D.C. Trip: Friday
February 16, 2009, 4:55 pm
Filed under: Adventure, Travel

Friday was a bit of an end-of-the-week whirlwind tour. Thankfully, my annoying visit to the National Museum of Natural History — kids, kids, kids EVERYWHERE — was redeemed by a Barack Obama sighting.

OK, that was the hook. The teaser.

My first stop that morning was the National Postal Museum — after a satisfying breakfast (with coffee, of course) in the lobby of Union Station. Don’t worry, the postal museum was much more interesting than it sounds. For the most part. I was a little annoyed that their drinking fountains weren’t working, but I got my money’s worth (it was free).

Now working with a Metro card I loaded with money, instead of a seven-day pass, I chose to walk the mile south to the United States Botanical Garden. Sounds a little fancier than it is, but it was certainly a much-needed change from so many museums. (I got pretty tired of looking at dioramas and document facsimiles.)


Next was a long walk across the National Mall to the natural history museum, the big one with the elephant in the center and the dinosaur skeletons. Well, they were all casts of dinosaur bones. Not much authenticity, unfortunately. But I pushed through the crowds — I had to at least attempt to see the whole museum.


(Sorry, I hate using flash.)

I had a good time in the mammals section — for some reason, seeing stuffed leopards and koalas still fascinates me — but I mostly wanted to just get out of there. It was more a display of the stupidity of mass crowds and children on field trips than it was an enjoyable exhibition of flora and fauna. But that was OK. What could I expect? I was in Washington, D.C., on a Friday trying to go to a museum very popular with the kids.

Now I sound like a grumpy old man. I felt like one, too. So I thought I’d bring myself a bit more down-to-earth with a visit to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Another long walk to the end of the Mall, but Lisa had told me it was a beautiful museum. Unfortunately, once I got there I found a long line along the sidewalk, with people waiting to just get tickets so they could come back at a different time. Oops, I’d forgotten about that. I felt a little bad for skipping out on depressing Jewish history, but I’ve been to Dachau. That counts for something, right?

Good thing I left, because I headed toward the White House — mainly just for the hell of it. After a brief stop through its visitor center, I strolled up to a group of people who were being held up by police. The cops weren’t letting anyone in front of the White House or on the Ellipse. Everyone thought sometime was going to happen soon. Maybe a motorcade?

Then in swooped Marine One, the president’s designated helicopter. I got photos of it arriving, figuring Obama was on board. When the cops still had things blocked off, after the chopper had landed, I changed my mind. I walked to the far end of the Ellipse to get a better view of the event, and yes! I saw people — I suppose one of them must have been Obama — get into the copter. When it took back off, it flew right over my head.

OK, enough typing. That night, Lisa and I had dinner with my aunt, uncle and cousin who live in the D.C. area. But that’s not as interesting a story as anything Obama-related, so I’ll stop there.


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