Saturday, January 17, 2009

National Christmas Tree on the Mall

December 29, 2008

We went down to the National Mall the evening of the 29th to see the National Christmas Tree, the Washington Monument and White House. The tree is located in front of the White House on the Ellipse. Since 1923, the United States has held a tradition of lighting a National Christmas Tree in Washington, DC. In 1978, a live 40-foot Colorado blue spruce was transplanted from York, Pennsylvania to its present site on the Ellipse, the grassy area south of the White House. In 1954, a "Pathway of Peace," 56 smaller, decorated trees representing all 50 states, five territories, and the District of Columbia were planted surrounding the National Christmas Tree. Each year sponsoring organizations from each state provide tree decorations that are encased in a protective plastic globe to shield it from the weather.

Christmas at Union Station

December 20, 2008

We went down into Washington to see what Christmas decorations were out. We went to Union Station which usually has some kind of decorations which includes a G-Guage train layout running inside on a 10x20 foot display.
In the main lobby was a 32-foot tall Christmas tree which had 8,000 cnadles and U.S. and Norwegian flags was presented on November 25th, 2008 by the Norwegian Embassy as gratitude for assistance received from the United States during and after World War II.

National Air and Space Museum - Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center

November 23, 2008

The National Air and Space Museum is located close to the Dulles International Airport. The large part of the museum is an actual hanger that was constructed to house the many airplanes and related items the Smithsonian has but can not present due to space constrains on the National Mall in Washington D.C. The museum is a tough place to photograph, tripods are not allowed, natural light is sparse and when present create a large dynamic range due to the subdued lighting inside and the many spotlights that are used. I would suggest going to here when in the area as many famous planes are here.

This is a Republic P-47D Thunderbolt which was a ground attach plane with 2,000 horsepower radial engine with eight .50 caliber machine guns. The right wing and two engines of the Enola Gay are in the background.

Another famous item is the actual Enterprise Space Shuttle which was the first built for NASA. It was constructed without engines or functional heat shields and was therefore not capable of space operations. Its purpose was to perform test flights in the atmosphere. The Enterprise was to be refitted and subsequently used for orbital flight. As the second space shuttle, Columbia, was being built, design specs were changed which prevented the Enterprise from being refitted.