A few weeks back I was speaking at the Navigator conference in Baltimore, MD. I love this conference because the all the most amazing people in the field of 911 communication are in one place networking and sharing ideas. This year it was held in Baltimore’s inner harbour. Here is the view from my room.

I find this conference both exhilarating and exhausting as I spend the entire time I am there either presenting or running around trying to catch up with as many people as possible.

Once it was over I headed into Washington DC with some dear friends.

We spent about 5 hours walking from one end of DC to the other. If you have never been to Washington, DC, put it on your to-do list. It really is worth the trip–even for a Canadian. The best thing about the place is the everything is free!  There are a stunning number of Smithsonians–okay I just googled it, there are 19–in the downtown core. Since there is no cost to enter you never have the feeling that you have to stay to get your money’s worth. Our group popped into the American Indian Museum. Yes, fellow Canadians, it is really called the “Indian Museum”. I know that this will give you pause as it does me. Why isn’t it called the “first nations” museum or the “aboriginal heritage” museum? Americans are quite comfortable with the term “Indian” as it refers to the Native American people. I have a dear friend who is a first nations American and he repeatedly tells me that he is an indian! So this museum was fabulous. In the entrance way there was a v-w bug that was entirely covered in intricate patterns of tiny beads. It was stunning

We then a wonderful late lunch in the cafeteria. It was so hard to choose between all the amazing regional cuisines. I desperately wanted to try the duck and bison burger from the Plains Indian vendor, but I just couldn’t justify they $18 price tag.

Next we head down Independence Avenue only to quickly stop at the next Smithsonian venue, the Air and Space Museum. Now planes and rocket ships aren’t really my thing, but I still found this museum really interesting. Who knew there were so many types of aircraft or the lunar pods were really that small?

After this brief visit we walk past the Washington Monument. It was roped off due to repairs that were required after it was damaged in an earthquake! We headed across a wide green lawn filled with people playing ball and found a great spot to take pictures in front of the White House. It seems so strange to me that one can get close enough to take pictures of the president’s home. It is quite am impressive building.

We then walked further and saw a lot of dirt instead of the normally beautiful reflecting pool. It has been drained and was being repaired. So on we walked to the Vietnam Memorial. The sheer number of names written on the simple black granite overwhelmed me. So many young lives lost.  The Korean War monument that is not very far from this and evokes a strong reaction too. It is a series of larger-than-life sculptures of soldier walking through the jungle. It is very well done and I found myself   becoming very hushed as I imagined the soldiers would have been as they navigated that foreign jungle.

Then we found a quiet refuge out of the hot sun at President Lincoln’s monument. I am sure everyone is familiar with this one.

There is a new monument in Washington. Once I didn’t even know had been created and which is now my favourite. Right on the bank of the Tidal Basin the Martin Luther King Jr monument has been constructed. The picture I have simply does not do it justice. Upon approach one sees two huge pillars of white rock that flank an entrance way. It is like a piece has been carved out of a mountain to allow people to pass through It gives nothing away about what is through the entrance. Once the visitor has walked between the pillars of stone one sees the missing piece gigantic in front of him. You must walk all the way around this middle piece to see that on the other side is a sculpture of Martin Luther King Jr. It is breathtaking.
On either side of the two entrance columns is a wall that is filled with quotations from MLK. It is my favourite monument in Washington, DC. It is incredibly powerful and beautiful and wonderful. I wish I had taken more pictures of it, but at the time I really didn’t think that the emotion would translate to photographs.

It was a wonderful visit.

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