DC Vacation, Day 6: Visiting the Library of Congress, Spontaneous Research, Getting Lost, and a Quiet, Final Night

I was downstairs for the daily 8AM breakfast, but Liz opted to sleep in. We made our way downstairs around 10:45AM, and she powered up with some coffee and Nutella.

We had no specific plans, but were curious to go visit the Library of Congress. We saw that there were hourly tours (on the half hour), and got inside just in time to catch an 11:30 tour.

Just outside.

Looking back, across the street, at the Capitol Building.

Inside the Great Hall, my jaw kept dropping every time I looked up.

Our tour group.

Alongside a recreation of Thomas Jefferson’s library.

Ceiling detail.

How Charming is Divine Philosophy

Looking out over the Main Reading Room. Really a breathtaking view.

As one lamp lights
another nor grows less
so nobleness
enkindleth nobleness

The inquiry, knowledge,
and belief of truth
is the sovereign good
of human nature

Another view of the main reading room.

The Gutenberg Bible. While I am someone who works with computers and technology, I feel a strong connection to this particular point in history. In a way, all tech stems from here.


At every turn, the Grand Hall is just magnificent.

Ceiling view.

Science is organized knowledge.

Every room in this place is a marvel.

Liz was particularly taken with this rather stern looking bird.

Referred to by our tour guide as “America’s birth certificate,” the 1507 Waldseemüller map is the first known written reference of the name “America.”

We were so small back then.

After the tour ended, Liz and I asked around a bit about the process for viewing items within the library. We learned that to access materials and go into any of the reading rooms, one first had to get an ID badge.

So we walked across the street to the Madison building, and proceeded to get a little lost.

On our way to the ID office, I found this room. Weird and surreal.

On arriving, we jumped onto some terminals and started to fill out our info. I felt a little strange, as we were just randomly curious about the process (and not really researching anything in particular). But when in Rome…

After getting our ID cards, a guide gave us directions back to the Jefferson building (via the underground tunnel). We took several turns, passing lots of government employees with lanyards around their necks, as well as many armed security personnel.

At several points, I totally felt like I was trespassing. I was stopping to take photos, and half-expecting someone with a gun to ask me just what in the world I thought I was doing.

Making our way back to the Jefferson building. Or, as I prefer to think of it, us looking for the Steam Pipe Trunk Distribution Venue.

On navigating our way to the main reading room, I snuck a photo while in one of the alcoves (something you’re not supposed to do).

Walking inside this room is even more breathtaking than the view we had while on the second floor. On going inside, I felt a chill run over me.

Liz was looking up old periodicals from the 1940’s (and earlier), while I was looking up any items related to former US Poet Laureates.

We eventually learned that it would take an hour plus to retrieve the documents she wanted, and most of the manuscripts I was interested in were actually stored off-site (and would be difficult to procure on the same day). So after a bit of research, we just wandered around the alcoves a bit.

Working our way out.

A section of books about books, inside the bookstore of the Library of Congress.

Another view of this fantastic building.


On arriving back at our B&B, Liz ended up taking a late afternoon nap. We were going all day, and stopped for a late lunch – but I think it was a little too late for Liz. So she had some recuperating to do.

As evening came on, we decided to just stay at our B&B and knit/code for a while in the main sitting room. We had thought about trying to go out to a nice restaurant, but she wasn’t feeling so hot… and we decided to just take things easy.

DC Vacation, Day 1: Travel Day and a Late Dinner at Society Fair
DC Vacation, Day 2: Wandering Down King Street, Dinner at Carluccio’s
DC Vacation, Day 3: Courtney and Andrew’s Wedding at River Farm
DC Vacation, Day 4: More Escape Room Adventures, Beer at Churchkey, and a Sudden Rush of Water from the Ceiling
DC Vacation, Day 5: Lazy Cafe Time, Walking around Theodore Roosevelt Island, Dinner at Martin’s Tavern

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