Today was our real adventure day!
While getting ready, I was having some trouble finding something to wear. I brought my go-to Yellowstone t-shirt, but I wasn't sure if the unwritten laws of stupid stuff prevents a person from wearing a tourist shirt from one place to another, different tourist place. It's kind of like not wearing the shirt of a band to their concert. None of us want to be that guy. Anyway, I decided to throw caution to the wind and wear it anyway. I was still feeling kind of gouache about it when we went to breakfast and I saw a business man (a relatively young man who seemed to be fairly proud of himself and the way he looked) wearing a black and white flowered shirt only buttoned to the top of his stomach, underneath his suit jacket, and another man wearing a full business suit with a giant, red, Sherpa backpack and a Whole Foods bag. After that I felt ok about my t-shirt.
We drove to the metro station parking deck and had a little trouble figuring out what to do. Parking out here just kind of a nightmare. every space seemed to be reserved for someone. The thing is, we wouldn't have had this problem if we'd been here a week later, because they're opening a metro station just down the street from our hotel! BOO! Timing is everything! :) We finally just left the car in one of the spaces and crossed our fingers that it would be there once we got back.
-Now let me pause here to make a pronouncement: if you are sitting at a red light (behind someone else) and the light turns green, and if you start honking your horn the split second the light turns...not giving them time to move their foot from the break to the accelerator, you are an a**hole. If you are proud of the fact that you do this thing...you are an a**hole. If you come from a place where this behavior is acceptable, then everyone in your town is an a**hole. By this Logic, Washington DC is full of a**holes.
We got on the Metro and headed towards the National Mall. Riding public transportation is kind of weird. Everyone very studiously avoids everyone else they don't know and most people just plug in headphones and stare in one spot til they get off. Is this true for trains in all places, or just really big cities? Granted, you probably don't want some random subway person getting cozy with you, but I couldn't help but think that if my hometown had a train, none of that ignoring stuff would be going on. By the time you went from one end of the line to another, you'd know the names of everyone around you, know which college team they cheer for, the names of all their kin folks, and the recipes for squash casserole they swear by. The train kept getting more and more crowded, and just about the time it got so full that I wanted to start screaming and clawing at the doors, we arrived at our destination! I was so excited!!!!!
The museums we really wanted to see today were all around the Mall, so we started at the Smithsonian Castle. I had no idea what it actually held, but it turned out to have a sample of stuff that you could find in all of the other Smithsonian museums. A Reader's Digest Condensed version of the museum experience, if you will. Unless I missed a whole lot of stuff, it was fairly small, but still interesting. They had an exhibit of different kinds of souvenirs, which I thought was cool. It wasn't like t-shirts and stuff, but things like a napkin from Napoleon's court and pieces of the Bastille. I guess it was what people used to take a souvenirs before you could buy snow globes. I have no idea. Anyways, what I thought would be awesome was if they had souvenirs of the souvenir exhibit! There was actually a book, but I didn't get it, although that would have been funny. Souvenir-ception!
We next went to the Air and Space Museum, which was crowded beyond crowded. I didn't realize at the time that we were just a day away from the 45th (I think) anniversary of the moon landing, which probably explained why it was nearly shoulder to shoulder in there. They were checking bags at the door, which slowed everything down to a crawl. They weren't checking very hard, so I'm not sure what they were looking for. We also had to go through metal detectors. Were they looking for guns? Probably. I guess it would be easy to take down a lot of people if you wanted to go postal in a place like that, but it still makes me kind of sad that it's a possibility. The museum was interesting, but too much like the Sprocket (ptooey) for my taste. I guess it's because the USSRC and the Air and Space Museum had a lot of the same type of things, although we had the Saturn V and they didn't (NYEAH!) We did see a lot of cool stuff, though, and there was a section where we got to make a very good Star Trek IV joke AND sing a verse of "Danger Zone" which was worth the whole visit right there! Hee!
Next we went to the Smithsonian's National Museum of the Native American, and it was amazing! I hadn't even known it existed until a day before we left on our trip. It was a really beautiful building, and there was some kind of festival going on where they had dancers and speakers. It was very cool. I've always been proud of my Cherokee heritage, as much about it as I knew of it, so seeing the exhibits was a great experience. I wish we could have spent more time there, but it was very crowded as well, and we still had a lot we wanted to see. We did eat at this museum, though. There is a restaurant there called Mitsitam, which is apparently "Let's Eat" in the language of the Delaware. They have food from five different regions of native peoples (it's so hard to be PC, since I just want to call them indians, but I realize that it's cool) in the western hemisphere. You could mix and match food from all of the different places, but the room isn't very well laid out, and since you can jump from line to line, there is a whole lot of chaos. I finally just jumped into a line and got turkey and some kind of rice salad from the "Northern Woodlands." It was delicious, but it would have been better if you weren't having to essentially play Frogger with a million people to simply get lunch!
We walked across the mall to the Natural History Museum! This was the one I was most excited to see, because I've only been there once and that was when I was a 7th grader. It was also crowded beyond crowded, and I didn't get to see everything I wanted, but I still got to see a lot! I had no recollection about how huge that place was. I'm sure I missed entire wings of things, but I saw what I could. One specific thing I really, really, really wanted to see was the gem and mineral exhibit. That's where the Hope Diamond is, as well as a room of other huge and/or significant pieces of jewelry that I had been rushed through when I'd been there before. Steve and I found the Hope Diamond right away, and I almost had to punch a little kid in the head. See, the diamond is in a small case on a rotating platform. If you want to get a good look at it, you have to get close and wait for it to turn in your direction. People were crowded around it, and when they finally moved, Steve and I stepped up to the glass to see it. Right as it started to turn towards us, a little kid ducked under my arm and stood right in the way of it, so we couldn't see it. She was much too young to be there by herself, which means that there was a parent off to one side letting their kid be rude. I did not punch the child, of course, but we ended up having to stand there for another full rotation of the platform to be able to see. That put us in the position of having to stand there longer than we normally would have, which kept other people from seeing it until we walked away.
I moved on to the gem room, which was very crowded, and I realized pretty much right away that things weren't going to be easy to see in there. People were so damn rude, which meant I had to be rude and wedge myself into a non-moving wall of people just to get a glimpse of the things I'd come to see. Literally, people crowded around the cases and wouldn't freaking move. I get it, these things are amazing, but when there is a line of people behind you, don't just stand there. Look and move! I was stuck between a man who very clearly seemed to just want to stand and lean against the wall, and a kid and his grandmother who knew everything. EVERYTHING. Neither her, nor her grandson, shut up nearly the entire time they were behind me. Also, the kid kept coughing on me. Full on, right on my arm, coughing on me. He also kept trying to get in front of me, but I kept my hand on the wall to block him. I suppose I can't really blame kids for being rude, because mostly they don't think of things like being polite when they're excited about stuff. The adults, however, I can blame all I want. The woman and man in front of me just basically stopped at each case and stood there without moving often enough that I (genuinely) came within an inch of saying "FFS!" (expletive abbreviated) and bodily shoving them out of the way. I finally stepped out of the line to walked around them, and suddenly they sped up to get back in front of me! Grrrr. I had to skip some things, which I shouldn't have had to do, but unless I wanted to start spitting on people's necks to get them to move, I didn't have a choice. I felt I was much much ruder than I probably should have been (although my version of being rude is probably like being "Canadian Rude" in that I just say "excuse me" louder than I normally would.)
OK, here is where I get a little indignant and it may sound like my whole day was ruined. It wasn't, I had a great time, but I did get very irritated.
There was more to see, but due to the crowds and the fact that we'd been walking for several hours made us decide to go back to the hotel. We did have a bad moment when we had stepped outside to look at a map, when one of those bicycle-cart guys started trying to convince us to go on his tour. We'd already been quite clear we weren't interested, but he wouldn't back off. I finally took down his number just so he'd leave us alone. If you need a bicycle cart tour of Washington D.C. let me know and I'll give you Rickshaw Steve's phone number. It's in my phone. We jumped back onto the subway and went back to the parking garage. Luckily, our car hadn't been towed! Huzzah!
We went to Chipotle for dinner, which was the first time I'd ever been to one. We have one in Huntsville, but it's always crowded, so I'd never been. It was pretty good. We also stopped by Target to buy some essentials we needed. It had been a great day! :)