Things I learned from a day at the Smithsonian…

Took advantage of another gorgeous day while Tom was at a meeting downtown to take the kids to DC.  We used to live in Falls Church and go regularly to the city.  After moving to the burbs, we don’t spend nearly as much time there, because sadly, there’s a lot to do within a mile or two of our house, so you don’t really need to leave our neighborhood. Upon contemplation, we realized, one, that we really do miss going downtown and two, it’s really only about a half hour–barring of course, ridiculous snarl ups caused by the metro construction.  So, we are trying to take advantage more of our nation’s capital and enjoy all that it has to offer.

Interesting Stuff I Learned from Our Day on the Mall

  • Note to self: on a gorgeous spring day literally everyone and their brother, and their brothers will also be on the mall that day…we circled the mall for an hour and twenty minutes before finally scoring a parking space.  I know I’m crazy for looking that long, but Tom was only in a meeting for about an hour and I didn’t want to park too far from the museum we were trying to get to.  It took at least a half hour just to drive from one end of the mall to the other. We missed about a dozen spots by one car!  Literally.  So I kept figuring, surely we’ll catch one.  Even with repeated pleas to St. Jude, the good old saint of hopeless cases. Not so much.  But in the spirit of things, it was an awfully nice day for driving and there is certainly no lack of people watching on the mall.
  • Thought the sculpture under the atrium in the American Indian Museum was beautiful.  It was a circular wall surrounding a center court that was emblazoned with different designs pressed into it.

    Beautiful Copper Wall at the American Indian Museum

  • Thought the food at the restaurant, Mitsitam, at the American Indian Museum was actually really good.  A shame that you practically needed to take out a second mortgage to splurge on some of the items, but what we had was really good and loved that they had a smattering of American Indian dishes to sample.
  • One of the reasons that we wanted to go to the Smithsonian was to take the kids to see the computer exhibit at the American History museum.  Sadly, were disappointed that since the renovation, it is no longer there.  Tom was anxious to show them the old Radio Shack TRS-80 that first got him into tinkering on PCs.  But, the kids really enjoyed the hands on innovation center to get their wheels turning.
  • Had no idea how stunning the lens from a lighthouse is.  It was absolutely gorgeous.  It caught so many colors and had so many unique cuts in it, I could not stop staring at it.

    Lighthouse Lens at American History Museum

  • Was very impressed at how many women made such an impact in history, particularly in science.  Rachel Carson who spearheaded the effort to pull DDT from the market.  Ridiculous that the male scientists tried to poo poo her for not having any scientific knowledge to back up her claims. Stephanie Kwolek was the inventor of Kevlar and discovered it because of the cool properties of the polymers that she was working–that other people discounted as worthless. Loved her attitude that mistake weren’t bad, but that they just pointed you in different directions.  What a great philosophy that can easily be applied to many areas in life.
  • Amused at how much my son resembles me.  Funny how much you don’t realize it until you are staring at a picture of one another side by side. Not sure yet if that’s a blessing or a curse :).
  • In the 14 plus years that we’ve been here and been to the mall countless times, I can’t recall ever noticing the sculpture garden next to the Nature and Science Museum.  Amazing what you find when you are not even looking.  I loved how the light caught so brilliantly on this metal sculpture of a tree.
  • Really hates scrambling for quarters at a meter for parking.  (At least we found a spot immediately and lucked out that it was directly in front of our chosen restaurant). Spoiled by being able to use my debit/credit card virtually anywhere, that is until you find the meter is not accepting them and you must scour your wallet, pockets and car for every last quarter that you own since it’s two bucks an hour.
  • Really enjoyed dinner at Eat First Restaurant in Chinatown on H street.  Had some yummy duck over wide rice noodles.  Always amazed that I have no problem packing away the entire platter of food that is really meant for two people. Also, note to self, duck has bones.  A lot of them.  Yuck.  Nearly ruined the dish as I kept chomping down on them, not expecting there to be so many.
  • Never knew that there was a National Building Museum.  Saw it passing by on the way back from China Town.  Mental note to self:  Go visit the National Building Museum!

So, all in all, I’d call it a very successful day.  A spontaneous jaunt downtown to take advantage of the hubby’s meeting location.  Nice that the kids got some extra QT with the dad.  Can never get enough of the Smithsonian.  Have been there dozens of times and still haven’t come close to seeing all that it has to offer. What are your favorites when visiting the  Smithsonian?

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7 Responses to Things I learned from a day at the Smithsonian…

  1. Mary says:

    The National Building museum is great. You need to get the boys there this summer to see the Lego exhibit before it leaves in September. There are a ton ofs really neat famous structures totally built out of Legos. We’ll have to go down to the Mall with you guys sometime on a weekend – I get pretty awesome parking in my building!

    • Barb Welsh says:

      That sounds very cool. I have a sweet spot for architecture and buildings. And, after yesterday would be kissing the ground you walk on for a cool parking space!

  2. Mary says:

    oh – favorites. I love the hall of mammals and the oceans exhibit in the Natural History. We love the planetarium at the Air and Space. I love the National Gallery of Art. And the Botanical Gardens around Christmas time! I keep wanting to try the National Aquarium in the basement of the Commerce building!

    • Barb Welsh says:

      We have gone to that aquarium and felt very claustrophobic there, and oddly enough it smells of cigarette smoke. Obviously it’s been around long enough that you were still able to smoke in public places. The best part was that the aquariums were so small, you could see a lot close up. You’ll have to tell me what you think when you visit..

    • Barb Welsh says:

      Hmm. Maybe we can squeak in a visit *gasp* sans kids–as I love the National Gallery too. Also really like Portrait Gallery but don’t know how much the kiddies would appreciate at this age.

  3. Kathryn Quigley says:

    Tell Tom there is a Tr-80 (or as we called them “Trash80”) in the Newseum.
    I used one when I worked at the Fayetteville Observer so it was funny to see it in a museum!

    • Barb Welsh says:

      That is too funny Kathryn. You would have been working there well after they were obsolete, correct? You poor thing. That must have been incredibly frustrating.

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