America the Beautiful Pass Value

Approximately one year ago, I invested $80 in the America the Beautiful Pass for a year-long membership to the National Parks from May of 2017 to May of 2018.  I was concerned at the time that I would not get the full value of my pass.  Let’s see how I did!

May 2017 with my brand new pass at Assateague Island

Assateague Island $20

Shenandoah Trip #1 $25

Everglades $25

Great Falls Maryland $0 (If we had found the Ranger Station $10)

Great Falls Virginia $10

Harper’s Ferry Trip #1 $10

Harper’s Ferry Trip #2 $10

Zion Trip #1 $30

Cedar Breaks $12 ($6/person)

Bryce Canyon $30

Zion Trip #2 $30

Antietam $10

Steamtown $0 (Fee Free day; Otherwise $14)

Fort Washington $10

Fort McHenry $20 ($10/person)

Shenandoah Trip #2 $25

Total: $267; Parks Pass: -$80; Savings: $187

As you can see, I used my America the Beautiful Pass for over three times its original value!  It would have been even more had I bought the pass at the beginning of May when we visited Colonial Park ($28 in Jamestown and $10 at Yorktown)!

I have loved getting to know the National Parks service better over the last year, and I am looking forward to expanding my journey this year.  Thanks for following along with my blog over the last year, and I hope you enjoy the upcoming year!


American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial and Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality House

Often when people tell me about their visit to the National Mall, it only comprises of a trip from the Lincoln Memorial to the Washington Monument.  There are so many other lesser known monuments to enjoy.  For this reason, I think it is extra important to bring up two newer places on the east end of the Mall that you may otherwise pass.

The American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial was dedicated in 2014, and it is located on the south side of the U.S. Botanic Gardens.  Surrounded by streets, this Memorial is not peaceful, but it is really unique compared to the other memorials on the Mall.

There is a 5 point star with water flowing off of the sides.  In the background, soldiers and their stories are etched onto the clear walls.

On a Sunday afternoon, the memorial had no visitors.  While it does not have the serenity of being tucked into the Mall, it is one of the most moving memorials I have seen.  The pictures and quotes etched into the wall range in emotion, and it is so grounding to read them.  To get to this Memorial, I took the red line to Judiciary Square.  It’s about a 15 minute walk from there.

Once you make a stop at this Memorial, you can easily head north to visit the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality Monument and house. The main entrance to the house is on the back of the building, but you will see the beautiful front view if you approach from the Disabled Veterans Memorial.  The Belmont-Paul House was one of the most prestigious houses when it was purchased by the National Woman’s Party.

The main entrance to the house.  You are able to tour two floors of the house on a self-guided tour, and there are ranger led tours as well.

This house just re-opened in October of 2016, and it has seven or eight rooms to tour.  The collection ranges from things found in the house originally, to research done by the early members of the party, to art collections, to furnishings.  I found some satirical art particularly enjoyable in one of the rooms on the second floor.  While we were perfectly content with our own self-guided walk, ranger tours are offered about every 2 hours.

As Cacia and I toured the two floors, we found that the marketing staff had turned many of the mirrors into selfie opportunities with inspirational quotes.  I hope the selfies and hashtags help more people find this awesome site, and we were sure to do our due diligence and help them out.

“I stand on the shoulders of the women before me.”

The east end of the Mall also happens to be near the United State Capitol building.  While the Capitol is not a National Park, I just have to recommend that you take the free tour!  I took the tour a few weeks ago, and it is such an impressive building.  The tour guides are great, and you wear headphones so you can wander around while listening to your guide.  The online reservation system is easy, and this is a tour that is not to be missed.

That is all for this week!  Feel free to post in the comments any questions or ideas, and stay tuned for my blog next week.  My next blog post will be the Virginia side of Great Falls, but I am actually exploring Utah for the next week.  I do not know exactly what my Utah adventures will hold yet, but I am very excited!  If you haven’t subscribed yet, make sure to click the follow button or enter your email address.

The National Mall (Evening)

Previously, I published a post titled The National Mall (Daylight).  People swear it is an entirely different experience at night, and I have to agree that away from the crowds and under the starlight that you see a different angle of the Mall.

My first evening experience on the National Mall was on the 4th of July.  Cacia and I decided to brave the crowds to see the fireworks, which were truly an amazing experience.  Getting to the Jefferson Memorial, however, was not a picturesque experience due to multiple security checkpoints we had to pass through.  I have spent enough time on the National Mall to know basically every route to a memorial, and it took us 1.5 hours to get from Metro Center (Red line) to the memorial.  However, our timing was perfect, as this location was not terribly packed and full of mostly respectful people.  The payoff was gorgeous too.

Our view of the 4th of July fireworks from the stairs of the Jefferson Memorial

While we figured this was a bucket list experience, we both agreed that we plan to come back and see the fireworks next year.  Our viewing area was spectacular, but we hope to try the Lincoln Memorial next year!

When my friend, Emily, came into town this week, it happened to coincide with the August full moon.  I thought this would be the perfect time to finish seeing the National Mall at night!

Since it was nighttime, we were not really looking to cover the whole National Mall (See my former post for that!), but we were trying to see the monuments with the most interesting lighting.  My personal favorite view is the view from the World War II Memorial, looking towards the Lincoln Memorial.

The Wold War II Memorial with the Lincoln Memorial in the distance

The World War II Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial were my favorites to see in the dark.  There are some amazing pictures online of the Lincoln Memorial in the nighttime, but it is really hard to get a great picture of it closer.  There are tons of people on the stairs taking pictures with flash, which makes it hard to even to get a good view.  If you really want a great view of the Lincoln Memorial and/or a great picture, a summer full moon may not be the best night.

However, if you go to visit the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial, you have a great view of that monument, and the Jefferson Memorial looks pretty from afar too.


While I will agree that the National Mall in the evening is a great experience, I just love it so much more during the daytime!  I missed the trees and the green on the night walk.

I hope you enjoyed this week’s blog!  If you have any questions or comments, feel free to post them!  The one and only Hudson dog is here this weekend, and he had a great walk on Roosevelt Island, which I will post about next week!

On an unrelated note, my friend Emma (Mentioned in Everglades National Park and Big Cypress National Preserve) just started her own Florida State Parks blog after being inspired by this blog.  If you want to check out her blog, featuring her adorable Cocker Spaniel hiking in Florida, check it out here!