Evolution in DC and surfing in California

Trip Start Sep 06, 2007
Trip End Oct 10, 2007

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Flag of United States  , California
Thursday, October 11, 2007

I ended my last travelogue in Italy though I had already spent a few days in NYC and a couple weeks in DC. In those weeks, I was able to catch up with some old friends from both college and grade school. One night in particular involved a big salsa dancing event outside the Kennedy Center. We started with a lesson and once the band began playing, there was more hip shaking under this enormous tent than at a massive Hawaiian Luau .  http://www.kennedy-center.org/

DC has a lot of great monuments and museums, many of which I still need to see (you can see my first travelogue for monument pics). However, I did get to spend some time in the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. It's said that if you tried to view every piece in all the Smithsonian Museums for one minute each, the feat would take over 50 years. Given I was only dealing with a half-day, I decided to focus on the evolution sections taking you from the origin of life on Earth to present-day. If this topic is offensive to you, please relax, no offense intended. I'll let the slide-show of pictures tell the rest of the Museum story... and please excuse the blurriness of some of the pictures. My monkey genes must have briefly expressed themselves during a few shots.

After DC, I had the wonderful opportunity to spend two weeks in the LA area; more specifically Santa Monica and Malibu. Mrs. Smith wasn't there for the first week, and Mr. Smith was quite busy so I had a good bit of free time to explore. Santa Monica is a beautiful place, and as a local described it "a true bum's paradise." They have a lot of programs for the homeless and don't try to move them along to anywhere else, so they tend to collect there. Unfortunately for the bums, they have subsequently ended up on the wrong end of an unequally weighted supply & demand relationship. At least in my personal experience, their demand for change/food far outweighed my ability to supply it. After buying food for a few of them in the mornings, I had to say No to the ones that asked in the afternoons and evenings. A true bummer (pardon the pun).


I stayed in an awesome hotel in Santa Monica (The Fairmont Miramar) with a balcony that overlooked the beach and ocean. The famous Santa Monica Pier was close by, but seemed a bit over-rated to me... mostly a lot of pricey food, and rides that couldn't get an acrophobic's heart rate over 100. However, as I walked by it, I passed something the locals set-up every Sunday called "Arlington West"... taken from the title of Arlington National Cemetery (for soldiers) on the on the East Coast (DC). They set up a Cross or Star of David for every American soldier that has been killed in the Iraq war. It was a very moving experience to see that people from all over the nation have come to put pictures and stories of their fallen loved ones. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arlington_West


The "Third Street Promenade" is another attraction in Santa Monica, which is basically just three blocks of shopping and restaurants. It has pretty decent street performers, and a sushi restaurant that I particularly liked. It had an upstairs band/dance area where they hold salsa dance lessons followed by a salsa band. So once again I took a lesson and stayed for the band afterward. Normally, I dance quite a bit at those kinda things but this was a little different...I think all the best salsa dancers in LA showed up. It was amazing to watch, but unfortunately, every girl in the place had already been spun around by at least three different Rico Suaves before I could get to them. I essentially had very little to offer in the salsa dancing department after they had danced with these professionals, so I mostly just enjoyed the show.


On another day, I went with a friend to see the Getty Museum, which is truly a site to see both inside and out. Though it held some amazing artwork, I was equally impressed with the architecture and grounds of the Museum. If you ever go, I highly suggest taking the free guided tour of the Museum architecture and gardens. It drags on a little bit, but is worth it for the information you receive. http://www.getty.edu/museum/


After a week in Santa Monica, we went a little up the coast to Malibu. As with just about all the places we stay, it had an amazing view. The week in Malibu was fairly uneventful except for one very important point... I went surfing every day!!! Man it was great to be in the water again! Even if the water was freezing and obviously polluted. The waves weren't much to write about for the first three days, though the fourth day was awesome. I surfed till I couldn't move my arms anymore... and then I just floundered in the water like an injured seal trying to catch any last wave possible. The last day was really windy with really big waves, and no one was on the beach, let alone surfing. But given it was my last day, I had only one logical choice. So after catching a couple waves and having a few underwater-oh shit-when am I gonna get a breath-scares, I decided to call it a day and return my trusty rental surfboard. I flew back to DC the next day, relatively unscathed. 

So now I'm excited to say I'll be heading to Austin tomorrow for some quality time with family and friends. After that it's back to DC, where I think I'll spend most of October, with occasional trips to NYC.
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