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07/10/2005: D.C. Day 2, Museums and visiting old friends
Up! Up! Up! Go! Go! Go! We got up early to make the 9:45 Members-Only Backstage Tour of the Smithsonian Castle. Karen groaned and voted to miss the tour. I wouldn't have it. We packed up and prepared to leave Ken and Beth's.
Ken says, "hi" to the mama and baby dwarf donkeys. (Ken, what are their names?)
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The plan was to head out via Virginia. We got on the road to the Metro by 8:00. We found the Wheaton Station in an hour. Meanwhile, Karen discovered that she'd left some important things behind. So, we had to return to Ken & Beth's this evening. We had to change trains because I'd picked a station more convenient to our exit. We jogged into the Smithsonian a bit after 10:00. We got redirected to a "Staff Only" entrance, and the guard told us to run down another hallway, and maybe we'd find the tour. We got to the Information Desk, and a gent there gave us out tour badges, and we did catch up with the tour. It was mostly worth the hassle.
Behind the public areas of the Smithsonian Castle, this 3 story display stand exhibits some of the favorite items of the curators.
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Some of the scaly and furry critters on display in the back stairwell of the Smithsonian
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The "Chapel" of the Smithsonian Castle was never sancitified, or intended to be a religious place, but the architect liked the look of a chapel attached to the Castle
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The gardens behind the Smithsonian Castle where we had several snacks was a parking lot until the recent decade.
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Washington Monument and tents left over from the 4th of July
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After the tour, we had coffee and a snack behind the Castle, and then went to the Museum of Natural History. Many impressive exhibits of every category of living and extinct species. You'd have to spend a couple of days there just to walk through all the rooms. There was an exhibit of photography by Ivar Silis in Greenland. Amazing pictures and stories.
Of the thousands of (expired) animals on display in the Museum of Natural History, I liked the way these groups were portrayed. People walk along the "stream" between the sets of animals.
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In the "Discovery Room" of the Naturla History Museum, designed for little kids to have hands-on experiences, Karen enjoys a turtle shell. She likes turtles. Her distant Native American ancestor came from a Turtle Tribe.
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Nat'l Hist. Museum Food Court. I liked the light, glass, steel, and concrete stairway in this former air well.
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"Awwk!"
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Even in the rooms of fossils and skeleta, Karen feels an affinity for the turtles.
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Didja know that swordfish had eye bones? So do some birds. I never knew that! Separate, articulated bones surrounding half of the eyeball and swivelling loosely in the skull.
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I tried to get Karen and the big elephant occupying the center of the foyer. Note the fancy cast iron railings? How about the sheer size of this building?
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We had lunch in the food court (good food, but not as interesting as at the American Indian Museum), and then headed back across the Mall.
Karen and the Castle and more 4th of July tents
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From the steps of the Freer Museum, a stone sculpture and the dome of the Natural History Museum across the Mall.
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Karen wanted to follow up on one of the stories we heard in the Behind the Scenes tour involving a mosaic in the Freer Gallery.
Dan and more birds in the Freer
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Afternoon was waning, and we had plans to go visit a couple of college roommates of mine just across the river in Virginia. I thought I had good directions, but I missed a turn, and it took an extra hour to get there.
Karen examines a Map of Smithsonian Station in the Metro
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Huge, tomb-like vaults let people know that they are deep underground in the subway.
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Karen, approaching the top of a very long escalator up out of the Metro
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After a long and winding, misdirected drive, we decided to take the ferry to Virginia (instead of the bridge that I'd gotten lost trying to find).
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David I met the day I met my first girlfriend at the end of high-school. He had a different name, back then. Jonathan was the alpha housemate where I lived during my sophomore year of college. Now, they've built a house in the woods in Virginia for themselves, their son, 3 dogs, and an orange tabby cat named "Richard Parker". I asked why Richard Parker, and was handed the book, "The Life of Pi". I enjoyed the book, once we got back home.
Their goats and chickens live out back.
The house that Jonathan and David built, out of straw and timbers, in the woods of Virginia.
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College buds I reconnected to via the magic of the Internet.
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David enjoys red wine and sunsets from the cliff of their sprawling, Nature Conservancy protected land in Virginia.
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Who doesn't love a goat? Jon and David have 2, and a flock of chickens, and 3 dogs and a cat.
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We had a nice supper, half from our cooler, and half party leftovers from their house. Then a long walk along an overgrown trail on their property to watch the sunset from a cliff over a river valley. This is the sort of place Karen's been wanting to get.
But, by 9:00 we had to drive back toward the Chesapeake Bay area to Ken's house. By the time we'd arrived at Jon and David's, I knew I had a cold. My insistent energy in the morning had been a typical manic before the crash. Sniff. This is not a good way to start a long trip. Yep, the trip is only beginning!
Next: Up to Germantown, NY

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