General, Goals

February’s New Experience (in March)

A couple of weeks ago, Rob and I attempted to visit the National Archives in DC as part of my monthly new experience goal, but we made a few grave errors. First of all, we decided to drive into the city which was a huge mistake because it was impossible to find parking anywhere. Second, we decided to go during a holiday weekend (President’s Day weekend). I mistakenly assumed that the frigid weather would keep the tourists at bay, but I was wrong, the tourists were out in full force. As Rob was getting increasingly more stressed about the parking situation, he decided he would just drop me off and then meet me inside after he found a place to park. But it was too late. A tour bus had just finished unloading a bus full of tourists and the security line wrapped around the building. It was 33 degrees outside and I was not about to stand outside in that line. This was why we never took advantage of all that DC had to offer! By that point, we were both a “bit” (note understatement) grumpy, so we decided to just go home for some afternoon drinking. Not exactly a “new experience” in our household…

We decided to give it another shot this past weekend. It was not a holiday weekend and we decided to Metro rather than drive, making it a much more enjoyable experience this time around. There were a few people in line ahead of us, but nothing like the line from weeks before.


Once inside, one of the first things we saw was an original Magna Carta. It is one of only four surviving originals. This particular one was purchased in 2007 by David Rubenstein for $21.3 million. It is the last privately owned original and Mr. Rubenstein has lent it to the National Archives to preserve its place in our country’s history.

We then made our way into the rotunda which houses our “Charters of Freedom.” One of the first things you see upon entering the rotunda are the giant Faulkner murals. The Declaration of Independence mural and the Constitution mural are among the largest single-piece oil canvases in the country and they set the tone for the historic documents on display. It was absolutely amazing to see our original Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights. Photography is strictly prohibited inside the National Archives, so all of the pictures below are from the Archives website.

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One of the things I immediately noticed about the Declaration of Independence was that it was much more faded than the other documents. John Hancock’s prominent signature was almost completely faded away. As it turns out, this priceless document was housed for over 35 years in the Patent Office Building opposite a window exposing it to damaging sunlight! I guess the sealed encasement filled with inert argon gas that houses the Declaration of Independence today was still patent pending?

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While admiring our original Bill of Rights, I overheard two guys (clearly anti-gun types) mentioning that the phrase “right to bear arms” wasn’t listed anywhere in the 2nd Amendment. Hmm? That’s odd because I am certain it is there. Upon second glance, I realized they were right…well, they were “kind of” right. The original document lists 12 “Articles,” but only 10 of those were ratified. Our “right to bear arms” was still there, nicely rooted in “Article the Fourth” of the original document.

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Our Constitution is actually much larger than I realized. The document spans four large pieces of parchment and each one is individually encased and closely guarded by the National Archives security officers. Our Constitution is considered one of the most influential legal documents of all time and it is absolutely fascinating that we have the opportunity to gaze upon the original.

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5 thoughts on “February’s New Experience (in March)

  1. Emilia says:

    Such a bummer that things didn’t work out the first time; I’m impressed with your perseverance to try again! Looks like a fun trip, you have me itching to visit the National Archives now 🙂

    • Thanks for stopping by Emilia! I highly recommend a visit of the National Archives. And stay tuned for some other touristy DC things in between my international adventures!

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