Hello, Washington DC!
We got up and had a bit of breakfast, then made our way to the shuttle to take us to the King Street Metro station and our train into the city. This time, we bought Metro cards (we usually get the paper passes), and I’m glad we ponied up the extra $2 a card for them; they worked like a charm and were easy to keep track of. Not only that, but I can refill them when I go back to DC this summer with a friend, but more on that later…
Monday’s weather was gorgeous; mostly sunny and warm. We started our day with a trip into the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian. This gorgeous museum starts you on the top floor – where you can see a short film and look at some amazing sculptures and bead work – and winds you down to the ground level. I really enjoyed this exhibit, but the whole museum really is lovely; if you get the chance to go, do.
We realized that we were starting to get hungry, so we made our way across the Mall (which is all ripped up; they’re replacing a bunch of sections with new drainage and traffic-resistant grass) to the National Gallery of Art. A long time ago, we discovered that the National Gallery is a great place to have lunch; unlike many of the other museums, this place isn’t a real hot spot for school groups, so one is much less likely to encounter crowds (and, if one does, they tend to not be the screaming, frenetic variety), and the cafeteria is varied and fresh. We had a lovely, relaxing lunch by the waterfall, took some time in the gift shop, then made our way to the West building to find the Augustus Saint-Gaudens Shaw Memorial. It is my favorite part of the National Gallery, and I make a point of visiting it every time we come (and I go to see the original every time I’m in Boston, too).
Photo credit goes to Punk, who managed to catch her father taking a shot of the memorial, too…
For all the times I’ve gone to DC, I’ve never made it into the National Archives. Every single time I’ve been, the line to get in has wound around the building and I’ve decided that my desire to avoid those kinds of crowds has overpowered my desire to see the founding documents in person. Just for kicks, though, we headed over that way to see what the wait would be like. We took a couple of selfies in front of the building, then made our way to the far side entrance door and…..
…walked right in. I mean, literally. Right. In. There was no one in line. The security people were standing around chatting. RIGHT. IN. Needless to say, we walked through the metal detectors with our jaws hanging open, feeling like we’d won a contest or something.
There were people in the exhibit, but it was perfectly manageable. I spent some time reading the information about how documents are preserved, found out a lot about the Faulkner murals in the Rotunda, and was surprised to find that the founding documents were much more faded than I expected them to be (I’m so used to seeing reproductions that the originals were a little startling; I had trouble making out a lot of the words, and I know a lot of them by heart).
After seeing the Big Three – the Declaration of Independence (“never has a war been so courteously declared. It was on parchment with calligraphy, and “Your Highness, we beseech you on this day in Philadelphia to bite me, if you please.” – Sam, The West Wing), the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights – I made my way into the Records of Rights exhibit and really kind of loved tracing the history of trying to walk our talk (spoiler alert; we’re no where NEAR there yet…).
So, one of the things we were going to do this trip was conduct a side-by-side comparison. Our Five Guys just started selling milkshakes, which *I* think are fantastic but which Mr. Chili thinks are not quite as good as those served by Potbelly’s. Since we don’t have a Potbelly’s at home (we only recently got Five Guys), we decided to take the opportunity during our visit to DC to do a taste-test. After the Archives, we hoofed it to L’Enfant Plaza, where the respective shops are in reasonably close proximity, to settle the matter.
I headed right to Five Guys; Mr. Chili went left to Potbelly’s. Sadly, though, only one of us came back with a shake; the Five Guys at that location didn’t make shakes, but told us that the shop on 14th street did, so we’re going to have try again tomorrow.
Shake consumed, we got back on the Metro and headed for home. Once there, we got in the car and headed for the outlet mall up the street so I could get a bathing suit – the hotel has an indoor pool and sauna, and I forgot to pack a suit. While we were out, we stopped at a grocery store for frozen pizzas, some salad from the salad bar, and three pints of ice cream; Phish Food for me, Chocolate Overload for Punk, and Hagen Dazs chocolate peanut butter for Mr. Chili. We’re on vacation, after all…