Thursday, April 21, 2005

Its paradise to me

Truly, there is nothing like red-eye travel. You fly out of Oakland at 10 pm and arrive in DC at 6 am, after just 5 actual hours of elapsed time. You stop at the first Airport Starbucks, quietly betting yourself how long this dose of caffeine will last. You struggle against the poor signage at Dulles, but manage to walk only 200 unnecessary yards. This is the time where you realize the suitcase with wheels was a good idea. Stumbling upon exactly where you want to go is always glorious, and you do so; blearily charming your way into the heart of the eastern European girl selling you your eight dollar ticket into town. Spend 20 minutes waiting. The sun is rising- you have two choices. Go outside with your camera and take a picture, or stay inside and keep watch over you luggage and your reputation as a non-threat to the airport. Schnell, Option A! Sunrise over the airport is also glorious.

Arriving at the curb, the Washington Flyer Shuttle is greeted by your smile and duffel. Discover Washington Post Express inside the bus and gleefully read interesting puff pieces about numerous headlines.

Transfer from Shuttle to Metro at West Falls Church, Orange line. Exit Orange Line at Rosslyn, Transfer to Blue Line. Realize Blue Line is actually another orange line train. Go back one stop, get back on other direction. Repeat process at Rosslyn except be sure it’s blue this time. Exit Blue line at Crystal City Metro. By 8:15 am, stumble into Crystal City Radisson to store luggage. Consolidate and separate stuff. Return to metro, head downtown. Exit Smithsonian! Tire of odd grammatical and perspective choices.

I get off at the Smithsonian stop and come across a big brown castle of a building. A simply marvelous piece of replicated architecture. This is the information center for all the Smithsonian museums. The museums do not open until 10, but the information center (for which, there is a line!?) opens at 8:30. I want nothing to do with lines, and thus hope that something is open. The Museum of Natural History (read: DINOSAUR BONES!) does not yet have its doors unlocked to us common folk. I hike up a block, ask a cop for a good place for breakfast, dine at the Manhattan Deli. A similarly displaced woman asks me if I know why all the common sparrows have tags on their legs. I do not but suggest science is cheapest when it is closer and less sensible.

Jane needed a wake up call. By gum, I was going to do it from the White House. What they forget to tell you is that the White House is a fortress of 7 barricades and collections of guards. Couldn’t get within a quarter-mile of the place. But we talked, and eventually I came around some trees from far off and saw the temporary king’s familiar home.

Then I went back to my museums. Erin, the Hope diamond is only 45+ carats. It is blue though, and that’s what makes it special. I took a picture for you. I love dinosaurs and ancient mammals. If I didn’t need to go to school for 9 years to make a living at studying ancient mammal fossils, I might try out such a profession. Not because I don’t think dusting off bones isn’t tedious, but because so much of your imagination stretches you as you stretch skin and sinew over those old bones. Those old animals are so fugly, they’re beautiful.

Onto the National Gallery of Art. Not much to say since I was disappointed that a photograph I would have purchased was not available for purchase. When you’ve seen the Louvre and the Orsay (and so many more), one more art museum isn’t all that exciting. But it is something to do while you’re waiting for your hotel room to become available. I watch all the chaperones of junior high groups. I feel for them so much, but not too much because I’m on vacation.

Since 3 pm, I have enjoyed the coziness of a hotel bed, a hotel dinner, a hotel attempt to watch the OC, which was hijacked by my foolishly time-insensitive phone call to my mother, and a hotel full of those junior high kids.

When will Dad and Marg arrive? Who knows…

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