“Take a break, …. they’ll wait !”


For three long months winter has held the people of the Chesapeake Bay region in its icy and bone-chilling grip. But now as the vernal equinox approaches, those cold and damp winds blustering off the Bay are beginning to surrender. A touch of springtime is invading all of our senses! The visible hint of red buds is ever present in the treetops. The sweet smell of flowers and emerging plant growth is wafting across the breezes. Tree shadows are growing noticeably shorter, and the gleeful sounds of children playing outside rings in our ears. Listen closely and one hears the cry of the bluebird, the hawk and the jay as they signal their return. Passing by the local baseball fields, the sound of the crack of the bat against the ball is a sure sign the season is about to change.
But alas, springtime brings forth other memories with cares and concerns not so pleasant to our senses. Its messages are in our mailbox nearly every day lately, and its documents and data are piled high on the desk at home awaiting our attention. We are intensely aware of its certainty. Its inviolable date beckons us. April 15, 2009, looms larger and ever nearer. It is tax time!
Visions of 1040s and 1099s dance in our head. Dreams of deductions and exemptions give us hope, while nightmares of capital gains and alternative minimum tax give us pause. The whole alphabet assails our senses. Schedule A, B, C, D, E, they never end. So where should one turn? To a CPA or TurboTax? H & R Block or oneself ? Decisions abound, while the IRS awaits.
But wait! Admittedly, time, tide and taxes wait for no person. Nevertheless, it’s time to take a break and catch your breath. One of the best ways of relieving the stress is to take a few hours of respite to enjoy the wonders that abound in the Chesapeake Bay region. Washington, DC, is just minutes away, and several exciting new features have become available in the past year or so. Four are described below: The U.S. Capitol, Mount Vernon, Newseum and the National Museum of American History. So, take a breather from tax work. A refreshed mind might enable you to discover a beneficial new tax break!

U.S Capitol: The new Capitol Visitor Center opened this past December. From the east entrance you are guided through a landscaped terrace that enters into the ornate Emancipation Hall to begin your tour. The Visitor Center offers a fabulous array of films and historical information for all ages. The film, “Out of Many, One,” is an inspiring and important first step for all visitors before touring the Capitol and viewing the history displays in Exhibition Hall. Your tour inside the Capitol building with a guide will take you through the central dome and the adjoining rooms that housed the earliest Congresses. You will see impressive American works of art and numerous marble and bronze statues. For those interested in watching Congress while it is in session, instructions are available in the Web site below. Following the guided Capitol tour, the Exhibition Hall awaits you on the lower level. It chronicles the history and development of our Congress and depicts the construction and evolution of the Capitol building itself. Several rare historic documents are on display, and interactive screens allow you to explore the history of our Congress. Two theaters afford the opportunity to relax and watch both houses of Congress while they are in session.
The Visitor Center hours, directions and services may be found at www.visitthecapitol.gov
The visit is free, and the Visitor Center is open Monday-Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Mount Vernon: Just two years ago the new Ford Orientation Center opened to welcome visitors with a brief action adventure film introducing George Washington. The Donald W. Reynolds Museum and Education Center opened simultaneously and presents an impressive rendition of Washington’s entire life along with the colonial era, the Revolutionary War and the first presidency. For anyone interested in history, this museum and education center is a “must see.” One could easily spend two or three hours viewing the exhibits and watching the numerous short history films. Visitors continue and tour the mansion and the estate’s 18th century buildings that supported Washington’s 8,000 acres of farms and orchards. While you walk through the mansion and climb the steps to the second floor, you will grasp the walnut banister. Contemplate that your hand rests on the very handprint of George Washington himself. Later take a moment to stand on the east porch. The mansion’s spectacular view of the Potomac will be an enduring memory. Full details for visiting are at www.MountVernon.org
Open 365 days per year, tickets vary from $7-15 (children under 5 years old free) and hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. April – August.

Newseum: At 555 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., stands the impressive new glass and steel edifice which houses this interactive museum that explains the history and evolution of journalism. More than a dozen movie theatres and seven floors of displays bring to life both the headlines of today and yesterday as well as those of centuries past. The Berlin Wall, a live news broadcast, today’s front pages of all the world’s newspapers, the 9/11 gallery and the First Amendment’s history are just a few of the myriad of exhibits. Numerous films and theatre presentations provide an in-depth knowledge and appreciation of journalism’s contribution to our civilization. Be sure to stroll out onto the Pennsylvania Avenue Terrace up on level six for a commanding view of Washington, DC.
A complete description of visiting hours and museum programs is available at www.newseum.org
Open seven days per week, tickets vary from $13-20 (children under 6 years old are free) and hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

National Museum of American History: A major construction and revitalization project was completed this fall, and this venerable museum has been transformed into a wonderful destination. Dozens of galleries inform us about the history of the electric light, the life and presidency of Abraham Lincoln, the advancement of railroad technology and the documents from significant events in our history. The flag that flew over Fort McHenry that long ago September night is displayed in a compelling fashion. The museum is a celebration of great moments and achievements in American history, as it takes you on a journey through music and sport, war and politics, science and technology and the very lives and ideals of four centuries of our fellow Americans. There are fabulous national treasures to discover and view as you wander through the galleries. Full details for visiting the museum are found at www.americanhistory.si.edu Open seven days per week, admission is free and hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

For more information, Phil can be reached at [email protected]

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