Washington D. C.

I have been away from San Francisco since the 12th of March and am set to return to the city tomorrow if the weather permits.  Last night in Racine there was snow– a nice soft blanket of white silently coating the street. I don’t know if that will affect my flight back to San Francisco, but I suppose we will see tomorrow. On Sunday, April 10th, Mom and Dad dropped me off in Nashville so that I could catch a puddle-jumper to the Milwaukee airport. Mom was a bit nervous, to say the least, about leaving me alone in Nashville. The whole idea of me traveling alone has her worried. Just before driving me to Nashville, Mom had watched Swift Justice with Nancy Grace. The theme of the show was a girl who had checked in to a hotel and was kidnapped and murdered by a Mexican working at the hotel. It didn’t help that when we arrived, there were several Mexicans working outside the hotel where my parents were dropping me off. Immediately, my mother was nervous. I tried hard not to smile at her consternation. She worries more than I like, but I worry less than she likes, so I guess we’re even. I went inside and checked in. After I got my room number, I walked outside to where my mom was waiting in the car to give her my room number. As soon as I said it, one of the workers walked by which caused her quite a fright. She didn’t want anyone knowing my room number, so she repeated the number incorrectly, all the while giving me that look out of the corner of her eye. She was pointing out the worker as he passed without actually using her hands. I smiled and kissed her as I waved goodbye. I only tell this story because as I walked to  my room, I discovered that it was at the end of the hall right next to a window where several of the workmen were painting. They watched me as I walked into my room and I thought it was funny that despite her best efforts, the workmen would still know where my room was. Of course, everything was fine. I just smiled at the guys as I went in. The next morning, I caught the shuttle to the Nashville airport, and soon found myself on the small plane to Milwaukee. Nick was waiting to greet me as soon as I arrived. It was wonderful to see him. He had some great ideas about what we could do. First, we spent Tuesday and part of Wednesday in Washington DC.

My first impression of D. C. was that, like the Federal Government, nothing made sense. The bathroom in the DC airport was full of blind corners, tiny hallways, and poorly arranged hand dryers that are in the way of people waiting for stalls, or leaving the facility. Funny that that would become the blueprint for my understanding of how things in Washington DC worked! (Or didn’t.) From the airport, we took a cab to our hotel in Oxon Hill, Maryland, about five miles away. This was my first trip to Maryland as well. What I saw of it seemed utilitarian, rather gray and spread out. More spread out than I expected, actually. I don’t know what the best cities in Maryland are, but it did look rather like what I remember from episodes of Scarecrow and Mrs. King. After checking into the hotel and leaving our things, we spoke with Pam at the front desk who gave us a crash course on how to get to the National Mall using the rather inefficient bus system of the DC area. We had a hard time finding the entrance to the hotel which wasn’t surprising considering that everything I had seen so far made little sense. Even the long hallways at the convoluted Reagan airport had no moving sidewalks, and the train terminal leading out from the Reagan had no attendant at the information booth where we could ascertain information about the trains. Still, Pam was very nice and gave us the bus schedule and explained the bus and train lines we needed to take to get to the National Mall. At the bus stop, we found no benches to sit on or even a shield from the wind and rain, even though there was an hour long wait between bus arrivals.  After taking the twisty and turny D-12 bus to the Suitland Metro station, we finally managed to find the blue line train we were supposed to find, even though the signs for the blue line pointed in the opposite direction from which the blue line actually was.  Once at the National Mall, the rain was coming down pretty good. A guy in the Metro Station tried to sell me an umbrella, but I declined.  The National Mall was wider and more dismal than I imagined it would be. There was construction going on outside the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. Some of the grass had been fenced off, which I thought disturbed the view. The amount of distance between the Capitol Building, the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial was greater than I thought. This distance was made longer by the drizzling rain and the graveled pathways that served as sidewalks around the entire mall area. The only museum we visited was the Museum of Natural History which was going to be open until 7:30 p.m. unlike the other museums that closed at 5 or 5:30. There were also virtually no restaurants that I could see in the Mall area. There were trailers where snacks were served during “business” hours, but I expected to see some restaurants that tourists could go to. Another thing in DC that didn’t make too much sense. There were restaurants in the museums though, high priced as they were.  Sometimes, it’s the simplest things that amaze me. Out of all the times I’ve seen elephants, the sheer size of the one on display at the Museum of Natural History surprised me.  Seeing an elephant so close to the bones of dinosaurs almost makes it possible to imagine how scary dinosaurs would have been. Seeing the elephant excited my desire to see more exotic parts of the world. Seeing the dinosaur bones was fantastic, too, though I really wished I could have seen a T-Rex looking like it would have looked then, other than just bones. The museum was crowded, but I thought the stuffed wild animals were phenomenal. One of the scariest ones I saw was the spotted hyena. They have that look in their eyes that seems like sheer madness. Also their bodies have been designed to digest all of  your body parts. . .including the bones. What an amazingly adaptable creature! After the museum of Natural History, Nick and I walked to the Capitol Building and then to the Washington Monument. I was so tired that I didn’t want to go to the Lincoln Memorial which seemed to be another 800 yards away.  I thought we would visit it the next day, but it turns out, the flights were full for the evening, so we left DC in the afternoon.

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~ by ImaginaryCanary on April 18, 2011.

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