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Washington, DC – Day 3 April 10, 2006

Posted by Joe in Uncategorized.

Benjamin was very disappointed that we were not able to get tickets to go up in the Washington Monument to view the city on Thursday. Our first priority Friday morning was to get back to the monument in time to get tickets that day. But, due to the fatigue from the previous day’s walking, the kids and I had a hard time popping out of bed early. We dressed as quickly as we could, ate cereal bars on the way, and made our way to the Dupont Circle Metro stop.

We bought our day passes and tried to put them through the ticket feeders at the gate, but they wouldn’t open. We tried again. It spit the tickets right back out once more, and then a message on the display said to see the station manager. I explained why I was at his little window. He looked at me like I was of inferior intelligence and then said I couldn’t use them yet. Huh? I bought them for the current day. After several more questions in my nicest voice (with a honey-dripping smile), he finally elaborated enough to explain that a rush-hour ticket is more expensive and I can’t use a day pass until after 9:30. (Then why didn’t that machine that was so eager to take my money tell me that?). Since I continued to stand there to solve my dilemma, he finally let us through his little gate with a sigh. He said I would have to see the station manager at the other end and tell him the same thing when we got to our destination so we could get back out.

By the time we emerged at the other end, went through our spiel with that gatekeeper again, and sprinted to the Washington Monument in the drizzle, the man in the ticket kiosk had hung out his “tickets all gone” sign and was slamming his little door. I tried my smile again and asked if there was any way to get a ticket for the next day since it was really important to my son. He shoved a little card through the glass that had a telephone number on it and turned away. (The public servants we encountered Friday morning were not very pleasant, but aside from that, we have found almost everyone we met to be very nice).

A very disappointed and dejected little boy’s shoulders slumped and his feet barely shuffled along. I started talking up the Air and Space Museum as the rain began to fall. We headed there at a snail’s pace. When we finally arrived, we joined the long queue outside. Spirits lifted as we entered and saw all the planes hanging overhead and a piece of an actual moonrock to touch. We wandered around, (mostly from gift shop to gift shop), and saw the Wright Brother’s plane and a lunar landing module. We paid entirely too much for the one “personal size” pizza, French fries, and drink we got to share for lunch. We supplemented with Mommy’s stash of cheese crackers, juice, and lunch pack cookies. By this time, the kids’ had pretty much maxed out their interest in suspended aircraft, so we headed off to the zoo.

The Metro has a stop named for the zoo, so we hopped back on. When we got up to street level, we began following the signs to the zoo. Usually, the Metro comes out within a block or so of the institution for which it is named (the Smithsonian, Chinatown, etc.). I would have to say that naming this stop for the zoo is a bit deceiving. From the subway, you walk uphill for about 12 blocks. The zoo itself is also “horizontally challenged” and you have to conserve your “pep” just to be able to leave after seeing the last animal at the bottom of that huge incline.

Nashville has a very nice zoo with well-designed “habitats”. After becoming accustomed to that, it seemed odd to see just about all the animals dog-sized and smaller with only dog kennels to sleep in. Some had plastic kids’ pools as their “ponds”. The elephants were housed behind iron bars like a big jail and the giraffe had a chain-link fence yard. They were renovating some areas, so possibly some of these aspects were temporary, but it made me appreciate the wonderful zoo we have at home.

We got to see a panda, giraffe, bald eagle, zebra, seals, orangutans, cheetah, sea lion, prarie dogs, and wolves, among other things. We also got to watch Woodstock the Giant Pacific Octopus get fed. That was really fun to see. Shortly before we left, a T Rex came out of nowhere and almost got Benjamin. Luckily for us, he was ticklish and we managed to escape.

After the zoo, we headed back to the subway- downhill 12 blocks this time fortunately, since we were pretty weary by late afternoon. We got off at the stop for our hotel and then people-watched until Joe finished imparting knowledge to the IRS. While we were waiting, the new Park Police trainees came by. Do you think it was coincidence that their route took them right past the Krispy Kreme we were sitting in front of? They didn’t stop, but then again, there were no hitching posts to tie up to. We decided that Gus would not have liked being a “city horse.” He didn’t like being ridden for starters, but he wasn’t fond of cars, noise, bright lights, or even most people. Probably a good thing that he retired in the country.

Joe’s students, who had been pretty quiet during the coursework, suddenly had oodles of questions as the class ended. One guy wanted to stay behind and talk shop for ages. In the middle of all this, several kind folks from back home were contacting him to see if we knew that our house may not be standing anymore. Two tornadoes had blown through our area and caused quite a bit of damage. Carol, our wonderful, faithful, kind friend from church went by and checked things out for us. She reported everything appeared to be in tact, but the dogs were digging their own storm shelters just in case.

Joe was finally able to collect his course evaluations and met up with us at about 6:30. We ate at the Front Page Grill, which I think Rachel insisted on because it was exactly 15 steps from the ledge we had been sitting on. The food was very good. After dinner, we headed back to the hotel and went to bed, preparing for a fun day with Daddy on Saturday.



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