We spent Sunday night in Hagerstown, MD, after having a lovely time at Dudley and Squeaky’s. After the girls took a little swim in the morning, we packed up, headed out for a quick breakfast, then were on the road to DC. We ended up taking the blue line in from south of the city, figuring that it would be easier to not have to drive through DC on our way out to Virginia. It was a good choice.
Emerging from the Federal Triangle stop, we headed straight for the Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum (the girls just watched Night at the Museum (which was a lot better than I expected it to be – my hopes were pretty low based on my general dislike of Ben Stiller, but it turned out to be a really enjoyable flick). We took in a few exhibits – most notably the dinosaur bones, the nature photography special exhibit, and the gems and minerals. I’d never bothered with the dinosaur bones before – this is the first time I’ve visited the museum with children, and I’m not really all that jazzed by ancient fossils. Punkin’ Pie wanted to go, though, and we were letting the girls determine which exhibits we saw, so in we went. While I enjoyed watching her take in the sights, I have to say that it really didn’t do much for me. Dinosaurs just never excited me at all.
The nature photography is a special exhibit going on for a short time, and I REALLY wish there were postcards or reproductions in the gift shop; some of those pictures were just jaw-dropping gorgeous. There were close-ups of hummingbirds in flight, some absolutely stunning photographs of lions and cheetahs, and some truly breathtaking sea- and landscapes. I think the museum really missed a money making opportunity by not offering at least a companion coffee-table book to go with the exhibit – I’d certainly have bought one. Alas, as I said, not even a postcard.
After the photographs, we headed to the gem and mineral wing. My favorite display in the that exhibit has always been the quartz sphere: sure, the Hope diamond is pretty, but that enormous, flawless crystal ball always captures my imagination. There were a lot of really stunning pieces on display this time around, including an enormous emerald necklace, a beautiful jade and diamond crown, and some particularly sparkly diamond rings and brooches. I always leave that exhibit wanting to take a toothbrush and some Windex to my engagement ring…
After a quick lunch in the museum cafe (which has, believe it or not, some spectacularly yummy chicken fingers), we made our way through the gift shops – see above disappointments – I came out with a couple of Hope diamond postcards and two quartz hearts for the girls. I mean, really: how hard would it be to offer paste knock-offs of some of the pieces in the gem exhibit? I’D have bought one! Anyway, after that, we headed out into the sun again.
Our ultimate goal was the Lincoln Memorial, so we took a right out of the museum and started walking. There was some sort of folk festival in the mall this past week, so we ended up taking most of our trip through a cavern of tents in various stages of disassembly. We took a little time at the World War II memorial – something that wasn’t there the last time Mr. Chili and I visited the city. We found our state’s pillar and took some pictures and contemplated, again, the sadness and seeming futility of war. A stroll along the reflecting pool (densely populated (a propos slip there – I just typed “poopulated”) with geese) led us to the Lincoln Memorial.
I’m struck, every time I see this place, with the strangest sense of connection. I don’t know where it comes from – whether I hold a special place in my heart for Lincoln or because I associate the memorial with Martin Luther King, Jr., with whom I share a birthday and a particular affinity because of what the man did with his life, I don’t know. The fact remains that I feel as though I belong there somehow. Weird, I know, but that feeling is so strong in me that I can’t pretend it’s not there.
After spending some time in the memorial, taking photographs, and reading the Gettysburg and Lincoln’s second inaugural addresses, we headed over to the Vietnam memorial. Beanie and I were walking down the wall following Mr. Chili and Punkin’, and there were two young men between our two little pairs. Mr. Chili took his baseball cap off out of respect for the place, and I watched as one boy nudged the other with is elbow, indicating with a nod what Mr. Chili had done, and both boys took their caps off. I have to admit, I welled up a little. That place is powerful and, yet again, I was struck by the idea that, pretty soon, we’re going to be erecting yet another war memorial. We haven’t learned a thing.
By this time, little girl legs were good and tired, and we were all hot and hungry. We made our way to the Arlington Cemetery Metro stop, which, really, is no short walk, but is closer than any of the other choices. Back on the train we went, then back to our car. After a quick dinner at Bertucci’s, we were on the road to Williamsburg.
We arrived here at about 10:00; a little later than we’d hoped, but we hit some traffic in a couple of places on the highway. We’re checked into a lovely apartment; two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a full kitchen, a nice living room and a back porch. Because Mr. Chili loves me (and is a wicked enabler to my blogging habit), he signed us up for wireless in the apartment! I get to post once a day!
We don’t really have an itinerary for the rest of the week. We know we’re going to spend time in Colonial Williamsburg and Jamestown, and that we want to have at least a day in both Busch Gardens and Water Country, but we don’t have a moment-to-moment plan. I love that we can be flexible about this sort of stuff; it takes so much pressure off of vacations. I’ll keep you updated, and will likely post pictures tomorrow.