When our daughter was little, we visited our state capital Olympia a couple of times. It's is a beautiful small town (population 48,338 as recorded in 2013) on the very south end of Puget Sound, only 50 minutes drive from our home.
Anya and Justin in Olympia. November 2008
Our past trips were to Hands On, Olympia's children's museum, where little Anya loved to spend hours. The museum was in a small old building, but really well organized and quite astonishing. Later, in my years of community building, I also took a group of families with kids to our favorite fun and educational place. The museum moved to a newly built, beautiful home since then, and if your children are in elementary school or younger, I heartily recommend that you give this place a shot. (I consider children's museums a genius concept. The very first in the US and possibly in the world was Brooklyn Children's Museum, founded as early as 1899. Read more about it here. Raising my daughter, I visited too many of such museums to mention, both in the Puget Sound area, as well as in other states, and we loved pretty much all of them.)
But children grow out of children's museums, and this time, we made the State Capitol building our destination. You can take a tour of the capitol any day, and it is free. Find all the information you need here. The tour lasts for one hour and is very informative, but does not feel "dry" - Americans know how to throw in a joke or two even when talking "serious" topics. Lots of fun facts, but most importantly - gorgeous visual information. Even to my parents who do not speak or understand English (Mom teaches herself and tries to speak a little, but it's hard without much practice), it was a very memorable trip.
The capitol was built in 1928 in neoclassic style popular at that time. The foundation though was done 30 years prior to that, but then they ran out of money.
The impressive bronze doors weigh literally a ton and depict scenes from local life: logging, farming, sailing...
Marble was brought from all over the world, and in each room or hall you visit, you'll learn where the material is from: France, Italy, Germany... The granite is from Alaska, and other construction materials are local (sand for cement, wood, etc.)
The Washington State capitol boasts the largest in the world collection of Tiffany bronze, and the largest lamp which was ever made by Tiffany (the second photo below) - 25 feet long (over 7 meters), you could fit a Volkswagen Bug in it if you wanted to.
It was curious to see the House of Representatives and the Senate as two separate large rooms - for someone who is as far from politics as I am, it demonstrated a political system of the country in an instant, and more vividly than hundreds of words ever could. Knowing answers to some of the questions our young lady guide talked about, hopefully will be helpful to those of us who consider getting American citizenship. (How I'm dreading learning those 100 questions! Such a gobbledygook for someone like me, never mind that I used to be an A history student at school, those days are gone.)
The ceiling in the House of Representatives
Here, in the official Reception Room (the photo below), we were treated like presidents. Or maybe rather like humans? Mom and Dad are amazed that you can go anywhere without a special permit, sit on fancy sofas, not being yelled at, and if you wanted to, you could come and watch local politicians at work during their open door sessions. We were free to walk in the capitol as well as in the whole complex of government buildings. The carpet in the Reception Room was made as a single piece, without stitches, and it was the biggest such carpet made at that time, and hardly anyone ordered a carpet bigger than this one ever after. The curtains were hand made and embroidered with a golden thread. To complete such a job, a competition was called, and 5 women and 1 man were selected.
Another unexpected thing we learned was that the dome of the capitol is the tallest masonry dome in both Americas. Who knew!
I've only visited one state capitol building before this one, but I read that some people who visited almost every single state capitol, consider the Washington State capitol building the most beautiful. Take these words for what they are, just an opinion, but this tour was definitely worth driving to Olympia and will be one of the highlights of my parents' visit to the US. They were smiling, oohing and awing all the way.
I wanted to wear something special, and at the same time comfortable and casual. This dress became my choice. It is lace (or crochet as the brand called it) upfront and sleeves, and fabric reminiscent of ribbed knit on the back. Sort of a fancy version of a sweater dress, very easy to wear. I love the subtle green color, but wanted to brighten it up a bit, and my oldest Russian platok (shawl) did the trick. My parents brought me this platok almost exactly 10 years ago, when they first visited me in the US in October 2005, and it is still one of my most favorite ones (I have seven or so in my collection currently).
After visiting the impressive capitol building, we sort of stumbled into this fascinating building which I've seen online while doing research about Olympia, but had not planned to visit that day.
Built as Thurston County Courthouse in 1892, it was then purchased as a state capitol building in 1901 and served the purpose up till 1928. It is known as Old Capitol now, and you can read its whole history here. It reminded us of the Victorian era courthouses seen in the Eastern part of the US, namely Ohio, that we used to photograph.
No more state history today guys! Only personal little things are left.
I still remember to tell you more about this gorgeous ring. I'll do it very soon, promise. I am sort of waiting when one particular thing comes through...
The State Capitol as seen from the Percival Landing, to me one of the most beautiful waterfronts in Washington.
And our second reason for visiting Olympia was...
This year is special in more ways than one.
It soon will be 50 years of my parents' romance.
And 10 years of ours.
Washington State Capitol info here.
Old Capitol building here.
Hands On Children's museum here.
Percival Landing in Olympia here.
Dress - Chico's
Russian platok - gift from my parents
Coat - via Nordstrom Rack
Tights - Hue
Boots - Born
Purse - Fossil