Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Adventure 8/50 : Our DC trip, part 2

We started the second half of our trip with a visit to Ford's Theatre. After some time in the small museum under the theater, we went upstairs to the auditorium to see a short play presented from the point of view of theater owner John T. Ford and actor Joseph Jefferson who was performing in "Our American Cousin" the night Lincoln was assassinated. The characters played other eye-witnesses and recounted the events leading up to and after the event. I had never thought about the theater owner and what had happened to the theater afterward. (The US Government seized the theater, eventually paying Ford for it, and no plays were performed for 103 years after the assassination.)

What was great, though, was being able to sit in the theater next to a recreation of the state box and see a play from that angle… it somehow made things really tangible.

We then headed over to the mall to visit some Smiithsonian museums, wandering through the Natural History museum…


And seeing Whistler's "undressed" Peacock Room at the Freer Gallery….

Then we went to the Holocaust Museum … we couldn't get tickets online, but were told we could visit the exhibits on the main floor. We went to the information desk to ask for a map, and the woman there said, "You're in luck! Someone turned in some extra tickets!" and, suddenly we went in.

There's not much to say about the Holocaust Museum that hasn't been written – it's horrible and painful, as is to be expected. For the most part the visitors were quiet and respectful, thankfully. We were behind a small group when we reached the first set of stairs between galleries – walking into the stairwell, seeing natural light, a woman let out a short, sharp, nervous giggle – the sound of a person who has been holding in anxiety in silence and just needed to release a little. But I don't feel she meant any harm; just needed a release.

It was still shocking to re-enter the lobby atrium to see kids wearing MAGA hats. Either they're really horrible people, or they just don't get it.

We left there for a sharp change of scene – taking an Uber to Farmers Fishers Bakers for a late lunch and a pair of tiki drinks:

The drinks were … just okay. The restaurant, though beautiful, had no "tiki" vibe at all. But the two starters we ordered – a Brussels sprout pizza and an order of cheese and artichoke dip – came as HUGE portions, and were delicious. Side note: in general, portions at restaurants in DC were HUGE!!! We had to walk off the food, so strolled along the Potomac to the Jefferson Memorial. Another gorgeous building, but the statue inside isn't as great. And from a certain angle, in a certain light, I swear it looks like the Darth Vader Memorial…

The sun was setting as we walked back toward our 'hood, admiring the cherry blossoms. Again, "peak bloom" hasn't happened yet, but some trees were doing their best!

Thursday we started our day at the Supreme Court. We admired the architecture inside and out.

We got a glimpse of the empty chamber…

Marveled at the spiral staircases…

And yet managed to avoid buying a gavel-shaped pen in the gift shop. In part because the staff were chatting about running shoes and supportive footwear and one of them said, "I just hurt my hip" at the EXACT moment I noticed a funny pencil with two erasers that looked like a gavel and it made me LAUGH OUT LOUD.

The two staffers stopped chatting and stared at me as I looked for Wil so I could hold up the pencil and say, "Look, honey, a pencil that's shaped like a gavel!" But he wasn't there. So I just walked out of the store, embarassed. Awkward.

We braved the pouring rain again and went to the Air & Space Museum where it is CLEAR that poor Pluto has been erased from the signage of the "Planets" exhibit. Not even erased … but covered up.

They're doing a major renovation of the museum, which means that a lot of the galleries are closed. (To our benefit, really: the moon artifacts will be in Seattle for the 50th anniversary!) But there's still a lot of stuff:

Then it was time to go to the Peak Bloom installation at ARTECHOUSE.

Katie, our bartender at Archipelago, told us about the place so we got tickets. And, though flawed, the exhibit was still pretty. It's hard not to fall in love with a massive room covered in interactive projections of flowers!

This artwork was also lovely – the tree bloomed if you made physical contact with others in the room; when Wil and I hugged the flowers went nuts.

These plants chirped at you when you gently touched them:

One downer: we went to the "interactive bar" and had terrible service from the whining bartender. With a total of six people at the bar she complained to the other bartender about being "slammed" for several minutes before she took our order, then complained to someone else before she made our drinks. Of course, she took Wil's order and made his drink first, then after several minutes came back to me and said, "Did you want something?" The drinks were interesting, but just okay flavor-wise. Mine was a ginger-turmeric soda with Pocky sticks and cotton candy garnish...

We were also sad that the iPhone app for the new exhibit hadn't launched, so we couldn't play with any of the interactive pieces. Amusingly, Wil's old phone showed him an old version of the app – everywhere he looked he saw Christmas trees in the augmented reality!

We walked back to the mall and nosed around the National Gallery for a little while since it was still raining.

Then it was time for our timed entrance to the African American Museum. We had checked the museum website that morning and were able to get a pair of tickets for 2:30 – but when we arrived they were letting anyone in – perhaps the storm had kept some visitors home?

I think the collections were interesting, and the building magnificent…

But to be honest, I think the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis was better laid out and therefore had more of an impact on me.

After our long and jam-packed day we went to "our place" … Archipelago … for happy hour drinks and way too much dinner. Behold the pineapple of hospitality!

Friday morning we were slightly at a loose end – we didn't have any plans at all! We started with a quick visit to The Barbie Pond, which I'd read about on Atlas Obscura. Happy (belated) St. Patrick's Day!!!

Then back to the National Gallery, where we looked at a lot of modern art….

… and saw even more modern art at the Hirshhorn. I really loved the site-specific pieces, especially Mark Bradford's "Pickett's Charge" installation, inspired by French artist Paul Philippoteaux's 19th-century cyclorama currently displayed at the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.

Then it was time to get some lunch … and we decided to visit the USDA to eat in their cafeteria. Yeah, it's a weird idea. And it required us to clear security and hand over identification. But in the end, it was funny, the food was better than okay, and there were lots of different vegetarian options.

After lunch we headed to the National Portrait Gallery / Museum of American Art. The highlights? The portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama, both of which had lines to photograph them.

While in the museum an announcement came over the loudspeaker that the National Weather Service had issued a severe storm warning so guests and staff were asked to stay inside the museum until the storm had passed. Apparently there were wind gusts up to 60 mph, and a freak hailstorm! But we just relaxed in the gorgeous Luce Foundation galleries until the skies cleared.

By the time we came out, the sun was shining brightly again, and we walked home wearing our sunglasses.

For our final night out in DC we went to the Showtime, where we sipped "combos" of "Natty Boh" (cheap local beer National Bohemian) and "cheap whiskey" and did some people watching.

DC was interesting – with all the museums, monuments, and governmental offices we had more than enough to do. We left a couple of things undone -- no nighttime tour of the monuments, no visit to the Postal Museum, no run around the mall... But I was still happy to head home on Saturday!

Read about the first half of our DC trip in part 1. 

1 comment:

  1. Did you giggle at the symbol for the planet Uranus? Or am I the only immature one? Sounds like you had a great trip!