Our visit to Washington, DC with British friends (one of whom had never before been to the US) coincided with my birthday. That day, we took a Capitol tour:
A main highlight is its famous Rotunda. Here, prominent Americans posthumously occasionally lie in state; most recently it was Senator John McCain. The public pass the casket, which is usually covered with an American flag, and pay their final respects.
Its artwork is also legendary, including its statues:
Visiting places like these in the US with our British friends is also an amusing experience…
“Over there,” a tour guide announces, “is the famous painting of the signing of the 1776 Declaration of Independence from Great Britain. Next to it, you see a magnificent painting of the British surrender at Saratoga, New York. There’s George Washington, who defeated the British. Oh, and over there, that painting is of the British surrender at…”😂🇺🇸🇬🇧
Following the tour, I was treated to a birthday cupcake in the Capitol’s cafe:
After, we walked across the street to the Library of Congress:
In it, I enjoyed a stop at Thomas Jefferson’s personal library, which he had sold to Congress after the British burned the Capitol during their brief capture of Washington, D.C. in 1814, during the War of 1812.
I was rather impressed:
He himself had authored and published only one book in his life:
Jefferson completed Notes On The State Of Virginia while serving as US Minister to France (1785-1789). It was intended for a small “intellectual” European audience mostly of like-minded friends and acquaintances
much as are my novels. It was initially published anonymously,
Eventually he made the book available under his own name.
After visiting the National Archives and seeing the originals also of the Jefferson-penned Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution – the preamble is generally believed to have been written by Gouverneur Morris – but unable to take photos there of those extra-carefully preserved documents, we made our way to the Smithsonian Natural History Museum:
There, among so much else, we saw the famous Hope Diamond. It had been said that its owner is “cursed” to have bad luck:
The Smithsonian being owned by the United States government, the US really should sell the diamond to avoid that “curse”!😂
Flying back home to upstate New York, en route to Albany our flight the next day took us past Manhattan. We got a great aerial view of Central Park:
Back at our Catskills house near Windham (about 3 hours drive north of Manhattan), the next day I encountered a group of wild turkeys off our drive. They ran as soon as they noticed me:
I was thinking they had better run! Thanksgiving is less than three months away!😂
September 6 was “National Read A Book Day,” so I felt a photo of part of my library was called for:
Sitting on our porch, taking in the views of the Catskill Mountains around us, I like to think one “Robert Rutherford” in 1840 had much the same view…
…as he sat having tea with “Nancy,” moments before “Mrs. Rutherford” appeared on the drive in the phaeton.
Who is “Mrs. Rutherford”? I’m not giving that away here. She’s revealed in the novel.😆
Such is being a writer.📚
Driving to my dad’s in Pennsylvania on Friday, we finished our Catskills visit with lunch at the legendary and popular Phoenicia Diner. It’s a well-known stop for often well-to-do and famous Catskills residents and visitors.
I can’t say for sure, but I’m almost certain that, for example, David Bowie – who lived only a few miles down the road, in the tiny community of Olive – almost certainly must have eaten at the diner.
We flew out of JFK Airport on Saturday evening, and arrived back here in England yesterday (Sunday) morning. The M25 London ring motorway, normally packed, is pleasantly quiet at about 8:30 on a Sunday:
Note: There, I was not driving!📸
Our friend who’d never been to America laughed that after all our touring there, he knew now that the country was actually REAL! It wasn’t just a television show or a film set! It did exist!😂
Holiday finished. Back to “normal” – and writing. Have a good day, wherever you are in the world.😊