Elizabeth A.S. Brooke

Crafting, traveling and everything in between.

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National Museum of American History Museum, D.C.

The National Museum of American History is huge! We didn’t get to see everything that was there, including a large exhibit on the Civil Rights Movement. We only got to see a portion of it and many others because we only had about an hour and half to explore everything.

The most amazing and emotional artifact we saw was the Star-Spangled Banner. Yes, the actual flag Francis Scott Key saw and wrote about during the War of 1812. It was kept in a dark room, behind a glass. In the background, various renditions of the “Star Spangled Banner” played, including Jimi Hendrix’s famous version.

We also saw an exhibit that featured gowns worn by several First Ladies. From inaugural gowns to campaign outfits, there were dresses to represent most of the former ladies. Chris was sweet and patient to let me spend a lot of time there browsing the different fabrics and styles and admiring how fashion has changed over the years.

We also spent a very long time in the exhibit about the evolution of the food culture in the U.S. It included a complete kitchen donated by Julie Child. The exhibit had a video that played snippets of Child’s cooking show on a loop. I sat through a couple before Chris poked me to move it along.

The transportation exhibit is ginormous. Chris said the exhibit was sprawling. I’m sure we didn’t finish seeing it all, though it was hard to tell. There seemed to be room after room of transportation artifacts. There were boats, school buses, trolleys, classic cars and trains.


There was an exhibit about Little Golden Books. It displayed many of the books published over the years. It was fun picking out the books I remembered reading, such as the “The Poky Little Puppy.”

I would definitely make the history museum a priority to revisit in the future. There was so much to see and we didn’t even get to peek into several of the exhibits, such as a maritime exhibit and history of Americans in war.

Capital Columns, National Arboretum

First up in our tour of the National Arboretum was the National Capital Columns. These sandstone columns used to stand on the East Portico of the Capital building in the 1800s. They were moved to the park in the 1980s.

Capital Columns

The columns sit in the middle of a meadow. We walked along a mowed path to get a closer look. In front of the columns and in the middle of them are reflecting pools.

Columns Reflecting Pool The park’s website says the columns are the most photographed and filmed structures in the park. I can see why! The columns are also handicap accessible and parking is nearby.

Reflecting pool


A sculpture across the field from the columns.

A sculpture across the field from the columns.


Harpers Ferry

On our way to D.C., we made a stop at Harpers Ferry, W.Va. This historic site is famous for the slave uprising led by abolitionist John Brown. It’s a 2 1/2 mile walk from the park entrance to the historic part of Harpers Ferry. The lady at the entrance said it takes her only 30 mins to walk.

“Ugh, I don’t think she’ll let us walk that fast,” I told her, indicating Sidney’s reluctance to walk. It’s tough being an old dog!

The woman told us about the River Access parking lot that was a lot closer to the town. We thanked her, did a U-turn in the drive and headed to the lot. What a blessing the woman was!

We started out walking around Virginius Island. It has several historic sites where homes and mills used to stand. No one has lived on the island since a flood in 1936. The island sits between the Shenandoah River and Shenandoah River Canal. The coolest part was the water tunnels along the shoreline.

Where the Shenandoah Pulp Company mill used to stand.

Where the Shenandoah Pulp Company mill used to stand.

The Shenandoah River

The Shenandoah River

Water tunnels on Virginius Island.

Water tunnels on Virginius Island. The Shenandoah is behind it.

Next up was Lower Town, which represents 19th century Harpers Ferry. It includes abolitionist John Brown’s Fort, which is a historic armory fire engine house where Brown was caught after his raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859. There are several small museums and historic sites in Lower Town, including Storer College, a Meriwether Lewis Exhibit, an African American history museum and Jefferson Rock. We spent a long afternoon walking around the historic district and took a short drive through neighboring Boliver.

View of St. Peter's Catholic Church and Lower Town.

View of St. Peter’s Catholic Church and Lower Town.

The main street in Lower Town. The town was filled with small restaurants, stores, living history sites and museums.

The main street in Lower Town. The town was filled with small restaurants, stores, living history sites and museums.

The armory fire engine house where John Brown was captured in 1859.

The armory fire engine house where John Brown was captured in 1859.

St. Peter's Catholic Church

St. Peter’s Catholic Church

historic building

A tour group and interpretive guide next to John Brown's Fort.

A tour group and interpretive guide next to John Brown’s Fort.

Another street in Harpers Ferry.

Another street in Harpers Ferry.

There are miles of trails in this national park, including the Appalachian Trail (AT) and a place where three national park trails meet — the AT, the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal trail and the Potomac Heritage Trail. Harpers Ferry sits on a peninsula that juts out into the meeting of two rivers — the Shenandoah and the Potomac. Lots of breathtaking views from many areas around the town!


Church ruins on way to Jefferson Rock.

Church ruins on way to Jefferson Rock.

View over Lower Town.

View over Lower Town.

View of hills and rivers surrounding Harpers Ferry.

View of hills and rivers surrounding Harpers Ferry.

Sidney was quite the star, as usual. A few people stopped us to ask about her eyes, of course, and her breed. Some even snapped a few photos. One guy, who said he was taking photos for a marketing campaign for Jefferson County (W.Va.), snapped a few shots of Sidney drinking lhassi at a local cafe. So if you see a Jefferson County marketing campaign in the near future you may see a photo of our little dogher!

Sidney enjoy a lhassi.

Sidney enjoy a lhassi.

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Upcoming D.C. posts

We spent a long weekend in Washington, D.C. recently so in the coming weeks I’ll share posts from the places we visited, including the National Arboretum, restaurants and, of course, the National Mall.

I’ll schedule the first post for later today or tomorrow morning. See you then!

(Don’t forget you can follow along any of my posts by clicking the RSS feed buttons on either the Home Page (for all posts), Beth’s Crafty Things, or Small Travels and Musings. You can also sign up to receive emails.)

Harvest Time at Booker T. Washington National Monument

On our trip to Smith Mountain Lake State Park, we stopped for a picnic at Booker T. Washington National Monument in Hardy, Va. It was raining, but we refused to let it keep us from our picnic! It was only a light sprinkle. 🙂

We didn’t get to check the monument out, so would like to go back to check it out.

When Chris went in to quickly check out the visitor center, an interpretive guide told him about Harvest Time, an event that the monument will host on Sept. 21. It features wood working, doll and soap making, pottery, farm animals and costumed interpreters.

Charles Pinckney National Historic Site, Mount Pleasant, S.C.

On our way to visit Boone Hall Plantation and Gardens, we stopped at the Charles Pinckney National Historic site, which is also located in Mount Pleasant, S.C.

This house sits on the former site of Pinckney’s home, according to info on the website.

Here you’ll find a home and foundations of former slave cabins of Charles Pinckney, a signer of the U.S. Constitution. This plantation was called Snee Farm.

Only 28 acres of the original 715-acre farm still exists. A 1/2 mile walking trail guides visitors around the house and former foundations. Interpretive signs and brochures tell about each site, giving the culture and history of the farm.

This overlooks where the farm used to be. The house is behind the photographer.

There is an easy, 1/2-mile trail around the property that includes interpretive signs pointing out foundations and other interesting sites.

This makes for a very short trip, but is a good place to get out and stretch your legs.