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Washington, DC – Day 4 April 11, 2006

Posted by Joe in Uncategorized.
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Saturday was a rainy and chilly day, but the kids were troopers as we walked from place to place. We had been looking forward to visiting the Spy Museum, so that was our first stop.

D.C. sites are almost all easy on the wallet. The federal buildings (museums, monuments, zoo) are free (well, not exactly, but we already paid for admittance with our taxes). The Spy Museum is privately owned, so NOT free. We had to decide whether to blow the entire day’s “allowance” on entry to the first stop of the day or to skip it and disappoint the kids. We decided on a compromise- we skipped the museum, but bought souvenirs! Benjamin picked out a spy notebook, complete with ink that can only be read under a special light. Rachel picked out a “spy dog”- ANOTHER stuffed dog!

From there, we headed toward the FBI building- almost as good, right? Well, it’s closed until next year. There were no signs explaining why and our tour books all gave info about what you could see there.

Onward in the cold rain, we headed toward the Archives building to see the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and so on. This is one of the buildings where several scenes from National Treasure were filmed. As we turned the corner, we found a very long line snaking down the sidewalk. Decisions, decisions. Leave yet another site without seeing it or wait in the rain some more to see documents that won’t mean much to the kids anyway. We left.

Undaunted, we headed to the Smithsonian American History Museum- Fonzie’s jacket and Oscar the Grouch are there you know. This time, we actually entered a building! Benjamin loves science and wanted to go to the experiment room made for kids first thing. It is a very popular place, so you have to get passes for certain times for a spot at the tables.

There were stations to learn about radioactivity, 3-D spatial relationships, “mirror-image smells,” etc. The kids enjoyed those, but the highlight was the set of experiments they got to do at the counter with a staff member.

When it was our turn, Benjamin chose a chemistry experiment. The kids got to wear safety goggles! The lady showed them dry ice, explained its chemical structure and why it is colder than regular ice. She “poured” the vapor onto their lit candles and made them go out, too.


Next, they learned about acids and bases. The kids each got to pour a half beaker of thymol blue. Some then started blowing bubbles while others put a piece of dry ice into their beakers. The blue magically turned yellow! This experience more than made up for the disappointing morning.

We ate lunch in the museum and then were drawn like a magnet to one of the many gift shops. I stood in line to pay while Joe and the kids went on. We agreed to meet on the second floor. Big mistake! The “second floor” is quite large and there were several thousand people wandering around. It took us about 45 minutes and the help of a nice couple to find each other.

From the museum, we decided to walk to the White House. We saw the presidential Christmas tree and took pictures. As we walked along the iron fence, Benjamin wondered why we couldn’t just climb over and walk up. (Joe had earlier jokingly lamented that we hadn’t brought a dozen eggs to “stop by” and give to the president as a gift). We laughed and told him that before his feet hit the ground on the other side, the FBI would be there to arrest him. A day after we returned, that very thing did happen and was on the news!

We were pretty tired and quite wet by this time, so we headed back to our hotel for dinner, a hot shower, and an early bedtime. Just one more day in the Capitol.

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