America by Amtrak,
Coast-to-Coast and Border-to-Border
Washington, DC (WAS)
Washington, DC Amtrak Station
Washington, DC the nation's
capitol, was the third Destination City on a
dream Amtrak train trip covering 25 states on 6 Amtrak Long Distance
Trains. Son, Matthew Morrison, and Yours Truly arrived on Amtrak Capitol Limited and left
on the Amtrak Carolinian
with 1 1/2 days full of excellent tours by Grayline and my
US Representative in Southern California, Ed Royce.
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We arrived on the Amtrak Capitol
Limited, but there are many other Amtrak trains on which you can reach
Washington, DC: Acela Express, Cardinal, Silver Star,
Crescent, Silver Meteor, Carolinian, Keystone, Vermonter, Palmetto,
plus Northeast Regional.
We arrived about 1 p.m., and took Uber to our hotel: Holiday Inn
Express & Suites, Washington, DC Northeast, 1917 Bladensburg Road
NE, Washington, DC 20002 220-266-9000.
There are three things I liked
our Holiday Inn Express. 1. As with all Holiday Inn
Express' is the hot breakfast. 2. They have a shuttle to
Union Station (above). 3. Our room had a view of the rail
line coming into Washington, DC including the Acela (below).
View from our room of the RR bridge for trains heading for Union Station
Holiday Inn Express typical breakfast bar. This HIE had two bars
like this with such a large number of guests.
Matt heading back for seconds before our shuttle to our Supreme Court
An excellent Gray Line tour, if you arrive in DC in the morning or
early afternoon, is the "DC After Dark Tour"
which leaves Union Station's Bus Terminal Level area at 7 p.m. for the
3-hour tour. With instructions to be at the departure point 15 to
30 minutes before departure, we took Uber back to the station in time
to eat supper at the Station. Just inside the entrance, we
selected The Thunder Grill, Tex-Mex, Street Level - Main Hall,
Phone: (202) 898-0051. I think you will be surprised at all the
vendors in Union
Station. Click here for a Map.
Meeting place at 15 - 30 minutes before 7 pm in Union Station for
our Gray Line "DC After Dark" Tour.
Our excellent Gray Line driver.
Only problem was that he was downstairs and when he asked if everyone
was back on board after a stop, he could not hear those upstairs who
said, "No!" Someone from upstairs would have to run downstairs
and announce that we were not all back on board. We almost left a
lady at the last stop, the Iwo Jima Memorial, and I don't know how she
would have gotten back since that is a pretty remote area.
We chose the upper deck open seating, an excellent location for
Big city train operators around the
country provide these small parking areas for those who bring spouses
to the commuter trains, so they do not have to get in a traffic line
for those dropping off passengers with luggage. This sign also
has a full-width photo of the DC Station.
Washington, DC Union Station as we leave on our DC After Dark Tour
We pulled out in front of Union Station before sunset for our
tours of Monuments after Dark. Flags were at half staff for
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
The U.S. Capitol Building dome viewed from Union Station.
The Gray Line driver took us past the capitol building slowly for good
They have been replacing the bolts
from the Lincoln Era in the U.S. Capitol Building dome for years, but
that the scaffolding will be down for the inauguration. "Her
inauguration" the driver said. The Senate meets on the left side and
House of Representatives of the right. The inauguration of
presidents takes place on the front portal in the center.
Stoplights down the middle of Pennsylvania Avenue are build so they can
be taken down on Inauguration Day.
Directly in front of the Capitol
building, to the west is the Washington Monument, with planes landing
at one of three major airports in the Washington, DC region: Ronald
Reagan Washington National Airport (airport code: DCA), Washington
Dulles International Airport (airport code: IAD) and
Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (airport
Further west, we passed the
Newseum, remember these faces?
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National Gallery of Art
Bernie Sanders was on the top deck with us as we passed the
Wonder what was going on up there
At the White House we walked up to
the fence and noticed the side of the bus had a nice photo of the
Capitol. The upper deck could come down through that middle door,
or the front door.
Souvenir stands near the White House had this photo on a
bag. Made me think of the "Kiss & Ride" concept.
Matt at the fence outside the White House.
Right after this photo, White House
Security pulled up and shouted, "No more photographs, leave the fence
immediately." And turned back tourists heading to the fence to
take a photo. We were satisfied with the number of photos we had
taken. We wondered why the urgency as we returned to our
We did notice some firetrucks pulling onto the property and I saw one
"Foam" truck. Our bus went between the Washington Monument and
the White House and we saw additoinal fire trucks.
Something is happening at the White House.
Highway 50 has a special place in
my heart. I was born on a farm along Hwy. 50 near Hayden,
Indiana. This highway is a transcontinental, pre-Interstate
highway that ran from San Francisco to Ocean City, Maryland - right
down the Washington, DC Mall, past the White House. Paul Clifford
and I drove the full length of this unfragmented highway in 2004 from
Sacramento (the current western terminous) to Ocean City, MD. I
drove our 1956 Chevy and he drove his 1957 Chevy convertible. We
called that trip: "See the USA in your Chevrolet - Border to
Border and Coast to Coast." I even made a website about that
View of the Washington Monument from the top of our Gray Line Tour
Bus near the White House.
Near the WWII Monument, with a view
of the Jefferson Memorial, we learned why we were moved away from the
White House...President Barack Obama and wife Michelle were returning
from Texas and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's
I am sure the President saw us
down here waving!
Matt was thoughtful enough to take a video
Our Gray Line bus stopped at the WWII Memorial where we saw President
Obama returning to the White House.
Washington Monument from the steps of the Jefferson Memorial.
The most prominent building of DC’s
skyline has to be the Washington Monument which finished construction
in 1884. When
originally built, the Washington Monument was the tallest building in
the world at 555 feet tall. This record was broken in 1889 when the
Eiffel Tower was built. Other facts:
Jefferson Memorial from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial
Vietnam Veterans Memorial
I did not have time to look for Jim Trisch's name on the Vietnam
Veterans Memorial Wall.
On the opposite side of the reflection pool is the Korean War Memorial,
which was too dark to photograph.
Washington Monument from Lincoln Memorial.
Iwo Jima Memorial, our last stop on the "DC After Dark" Gray Line tour.
July 13, 2016 we took the hotel
shuttle to the train station and walked to the Supreme Court Building
for our tour.
Supreme Court Building
Hallway to the Courtroom.
Those with reservations line up on
one side and are guaranteed a seat, others line up on the other side
and fill in remaining places of the 250 seats available.
No photos were allowed in the
chambers. This was a model in the waiting area. We sat in
the 3 sets of benches and the docent stood in that opening in the low
wall and gave an excellent 25 minute talk. There were eight seats
for Justices because of the death of Justice Scalia and the refusal of
Congress to appoint a replacement Justice.
View of the Capitol dome through the Supreme Court columns.
On our walk from the Supreme Court
past the Capitol Building to Rep. Royce's Office, we noticed these
security blockades. These fold down automatically for departing
vehicles, but make a bit of noise.
We hurriedly walked past the east
side of the Capitol Building. When Sue and I drove through here
in 1969, California Senator Alan Cranston looked at our front
California license place and looked up and waved at us.
We then walked to U.S. Representative Ed Royce's CA-39 Office at
2310 Rayburn HOB, Washington, DC to meet our guide to the Capitol
Rep. Royce has a placque from all the California cities that are
in his district. The top left one is from our hometown,
Rep. Royce's desk reminded me of President Reagan's.
Rep. Royce came out of his office
where he was meeting with a group of youth, and greeted us. He
had an aide take our photo together, said we could sit at his desk and
take photos of each other and had another aide take us on a tour of the
Capitol because he had a vote coming up. His aide said he works
late at night doing his work to make up for meeting with constituents
during the day.
We then walked to U.S.
Representative Ed Royce's CA-39 Office at 2310 Rayburn HOB, Washington,
DC to meet our guide to the Capitol Building. We had made
arrangements with Representative Royce's office five months earlier for
tours of the Bureau of Engraving, Supreme Court, and Mr. Royce's Office
and the Capitol Building.
While we waited for Rep. Royce to
greet us, Matt spoke with a former CIA Agent who had South America
experience. She was searching for a former Guantanamo Bay
detainee, an expert in forged documents, who they feared would rejoin
the enemy and end up in the U.S.
Matt outside Mr. Royce's office.
Matt at Mr. Royce's desk.
View of the Capitol Building from Rep. Royce's Office. Rep. Royce
has been in office for 23 years so he can select an office with a view.
While seated at Rep. Royce's desk, I could not help but notice what his
aides had clipped from the news:
Since a vote was taking place in the Capitol Building, Representatives
took the underground tram and we walked to the U.S. Capitol Building.
We arrived underground and toured many historic rooms in the U.S.
Our small tour group from Rep. Royce's office - Matt and a family of
While waiting to go to the Capitol
Building, I spotted a row of these (above). I asked the boy in
the cap who was with us what he thought these were. He guessed
"elevator". Just shows the generation gap that I tend to forget
In the tunnel from the
Representatives offices to the Capitol Building there are many
amenities like shoe shine, ATM, and many vending machines.
These were the prohibited items when we went through security.
Student award winning art work from around the US in the tunnel to
the Capitol Building.
Because we had tickets issued by Rep. Royce, we did not have to wait in
Replica of statue on the top of the Capitol Dome.
Our guide talking about the Lincoln bust.
Our guide pointing out the location of Rep. Royce's office in relation
to the Capitol Building.
Original House of Representatives
John Quincy Adams found a spot
below the dome where he could hear conversations of his opponents in
the chamber. Other Representatives wanted their desk next to his
so they could hear conversations across the room as well.
Under the rotunda with construction canvas around.
Mural of the Signing the Declaration of Independence behind current day
President Reagan behind scaffolding.
The Supreme Court Building from the east entrance of the Capitol
These bronze doors were made for the west entrance, but were not the
right size, so they are on the east side.
Near the Mr. Royce's office is the United States Botnic Garden
Walking in front of the Capital Building is a proud moment.
A group of young women were assembled on the Capitol lawn.
A few steps from the assembly of ladies were these discarded
signs. I wondered if there was a connection.
Workers atop the Capital Building.
We returned to Union Station and caught another Uber ride back to our
Freedom Bell located in front of Union Station. The sculpture is
a 2.1 scale replica of the Liberty Bell. The bell, which was founded by
Petit und Fritsen, weighs 8 tons and has a support structure of post
and beam style with two concrete shafts. A plaque rests on the ground
in front of the bell that reads:
The Freedom Bell
The Spirit of the Bicentennial
on Behalf of
The Children of Our Nation
The American Legion
American Legion Auxiliary
The bell, a Bicentennial gift from the American Legion, is a model of
the bell on display at the American Legion Headquarters in
Indianapolis, Indiana. Authorized by Congress on October 12, 1976, it
was cast outside of the US because no foundry had the capacity to cast
When the bell was completed it was shipped to Baltimore and then
traveled to all 48 contiguous states aboard the American Freedom Train
for the Bicentennial, starting on April 1, 1975 in Wilmington, DE and
ending Dec 31, 1976 in Miami, FL. The bell shared train car No. 41
(later renumbered 40) with a map of the American Freedom Train's
journey and a lunar rover. From 1977–1978 the bell was placed in
National Park Service storage until lengthy discussions led to an
agreement and the bell was placed at Union Station in 1981. The
American Legion, who hoped for placement at the National Mall, were
unhappy with the bell's placement.
With so many gates and trains,
Washington, DC Union Station is very busy in the morning. As we
passed through the station earlier, we asked which Gate we would leave
on the Carolinian at 10:53 a.m. for our Coach ride to Charlotte at 8:12
We arrived early and took turns watching our luggage while the other
person strolled through the shops.
One shop had many Washington, DC souvenirs and displays. The
sales person was kind enough to take my photo.
Very informative signs are posted
so you know you are boarding the right train. This sign showing
our train, Carolinian No. 79, at Gate J with the current time, boarding
soon and leaving at 10:53 a.m Our destination was
Charlotte, North Carolina.
We used Uber in all 5
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