East Carolina visited the National Christmas Tree while on its bus tour of Washington, D.C, Saturday evening.
Dec. 25, 2010
Merry Christmas to all. I hope it was a safe and enjoyable holiday for everyone. For those of us in Washington, D.C., it was a bit of a white Christmas as the snow started falling around 8:00 a.m. There was no accumulation, but it was still fun to have the flakes flying. (Side note - I grew up in Ohio, so to me snow is fun and Christmas is definitely supposed to be white.)
Despite being away from home on Christmas, the players still received gifts as they were presented with the first of four items from the Military Bowl this morning. Today, the Pirates got an Altec Lansing inMotion Classic, which is a portable stereo with rechargeable batteries for an iPhone or iPad.
Following breakfast, the East Carolina players went through a half-hour special teams meeting and an hour of positional meetings before heading back to Eastern High School for practice.
With yesterday being mostly to shake off any rust and get used to the high school's facility, today centered on diving back into the Maryland game plan. It was structured like a regular-season Tuesday session with a lot of individual work and moving into squad and then team-on-team periods.
At the beginning of practice, head coach Ruffin McNeill emphasized sharpening fundamentals. He stressed that in bowl games, the teams with the best fundamentals win. The first-year leader said the one present he wanted to give the seniors that he could not today was a win and sending them out on the right note.
The Pirates also received a special Christmas treat during practice as the ECU Strength & Conditioning staff found a microphone in the Eastern High School press box. The group provided colorful play-by-play during the team session. Nothing went unnoticed by the strength staff either, as freshman Justin Jones was caught committing the cardinal sin in football of sitting on his helmet. Jones was quickly informed by the strength staff to get off his helmet.
Today's workout was also important as it could be the last one with good weather before Wednesday's Military Bowl. The forecast calls for two-to-four inches of snow tomorrow. The Pirates' two remaining practice sessions are Sunday and Monday morning, when the snow is supposed to be falling. The temperature for the next two days is also projected to top out at only 34 degrees.
Food was in no short supply for the team or East Carolina administrators this Christmas, either. The entire Pirate group had dinner at Mansion on O. The handbook I received for this Military Bowl trip had the following listed for this Christmas dinner: Mansion on O (a unique DC experience). It could not have been more correct.
The building was five row houses that had been combined to form one mansion. There were more than 100 rooms with 35 "secret" rooms, which were discovered by finding walls that were actually doors. Visitors could walk through and explore all the rooms on the four floors. The mansion also serves as a hotel, so some of the rooms that could be reserved for the night had beds, a toilet, a shower and closets.
All of the rooms were stuffed with antiques that were for sale. There was everything from books to records to chairs to key chains scattered throughout the rooms that visitors could buy. Aside from the bedrooms, some of the rooms were themed as kitchens, billiard rooms and living rooms.
My favorite section in the mansion was a two-story log cabin "room." The lower portion of the cabin was filled with a queen size bed. At the end of the bed, nearly matching its width, was a high-definition television. The upper part of the room was a small loft with a kitchen.
In terms of dinner, I've tried to give you all a taste of everything that was available, but that would be impossible in this case. There was a roomful of tables, with food covering every inch. What I saw, and sampled in some cases, were ham, turkey, pork loin, barbecue pork, barbecue chicken, macaroni and cheese, macaroni salad, tortellini salad, corn bread, rolls and wheat bread. Then there was another room with desserts including chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter chip cookies, chocolate cookies with mint M&Ms, double-layer chocolate cake and carrot cake.
Bus Tour Of Washington, D.C.
After everybody ate until they had to practically be wheeled out the door, we headed out to the busses for a tour of the National Mall & Memorial Parks. What a great way to finish off Christmas day. While on the tour, we saw the: Washington Monument, FBI Building, World War II Memorial, White House National Christmas Tree, Lincoln Memorial, National Archives, U.S. Capitol, Watergate Hotel, Smithsonian Institute, Iwo Jima Memorial and much more while driving around Washington, D.C., and Arlington, Va. The lights around the monuments and memorials were incredible.
On the bus with us was a tour guide, who told us about the city and monuments and answered any questions we raised. We started in Dupont Circle and ended back at our hotel, the Mayflower Renaissance. It was a highly educational trip and fun to see the famous buildings adorned with Christmas lights. We got to get out of the bus at the National Christmas Tree and Iwo Jima Memorial to take pictures and walk around for a few minutes. This year's tree is a 42-foot-high Blue Spruce from Colorado.
Telling you all everything we learned and heard about on the bus could take pages and pages so I decided a better way to share the experience would be through a short 12-question quiz. If you get all the answers right you're a far better historian than I am!
Scroll to the bottom of the page to find the answers and remember to look at today's photo gallery for pictures from the tour.
Washington D.C. Quiz
1. After what city is Washington, D.C., modeled? A. Philadelphia B. Paris C. London D. Beijing
2. True or False - President Barack Obama spent Christmas in the White House?
3. Washington, D.C., got its name from two famous individuals. George Washington is one, but who is the other?
4. In what year did Washington, D.C., elect its first mayor? A. 1824 B. 1905 C. 1933 D. 1964
5. How many floors does the White House have? A. One B. Two C. Four D. Six
6. In Washington, D.C, all 50 states are represented with a street name. All of those street names end in Avenue except which two?
7. What is the newest memorial inside the National Mall?
8. The Jefferson Memorial is surrounded by the Tidal Basin. Lining the Tidal Basin are 2,000 trees that were a gift to the United States from Japan. What kind of trees are they?
9. On August 28, 2011, the National Mall will open another memorial? To what famous American will this memorial be a tribute?
10. What photographer took the famous picture of the United States flag being raised over Iwo Jima and later won a Pulitzer Prize for the shot? A. Ken Rosenthal B. Edward Weston C. Joe Rosenthal D. Joe Buck
11. Any airplane a president flies in is referred to as Air Force One. What is any helicopter a president rides in called?
12. In Washington, D.C., there is the Jefferson Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial and numerous other memorials. However, it's the Washington Monument. Why is it called a monument and not a memorial?
The Pirates have a light day planned for tomorrow as the only scheduled event is practice from approximately 11:45 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. The players and coaches will be given the opportunity to explore Washington, D.C., tomorrow night.
1. C. London
2. False - President Obama was in Hawai'i with his family for Christmas
3. Christopher Columbus, as it is the District of Columbia
4. D. 1964
5. D. Six
6. Ohio and California. It is Ohio Drive and California Street
7. The World War II Memorial, which opened in 2004
8. Cherry trees
9. The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial is set to open in August
10. Joe Rosenthal
11. Marine One
12. George Washington was alive when the construction started for the monument while the other presidents were deceased before building began. Washington was not alive once construction was completed, however, as it took 40 years to build. Today, the Washington Monument is the tallest free-standing obelisk in the world.