August 29, 2011

8/21/11 – Washington, DC – Day 2

Back to DC for the Smithsonian museum crawl, but first we had to hike back to the Washington Monument so George could get all the stamps for his Passport book that he didn’t get yesterday.  I hope he just got stamps for places we’d already seen in DC, or intended to—but I’ll bet he got them for everything!  Maybe someday I’ll ask (or you can--and then let me know how well I know my husband...) 

We cut through the National Sculpture Garden—with the kind of odd sculptures you expect to see outside.  My favorite was a huge stainless steel tree called Graft, not nearly as abstract as most.  I honestly can’t see why anyone would think that a giant typewriter eraser would be art.  The kids today wouldn’t even know what a typewriter eraser is; maybe they should replace it with a big study of Alt-Ctrl-Del keys.
The whole point of visiting a Smithsonian museum is to see a whole lot of stuff about LOTS of stuff.  You can't do justice to even one museum in a day.  We had one day to see a little bit in a few of the 10 museums near the National Mall.  We missed more than we saw.  The picture below is the National Archives Building, one we missed.
“The Castle”—it’s not a museum, just Admin HQ & Info Center.  But that building is the one that symbolizes the Smithsonian, and I wanted to go.  We saw a video orientation of the other museums.  Mostly ho hum, except for helping us decide where to eat lunch. 
Natl Air & Space Museum – Wright Brothers’ 1903 flyer; Lindberg’s Spirit of St. Louis, Apollo 11 command module.  The IMAX movie they were showing was one we’d already seen at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.  Ha!  For a change we didn't miss something!  The photos I’ve seen of early planes doesn’t really show how delicate they were.  Wilbur & Orville were lucky theirs didn’t get very high before it hit the ground!   

Natl Museum of the American Indian—Missed the tour; missed the movie; wandered around one of the exhibits.  I was surprised that they included displays from South & Central America tribes as American Indians.  They missed a lot of cool North American Indian tribes, probably the ones that prefer to be called native Americans.  They had Canadian Indians in there too.  (Maybe they should have called it the Museum of the Americas’ Indians???  Nope, doesn't scan!) 

We had lunch in their Mitsitam Native Foods Cafe—it features native-inspired indiginous foods.  (Translation:  They have an expensive cafeteria with ingredients the Indians ate, but the recipes used are more contemporary than historic.)  We shared a sampler tray with side dishes from most of the regions.
Natl Museum of Natural History—Lots of exhibits we didn’t have time to see before closing.  There were lots of dinosaur bones in a room too small for them.  In the Mammals exhibit were the best examples of taxidermy I’ve ever seen—and not a deer rack on the wall anywhere.   
Outside I saw a banner publicizing the Hope Diamond, so I talked George into going back in to see it.  Even for those of us who aren’t big into jewelry, it’s a WOW!   Temporarily the big blue diamond is in a contemporary setting called “Embracing Hope”.  The historical setting is soooo old-fashioned!
Some place in there we headed to the east end of the Mall to take pictures of the Capitol Building.  I asked George if he wanted to walk all the way around the reflecting pool and cross the street to the steps; he said “No” and I said “Good!” 
Ran out of time, ran out of steam, strolled to the Metro. (Could I be losing my sightseeing stamina?

Link to more pictures of Washington DC Day 2 

EARTHQUAKE NOTES:  8/22/11 – at 1:51 pm there was a 5.9 earthquake in Virginia, about 80 miles south of us.  Huge for this part of the country.  I was outside reading.  I heard it first, then felt the ground roll; the RV rattled about like it would going across I-10 in Texas.  Didn't last very long.  It wasn't as bad nor as long as the one we had in Seattle a few years ago.  It didn't bother me, although I was just a tad annoyed that my husband, who was next door visiting with some other folks, didn't bother checking to make sure I was okay.  Hmmmm....maybe I should have screamed and fallen on the ground?  And wasn't it fortuitous that we'd stayed home that day to recuperate from all the touristing the two previous days?

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