A soggy day in the nation’s capital

Apr 15, 2007

With only one full day to do Washington, DC, it would have been nice if the weather was half way decent. But instead it was lousy, cold and wind-blown rain most of the day. Fortunately we had plenty of advance warning of this, since it was going to be the same thing in Boston later on, so we decided the zoo probably wouldn’t be the best place to go. Fortunately there are plenty of indoor activities to be had, so we drove to the College Park train station and got all-day passes on the Metro, then rode the train into the mall. Chloe always wants to go to the mall when she’s on vacation, but she knew when we said we were taking her to the mall that this was a different kind of mall. It was just barely raining when we left the hotel, but by the time we got downtown the rain was coming down steadily. Fortunately it wasn’t windy yet, so umbrellas still worked, but it wasn’t conducive to spending time outside. We stopped by the National Archives first, but even at 10:30 or so there was already an hour wait to see the constitution, so we walked passed the national gallery of art (which wasn’t open yet) and ended up at the Air and Space Museum.

There was plenty to see and do there, in spite of part of it being roped off for a new exhibit of planes that doesn’t open until the fall, and another part taken over by an exhibit of highlights from the American History museum, which is closed until next year for a major renovation. We walked through that and saw a diverse cross-section of stuff, from the first typewriter to the first teddy bear to Seinfeld’s puffy shirt. We ate lunch at the McDonalds food court at the far eastern end of the building, which was fine since it was still raining buckets. We saw an Imax show about the Mars exploration rovers Spirit and Opportunity, which the kids could relate to since they’ve both done school projects on Mars in the last year or so. And we saw most of the other big stuff, the Wright brothers plane, Skylab, the Apollo lunar module, the moon rock, a short movie about the first 25 years of space flight (which brought it up to 1982, which was probably when it was made). Although there’s still plenty of cool stuff to be seen in the air and space museum, certain exhibits seem a little dated, which is always going to be a problem with the given topic since things change from one year to the next. The imax show was fine, but since no one has brought an imax video camera to Mars yet, most of the footage was CGI. The Wright Bros exhibit was new, with all sorts of info on the evolution of their designs and background on the brothers themselves, with the plane at eye level right in the middle of the room (seems like it was just hanging from the ceiling with everything else before, but maybe not). I don’t think the Gossamer Condor was hanging up anywhere.

By about 3:30 or 4:00 we were done with what we needed to see and it was still raining, so going by the monuments was out since they’re not that close to the metro stations. Instead we hopped back on the subway just a couple of stops to Farragut West, near the White House. We stopped in at a sandwich place for drinks and grabbed a free paper that had a big restaurant guide, and on the back cover was a full page ad for a Morrocan restaurant near dupont Circle. Beth and I had stayed around there the first time we came to DC (which was >cough<>cough<) and I remembered it as being a big restaurant area (unlike near the museums, which don’t seem to have any restaurants, or near the White House where most everything is closed on Sunday, even Starbucks). You can’t get in the white house anymore, but we walked past down the new Pennsylvania Avenue plaza, took a few pictures, and headed back to the Metro. By the time we got out again at Dupont Circle, it had stopped raining for the first time all day. We found the Moroccan place and had a fabulous dinner, and if we could’ve stayed longer we would’ve gotten the belly dancers too. Can’t say we’d had Moroccan food since Epcot when Chloe was a baby. But it was around 7:30 or so and it was still a long ride back to the car and it was now cold and windy instead of raining and the kids were getting annoyingly punchy from the workout and general lack of sleep. So we worked our way back to College Park and crashed for the evening.

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