Saturday, June 3, 2017

Washington's State Capitol

In over two years on the road, we rarely have made campground reservations. But we know there are three times each year that you better have a place reserved--Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day. Even months in advance, the state parks and the coastal areas will already be booked up for those holidays. We have learned that private parks away from the beach or lake will more likely have an open spot. So we are on the road further in-land to explore a less touristy part of Washington. Our campground is one of the Passport America members that will accept the half-price rate throughout the week, even on holiday weekends. But the very best part are the managers that welcome you with home-made chocolate chip cookies. We got two, but Denisa had already eaten most of hers before she remembered to take a picture. Elma RV Campground is a great place!

We are enjoying a beautiful stretch of weather, so we headed to Olympia for the day. We went to church on Sunday morning in Olympia, then explored the water front.

We are looking out over Puget Sound, and there are sizable boats moored here for easy access to the ocean. The weekend farmers market is just a few steps away, but we found the prices very steep. Our real destination for the day can be seen in the distance. You can make out the dome of the state capitol in the center of the picture below.

Since the weather was perfect, we decided to just walk that mile toward the capitol dome. It was a pleasant walk down the marina board walk, then around the Capitol Lake.

By the time we made the walk up the hill from the lake, we realized it was a warm day. Mark had changed into his shorts after church, but Denisa wasn't that smart. She is totally out of practice with dealing with temperatures over 60 degrees.

We took the capitol tour, so we got to see several of the rooms that are usually locked. One stop was the state reception room. It's hard to see with the reflections from the chandelier, but over the mantle hangs one of the rarest American flags. Washington was the 42nd state to join the Union, so they sewed up some 42-star flags. But the official U.S. flag is only changed once each year on the 4th of July. So when Idaho joined the Union on July 3, that called for the official flag to now have 43 stars. So there are only five 42-star flags known to exist, and this one has a place of honor in the state capitol reception room.

Our tour took us through both the state senate and house of representatives. Both look much like they did when the building was built in 1922. The exception would be the electronic boards at the front of the room, that display the votes by each representative when they press the voting button on their desk. That electronic process wasn't around in 1922. In the Senate, they still do the traditional voice vote like they did when the capitol was built.

Back out in the main atrium, our tour guide had to point out the chandelier hanging from the dome. All the light fixtures were designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany (of the famous Tiffany clan). From a distance it is hard to wrap your mind about the size of this light fixture, so she pointed out that you could park a small car inside it. Mark won the prize for guessing the correct weight at 5 tons.

The tour guide also pointed out that the dome overhead was the tallest masonry dome in North America. Masonry dome means that it is made of bricks stacked in such a way that they become self-supporting as the dome gets taller and smaller around. Now that we know all that information, we won't be walking under the chandelier as we leave the building.

It was a nice tour through a beautiful capitol. We found that most people assume that the state capitol is in Seattle, but we much preferred visiting it in the smaller city of Olympia. Walking back to our car at the harbor, we passed a Memorial ceremony going on at the pavilion. We so appreciate the service of those in the military as we pause in our leisurely life-style to thank those that fought for the freedom we so enjoy.

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