, the White House was destroyed partially by a fire set by the British during the War of 1812. Again, in 1929 the White House suffered a fire. Starting during Jefferson’s presidency, the house was opened for tours. There are 132 rooms, 35 bathrooms, and 6 levels to the White House that houses the First Family. Located at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., the White House recieves over 6,000 visitors a day.

The United States Capitol is located on Capitol Hill and serves as the meeting place of the United States Congress. A symbol of the legislative branch of the U.S., it is one of the most visited federal buildings. Construction of the Capitol started in 1793 and Congress first met in the Capitol Building on November 17, 1800. The building just added the  U.S. Capitol Visitor Center underground to provide tourists with more information.

Lincoln Memorial is a memorial built to honor our 16th president, Abraham Lincoln.  The temple that houses Lincoln’s statue is 99 feet tall and made of marble. The statue of Lincoln is 19 feet tall. There are 87 steps that lead to the memorial from the reflecting pool, representing Lincoln’s famous words of “four score and seven years ago.” In the memorial are stone engravings of Lincoln’s second inaugural address and the Gettysburg Address. Above his statue is the inscription: IN THIS TEMPLE AS IN THE HEARTS OF THE PEOPLE FOR WHOM HE SAVED THE UNION THE MEMORY OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN IS ENSHRINED FOREVER.

Sunny San Diego

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     San Diego is one of my favorite places; the sandy beaches and the perfect weather could make anyone fall in love with it. I lived in San Diego for four years when I was younger and have visited once since. There is so much to see and experience in San Diego that it never gets boring. I lived just minutes from the beach (there are tons to choose from) and every weekend there was a new site to see. San Diego is a place everyone should visit.

      • San Diego Zoo is one of the largest zoos in the world. The zoo covers over 100 acres and is home to over  4,000 creatures.  The San Diego Zoo is also one of the only zoos in the world to be home to a giant panda.  Because the zoo is so large and covers a vast area of land there are tour buses and even a  Skyfari tram if you rather not walk. The zoo is world famous and a hot tourist attraction. The San Diego Zoo Safari Park is a  free-range park with animals such as giraffes, buffalo, rhinos, and  gazelles. The park is also noted for having the world’s largest veterinary hospital  and most successful breeding program in the United States.
      • Legoland is an amusement park with rides, performances, and exhibits all based on LEGOS. There is a a replica of the United States’ most important landmarks  and many other creations constructed solely of LEGO bricks.
    • SeaWorld San Diego was the original of the three that are now in the U.S. and is the most popular. It opened in 1964, and is home to dolphins, killer whales, penguins, polar bears, and more.
      • Old Town San Diego is a recreation of historic and authentic San Diego as it was during the European settlements. There are amazing resturaunts, historic spots, and shops to explore while learning about San Diego history. In Old Town you can sign up for the San Diego Trolley Tour. The trolley takes you on a guided tour of the city and allows you to get off at your favorite spots. The conductors provide you with a historical and enjoyable overview of the city.
    • San Diego Beaches are beautiful, fun, and vary depending on the part of the city.  La Jolla Beach is seven miles of coastline with gorgeous homes set dramatically on cliffs over looking the shore. Coronado isn’t only an island off the coast of San Diego but it also contains one of the most popular beaches in the state. Carlsbad Beach is one of the most family friendly beaches due to its parking availability and picnic areas. Because of its distance from downtown, the beach is usually one of the less busy ones which gives you room to enjoy some body boarding or sun bathing. Oceanside Beach is the one I’m most familiar with because it lies right outside of Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base. Oceanside is the third-largest city in San Diego County. Oceanside has its own pier and is the site of the California Surf Museum. From hiking, scuba diving, surfing, or building sand castles, there’s a San Diego beach for it.

Picture with my sister from our most recent trip to San Diego (Summer 2010)

Deep in My Heart…Texas

Capital: Austin

Nickname: The Lone Star State

Motto: Friendship

Texas is more than a place to me, it’s a mindset. Texas is one of my favorite places; the people, the places, the history all combine to make Texas my favorite state. The state has so much diversity and is the second largest in the United States both population wise and area.

I lived in San Antonio for four years and visit El Paso frequently, both popular cities in Texas.

El Paso

  • The westernmost city in Texas
  • Sixth largest city in Texas
  • Borders the Rio Grande
  • El Paso grew from Spanish settlements dating back to 1598

El Paso isn’t one of the prettiest cities in Texas and is flat and dry. My favorite part of El Paso is visiting relatives and eating the amazing mexican food there.  Chico’s Tacos is a popular food chain among locals and is definitely worth the trip. At night you can look to the west and see a mountain range and my favorite sight of all El Paso, the El Paso Star.        

San Antonio

  • Home of the San Antonio Spurs, the Riverwalk, Mercado, and The Alamo
  • Most visited city in Texas
  • Second largest city in Texas, Seventh in the U.S.

I got the privilege of living in San Antonio for four-year and it’s a beautiful town and is rich in history and culture. There are a ton of places to visit and the city is never quiet.

     The Riverwalk runs through downtown and has become an iconic image of San Antonio. It runs below street level and weaves through shops, restaurants and hotels. There is a cruise you can take to gain more knowledge of the city and some incredible views.

The Alamo is the most iconic of all Texas landmarks. It served a large part in the Texas Revolution against the spanish in 1836 though its original use was to convert Native Americans by missionaries. Construction of the mission began in 1724 and today it serves as a museum to tons of visitors.

SeaWorld San Antonio is the largest of the three amusement/marine life parks owned by the popular SeaWorld chain. The park opened in 1988 and covers 250-acres. There are a number of rides, shows and a water park to entertain you for a full day. Numerous exhibits display all sorts of marine life and allow you to escape the San Antonio heat.

     Six Flags Fiesta Texas is a 200-acre theme park that opened in 1992. The park had four theme sections; Crackaxle Canyon, Los Festivales, Spassburg, and Rockville, with the water park Ol’ Waterin’ Hole. The park contains rides over fifty rides of all kinds and every night during the summer has a fireworks display.

San Antonio Spurs are San Antonio’s own NBA team. They are part of the Southwest Division of the Western Conference  and have won four NBA Championships. The head coach of the Spurs is Gregg Popovich and their popular players include Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili.