Day 14: A hot day in DC

Trip Start Jul 07, 2006
Trip End Aug 13, 2006

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Flag of United States  , District of Columbia
Friday, July 21, 2006

It was hot today. Very hot. Africa hot. We were walking down the Washington mall area looking at this and that, and it was really hot. When we got back to the General Lee Greenwood, we found out that the high temperature today was about 90 degrees, but with humidity and stuff it felt like 100. When you're walking around in the direct sunlight with hundreds of other visitors for a long time, it feels like even hotter than that.

We started our day off by fighting the other KOA campers for the showers and then fighting the other DC folks to get down to the museums and monuments. We drove to a park and ride and then took the Metro in to town. It was very nice to have someone else drive and navigate. I think Brian is thoroughly done with my navigation skills. Oh well... beggars can't be choosers.

So we got down to the mall after figuring out how to buy tickets. Thankfully we started at the end of one of the Metro lines so we didn't have to figure out which train to get on. We got out just south of the Capitol building. We walked around it and found there was a protest against the Chinese government. Apparently, the Chinese government has been violating people's rights. Who knew? So there were a lot of people spreading the word about that.

We walked on, towards different Smithsonian buildings and stopped in to the National Gallery of Art. We stopped mainly because I needed to go to the bathroom, but to go in we had to check my backpack and I decided if we were going to all the trouble to check my backpack, we would go enjoy some art! We saw some Monet, Manet, Toulouse-Lautrec, and Van Gogh among others. We left there and went to the nearby sculpture garden where there is a beautiful fountain. There we dipped our toes and rested for a bit and then went on.

Our next stop was the Smithsonian building for American History. Almost 60 percent of the place was closed for renovations, but we got to see the Star Spangled Banner, weaving machines, and two pretty interesting exhibits: The American Presidency -- A Glorious Burden and America at War. The Presidency exhibit was very cool -- it had lots of interesting artifacts, including Abe Lincoln's hat and Mrs. Coolidge's flapper dress and Amy Carter's doll house. The America at War exhibit was interesting, especially in the WWII era. They included some of the cartoons against the Nazis and Japanese. It was cool to see those, especially since they don't show them on TV anymore. I also liked to see the "liquid pantyhose" and the fabric swatches of allowed colors and fabrics due to rationing of materials during the war. The Cold War section was also very interesting; it would have been neat for my students to see that.

Brian's favorite thing from the American history exhibit was a machine that wove jaquard fabrics. He figured out how an old-timey loom worked and then how this new-fangled loom worked (with punch cards -- like a primitive computer). That was very interesting, apparently. My favorite thing of all from this exhibit, though, was the pair of teenagers discussing the Korean War. They were both Asian-Americans and they were debating how far the UN and US pushed during the conflict. One of the kids said, "Dude, I'm Korean. I know what I'm talking about." I thought that was great. It was wonderful to see teenagers actually caring about history and what happened in the world prior to 1994.

The one thing I disliked most about today was all the other teenagers. There were many youth leadership camps going on, and so there were large groups of essentially unsupervised teenagers everywhere. Seeing and hearing them made me so thankful for summers. If I had been those teens' mother or teacher... well... Brian says that if he were those teens' father or teacher, he'd be glad to send them to Washington DC with somebody else, too.

We walked on to the Washington monument and passed by that. We viewed the White House from a distance, and then found the WWII monument. It was the first time Brian or I had seen it. It is quite beautiful. One thought I had was that it would have been nice to go wading in the pool/fountains. Brian thought it was interesting that there are 56 memorial pillars. Fifty of them represent the 50 states. What do you think the other six are? Answers to that quiz will come later...

We passed the reflecting pool which had lots of Canada geese in it, and the parks were infested with squirrels (which the late comedian Mitch Hedberg would have called the "cutest infestation ever"). They were eating nuts and they were very cute.

We ate some ice pops and rested and then climbed the Lincoln memorial. I decided that most of the folks there didn't fully grasp the significance of the memorial -- they were just there to take their pictures with the monument. I guess you could say that about lots of the monuments and museums.

We left there and saw the Vietnam Memorial -- one of the most moving things from there was a sign that read, "This is for my cousin XXX whose name does not appear on this wall as a casualty. He died back home as a result of his experiences in Vietnam." In the America at War exhibit, there was a section dedicated to the Vietnam memorial and the things visitors left. One was a saxophone with the note saying, "I donate this hundred dollar instrument to the memorial. Me and Kit went commie hunting together. I hate that I saw him get killed in front of me."

We traveled up blocks and blocks to get to the nearest Metro station. Brian thinks that we covered nearly 4 miles today, and boy do our feet feel it. We got back to the car, got back towards our KOA and got some dinner before getting all the way back to camp. Once home, we gave ourselves some camping pedicures and watched a couple episodes of Facts of Life on DVD.

Tomorrow we'll go to the National Holocaust Memorial and see whatever else we may stumble upon. We hope our feet will keep up with our desires to view the city.
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