Sunday, February 14, 2010

Blogging from DC

Hello loyal readers. Well, I've made it to Washington DC successfully, even after the Snowmageddon. The streets and sidewalks are mostly clear, but there are huge piles of snow on every street corner. To cross the street, one must stick to the little rat runs--packed down paths of snow a pedestrian wide that cut through these snow piles. This makes it easier and harder to walk around--there is no jaywalking, but on the other hand, the cars are strictly restricted to the open lanes, so you know exactly where they're coming from.

I met my friend Alison here, she came down from New York. We're staying at a Radisson near the is a business oriented hotel, but very nice. Yesterday we spent all day indoors at the Smithsonian--first at the Natural History Museum, then at the American History Museum.

The Natural History Museum was for Alison, who likes dinosaurs. So we waded through all of the children (no doubt made even more crazy by a week's prison sentence) and admired the all the skeletons, sniggered at the dioramas dating from the sixties, and I learned that a brontosaurus was actually a made up animal. The Natural History Museum also had a traveling exhibit called "Written in Bones" which featured forensic science applied to skeletons dug up around the Chesapeake Bay area including--surprize!--Jamestowne. I'm sure Alison appreciated all my whispered asides during the introductory film on how accurate or not all the costumes were.

Then we went out to lunch at the Elephant and the Castle, a British-themed restaurant that wants to be a pub. It succeeds...sort of. Does it have British beer and fish 'n' chips? Sure. But the basketball on the television and the lack of brown sauce on the tables was sort of a downer. Cider was good though.

In the afternoon we visited the American History Museum, which re-opened in 2009 after some extensive remodeling. I'm not entirely sure it's done being remodeled actually, some of the exhibits were incredibly small for the amount of attention they got. Putting Kermit AND the ruby slippers in the same room for example--is that really how it's going to end up? I'm sure not. I was fortunate enough to see one of Martha Washington's day gowns, where I helpfully corrected another visitor's erroneous assumption upon seeing Abigail Adam's dancing shoes: "No, American women never bound their feet...she actually did have feet that small, she was probably only five foot two to five foot five." arg. I also got to see George Washington's uniform. Stepping close to examine the buttonholes, I came to within a foot of his breeches flap, steaming up the glass that separated us. *history geek shiver*

Afterward, still full from our British lunch, we stopped for tea, then headed over to Ford's Theater, where we took in "The Rivals," a show written in 1958, using the transcripts from the Lincoln/Douglas debates, which had happened a hundred years before. It was a fantastic show--if Abraham Lincoln was really as friendly as the man onstage last night, I think I would have liked him. It was also a little eerie. We got the $12 restricted view seats, which happened to be in the balcony, right across from the box where President Lincoln was shot. At the end of the show, as a recording of Lincoln's plea for unity and common sense played, they brought the lights up in the box. It was just about 10:30, right when Booth had shot Lincoln, leapt the twelve feet down to stage (no wonder he broke his leg) and made his escape. Almost saw the elephant then, only the cluster of source-fours prevented total immersion.

Then home. We stopped for Chinese food and took it up to our room...and now Alison isn't feeling well. Too much walking, not enough humidity in the air, Chinese food at eleven pm, she is happy to stay in bed and sip on ginger ale. I'm heading back out, possibly back to the Written in the Bones exhibit. Although I don't begrudge a day in. At least we have HBO--and I don't have to head out into the wind to take Kizzy for a walk every fifteen minutes. And isn't that was vacation is really all about? Really?

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