So as we are all likely to do every once in a while, at least I hope I’m not the only one, I Googled my name and saw that I was listed as a source in someone’s book. It seems that the author of The Politics of Higher Education in Hawaii, David Yount, used some of my newspaper articles as background information on his book. Well, since I bet there’s not a whole lot of people who can say they were cited as a source in someone’s published book, I got excited, told Sandy, and we decided to buy it. I will probably never read it, although at one time I was very interested in the subject, especially since I was assigned to cover it. But its good to have on the shelf to show people. Of course, I would have to tell people, because although I’m listed three times in the bibliography, its some pretty small print at the back of the book and very hard to find.
On Saturday we went back to the zoo because it was walking distance from our hotel and the kids liked it and it was free. Sunday, we went to the International Spy Museum, fun but a bit dark in subject matter (we missed the much lauded American Holocaust Museum for that very reason). They didn’t allow pictures so we don’t have any. After that we went to the Smithsonian Museum of American Art which Dan really wanted to see because of the Art of Video Game exhibit. On Monday we went to the National Archives to see the original Declaration of Independence and Constitution. It’s in a dark room and the ink is so faded you can’t really read it, but we can say we were there and saw it. No pictures there either. After that we stopped by our second Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, this one on the National Mall, and saw the Wright Flyer and lots of other exhibits. From there it was the Museum of the American Indian. On Tuesday we spent the morning exploring the little bit of Rock Creek National Park that winds past our hotel. Very pretty and wilderness-y in the heart of a very metropolitan city. Then we went to pool, packed for our trip home, and went on a trolly tour of the city which let us get close to some of the monuments and gave us a last look at the city during the evening when everything is bright with floodlights. Some awesome views.
We got up way early yesterday morning to get tickets to see the Bureau of Printing and Engraving tour of them making money. Luckily the line for tickets was shorter than advertised, maybe because it was forecast to be another 100-plus degree day. Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take pictures of the tour which is a shame because it was one of our favorite parts of the vacation. Seeing all that money whizzing by on conveyor belts before its cut up and sent out to banks is awesome. After that we went to the Smithsonian American History museum. I have always heard that the Smithsonian was America’s attic and this museum really lives up to that. There is lots of…well, everything there. In fact we saw so many glimpses into other parts of our vacation it kind of felt like a rerun. But there was enough stuff there to keep us interested for the whole day. So much so that we were dragging by the time we got back to the hotel. The kids wanted to go swimming but there were thunderstorms and lightning and we didn’t think lightning and wet kids were a good mix. We ended up eating McDonalds in our room and going to sleep relatively early.
We were early for our tour of the capitol this morning so we visited the Supreme Court first. There were lots of reporters there because they were hoping for a decision on whether Obamacare was legal or not, but they just decided some FCC rule making stuff, instead. Then we checked in at our Congressman Jerry McNerney’s office where one of his staff members gave us a personal tour of the Capitol building. It was cool because we walked right by the thousands of people waiting for the public tours. We sat in the House of Representatives gallery and saw the same view we see on CSPAN live. We visited the Capitol rotunda, the room under the dome, which is one of the most beautiful rooms anywhere. After that we went to the Library of Congress which looked a lot more like a church than a library. We finished up with the Smithsonian Postal Museum which made us think a lot about my mom who worked at the post office for most of her life. The kids really liked hearing about the Post Office mascot Owney, a stray dog that ended up riding the mail trains. We ended the day with a mediocre meal at a mediocre restaurant. Great day except for the part where I left the souvenirs I bought in the cab on the way home.
We have been in the Washington DC area a week and have been on the go the whole time. The very first day after checking into our hotel, we headed to the White House for our scheduled tour. The security to get in was even more strict than to ride the plane here. Once inside though, we were excited to be there. The furnishings were beautiful and the building really felt like a part of history. We then checked out the Smithsonian and visited the Natural History Museum where we saw dioramas, dinosaurs, mummies, and (ugh) bugs. After that it was dinner at Chipotle which wasn’t very good and definitely not the quality we were used to from ours at home. On the way to Chipotle, we waited with lots of other people along a shut down intersection and watched President Obama’s motorcade speed past our hotel on his way home.
The next day was National Zoo day which is walking distance from our hotel. The highlight was pandas but there were lots of other unique animals too. The walk wasn’t long but it was a bit tiring so we just had an expensive room service meal at the hotel after spending some time in the pool.
The next day, we rented a car and visited the the National Cathedral which is an impressive gothic church with whimsical gargoyles carved along its edifices. We specifically went to look for the Darth Vader gargoyle that was put up as part of a kid’s contest in the 80′s. Could only see it with the zoom on the camera. I was surprised to learn that while the church is Roman Catholic, it is also used by the American Episcopal community too, with their bishop’s headquarters just next door. After a quick stop at the Iwo Jima US Marine Memorial we headed to the Air and Space Museum at Dulles airport which is about 25 miles east of D.C. It is a very large hangar with lots of historic aircraft and space craft including the actual Enola Gay and recently arrived space shuttle Discovery. For dinner we visited Georgetown and ate at a strangely decorated Thunder Burger, where the kids sat on couches and I had a very delicious hamburger/pulled pork sandwich.
The next day we took the car and headed some 150 miles south to Williamsburg. We stopped for a while intending to spend the day but the prices were very steep. Without paying any admission we were able to walk through town and get a bit of the history but didn’t get to go in the buildings or listen to the lectures of the tradespeople. But after walking though, it looked a bit boring so we didn’t mind. That afternoon we went to a maritime museum in Newport News, saw the recently salvaged turret from the ironclad Monitor, and the kids saw the Atlantic Ocean for the first time. Dan said it looks a lot like the Pacific. That night we had a great dinner at Bonefish Grill, a chain that we first tried on a Denver vacation a few years ago, and stayed at the Holiday Inn Express for the night. It was an awesome way to spend Father’s Day with my family. (They gave me my presents before I left, fitted ball caps for both the A’s and Dodgers.) The next day it was Busch Gardens amusement park, the drive home and dinner at a restaurant across from the Omni, Open City, which in my opinion is the best restaurant of the trip so far.
We had the rental car for one last day and used it to visit the National Aquarium in Baltimore. It’s one of the best aquariums I’ve been to, and we had lots of fun. It’s on par with the Monterey Bay Aquarium where we regularly have a membership. It has a very tall tank that the exhibits wind around, before you walk down through the center. Theres a gigantic glass structure with Australian wildlife in it that shouldn’t be missed. It was there that we watched trigger fish shoot live crickets off a branch that one of the workers held over the tank. There also have some dolphins which seemed happy enough despite being in an indoor tank with no real fresh air. Baltimore just had a Sail-abration, to commemorate bicentennial of the harbor’s role in the war of 1812 so there were some tall ships still there when we got there and we got to watch Mexico’s navy training ship leave. Really a sight to see with seamen manning the rails and standing on the crossbars across the sails. For dinner we tried a sushi place near our hotel. Dan stuck with gyoza but did eat some edamame.
Today we went to the Newseum. We weren’t expecting much and thought the kids would be a bit bored, but we spent the whole day there and didn’t even realize how fast time was flying. There’s lots of emphasis on how important journalism is to society and history, maybe too much, but I of course didn’t mind since I was a reporter before I became an air traffic controller. Lots of interactive stuff for the kids to do including games and a chance to be a reporter. For dinner we had some take out chinese from a restaurant close to the hotel. Lots of good food. Too much actually. Its really really hot here now. It wasn’t for must of the time up til now but it got close to if not over 100 degrees today, so because we didn’t want to be out there in direct sunlight, we went to the pool after dinner. Tomorrow its our appointment to tour the US Capitol building with our Representative Jerry McNerney.
Just days before beginning our vacation, we finally finished our kitchen and bathroom. The kitchen is roomier and more functional and will be easier to clean without all those tile grout lines we used to have. The kids say the new bathroom looks like a hotel bathroom and came out better than we expected. Now on to the dining room and living room.
Counter tops are here and our kitchen is almost done. We also saw the range in there for the first time. Still waiting for plumbing and electricity. Should come in the next few days.
The floor installer was here most of the day. I wasn’t comfortable leaving him alone. I had lots of chores that I couldn’t do because either he was going to be in the way or I’d have to leave to do them. So I took the opportunity to sit with my coffee and my laptop and go through some notes, saved files and web clippings (thanks Internet Archive Wayback Machine!) and restored lots of old blog posts that were destroyed when I upgraded my WordPress software. Only about halfway done but it’s coming along. Even if no one reads this blog, it’s great just for me to answer myself when I ask, “When was it that somebody did that something?”