Thurs. Aug 30, 2012- DC:
This was a mega-museum day, but before we started I insisted on a pit stop at, where else, Dunkin Donuts. The route to Dunkin’ Donuts took us to the edge of Chinatown as well, so we got to see the entrance way to it. Our first stop of the day was the archives to go look at old papers and books, but we were not sure how much if anything we would be allowed to even see. We were in for a surprise! The whole thing was wide open to us and because we were there soon after opening there were not a lot of people. The line up to go see the actual Declaration of Independence, there was no line. We got to see it in addition to the Bill of Rights and the Constitution. We were not allowed to take pictures and it was hard to see the documents because they were under low-light. It is both amazing how well they have been preserved and how little you could read on them. The architecture of the building was also really nice, which killed me because the whole building was a no-photo zone.
Before going to the National Art Gallery we thought it best to see the accompanying sculpture garden before the sun hit high noon and thus frying us. It was very confusing and I did not understand most of the sculptures. Inside the gallery we set a schedule, we had two hours to see everything, that way we would still have time for more museums in the afternoon (see? Mega-museum day). And we succeeded, we saw everything, we saw so much artwork. The work varied from 13th century religious paintings to Jackson Pollock splatter paintings. The East Wing, as in the modern wing, was much smaller so it was easier to get through. At the same time it was confusing and most of the exhibits were in the process of being set up. The photography gallery was also closed; I did not get to see any photographs. The creepiest was an exhibit of paintings of children and hobby horses; it was what nightmares are made of. Some of the art was confusing, some infuriating, such as the final exhibition, for which we had to climb two flights of stairs- only to find off white canvasses with a beige strip on each. It was not worth the climb and was very anti-climactic. We headed back to the coat check to get my backpack, which contained precious granola bars- we were starving! On the way to the coat check however, we passed one gallery we had missed, so we had to wait a little while longer before getting to eat.
Up next was the Museum of Natural History. I mostly just wanted to see the Titanoboa the Hope Diamond (which I, again, envisioned to be the size of my head), Hall of Human Origins and the butterfly pavilion. The Hall was amazing, it was well laid out and they had lots of skulls and even an actual fossil laid out as it had been found. It was kind of cute how short they were. The Titanoboa was frighteningly large and made Anaconda look like a mini-snake. But it was not as cool as if the skeleton had been there too, it was just a model. The Hope Diamond was small enough to fit in the palm of my hand, I do not understand why people were going crazy for it, so many people crowded around it. The butterfly pavilion had a separate entrance and you had to pay admission for it so we bailed. I finally got my photography fix when they had two exhibits, one was finalists in a nature contest and the other was photographs of galaxies and star clusters, both of which were amazing. At this point however I was getting irate, there were kids running around the galaxy photos exhibit, screaming their tiny heads off. Museums should be like IKEA: you leave your kids in a ball pit at the entrance to the store and retrieve them when you are leaving. I was also rather hungry at this point, verging on hangry (hungry and angry, Brent’s new favourite word as of this trip). We ate lunch in the basement cafeteria, which was just that: a cafeteria lunch, nothing spectacular, just sandwiches and a cookie.
Our final museum for the day (number 4 if you are keeping track) was the Smithsonian Museum of American History where I was hell-bent on seeing the first UPC code ever scanned which was on a pack of Trident gum. And of course whatever else they had on display, we had to see everything. And this museum had just that: everything. It was a mish-mash of pop culture and history with things ranging from slave shackles to Julia Child’s kitchen. There were some really sad and disturbing displays from various wars, but then two rooms over you would find yourself giddy with joy staring at Kermit The Frog. One of my favourite exhibits (probably of all time) was the Route 66 one that was a subsection of a transit exhibit. I learned so much about Route 66. One of the best things we saw was a version of the original American flag hung in 1814 after the end of the war. It was giant, ratty, old and in bad condition. There was accompanying exhibit info showing how it had been displayed last time (which was in 1994), where it was just hung on a wall in bright light. Now it was in a room with a window and very dim lighting. There was an exhibit about the various Presidents with things from their inauguration until their death/impeachment/retirement. Accompanying this exhibit was a display of dresses that the First Ladies wore to the inaugurations as well as their jewelry and porcelain that they used while in the White House. I don’t think it gets any more sexist than that. They also had an entire wooden ship that had been sunken during the Revolutionary War. It was old and grimy and you could see the hole where it got hit by a cannonball, thus sinking it.
In the end we had finished all 4 museums, seeing everything and it had taken us a grand total of 7 hours. That is right; we spent 7 hours wandering through museums. It is no surprise that we collapsed in the hotel and decided that we were not walking to the stadium for the baseball game (did you really think our day was over?) and instead would take transit. As soon as we figured out how to get there, it was time to leave, so much for getting to rest. At some point on the subway we had to transfer to another line, so we just followed the crowd of people in red shirts knowing that they were Nationals fans heading to the game. At the game we stood in line for what felt like forever, having to listen to the most infuriating people talk about a chair, all for some Shake Shack burgers. Shake Shack also served frozen custard and I just could not resist, I had to have some. The burger was good, it was on par with Five Guys Burgers, but did not hold a candle to my beloved In N Out Burger, but I can understand the line-up, it was damn delicious. The frozen custard was covered in hot fudge, which made me feel better. We had to watch the President Mascots race around the field on the big screen, because we were in line for burgers, but I was too hungry to care. Having finally eaten and not being in an “I’m-gonna-smack-these-two-high-pitched-irritating-chair-talking-people” I was ready to walk around. In circling the concourse we chanced upon a photo op with the President Mascots, and for once there was no line-up of screaming children ready to get their grubby sticky mitts on the mascots. The President Mascots also led the 7th inning stretch.
My fury soon returned as we got on the subway. I was so mad at the subway system. We ran for the car, thinking we were going to miss it- and then it just stayed there. The subway waited in the station for at least 15 minutes. I was so tired and thirsty and not in the mood to be crammed into a subway car as more and more people piled on. Finally the subway pulled out of the station. That would be the end of my rage right? Nope, there was an infuriating woman talking about her manicurist and she went on and on and would not shut up. I nearly ran off the subway when we got to the transfer stop, thankfully she stayed on. My mood was not helped by the fact that we now had to wait 10 more minutes for the next subway care. I feel so sorry for any and all DC commuters, it is awful.
On the walk from the subway station to our hotel, we did not pass a single convenience store or pharmacy. My plans of having a snack fell through; all I had left was a swig of soda back in the room. As I was getting ready for bed I came back into the room and to my horror saw a centipede ON THE WALL. I freaked out. I would not shut up about it, bugging Brent to do something about it. He caught it and released it by the elevators, I would have preferred if he flushed it, at least then it can’t come back and attack me again.