Took a day trip up to Washington DC yesterday. We got up early so we’d be up there when the museums open and hopefully avoid some traffic. Everything went smoothly until we got on 395 and got to 5 miles outside of the city. Then it took us over half an hour to go 5 miles. The boys have little patience for traffic usually (“Get out of our way!”) but they were distracted by Nintendos and Lego Star Wars and didn’t seem to notice it much. When they did comment on it, I said “Well, it’s a city” and they were like “Yeah, cities are like this” as if they were authorities on it.
So we parked down by the tidal basin south of the Washington Monument, because I resent the idea of paying to park in the city, set the timer on my phone for 3 hours (three hour limit on the free spaces), and hiked up to the Natural History Museum. This was pretty much the only one we really went to when I was a kid, and we just called it The Smithsonian, because none of the others mattered (we did go to the Air and Space and American History sometimes, but we never missed the dinosaurs). We went through the dinosaurs first level but the second level with the pterasaurs was closed, so we went and had a snack in the cafe, then went through the ice age mammals section (boys thought the giant sloth and woolly mammoth were impressive). After that we went to the ocean area where they listened to a lecture on megalodons for a bit, held a megalodon tooth, and then we went downstairs to the stores and smashed penny machine. After that we went up to the rocks and gems and the insect zoo.
After we left the Natural History Museum, we hiked down to the Vietnam Wall, stopping at the World War II memorial (the boys do not feel there should be water features unless people are allowed to go in them, and didn’t see why they couldn’t swim in the fountains, just because it was 49 degrees out). We snapped a picture at the Wall and then hiked past the Lincoln Memorial down to the car. The boys have been to the Lincoln before and did not feel they needed to see it again. We went past the Korean War memorial on the way out – that one is my favorite of the war memorials, I think it’s very powerful.
We hopped in the car and the boys had another snack while we looked for a new parking space. We managed to get one on Jefferson right in front of the Air and Space Museum. Big score there. The boys had never been to the Air and Space Museum before and were very impressed by the space stuff, particularly the Saturn V rocket displays and Apollo missions. We spent a lot of time there, then we went down to the missile pit and C invented stories for each of them. We stayed at the Air and Space, looking around at planes and spacecraft, for quite a while. Stopped in at the store there and bought the boys toy space shuttles. C was flying his around going “Prepare for maximum velocity!” And then they decided they were starving and D commented, “I noticed there was a McDonald’s behind the moon lander” so we went over to the McDonald’s attached to the museum. It was both the most efficient and most expensive McDonald’s I’ve ever been to (pricier than the one outside Versailles in Paris!). By the time we finished eating, it was just after 4 and about time to move the car again, so we headed back out.
This time we got a space outside the Natural History museum on Madison, and walked down to the American History Museum. First we went through the new (well, new to me, I don’t know when they built it) Star-Spangled Banner display. The display is much better than it was the last time I went to that museum (probably about 20 years ago, so I guess that’s not surprising), they’ve got the flag in a low-light clean room now. It looks just as old and fragile as ever, but then it is nearly 200 years old now. They have the lyrics to the first verse of the National Anthem on the wall above it, and C read them off to us and I tried not to cry cause the anthem always makes me choke up (weird maybe, cause I’m really not super patriotic or anything). No pictures allowed, sadly, but we spent some time looking at the exhibits on either side of the flag room. Boys were particularly impressed by the British bombshell from 1814. C was determined to watch every picture on the slide show tv screen, so we stayed there a while. It was actually really good, I think the flag part was my favorite in that museum.
We checked out the presidential area, and aside from the assassination bits and an extensive discussion of how presidents have died, the boys weren’t too interested. I made them come through the Inaugural Ball dresses section, where they commented on all the gowns (they don’t like Eleanor Roosevelt’s but were impressed by Michelle Obama’s, mostly because they thought the starburst beaded embroidery pattern was spiders). They started asking to go home, but I informed them we were not attempting to leave DC at 5pm and needed to kill 2 more hours. We wandered a bit more, checking things out, then found a section in the basement with activities – whiteboards for drawing, Etch-a-Sketches, and a Lego table. They spent 45 minutes at the Lego table, busily building, while I texted pictures to The Husband and posted a few to facebook and Instagram. Then we went through the transportation display, which was really cool with cars from each decade and two steam engines. The boys loved it, climbing inside a subway car and talking to the mannequins at each display. “Hey you, give me some food!” to a shopkeeper outside his horse-drawn wagon. They thought the “dummies” were hilarious.
We hung out until 7 and then headed home. It was a nice straight shot with no traffic by then. Even made it through the notorious Woodbridge area without having to stop, in the HOV lanes.
So here’s some pics: