Monkeys' brains, while popular in Cantonese cuisine, are not often to be found... in Washington D.C.!

As you may know, I went to Maryland/DC a few weekends ago to visit Katie and Cheryl and use some of the vacation time I've been building up. Photos are here!

Friday

I flew to Baltimore, which makes me think of Hairspray. Katie and I had dinner and bubble tea and... I can't remember what else we did. We must have just sat around talking until midnight!

Saturday

Some people need information procured for themOn Saturday Katie and had a nice late morning (which was good for recovering from a long Friday at work and sitting near teenagers while waiting for my flight) then set off for Washington, D.C. We originally planned to go on a tour of the Capitol, but by 11am, it was already sold out for the rest of the day. So we looked at the map to see what else was in the area and decided to go to the Library of Congress instead. Neither of us had been there, both of us had library degrees... it seemed appropriate. The building was very nice and there was lots of interesting artwork. The Library of Congress is a huge shrine to knowledge and learning, and every little bit of the art inside seems to reflect this.

After the LoC (as we close personal friends of the library like to call it), Katie and I took the Metro out to Virginia to go to a BBQ that Cheryl had invited to. Katie and I played Flip Cup for the first time, but we played on opposite teams so that the fact that we were drinking water instead of beer wouldn't handicap one team or the other. I think I still got drunk, though, because I was acting pretty silly and all that water made me sort of sick. The other FlipCuppers called me Haiku because of my t-shirt.

Sunday

Alligators in the National AquariumOn Sunday, Katie and I got bubble tea (excuuuuuse me, "Zhenzhou Pearls") at Teaism near the Navy Memorial (which I kept trying to call "Navy Pier") then met up with Cheryl to go to the National Aquarium. The National Aquarium was a little disappointing, in that it was small and under construction (therefore many things were missing or mis-labeled) and un-free, unlike most of the museums in DC. The fish and other water creatures were pretty cute, though, EXCEPT FOR the spiny lobster. That thing was not cute. I did not like it. Make the scary thing go away.

We all left the aquarium craving seafood and I felt that as long as I was visiting the area, it was my duty to eat crab cakes. So I had a crab cake sandwich and garlic fries for lunch. A good time was had by all.

Next we went to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. It was a good museum and very interesting. I guess I just wish we'd had more time and fewer obnoxious whining children who were being forced by their parents to attend. I've heard a lot of people talk about the exhibit of shoes as being the most moving part of the museum. I'm wondering if we missed that part, because I saw a pile of shoes, but it wasn't particularly large or moving. I personally was most touched by the boxcar that you walked through, which represented the boxcars in which people were shipped to concentration camps. They only had tiny little slivers between some of the boards where light and fresh air could get through. It reminded me of The Devil's Arithmetic. Altogether, I didn't feel like the museum was the sort of harrowing learning experience that I had built it up to be. I kind of wonder sometimes if I'm Holocausted out because I went through a period in elementary/middle school when I was sort of obsessed with reading about WWII and the Holocaust and I've always sort of been interested in that era. I guess there wasn't a whole lot in the museum that surprised me - more just little bits of knowledge that I didn't have, about Nazi occupation in Norway, Nazi propaganda directed toward children and the way Nazi ideals crept into European thought and policy so slowly that you might not notice that your rights were being threatened until it was too late.

The original idea for the day was that we would go to the aquarium, the Holocaust Museum, then the zoo, thereby sandwiching the harrowing realism with cute animals. Time and rain prevented a zoo trip, though, and Katie and I made our way to the AFI Theater in Silver Springs to watch Lawrence of Arabia. I actually found Lawrence of Arabia more moving and thought-provoking than the Holocaust Museum, but I think that's partially because I was a lot more ignorant about the subject. I enjoyed it. I laughed. I cried every time there was a sweeping desert landscape because I am a big weenie like that. I know I've seen it before, but it's been several years and I don't think I've seen it all in one sitting. We almost didn't see it all in one sitting this time, either, because the sound cut out just as they were about to attack Aqaba, but someone came along and fixed and rewound it so we got to hear the battle as well.

Monday

"Lisp" by Edward RuschaMonday morning I set off for DC while Katie went to work, so I had my first experience of this trip riding the Metro alone. It was uneventful, which is good. First I went to the National Gallery of Art. What I didn't know - and what my guidebook didn't tell me - was that I probably should have been at the Smithsonian American Art Museum because that's where the National Portrait Gallery is. All in all, I am very confused with all the museums and also convinced that most of the good art is in New York. I was not terribly impressed with the National Gallery, but I think part of that was because my wanderings through the museum took me through the museum store early-on and I kept looking for works of art that they sold merchandise based on, but did not actually house in the museum (e.g. Magritte).

When I was done with the National Gallery, Cheryl took the afternoon off from slicing up monkey brains and met me for lunch. We got pita sandwiches and went to go eat them on campus, where we were attacked by an overly-friendly squirrel.

Some sort of birdThen Cheryl and I went to the National Zoo, where we saw many interesting furry animals (not including the majestic moose) and educated each other on animal-trivia. I seem to remember making the broad sweeping statement once that a zoo with no giraffe was not a zoo. The National Zoo's giraffe is out on hiatus right now while they renovate the elephant quarters, so apparently we didn't go to the zoo after all.

After that we went shopping, then stopped for a drink to rest my poor, tired feet. I got 30,000 steps that day! Fortunately Katie didn't have anything too taxing in mind for the evening - she made me dinner (thank you!) and we watched Vertigo, which thoroughly confused us both (even though I've seen it before!).

Tuesday

CapitolI got off the Metro at the Archives/Navy Memorial stop so I could get more bubble tea. Darn you, Teaism. You are so delicious. Then I walked to the Capitol, where on a weekday you can get tour tickets much more easily. I had a little more time between my ticket-collecting and my actual tour than I would have liked, but that gave me a little time to finish drinking all of the liquids I had with me, find a trash can for the bottles (no empty bottles allowed in the Capitol! I'm glad I didn't bring my Nalgene!), watch police block off the lower part of the Capitol lawn so that a suspiciously abandoned backpack could be detonated, realize I had just downed a whole lot of liquids at once, go across the street to the building where the offices of U.S. Representatives are, go through security in that building so that I could go to the bathroom, go to the bathroom, sit in the sun for a while, sit in the shade for a while, line up and go through security again. Ah, Washington. The tour was pretty nice. It was free and there were sculptures of important people from all the states, like Michigan's Zachariah Chandler. I love Zachariah Chandler! Whoever he is. Other states had much more interesting representatives like Samuel Adams (Massachusetts), Kamehameha I (Hawaii), Robert Livingston's Going To Pop a Cork (New York), Caesar Rodney (Delaware), Will Rogers (Oklahoma), Sakakawea (North Dakota), Sarah Winnemucca (Nevada), and Jason Lee (Oregon). Wait, wrong Jason Lee. My camera battery died right when we arrived in the Rotunda, so the last picture I have from my trip is this lame touristy picture of the Capitol building (at left).

After the tour, Cheryl arrived at the Capitol with a picnic lunch, so we sat on the Capitol grounds and ate lunch. Then we set off for the Botanic Garden. That was very nice, but I don't really know anything about plants so it wasn't as fun as the zoo giraffeless animal park. Then we went to the Museum of Natural History. We saw the tiny display about human evolution, all the exhibits that are rather strangely placed right next to each other with no segue, so that you jump from an exhibit about Neanderthals to an exhibit about 20th century Africa, or from Sikhs to insects. We saw lots of bones and models and things and the Hope Diamond, which was not that exciting. The Tiffany Diamond was better. I agree with Anne of Green Gables:

I think amethysts are just sweet. They are what I used to think diamonds were like. Long ago, before I had ever seen a diamond, I read about them and I tried to imagine what they would be like. I thought they would be lovely glimmering purple stones. When I saw a real diamond in a lady's ring one day I was so disappointed I cried. Of course, it was very lovely but it wasn't my idea of a diamond.

I'm more partial to garnets and sapphires myself, rather than Anne's taste for purple stones, but the idea is the same. Diamonds are so clear and white. I have the same problem with opals, which I always imagined to look something like mother-of-pearl, but which look like costume jewelry covered in glitter in real life.

When we finished at the Museum of Natural History, we got back on the Metro and I went back to Maryland. I stopped in and visited Katie at work, then we walked back to her apartment to collect my stuff and go to the airport. Word to the wise: Do not fly out of BWI concourse D. The food selection is terrible!

Anyway, I had a lovely time, thanks in particular to my lovely hostesses. And now I have finally told you about it!

srah - Thursday, 16 August 2007 - 6:17 PM
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Comments (7)

gravatar Craig - August 16, 2007 - 10:46 PM -

I'll be honest. I am tired and didn't even read this post, but I had to comment on how much I love the title. I love that movie.

gravatar Sylvie - August 17, 2007 - 3:52 PM -

You shouod have gone to the Baltimore National Aquarium. They have an awesome exhibit from Australia right now.

Next time, let me know you are going to be in Baltimore, BWI is 15 minutes form me on city roads.

gravatar srah - August 17, 2007 - 9:15 PM -

That's what my friends said - that the aquarium in Baltimore was much better. Oh well. We weren't really in Baltimore, except for the airport - we were more around the University of Maryland area. There was so much to pack into a weekend!

gravatar katie - August 19, 2007 - 9:02 PM -

We weren't really around UMD except when we were at home. But I agree, the Baltimore Aquarium would have been better.

Friday
How could you forget to mention my awesome parking job???

Saturday
Let us not forget that there was a teeny tiny door for the LoC Librarian. :)

They called me Green Shirt! (apparantly...)

Sunday
Yes, zhenzhou pearls, nyah nyah.

That spiny lobster rocked my world.

I thought the boxcar was a real one! The worst part for me was the model of the gas chambers.

I'm impressed that you remembered exactly where the film was when the sound died. :)

Monday
"Fortunately Katie didn't have anything too taxing in mind for the evening" Now I'm paranoid that I forced you into a bunch of stuff you didn't want to do all the other evenings and you were too polite to say anything!

Tuesday
Word to the wiser: Do not fly anything but Southwest. :)

gravatar srah - August 19, 2007 - 9:12 PM -

Friday
Katie did a really good job of parking. Several times.

Saturday
What she said.

Sunday
You only like the lobster because it scared me! Waaaaaah!

It may have been a real boxcar. I couldn't remember, so I guessed.

I remembered because I was afraid that the part of the battle that we saw without sound was going to ruin the battle for me. And people were making trumpeting sounds with their mouths.

Monday
No, the other days weren't taxing. I was worried, though, that since you'd been at work all day, you would want to go out and do something active and then my feet would fall off.

Tuesday
I looked. Southwest doesn't fly out of Cincinnati or Dayton. I'd have to drive to Columbus or Indianapolis or somewhere in order to fly Southwest. If I've driven to Columbus, I might as well drive the rest of the way!

gravatar katie - August 21, 2007 - 11:10 PM -

Re your Monday: Are you kidding? You should know me well enough by now to realize how lazy I am, and that after a whole day at work I'm probably most inclined to lay in bed and read and eat Doritos.

Also, it has occurred to me that you failed to mention anything about Flakey. He's definitely worth a mention.

gravatar srah - August 21, 2007 - 11:17 PM -

Friday
Flakey!

Saturday
Flakey!

Sunday
Flakey!

Monday
Flakey!

Tuesday
Flakey!

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