Tuesday, October 18, 2016

American Revolution Road Trip: A Detour to Washington, DC

Although it's not relevant to the American Revolution, I have been wanting to take a longer trip to Washington, DC--and to have Matt there to enjoy it with us!--since the kids and I first went there four years ago.

Those kids are bigger and better walkers now (on this first day, we walked almost 9 miles!), and this time we gave ourselves more time to explore and a larger list of sights to see.

Top on everyone's list, though, were all the Smithsonians one could possibly fit into one's day!

You could never fit all of the Smithsonians into one day, or even one week. Maybe you could ration yourself to one Smithsonian a day, but even then you probably wouldn't see everything in every one.

I began the day a little bummed that we couldn't get into the Smithsonian Museum of African-American History and Culture, which had recently opened and which I had SUPER wanted to see. Since Smithsonian museums are free, it had never occurred to me that I might need to make a reservation, and, alas, all of the timed tickets for the entire year were long gone by the time that we strolled up to it and saw the LONG, long line of bystanders waiting for someone to miss their reservation so that they could be let in a dribble at a time.

Ah, well. The museum isn't going anywhere. We'll be back again to see it someday.

Instead, we hit hit our other favorite Smithsonian museums: the Natural History Museum--

WOOK at how big mah babies have gotten since the last time they stood in front of the elephant!

We found a cookie cutter shark specimen! Of all the sharks in the oceans, the cookie cutter is the scariest. I'm serious. Google it.
These are genuine Neanderthal bones, not the casts that you'll usually find. It's nearly impossible to find genuine remains of our evolutionary ancestors in the US, as we no longer make it a practice to steal treasures and antiquities from their homelands, but the Smithsonian was given this less interesting specimen.
Even though it doesn't have a skull, it's still awesome to us!

Their human evolution gallery, as a whole, is pretty awesome.
We have family lore surrounding the sea otter. In some zoo or other, Will noticed that the sea otter is a member of the weasel family. This led to us calling sea otters "sea weasels," which eventually became "sweasels." We bring up sweasels in conversation all the time now.

It annoys me how similar they look. I think the trick is that the Viceroy has white spots there in the top third of the wings, whereas the monarch is orange almost all the way to the top.

These are fabulously concise definitions. I plan to put these exact ones in our memory work, now that our rocks and minerals unit is complete.
Shout-out to crystal model building!
The gallery had all of these beautifully labelled and displayed minerals, and I wanted to photograph each one, but the lighting in there is crap. I would throw a lot of money at the Smithsonian if they would make me flash cards of every single crystal and its label!
Hope Diamond!
 --the Air and Space Museum--

Can you see why I photographed this? SHARKS!!!
Self-portrait via Skylab

Wright Flyer!

One of my superpowers is that I know all random songs, and I'm happy to sing them loudly. In public. Will showed me this interactive exhibit of early flying-themed songs, and I rewarded her for her thoughtfulness by loudly singing the chorus to this song, which I randomly know.
Don't worry, though. I forced each child to earn $50 in vacation spending money, and Will rewarded me for my foresight by blowing all of her money on novelty candy everywhere we went, as well as insisting that candy bars found in the grocery stores that we visited to resupply during the trip also counted. And hotel vending machines.
Even though it's a big city, I'm amazed and impressed at how lovely and walkable DC is. There's always a monument or statue or fountain or little park to rest your bones at.

--and the Smithsonian National Museum of American History:
We got to show Matt the Star-Spangled Banner (which you can't photograph), but his favorite thing was this George Washington statue. He's a major George Washington fanboy.
Look how timely for election season! Yay, Suffrage!
When the museums closed at 5:30, we did miles more walking to see monuments and memorials, but aren't you tired just from watching us do this part of our day? I am! I'll show you all our monuments and memorials--and our private guided tour of the US Capitol Building!--tomorrow.

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