The Holidays in DC
First, Happy New Year to everyone! I stayed in the District over the holidays, so I thought I would share what the experience was like as my first post of 2019! First off, DC definitely has some amazing holiday displays. Here’s just a few that I found interesting.
First, in front of the Capitol there is always the Capitol Christmas Tree that comes from one of the states. This year it just happened to be a noble fir, (Abies procera), from Oregon. It was very surreal to visit and see the tree on the lawn with all the ornaments designed by Oregonians, mostly students, and to smell the scent of a noble fir so far from home. Fun fact, Oregon actually supplies a great deal of the Christmas trees around the country, and noble firs are one of the major species. But, still, this one was very big and came from the Willamette National Forest. It definitely caused a bit of homesickness, but I was so happy to have that little piece of Oregon here for a while.
Another famous tree is the one in front of the White House, the National Christmas Tree. This one is a Colorado blue spruce, (Picea pungens), from Pennsylvania, planted on the ellipse and decorated every year. This year, we visited on Christmas Eve and saw the train displays and the mini trees all around the main one. There is a tree for every state, and again, we visited the Oregon mini-tree (kind of like mini-me), which had more decorations from Oregon middle school students. Such a cool thing to see!
Also on Christmas Eve, we took a long walk and visited several the National Monuments that are harder to get to, such as the Jefferson Memorial, Martin Luther King Memorial, and Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial for the first time. We also stopped by to see Mr. Lincoln, and continued on to the White House and then to Willard’s Hotel, to view the decorations there. Unexpected, we also came across a huge gingerbread display of Reagan National Airport with live control tower audio playing. It was a little surreal. There’s a photo of that below, check it out!
My personal favorite display was at the United States Botanic Garden. They had an elaborate display of scale models of famous buildings, monuments, and museums around DC and an amazing train display with models of famous train stations around the country. All of the models were made of plant materials… they were amazing! When I’m working at NASA, I usually visit the garden during my lunchtime walkabout, so I got to enjoy this display a lot. I’m sure there will be a separate post about the garden one of these days, because it is definitely my favorite place in DC.
On top of these fun things, many of the agencies that I visited were decorated for the holidays—including NASA. There were also a number of holiday celebrations and other events throughout December that I was able to participate in at Headquarters. It was a blast.
Other random thoughts about the holidays
New Year’s Eve, for us, was spent quietly at home, but I know there were a ton of things happening around town. We meant to go to the Zoo Lights at some point, but had to settle for seeing them several times during the day as we walked through on various walkabouts (we live very close to the zoo). The week between Christmas and New Years was very quiet around town. Especially with the government shutdown, which is definitely memorable. NASA is one of the agencies affected, so I’ve been working out of the Department of Energy Building and the Library of Congress for the past two weeks.
Anyway, on to photos! As always, click through for captions and more information!