On Tuesday morning, after some effort waking the guest up (as proved the case most days, she's a very sound sleeper), we got the last things packed and started the road Trek. I-95 proved an amazingly traffic-free ride, and we got to Frederick, MD at 7pm with only the usual needed stops for restroom, gas, a Chantico at starbucks (which they're phasing out (The Chantico, not the Starbucks)), and foodstuffs. In Frederick, we kidnapped Slickpuppy. As I had a gift card, we went to Romano's Macaroni Grill, which is like Olive Garden only there's a sheet of paper for tablecloth, and crayons provided. Good art was made, with one piece preserved for scanning at a later date. From thence, my guest and I headed to the Quality Inn in College Park, MD. I made the excellent but marginally useful discovery that my Playstation Portable (PSP) was able to pick up Wi-fi, and thus was able to use its Mosaic-era browser to read Sluggy Freelance and read a bit of LiveJournal. (Replying to LJs involved a convoluted text entry method that failed about 40% of the time, thus, my quietude until now).
Wednesday, we headed onto the Metro, DC's subway system. The stations have some nice touches, such as electronic "Next Train: 4 Minutes Greenbelt" signs, but all have a soul-crushing sameness of concrete Jeffries Tubes, with sans-serif signs for that extra officiality. Out first stop was.. a hotel shop, as neither of us had packed gloves and the weather was colder than we expected. After that, the National Air & Space Museum, which was excellent indeed.. though we only managed to visit the first floor that day. Many good pictures taken, historical objects seen, and the relocation of NCC-1701 to the gift shop was amusing.
After we were nudged politely to the door at 5:30, we decided to walk to the Lincoln Memorial, one of the other main goals. This proved a long walk.. about 80% the length of the National Mall. The Washington monument was stunningly backdropped by purple and blue clouds at sunset, and the World War II memorial was.. fitting if seeming a touch archaic. Lovely bronze, marble, stonework, Liberty in her romes, eagles... the sort of thing I do think my grandfather would find a fitting tribute for his service in that war. After there, the Lincoln Memorial, which tugged at the heartstrings firmly. Two speeches, a sentence, and a statue, yet so profoundly moving. "In this temple, as in the hearts of the people, for whom he saved the Union, the memory of Abraham Lincoln is enshrined forever."
Thursday, we saved our aching legs by catching a shuttle bus to the Metro, pacing ourselves through the second floor of the NASM. The Wright Brothers exhibit was fascinating to see.. after a half-century of aboritive attempts by others, they figured out the critical issues of steering, loft angles, and chassis stiffness versus flexibility. Also neat was the Spirit of Texas, the first cirumnavigating helicopter, as piloted by Ross Perot, Jr. After the NASM, we walked to the Smithsonian Institution of Natural History. Signs promised Meerkat and Mongoose, yet none were found; Pangolins, Maned Wolves, and Fennecs were spotted at least. Afterwards, dinner at The Melting Pot, a nice if fairly pricey fondue restaurant, and back to the hotel.
Friday we rendezvoused with murakozi (Valent) for a very nice visit at the NASM Udvar-Hazy building, which is less about thematic exhbitits and more about Lots Of Stuff. It's nice Stuff, plenty of aeroplanes, helicopters, gliders, and most notable the Space Shuttle Enterprise. Bits of the wings were missing- as Valent put it, "It's now NASA's junker they use for spare parts."- but still very impressive to see in person just how big, and small, it is. The Decontamination Unit used to quarantine the Apollo 11 astronauts was wonderful, a lustrous Airstream reconverted. The Enola Gay, Gossamer Albatross were also notable spots amidsts the flocks of planes.
After Udvar-Hazy, we ate with Valent at Ned Devine's, an Irish-themed bar with an Australian side-room. Excellent fare, including the Aussie Burger with Beet and Fried Egg. I trust dellway and whyrl will let me know if this is an everyday hamburger for them, or their equivalent of a Bacon Mushroom Onion Swiss gut-bomb delux monster. After that, my guest and I headed off to the local Dave&Buster's for more ticket-winning at the Trivia Game. We did well, though an insufficiently imbibing crowd made it less of a landslide. A stop afterwards at a fortuitously found Wawa convenience store introduced Buran to the chain and let me stock up on their diet iced tea. *ahhh*
Saturday we re-kidnapped Slickpuppy and packed things up at the hotel, then went to the National Zoo. A good medium-sized zoo. and as the first three animal enclosures we came across had Cusimanses (or, as the sign said, 'Dark Mongooses') and a pair of Coati, we were cheered. Walked the length of the zoo, only skipping the Insectivore and Bird houses. Small Mammal House had a fennec in the logo, but they were too well-hidden inside. Ridiculous amounts of Tamarins, though, and a suitably nice range of critter. The Giant Pandas were just out of viewing angle, hiding; the otters did their classic otting for the crowd. After a long wait to escape the parking lot- including a near brush with a jerk in a Lincoln Aviator SUV who drove across concrete boundaries to cut in line.. we brought Slickpuppy back to Frederick, got dinner, and started the late and toll-filled trek home. Arrived at 3am and promptly kethudded.
Sunday, slept very late indeed. After catching up on sleep and laundry, we headed to spotweld's place for his monthly boardgaming meet. We got to observe the last bits of Ticket To Ride, played nice rounds of Apples To Apples and Give Me The Brain, and watched Anime clips set to nerd-friendly music. Spotweld was an excellent host, and it was a pleasure to make it to one of these at last. After there, I and my guest headed to the Mohegan Sun, for a bit of gambling, Krispy Kreme Donuts and oohing at architecture.
Monday morning, took her to the airport. Since then, it's been a bit of catching up between vacations, as this Thursday I fly out to Detroit (and from there, to stay at South Lyon) for my Uncle and Aunt's wedding reception. I'll likely be devoid of internet access that trip, unless i can find wi-fi in suburbia or my grandparents have gotten a newer computer than the 386 with 9" monitor, and internet access along with it. I'm likely to have a free day or two, so anyone within range that'd like to get in touch, cell phone remains 860*961*6462, SMS always welcomed.