A Money Making Historic Day

Trip Start Mar 22, 2013
Trip End Mar 30, 2013

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Flag of United States  , District of Columbia
Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Kevin and I collaborated on this title.  It combines the two main places we went today.  The Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BE&G) and The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.    

The day started out early for one of us....Grandpa!  Up at 6:30 and walked the .9 miles to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing to get tickets.  I had read on line that lines start forming at 6:30 am for free tickets.  And they run out quickly.  So, I was up and at 'em to get tickets.  I passed by the Department of Transportation Federal Aviation Administration, which is only a block or two from our hotel.  I mention them because as many of you know I had a career in the Airline, Hotel and Car Rental industries,  and I am still a member of the Central Illinois Regional Airport Authority Board. Recently a nasty word called "sequestration" came into our vocabulary.  A word that meant that the FAA would no longer fund the employees at the tower at CIRA.  We are scrambling this week to determine our next course of action.  I have a phone-in board meeting on Thursday afternoon to discuss our options.  I didn't flip the FAA off as I passed by, preferring to take the high road...I only stuck out my tongue and gave them "the Bronx cheer!"  

Be that as it may, I approached the BE&P, but discovered I was on the backside of the building.  I got directions from a security guard.  As I rounded the corner to the front, I was somewhat aghast at the line for tickets that stretched almost a half block.  I looked at my phone and saw it was only 7:00 am.  I wondered if I would be successful in obtaining tickets.  My comfort level grew when within a half an hour the line stretched to the end of the block behind me.  The BE&P is in a beautiful location, right between the Washington Monument and the Jefferson Memorial.  However, the combination of cold air off the Potomac, being in the shade and the bitter wind made me colder than I was on Monday during our City-wide tour.  It was finally 8:00 am and the line began to move. In a rather short period of time, I was getting three tickets to the 10:15 tour (you have to show up 15 minutes early to go through Security).  I walked back to the hotel wondering if the walks and the possible frostbite were worth it.  We'll see.

Back at the hotel to read the paper and warm my toes...boy they needed it.  Then we headed to a little cafe for breakfast.  Nice little place just down the block.  Cheaper than the $15 buffet in the hotel, even if Kevin eats free!!!

Knowing Kevin would not like the .9 mile walk anymore than I did, we took a cab to the BE&G at 9:55 am.  We arrived and went right in.  After viewing the permanent display, a guide took our tickets and after viewing a brief film, a young man I recognized came forward to be our guide.  I recognized him because he was outside earlier this morning telling people the entrance to the tour was on the back-side of the office (where I had gone initially).  And to be 15 minutes early.  Nice young man.  

The tour was nothing short of fascinating.  They showed employees actually making $5 and $100 bills.  They make $100 bills in sheets of 32 each...Yea, I couldn't help but think that one of those sheets could pay for this vacation.  Then Sandy noticed a sign (obviously from one of the employees) that said, "Just think how I feel.  I just printed my entire lifetime salary in a couple of minutes!"  Very funny.  The tour was very much worth the wait out in the cold.  I knew the largest denomination we print now is the $100 bill, but I didn't know we used to print bills as large as $100,000.  And I knew they didn't use all paper in our bills, but I didn't know they used no paper. It's 30% linen and 70% cotton. As I said, a truly fascinating tour.  After the obligatory purchases in the gift shop, we headed the 3-4 blocks to our next destination for the day; the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.        

We walked the roughly four blocks to the museum.  Upon entry and bag-check, we headed to get iMax Theater tickets for two shows: "The Ultimate Wave - Tahiti" and "Flying Monsters."  Both, excellent 3-D productions.  After getting a drink, we headed to Sandy's favorite...The Hope Diamond!  Beautiful.  Some of the other exhibits we enjoyed were:  Oceans, Human Origins, Written in Bone, Early Life, Egyptian Mummies, Mammals, Gems and Minerals and I am sure others that I cannot remember.  

In between we had a hot dog and brat for lunch.  That was enough.  Kevin enjoyed this museum as much if not more than the Air and Space Museum.  Both were truly fascinating.  

We did learn that the museums are busier in the afternoons than the mornings.  Guess all the kids are sleeping in.  Tomorrow's plans include the National Archives which includes the original Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.  

Dinner was a pretty fancy steak house...Bobby Van's.  Treat you like kings and queens, then again, they should for the prices they were charging.  Sandy and I split a ribeye after I devoured six oysters on the half shell.  Both excellent.  The big hit was their salad with their dressing.  Sandy devoured most of it!  

Back to the hotel and bed time.  Tomorrow...The National Archives and maybe the National Portrait Gallery.  We'll see.  Having a great time here!  

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