Lincoln Memorial & National Air and Space Museum

“I don’t think the bus runs outside the rush hour” says the driver. I explain it does, up until early evening. “Oh well, I can take you to the station anyway”.

My driver is taking her granddaughter to a day centre, then going shopping. We have a pleasant conversation during the drive, punctuated by the four-year-old demanding attention from this strange man.

Today it’s the Lincoln Memorial. Metro to Smithsonian station, then walk around the Washington Monument, through the new World War II memorial, and along Constitution Gardens to the Lincoln Memorial.

The following pictures are the Lincoln Memorial from the World War II Memorial;
the Lincoln Memorial from in front of its steps; and the Washington Monument from the steps of the Lincoln

Lincoln Memorial from the World War II Memorial
Lincoln Memorial
Washington Monument from the steps of the Lincoln

Afterwards, a walk up 3rd Avenue to Foggy Bottom for lunch, then Metro again to L’Enfant Plaza station, and a walk to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, on the Mall. This is a more interactive museum than the Steven Udvar-Hazy Center we saw on Sunday – both have their strong points, in different ways.

For me, the highlight was standing next to the Apollo 11 Command Module. I remember watching the Apollo 11 mission and the lunar landing as a space mad ten-year-old, and here it was, close enough to touch (apart from the protective plastic case). I have a picture on my normal camera of me standing by it, grinning like an idiot, but for now, this will have to do, taken on my phone camera.

Columbia - Apollo 11 Command Module

Also on display is Friendship 7, the Mercury capsule in which John Glenn became the first man to orbit the Earth; Gemini IV, the Gemini capsule used for the first space walk; and a Lunar Lander, not a model, but a fully functional Lander, built for low Earth orbit testing, and never used.

Lunar Lander
Lunar Lander

On arrival at the museum, I tried to book a ticket for the Imax 3D “Space Station” show, but the 4pm tickets were sold out. I bought a 5pm ticket, having been told it was a 30 minute show – this would give me time to get back to Rockville, as previously arranged, for 7pm – Gary and Sheryl had a practice scheduled, and I was going to tag along and bang a drum.

The show was excellent, with real 3D footage, shot in space by the International Space Station astronauts themselves, and narrated by Tom Cruise. Unfortunately, it ran for not 30, but 50 minutes: that, and a missed bus meant I got back at 7:30pm. I phoned ahead, and told Gary and Sheryl not to wait for me; they thoughtfully left me a dinner in the fridge, so I had a quiet evening and a guitar practice.

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