Other explorations around the nation’s capital

Steve has a past in the DC area – a good past, that is.  So while we were here, he wanted to visit his old stomping grounds from many moons ago (32 years).  Back then, he was in the Air Force, stationed at the Pentagon – but one of his part-time jobs was as the wedding coordinator at the Old Post Chapel on Fort Myer Army Base.

He told me the job was a civilian position that he “just lucked into” from another Air Force buddy, and he loved it.  He worked every weekend for three years and conducted over a thousand weddings.  No wonder he seemed so calm at our wedding!

On the day we arrived, at least two military funeral services took place at the chapel.  It is used extensively for funerals in cases where the deceased is buried at Arlington Cemetery, which is just adjacent to the chapel.

A funeral was underway when we arrived.
Military Funeral Procession
A Navy funeral procession enters Arlington Cemetery from the chapel.

Following the procession, we walked into Arlington Cemetery and made our first stop at the Arlington House – currently known as the Robert E. Lee Memorial.  Within the little museum at the back of the house, we learned that Arlington House was once the home of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.  His family abandoned the house in 1861 and was eventually confiscated by the feds due to non payment of taxes.  The house and 200 acres of surrounding land were set aside as a military cemetery in 1864, and the original 22 headstones of soldiers can be seen placed around Mrs. Lee’s flower garden.

Arlington House
Arlington House.  The garden is surrounded by 22 headstones.

Arlington National Cemetery has undergone many expansions over the years, and it now encompass 624 acres.  It is considered the most hallowed burial ground in the United States.

Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington National Cemetery
Washington DC viewed from Arlington House
Washington, DC viewed from Arlington House.  Note that the JFK eternal flame is undergoing an upgrade in the foreground.

From here, we walked to the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial, previously known as Iwo Jima.  Since we entered through Fort Myer, we did not have a map to find it, but Steve claimed he knew the general area.  He created his own route, and we took a long scenic walk to get there.  It included going down the hill from the Arlington House, stopping by the JFK burial ground and around the cemetery then passing by the Women’s Memorial…

Womens Memorial
Womens Memorial with Arlington House in the background

…and the Seabees Navy Memorial.  Then we walked down the Esplanade and along the George Washington Memorial Parkway to Arlington Blvd.

Sea Bees Navy Memorial
Seabees Navy Memorial

Anyone with common sense would drive to the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial, and the drivers were probably wondering what the heck we were doing out there blazing our own trail.  But it was a beautiful day and we walked several miles – who needs a car?  As we walked along the busy George Washington Memorial Parkway, I was ecstatic as I captured some beautiful fall foliage along the way (the blog’s current header was taken along Memorial Drive).

Let’s see now, I know it’s somewhere this way…

There was a stretch of road where there wasn’t enough room to walk safely, so we just trudged along between the beautiful trees on the carpet of leaves.

Fall Foliage in DC
Autumn leaves along US 50W
US 50 W to Iwo Jima
Sidewalk?  We don’t need no stinking sidewalk!
US Marine Corp War Memorial
Marines who fought at Iwo Jima.  Now these are real heroes!

Getting back to our car was a bit easier, as we located another gate into the cemetery and headed through Arlington National Cemetery to the Old Post Chapel.

On another day we visited the mansion of the father of the United States, George Washington, in Mount Vernon.  While taking the tour of the mansion and the surrounding grounds, we learned that he designed and oversaw the expansion of Mount Vernon.  At the educational center and museum, we also learned that the founding father never attended college.  Instead, he educated himself via a lifelong pursuit of self-learning.  In the three hours we were there, we learned a great deal about the general and first president, and we understood why he was a founding father of our nation.

Mount Vernon mansion
The river side of the Mount Vernon mansion, showing its famous piazza

Among other things, farming was one of Washington’s true passions.  He invented the 16-sided barn at Mt. Vernon, which was used for grain processing and storage.  Horses trotted around the circular slotted wooden floor on top of harvested wheat to separate the grain from the stalk.  Once the heads of grain were separated from the straw, it would fall through to a granary below and stored there until milled. At that time that was considered very ingenious. To learn more about the life and works of George Washington, click here.

Our stay in DC also included some socializing.  We went to Baltimore to have lunch with Steve’s longtime friend that he met while stationed here.  I also met with my friends from Cebu, Philippines that I’ve known for many years.

As you can probably tell by now, we had an action-packed visit in and around the nation’s capital.  Whew! after our 9th day here we were exhausted and ready to move on, not to mention we were beginning to feel the fall chill in the air.  Our base camp was at Cherry Hill Park in College Park, MD, (Steve’s review is here).  It’s the most convenient RV park to Washington, DC, with easy access to the excellent Metro system.




  1. An interesting fact is that President Lincoln called Robert E. Lee to the Capital at the on-set of the Civil War and ask him to lead the Union Army. Robert E. Lee declined the offer since his house set across the river from the Capital, in Virginia.

    Lee did not wish to fight against fellow Virginians as Virginia was aligned with the South.

    Lee eventually led the South through the Civil War. Upon the South’s defeat the US government confiscated his farm and as an insult they made his farm a National Cemetery that we know today as Arlington.

  2. The fall colors sure added a lot to your wonderful pictures! That was some walk! History and especially the people who made history sure takes on a different meaning when you experience days like you had! Thanks for sharing!

  3. You need to get to Myrtle Beach to just relax a little:) Visiting DC is an exhausting experience. I am so glad we lived close enough to do the touring a little at a time. You certainly did an awesome job.

    We just heard on the news last night that JFK’s eternal flame is back in place, construction is finished. We’ll have to get over to see it.

    The foliage is beautiful in the area. Love your new header:)

  4. Interesting story as always. I was wondering if you have seen “Mankind – the story of Us?” that aired on the history channel last year. You can buy it on Blu-Ray or DVD. We’re heading to Mexico on Saturday. I will read your posts when I get back. Have fun with your history lessons!

  5. It was so nice to see you both! I’m glad the museums opened just at the nick of time. Still so much to see and do here in DC. Do come visit again!

  6. There’s so much to see, isn’t there? I also found Arlington cemetery to be a very moving experience, as with all war memorials. You covered a lot of ground, sidewalks or no sidewalks. 🙂 Love your beautiful header, Mona.

  7. We look forward to meeting you here in Myrtle Beach. Our paths will cross for a day or two, lets try to say hello! We’re back in the private lot section, Wren Drive. Look for Beluga – Discovery motorhome and grey jeep about halfway down!

  8. Almost a year since we left DC, and have to admit we don’t miss it (so far) … but I enjoyed seeing some of the familiar sites through your eyes. We often made brief forays into Arlington National Cemetery from Ft Myer as we usually did our grocery shopping at the commissary. Fall, with the leaves turning color, was a favorite time to visit.

  9. This was a wonderful post. I have always felt that seeing Arlington National Cemetery would be a humbling experience. Thanks for the great tour! 🙂

  10. Count all the pictures from top to bottom, the ninth picture is what I do. 😉 Don’t mention it on my blog. 😀 Let others find this comment.
    This post tugs my heart as well. Something I can relate to so much as I know Robert E. Lee, the Memorials, and I can definitely recognize the sacrifices made by our servicemen. By the way, that is one fancy funeral. Most probably high ranking personnel. I used to be a “funeral detail” before. Yes, I fire gun salutes. 😉
    Love the autumn leaves pictures.

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