Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Our Short Trip to Washington D.C....

(Photos in this post are randomly placed.)

We're home again after a short visit to Washington D.C., where my husband currently works. (Wish you could have come Aimee and Josiah!)

(We walked along the Smithsonian mall on Saturday.)

We arrived in Washington at 7 a.m.Saturday after an overnight flight from Portland to Las Vegas to D.C. I didn't sleep a wink on the flights, but I decided not to nap away the morning because we were only going to have two days to explore. We visited just a few museums on this trip, spending a long time in the Holocaust Museum (never having seen this one before) and a not-long-enough time in my favorite Smithsonian museum, the National Gallery of Art.
(This is a room in the Holocaust Museum, full of lovely family and individual portraits taken in a Russian Jewish village before the war. Looking at these made me cry.)

In the art gallery, I went straight to the Vermeer paintings and looked at them for a long time. I love Vermeer and get almost the same feeling from his paintings as I get from listening to Bach. Actually, I like many Dutch paintings. We wandered that wing of the museum, looking for favorite paintings (and enjoying not so familiar ones, too), and we ran across some by another artist I like, Chardin. Aaron really wanted to see a particular Turner painting, but that section of the museum is under construction, so he missed it.

(Woman Holding a Balance, Johannes Vermeer, 1664.)

After tramping through museums and the area around the Smithsonian, we over-tired people needed coffee (my legs were wobbly and my head was buzzing from fatigue). Starbucks will do in a pinch, so we stopped in at the one in the cute little wedge-shaped building across from the Archives metro station. Last time I was in this city, I serendipitously discovered Murky Coffee, a place that would seem right at home out west with so many other great coffee shops! :-) The coffee is so good at Murky Coffee that, even before we left Oregon, I was looking forward to drinking one of their beautiful cappucinos (so few places make them correctly). But the Murky Coffee shop on Capitol Hill by the old Eastern Market is now closed. I checked the yellow pages and found a Murky Coffee in Arlington, which wasn't far from us, but we didn't make it there. Drat!

(A nice cappucino from Murky Coffee in Washington DC.)

On Sunday, we were finally able to visit the National Archives building after finding it closed on past visits to the Capitol. We walked through parts of it, mostly wanting to visit the Rotunda to see the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and some other documents. Wow. The Declaration is almost entirely nonvisible. It's completely worn and faded so that it's almost impossible to make out any of it. I hadn't known this before. Still, it was interesting to see the documents. We stopped by the Archives shop, and I bought a book that looked good, The Candy Bombers: The Untold Story of the Berlin Airlift and America's Finest Hour.

And then there was a Sunday evening outdoor concert in stormy weather (our seats were under high overhead cover, but open on all sides to the weather). My husband had bought tickets for the four of us to go to a Radiohead concert (this is a secular band for those who don't know). The kids teased that it was my Mother's Day gift, but I didn't mind. The band definitely has abundant talent. Anyway, we drove a rental car to the Nissan Pavilion (the concert venue), and by the time we got there it was absolutely pouring rain. We got to park in the special lot for those who had carpooled with four or more in their car! We had rain slickers over our coats, but we got drenched none-the-less. (Is there a stronger word than drenched? Because we were that.) Water was literally running hard, and increasingly deep, on the ground, even on the pavement surrounding the pavilion. We sloshed through water and by the time we reached our seats, our jeans were saturated up past the knees. We took off our socks and wrung out a shocking amount of water before putting them back on our feet. It poured rain, without letting up, throughout the entire concert. Some area roads flooded. We were cold, but we had fun. Twenty-some songs later, when we walked back to the car, the water was running even deeper and faster than before.

(The Attentive Nurse, Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin, 1738.)

Monday morning, with the weather still stormy, it was time to leave for home. We arrived at the airport to find that our hop to Philadelphia was indefinitely postponed because of the bad weather. So, we sat and waited, sat and waited, for several hours. Finally, we boarded the plane, even though the tower in Philadelphia refused to approve our landing there. After sitting on the plane for a while, we were suddenly cleared to go, and we had a very bumpy, up-and-down-roller-coasterish-while-rolling-right-and-left, flight to Philadelphia. It was not my favorite flight ever.

Now we were on an indefinite wait in Philadelphia (one of the least cool airports I've been in) with crowds of others who were stuck there. We went on a hunt for coffee, but there was nary a coffee shop in the terminal. What?! In the northwest there are coffee shops everywhere! Out of desperation we tried Dunkin' Donuts coffee because I'd read (skeptically) once that it rated better than Starbucks in a taste test, and since there was a Dunkin' Donuts in the airport, we tried that. No way. This was bad coffee.

(Girl With a Flute, Johannes Vermeer. Face to face with this painting, I was surprised at the very green color on the lower face and neck. An art expert, I am not, so I need to look this up!)

Finally we boarded the plane for Portland. After a long flight, we landed sometime around midnight. As we walked down the terminal to the baggage area, we passed coffee shop after coffee shop and a Powell's book shop, and we knew we were home! :-) But our luggage wasn't, so our next wait was in line at the baggage claims office (with many other people) to fill out forms.

Aaron had to give a presentation in class the next morning, so instead of spending the night in a hotel, we spent the next two hours driving. (We'd adjusted to DC time, so it ended up feeling like another all-nighter.) We arrived at Aaron's apartment and plopped ourselves wherever we could make ourselves comfortable enough to sleep. Having no suitcases meant that we had to sleep in the clothes we were already wearing.

When Melissa and I got up in the morning, we were already dressed! After a trip to the store to buy food for Aaron's barren cupboards and refrigerator, we said goodbye to him and headed home across the mountains.

The trip was short but a lot of fun. And being home again feels nice.