Archive for the ‘US’ Category

The Money Factory is the official website name for the The Bureau of Engraving and Printing. And what a money factory it is.

It’s only open for tours during the weekdays which makes scheduling a visit a little harder for the working folks but for tourists, it’s another interesting and free place to explore during their stay in Washington DC. Especially on a cold & windy winter’s day.

Engraving and Printing Bureau

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing was established by President Lincoln in 1862. The original office was located in a single room in the basement of the Treasury Building. There were six employees who printed and sealed $1 & $2 notes. Today, there are over 2,500 employees working out of two sites in Washington DC and a building in Fort Worth Texas. Together, they print over a billion dollars a day. I found that an amazing amount and re-checked with the tour guide. Yes, a billion!

In the past, the Bureau has also printed currency for the following governments: Cuba (1934), the Philippines (1928), Siam (Thailand – 1945) and Korea (1947). Each government paid for all the work connected with printing their money.

The Secretary of the Treasury is responsible for all designs on paper currency including the portraits. In 1929, the size of the notes were reduced and are all the same size. This is a common complaint I’ve heard from my non-American friends. They find the same size notes to be confusing. And I won’t even get started on how they feel about our coins.

The $100 note is the highest denomination still in circulation. The portraits of well-known statesmen on the currency are as follows:
$1 = George Washington
$2 = Thomas Jefferson
$5 = Abraham Lincoln
$10 = Alexander Hamilton
$20 = Andrew Jackson
$50 = Ulysses Grant
$100 = Benjamin Franklin

The 40-minute tour begins with a short film and then takes you through the steps of the printing production. It was a lot more complicated process then I had previously thought. It’s the off-season and not a highly advertised tourist destination so I was expecting the tour to be sparsely attended but it was full. Be sure to get a ticket in advance during the summer months.

For security reasons, photography is not allowed on the tour but you can snap a few shots in the waiting area and at the gift shop (which sells uncut sheets of notes). Here are my photos:

Printing & Engraving One Million Dollars
“One MILLION dollars” (said in my best Doctor Evil voice)

Printing and Engraving display
Uncut monetary notes for sale

Jefferson Memorial
The Jefferson Memorial is within easy walking distance of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. I would recommend a visit there before or after the Bureau tour. Also, next door to the Bureau is the Holocaust Museum.

Click here for ticket/tour times.

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When you fly into National Airport (Reagan) and you’re sitting in a window seat, be sure to have your camera ready. Here are a few photos from my most recent flight (December 2014):

Lincoln MemorialView from the sky
Lincoln Memorial

Georgetown University Campus

Georgetown University
Georgetown University Campus and a little of the surrounding area

Georgetown II
Georgetown, Washington DC

Watergate Complex
Watergate Complex

Jefferson Memorial
Jefferson Memorial

Washington Monument
Washington Monument

Couple of photos with the wing of the plane.

Washington Monument
Washington Monument

Jefferson Memorial
Jefferson Memorial

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My last visit to Fort Sumter was in August 1997. The air was heavy with moisture to the point of being just shy of raining, it was 95 in the shade and I was six months pregnant. My only recollection of the visit is the air conditioned gift shop which is where I spent most of my time on the island. Fast forward 17 years and it was hat and gloves weather with a whole lot of fog on my most recent visit.

Charleston Church Flag and fountain
View from the ferry-boat looking back at Charleston

South Carolina was the first state to secede from the Union and on April 12, 1861, the Confederate Army fired on the Federal soldiers at the yet completed Fort Sumter. It would be four bloody combat years and over 600,000 dead before the Union Forces recaptured Fort Sumter. The Civil War’s first fatality occurred at Fort Sumter on April 14, 1861, the day after the battle ended. Private Daniel Hough died while loading a canon for the Union’s 100-gun salute to the U.S. flag. The canon round discharged prematurely and killed him.

Fort Sumter is part of the National Park Service. Liberty Square (near the Aquarium) and Patriots Point (Mt Pleasant) are the two locations where you can catch the ferry to the island. Once there you can choose to wander around on your own or listen to the roughly 10 minute historic talk by the Park Ranger which I found very interesting. Click here for scheduled times.

Fort Sumter Park Ranger
Our Park Ranger ~ interesting with a touch of humor. Careful though, he’ll test your Civil War knowledge

A Canon facing out to the water ~ we couldn’t see far due to the heavy fog

Fort Sumter
Gallery area

Fort Sumter II
Another view of the Gallery

Fort Sumter Canons
Heavy Artillery within the Gallery

Fort Sumter Canon swivels
Swivels for the heavy artillery

Fort Sumter Battery Isaac Huger
Battery Isaac Hunger, named after Brigadier General Isaac Huger, is a concrete fortification built on Fort Sumter in 1898-99 as part of a major coastal defense upgrade.

Charleston Bench through the porthole
A restful spot inside the fort

Fort Sumter 100 years ago this month 2014
A reminder of what happened 150 years ago in Charleston

Fort Sumter One of the shells
An artillery shell embedded in the wall

Fort Sumter outside the walls
Outside wall of Fort Sumter

Fort Sumter fishing in the fog
Fishing in the fog just off the island of Fort Sumter

Fort Sumter Heron
Heron in the fog

Fort Sumter bird and rope
Another Heron bracing against the wind

Fort Sumter Bottle on the beach
We were hoping there was a message in this bottle ~ but there wasn’t

Charleston two dolphin playing at the front of the ferry boat
Bottlenose dolphins escorting us back to Charleston. The Park Ranger on the ferry explained the dolphins like to swim in front of the boat because it creates a wave they can ride. It was obvious they were having a lot of fun!

Charleston Dolphin surfing at the front of the ferry boat
A single dolphin riding a wave

General Anderson, who was in command when Fort Sumter fell into Confederate hands, returned (from retirement) on April 14, 1865 to re-raise the Federal Flag when the Union Forces recaptured the fort. Sadly, it was the same day President Lincoln was assassinated in Washington, DC while attending a play.

Image of the “raising the flag” ceremony on April 14 1865. (a Library of Congress image)

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Charleston, South Carolina has long been a favorite place of mine. My first visit in 1993 charmed me so much that I got married at Summerall Chapel two years later. Charleston has many wonderful memories and there’s always something new to explore.

Citadel Chapel Summerall
Summerall Chapel at The Citadel

Charleston Christmas Tree outside Embassy Suites
Christmas tree in Marion Square

Charleston inside the large outdoor Christmas tree
…from inside the Christmas tree

Charleston Logan at a Christmas tree

Charleston Water fountain and Christmas tree

Charleston City Jail
Wreaths on the Old City Jail

Merry Christmas to all!

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The beautiful town of Alexandria (Old Town) was officially established by three Scottish merchants and the town is named after one of them, John Alexander. The city celebrated its Scottish heritage with the 44th Annual Scottish Christmas Walk. It’s actually an entire weekend of activities and a major fundraiser for The Campagna Center which supports children programs in Alexandria.

I’m a big fan of Scotland so, even with the threat of a downpour, I’m glad I attended the parade. Pipers in kilts and lots of dogs ranks as some of my favorite things.

Scottish Parade 2014
Scottish Christmas Walk Weekend

Scottish Parade Grand Marshal
Representative from the Scottish Government as the Grand Marshal

Scottish Parade Flags

Scottish Parade St Andrews Society
There were Scottish Societies from Baltimore, Philadelphia and Ocean County, New Jersey

Scottish Walk Father and son
Father and Son

Scottish Walk Shamrock and Thistle
Shamrock and Thistle

Scottish Parade Re-creation

Scottish Walk Horse and dog
Mary Queen of Scots representative

Scottish Parade socks

Scottish Parade Pipers

Scottish Parade Men in Kilts

Scottish Parade Boy scout
Boy Scout with the flag

Scottish Walk Darth
And then there’s the Scottish Darth Vader

Scottish Parade Comicon
…little more Star Wars characters

Dogs on Parade:

Scottish Walk Fluffy dog

Scottish Parade 4 fluffy dogs

Scottish Parade Unfortunate looking dog

Scottish Walk Harley with Sheltie
Biker with his sheltie dog

Scottish Parade Scotties

Scottish Parade Happy dog

Scottish Parade dog

Scottish Parade dog in kilt

Scottish Parade Animal Welfare League

Scottish Parade Westies
Lots of Westies

And of course there was a Santa with pipes:
Scottish Parade Santa

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It was no surprise to me when Washington DC was ranked as the top “Fit City” in the United States by the American College of Sports Medicine. The two comments we always get from first time visitors to our nation’s capital are: “It’s such a beautiful city” and “There are a lot of fit and good looking people here.” The second comment is usually said while watching runners race by along the National Mall.

DC Fitness
There are people exercising all over the city!

If you’re a runner, I highly recommend two 10mile/5k runs in the spring. First is the Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 Mile/5K on 12 April 2015. You will run through the National Mall and the Tidal basin area where all the gorgeous Cherry Blossoms will hopefully be at their peak. This race is so popular, it requires a lottery. I haven’t been lucky enough to get a number through the lottery so I volunteered last year which guarantee me a spot for 2015. The lottery is open until 12 December. Click here to enter.

If you don’t get into the Cherry Blossom race, then there’s the scenic GW Parkway Classic 10 mile/5k on 26 April 2015. I ran this for the first time this year and loved it. The crowd was friendly and festive, I wasn’t the last one in (I’m not the fastest runner) and we lucked out with beautiful spring weather.

A few more fitness photos:

Bike in DC

Roosevelt Island Runner
Running on Roosevelt Island

Water Sports

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Supreme Court DC

Attending a session at the Supreme Court of the United States is an impressive experience. I was thrilled to listen to the attorneys arguing their case but was especially awed by the Justices. Those men and women are wicked smart which is comforting to witness since, as one of our three branches of government, their decisions affect all citizens of the United States.

It’s not easy to get tickets for the popular cases (those highlighted in the media) but it’s worth making the attempt to get in. I recommend getting in line early for the “hot” cases. If you’re interested in attending a court session, seating is on a first-come, first-seated basis. A line forms in the morning on the plaza in front of the building.

At approximately 9:30 a.m., limited seats are given out for the entire argument. If you don’t get tickets for that day, the police officers will start a “three-minute line,” which allows visitors to observe the Court in session for a brief period of time from the back of the courtroom. To find out if the Court is in session (Oct-April), click here for the schedule.

The Supreme Court building is located at 1 First Street, NE (between East Capitol St & Maryland Ave) and is open to the public Mon-Fri from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., excluding federal holidays. If the court isn’t in session, you can still visit a Courtroom Lecture, Visitors’ Film and Exhibitions.

Supreme Court

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