August 15, 2013
In the last post I forgot to mention dinner. One of Laura’s former students, Scott Moore, is an attorney with the National Science Foundation. Once we got settled into our room we headed west on the Metro to meet Scott at his office at NSF.
We had a fantastic meal at a local wine bistro. I had scallops and Laura had butterfish, whatever that is. It was one of the best meals of the trip, and we’ve had some good ones. Laura and Scott caught up, and Scott told us about his work at NSF.
The next morning we got up fairly early and headed to the top floor of our hotel for breakfast. The hotel restaurant had spectacular views out across the Potomac and north toward the National Cathedral. It wouldn’t be the last long view that we had today. After a good breakfast a nice view of the city we set out. Our plan was to visit some of the Smithsonian museums, and see what we could find.
I had turned on the Field Trip app from Google on my iPhone. As we approached the Rosslyn Metro station it beeped to let me know that this station’s escalator was the second longest in North America. The longest one was somewhere else in DC.
We joined the crowds heading into the city and continued to the Smithsonian Metro stop. We took a moment to scheme, and decided that our first stop would be the Museum of Natural history. Doors opened at 10:00, and we were right there with the first group going in.
I had only brought smaller cameras this time. I figured most of the shots would be wide angle, so I could leave the big Nikon back in the room and not lug it around. I decided to use the extreme wide angle to get a couple of shots of the large central room of the museum.
As we wandered trying to decide which exhibit to visit first, Laura spotted that they were having a special exhibit of butterflies. We decided to check it out. We got our tickets, and they turned out to be for 10:15, some as our Monticello tickets. 10:15 must be our time to do stuff.
We entered through a double-door system so that the butterflies couldn’t escape. Laura and I both commented that it was like being in the hummingbird aviary at the Sonora Desert Museum, which we both love. There were only a few other visitors, so we were glad we had arrived early.
The explosion of color and variety of butterflies was amazing. We stood for a long time just watching. One large one landed on my shoulder and stayed there for the duration. Another landed on my hat for awhile. I seemed to be the only attracting the insects.
The only problem was that they had to keep the exhibit very warm and humid. The heat started to get to me, so we needed to leave, reluctantly.
We’ve visited this museum several times, so we’ve seen most of the exhibits before. Even so, we have some favorites. We both love the earth sciences exhibits. The information on meteors was fascinating…
…and we especially love the displays of natural minerals. It was surprising to see that so many of the samples came from the Copper Queen Mine in Bisbee, Arizona, which I’ve had the privilege to tour.
The crowds were gathering in the cut gemstone displays. However, Laura and I both prefer the natural minerals. We didn’t even bother to stop by the Hope Diamond exhibit.
One exhibit I don’t remember from previous visits was the skeletal structure room. For some reason we found it quite interesting, in a creepy sort of way.
Speaking of bones, I popped into the dinosaur exhibit to get a couple of shots with the GoPro. I’ve taken tons of photos of these dinosaurs with regular cameras (as was everyone else who was there today.) So I wanted something a bit different.
Unfortunately, the upper gallery wasn’t open. I was hoping for some overview shots. I did manage to get one of the oceans exhibit.
We did go through several of the other exhibits, but by this time we were getting super saturated with displays. It was time to leave and go find something for lunch. My iPhone showed lots of options a couple of blocks over, so we headed that way.
As we walked, I was amazed at the monuments – not the ones everyone knows along the mall, but the huge monolithic office spaces for various government departments. The architecture is astounding, and the size always blows my mind.
It turns out the the lunch spots we saw were in one such building – the Old Post Office. Several shops and a food court were set up in the lower level. There were several ethnic options, and we selected Greek.
After lunch we saw that we could take a free tour of the Old Post Office Tower, with incredible views of the city. We boarded the elevator with a crowd of others, then took a second elevator on up to the top. The views were as advertised.
We walked down a flight of stairs to view the Congress Bells, a set of change-ringing bells.
I would really love to hear a change-ringing concert with these bells sometime. I’m sure that must be impressive.
Speaking of impressive, the whole post office building architecture was beautiful. A steel and glass structure leaves the central atrium open to the sky. It astounds me that there have been multiple attempts to tear down this beautiful structure.
After the Post Office Laura and I wandered out onto the Mall. We walked past the Washington Monument, with its scaffolding, and eventually reached the new World War II memorial. Since both of our fathers had fought in WWII, we lingered a bit. They have done an excellent job of incorporating the memorial to the Mall in such a way that it doesn’t ruin the views from the Lincoln Monument to the Washington Monument.
By this time we were getting pretty worn out. We headed back to the hotel to recoup for a bit. In the evening we were in the mood for more ethnic food. I had spotted a couple of places near George Washington University, so we took the Metro to the Foggy Bottom stop and walked around Washington Circle to a Thai place, literally.
The food was good, and we enjoyed the meal on a sidewalk table, watching the Washington crowds pass by.
After dinner we decided to check out where I was supposed to meet Houston for a Segway tour the next morning. It was just around the corner, a couple of blocks away. The route took us through the George Washington University campus. There was quite a bit of activity, as students were moving back onto campus. We found the Segway place, then headed on back to the hotel for the evening.
While we had been out and about, and when I didn’t need the GoPro for museum shots, I used the suction cup attachment to attach it to our hotel window and do some time-lapse shots. Here’s the result…
And here is the slideshow of our trip from that day…