Washington


After walking through the Vietnam Memorial, we visited the Lincoln Memorial. Lincoln MemorialI have always admired Lincoln for bringing an end to the slavery but I learned this time that the abolition of slavery was a byproduct of the civil war. Lincoln had said, “I would save the Union… My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and it is not to save or destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do that.” I was surprised but it was the right thing to do. It was important to keep the country together first then there would be time to take care anything else afterwards. We had him to thank for the strong America we have today.

Korean War Memorial was up next. Korean War MemorialThis was a war America and many other nations helped South Korea to fight off the North Korea. Although everyone may have defended the South Korea for its own reasons, it was still a noble cause. The memorial had a bunch of soldiers in their full military fatigues with their rifles. Korean War, if there is such thing as a good war, was considered a successful war. As a result, M.A.S.H. comedy was such a hit. There was also a wall with faces of 2000+ service men and women supporting the war sandblasted on it. It was not as a somber memorial as the Vietnam one.

Kadia at FDR MemorialRalph & Bryden at FDR MemorialThen there was another new memorial, Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial. This one was my favorite as it told many stories through statues and plaques. Back in the 30’s and 40’s, lives in America were not so rosy. Susan and Kadia at FDR MemorialI can only imagine what the Great Depression was when people lost their life-long saving and unemployment rate was over 30%. That was a difficult time for FDR and everyone. Then there was the World War II. If we had lost the World War II, the world would be very different now.

Another new memorial, George Mason Memorial, was just beyond the FDR Memorial. George Mason is called “The Father of Bill of Rights”. The original Bill of Rights gave us the first 10 amendments of the United States Constitution. George Mason MemorialThe freedom we enjoy and take for granted today came from the high price of American Revolution. We have so much to be thankful that sometimes we forget. All these memorials and monuments are a great reminder of past struggles. We all should come visit here every few years.

We finally arrived at American Museum of the Natural History. I was looking forward to spending some time at the museum but soon we discovered it was not a good idea. Kadia would run around and we lost the sight of her a few times. After about 30 minutes, we gave up and headed for our cousin Robby’s house. We will just have to come back to see all the museums when the kids are older.

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Washington DC is a great place for students and people who like history. There are a lot to see at the National Mall and they are all free. It had been 9 years since I was last at Washington DC during the cherry blossom season that year. It has the highest concentration of memorials, monument and museums which can take many weeks to see them all. I was looking forward to going back there again to see great museums and memorials such as National Museum of Natural History and National Air and Space Museum.

Kadia at Washington MonumentWe arrived there by Metro on a Friday morning. The first place we visited was Washington Monument. I noticed there were as many people there as last time we visited when there was a long line to go to the top. Soon I realized that tickets were required to go up to the top. Unfortunately the tickets for visiting the monument was all gone for the day. I didn’t remember that we had to get tickets ahead of time for Washington Monument the last time I visited the place. Perhaps it was due to the impact of the 9/11.

Kadia at World War II MemorialAs we headed toward the Lincoln Memorial, there was something different from what I remembered. Right before the Reflecting Pool, there was something new: World War II Memorial. It was opened in 2004 and it honors the 16 millions who served in World War II and over 400,000 who died defending freedom. It has a pool in the middle with two half circles of granite columns enclosing the pool on two ends. Each stone column represents a state or a territory of United States who had people participated in WWII. It was a beautiful architecture piece and it was special because I felt peaceful there unlike many other memorials.

Vietnam MemorialWe next visited the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. A simple V shape granite wall with names of military people who died fighting the Vietnam War. One wall points toward the Washington Monument and the other points toward the Lincoln Memorial. There were over 58 thousand names on the wall and there were still many names listed as MIA (Missing in Action). I felt for all of them. It was a war that cannot be won just like the current Iraq war. I understand the need to defend freedom and hard to watch others suffering but we need to find a better way than interfering with the business of other countries. There probably will be an Iraq Memorial the next time we visited there with thousands of people dying needlessly and. So sad.

I remember seeing Mount Rainier for the 1st time and was smitten ever since. We were in Seattle just made a right turn looking for a freeway entry and there was Mount Rainier stood majestically right in front of us. Mount Rainier and Sunrise Visitor CenterWe were at least 100 miles away from it and it was still huge like someone painted a half of the horizon with it. It came out of the blue and seemed so surreal that I had to rub my eyes a few time to confirm what I saw.

We had been to Mount Rainier a couple of times but we wanted to go again. We decided to camp at the Sunrise campground on the east side of the park. We soon realized why it was called the Sunrise because it has the best view in the morning. In the afternoon, with the sun in the back plus haze and smoke from nearby fire, it was hard to make out the mountain.

Mount Rainier is a beautiful but deadly mountain. Mt RainierMany people have died from climbing it. I remember looking at it on a clear day thought to myself, “It doesn’t look difficult to reach to the top” because it was so big that it distorted the perspective. In reality, it is a difficult mountain to climb and it usually takes 2 to 3 days for people to summit. When we set up our campsite, we noticed a warning sign about the area being a pyroclastic flow zone that we could be in danger anytime. Mount Rainier has not erupted for over 100 years but it is still active and when it does erupt again, it can be devastating. We made a mental note to run if we felt any earthquakes.

We hiked to Dege Peak in the morning starting from the Sunrise Visitor Center. Last ClimbThe visibility in the morning was great. We hiked away from Mount Rainier and were able to get many good views of the mountain. The slope of the mountain that we hiked on was green and beautifully decorated with beargrass. The hike had a gentle climb along a ridge with valley on both sides until the last 100 yards where it steeped (see right) before we reached the top. At the top we had panoramic view of the surrounding. To the north, it was a valley (see far below); To the east, it had layers of mountains (see near below), reminded us of Smoky Mountains; and to the west, it was the Mount Rainier, peacefully capped with glaciers, enticing mountaineers to go. Perhaps next time we will attempt to climb it.

Hazy in Horizons
North Side

We were supposed to visit Olympic National Park after leaving Victoria, Canada. However, we were advised to arrive at the Victoria ferry terminal at least 4 hours ahead of time to hopefully get a spot on the ferry from there to Port Angeles because it was a small boat and they were expecting a big Labor Day crowd. After dropping off Steve at Victoria Airport about 10 o’clock in the morning, we decided to try our luck at the Sidney port as we didn’t want to wait at Victoria Ferry for over 4 hours. The Sidney port was located next to the Airport so we had nothing to lose to check it out. We knew a ferry would go to Anacortes around 11 so it would be great if we could get on that ferry. Surprisingly, we were able to get into the terminal and still had some spare time to do a little shopping to spend our last few Canadian dollars.

A couple of years ago when we camped at North Cascades National Park, Mt Bakerwe thought of going to Mount Baker but the weather didn’t cooperate: it rained the last couple of days we were there. A year later our friends, Udin and Nancy, went to Mount Baker and highly recommended it. After we made across to the Anacortes, we decided that this was a good opportunity to see Mount Baker this time. It was a long drive on Mt Baker Scenic Highway to Mount Baker, but it was worth it.

The first beautiful stop we made was at Heather Meadow. Heather Meadow The picture on the right was taken at the Picture Lake there. There were a lot of wildflowers there; I assumed they were heather, thus the name, Heather Meadow. It looked like a great place for a hike but we had to skip because the day was getting late as the drive took an hour longer than we thought. Mt Baker PostpileWe moved on to the Artist Points and along the way, we saw a wall of columnar basalt along the highway (see picture on the left.) There were many but small of the volcanic rock formation there like we saw in Devil Postpile NM and Devil Tower NM. At the end of the drive, we got a great view of Mount Baker (see first picture on this page)

It was the Sunday of Labor Day weekend; we could not find any campsite near Mount Baker,Lake Near Baker only the 3rd time on the trip that we could not find a campsite where we wanted. We scouted the place enough to know there were many potential great hiking trails; we vowed to go back there next time perhaps to do some backpacking. We took a picture (shown left) at the Reflection Lake on the way down the mountain. It was indeed a beautiful area.

On this trip, we visited some unexpected places, Harper Ferry, Prince Edward Island, Apostles Islands National Lakeshore, Seneca Rocks, Aunt Peggy’s place, Craigleith State Park and La Maurice National Park, for example. Mount Baker was a pleasant surprise, although a few others were not. Life often throws us a curve; we don’t always get what we expect. We had many surprises on this trip, good and bad. For everything, one can always find good and bad, depending on what one was looking for. Whatever it was, we tried to look at it from a positive angle. Whenever something happened that took us out of our expected routes, we adapted and found other interesting routes to take. That was important on such a long trip to keep the spirit high and our passion burning.