Tag Archives: Washington D.C.

Days 45-51: Over the Rainbow And Beyond

Coral Exhibit at Natural History Museum

Dear Reader:

Friends from Maine, T. and Babycakes, arrived last Monday, and we took them on a whirlwind tour of D.C. this week, trying to fit in as much of the capitol as we could. Take the tour with us from the privacy of your home. Ready? Go!

Monday Evening at the Capitol and National Mall

Capitol Building At Night

T. snapped this picture of the Capitol Building while we sat near the fountain and listened to the U.S. Navy band perform for a large group of happy listeners. We watched kids twirl in their pretty dresses–and a grown-up woman dancing, too. A guy dressed in black and sporting multiple piercings sat beside us and called home to let someone know he had made it to D.C. After awhile, we walked down the Mall toward the Washington Monument, stopping to watch a few minutes of GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES playing outside while people sat on their blankets and beach chairs enjoying the open-air show. We walked on until we could glimpse the White House, and we called it a night.

Tuesday at the Natural History Museum

Eels With Pretty Patterns

It was a very colorful day at the Natural History Museum from corals to butterflies to gemstones to a rainbow over the Capitol Building in the late afternoon sun shower.

Butterfly 1

Butterfly 2

Monarch Butterfly Chrysalides

The Monarch chrysalides looked liked gemstones set with gold . . .

Gemstones and Crystals

. . . while the gemstones and crystals sparkled in every color of the rainbow.

Pink-Red

Orange

Yellow

Green and Blue

Indigo and Violet

As we walked toward the Metro, across the National Mall, a little shower sprinkled down while the sun shone, and a rainbow arched over the shining white Capitol Building. A beautiful, magical ending to the day.

Capitol Building With Rainbow

Wednesday and Thursday at the National Zoo

The Teen, Babycakes, T., and I got ourselves up early and hopped on the Metro up to the National Zoo. The shady park with its wide bricked pathways, leafy trees, pretty flowers, and lots of bamboo is a beautiful place to walk or jog or spend a day with the kids. The buildings do not open until 10 a.m., but you can still walk the grounds and see some of the animals up and about earlier in the morning.

Tian Tian (t-YEN t-YEN)

Out For a Morning Stroll

Charming Flamingos

Escaping the Zoo

Galapagos Turtle

Jellyfish

Rooftop Silhouettes

There were so many wonderful animals to observe and to learn about. We really enjoyed the Bird House, the Great Cat area where the half-grown lion cubs wrestled and growled while momma lion played referee, the orangutan who swung himself across the park on the “O-Line”–a rope line that mimics the natural tree-swinging-friendly habitat of Asia. We saw zebras and a tiger and cheetas and a hairy tarantula. Snakes and prairie dogs and toucans and lizards. Ducks and . . . well, you get the picture.

Thursday Night Girl’s Night Out

After resting a bit, we hit the square for Girl’s Night Out. At the Lebanese Taverna we tried some Middle Eastern appetizers–chicken wings with a lemony-butter sauce, meatballs served with yoghurt, and hummus with pita bread.

Photo from T.

We sipped our drinks of mango juice (the Teen and Babycakes) and pomegranate champagne (T. and I). Best of all, we all had henna tattoos applied in gorgeous designs. Outside, a band played 80’s tunes, and when we were finished with our appetizers and drinks, we headed to the square to dance a little on the edge of the crowd.

The Art of Mehndi

(Henna art by Zahra of Salon Amina. www.ZahraHealingArts.com)

Receiving a mehndi or henna tattoo is meditative and healing, often used in rites of passage ceremonies, and is believed to be an offering of protection, love, and good fortune. The Teen and I were blessed to have the opportunity to enjoy a wonderful week with our good friends from home.

Cheers

Friday at the Museum of American History

We spent a good part of the day at the Museum of American History. We caught the “Time Trial of John Brown,” toured the Price of Freedom exhibition, checked out the On The Move area, an exhibition about Phyllis Diller (funny!), saw Julia Child’s kitchen, perused the Paper Engineering exhibit, looked at scientific artifacts, and even took part in the flag folding ceremony!

Revolutionary Mess Kit

After the history museum, T and Babycakes headed out on their own, while I saw the Teen home for a little R & R. We met up with Hubby at the sculpture garden for a little bit of the Friday jazz concert, and then we came home to watch Barbra Streisand in FUNNY GIRL before crashing into bed.

Nap Time

Everybody needs their beauty sleep, after all

Saturday Morning Good-Byes:

T. and Babycakes headed out of D.C. early this morning, driving off on the ten-plus hour road-trip back up north to Maine where the Teen and I will be returning soon. I’m so impressed with their adventurous spirit, and T. and I have decided that trips to Portland–and Boston!–should be regular outings in the future. I agree.

While I am looking forward to my small-town home with its lakes and the library and friends and neighbors and field and forests and farms (and my dog!), I want to keep in touch with the city side of myself, even if it is only a few times a year. There is a certain energy in the city, a sizzle of art and music and culture and business and fashion and ideas that are different from the small town life. Both places are valuable. Both places are inspiring. I can have it all, can’t I? Or at least a bit of it all?

So, Dear Reader, which are you–country mouse or city mouse? Scribble me a note and leave it . . . Outside the Box.

Day 2: Flying Through the Air & Space Museum

Mural of WWII Figher Plane

Dear Reader:

Day Two of OUTSIDE THE BOX IN D.C.

Because it was Saturday, we slept in late, had a couple cups of coffee, sat on our balcony overlooking Nordstroms at the mall, and looked through tourist guides to figure out what we wanted to do with our day. We thought we might go over to the National Mall for a taste of BBQ at the Safeway National Capitol Barbecue Battle XIX. This is a benefit festival/contest to raise money for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington and has raised over 1.2 million dollars for the organization! However, we got such a late start, we decided to save the ribs for Sunday and flew over to the Air & Space Museum instead.

Here’s the funny thing: I’ve been to D.C. four times including this trip. I’ve been to the Air & Space Museum three times now . . . and I don’t even really care about airplanes! Craig wanted to see a couple of IMAX movies showing there, and it is close to our “favorite” L’Enfant Square Metro stop. We did enjoy reading about the Red Baron, WWI and the beginning of airplane warfare, looking at the WWII pilot uniforms and the colorful names and decorations painted on the planes, and learning about Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh in the Pioneers of Flight gallery.

1783 Balloon at 1/4 Scale

I thought this was pretty. It is a quarter-scale model of the first balloon flight in 1783.

The most compelling moments of the day for me were watching the two IMAX 3-D shows–RESCUE 3D and HUBBLE 3D. The RESCUE 3D movie featured rescue workers who all ended up helping in the Haiti disaster. Seeing the shots of the Haiti and the devastation and the people trying to survive in the aftermath of the earthquake was sobering. Seeing it, you can’t quite imagine how anyone could have survived or how they can rebuild.

HUBBLE 3D took us off planet Earth and into space. Our planet is incredibly beautiful viewed from space. The juxtaposition between the incredible amounts of energy expended on our space program (watching lift-off, you can’t help but be awed by the blast of fire propelling that shuttle out of the atmosphere) and the miracle of a blue planet covered in water and green and brown land and wisps of clouds. I was hit by the irony that in order to “see” our planet and appreciate how precious and vulnerable it is, we had to develop technology to this level, putting massive amounts of carbon into the atmosphere that may or may not be raising the temperature of the planet and putting natural systems in jeopardy.

http://www.earth-policy.org/indicators/C51 Earth Policy Institute “2010 Hits Top of Temperature Chart”
http://www.giss.nasa.gov/research/features/200711_temptracker/ NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies “Earth’s Temperature Tracker” by David Herring

Can we continue to afford to burn that much fuel in order to explore space?

We are looking for an alternate planet out there that could support human life. The Hubble telescope has taken pictures of millions of solar systems, some with their own planets. That’s hundreds of millions of planets (or billions?) Nebulae are out there “birthing” new stars all the time, nascent solar systems that one day may cool and form even more planets. It’s more than my mind can comprehend.

The law of averages would suggest there would be at least one other planet out there that could support human life, but I do have to wonder: Instead of looking for a new Earth, shouldn’t we try to maintain the one we already have?

Tomorrow: I’ll hopefully be posting about today’s BBQ consumption and a bike ride along the Potomac.