Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Washington D.C., Friday, May 21st, 2010

For the first and only time on our trip, the alarm went off at 6:30 a.m. Mom and I were both up and dressed and on the 8 a.m. shuttle to the airport Metro station. When we got to downtown D.C., we stopped at a coffeeshop/bakery that could have been local or could have been a stealth Starbucks. Whichever it was, the coffee was good, the bagel was good, and we had fun people-watching.

Next we walked down to Ford's Theater, where we found out we couldn't line up to go inside until fifteen minutes before our ticket time, which left us about twenty minutes to kill. We checked out three or four souvenir shops, looking for bicycle license plates for my nieces and a Washington charm for my charm bracelet. No luck on either in the kitschy places, but I did get a charm at the Ford's theater gift shop.

By then it was 9:40, so we went over and lined up in front of the museum/theater and yakked while we waited for the door to open. At about five 'til, an officious young man instructed us on what to do once he opened the door, and then we headed in. We went through security, and down a whoooooole bunch of stairs to the museum. There was a bookstore, where I picked up a paperback copy of The Last Full Measure by Jeff Shaara, and lots of exhibits about Lincoln during the period of the Civil War. They had videos, documents, memorabilia all arranged in a very sensible fashion, and the whole thing was impressive and very sad. I hit a bench with my right knee (not the end of the recurring theme), but otherwise managed not to make a total fool of myself.

The museum was the first half of the Ford's theater experience. The second half was a one-act play all the way back up those stairs we had come down earlier. I didn't know that Ford's was still a working theater, but in addition to the daily performances of One Destiny, they do other plays. One Destiny was interesting, because I had never really thought about how Booth broadcast his intentions to different people. It's as if he said "Tonight, I'm going to kill the President" one word at a time to one person at a time throughout his day. There was a Q&A afterwards, but Mom didn't want to stay, so I'm left with interwebbinetz research to find out if Our American Cousin was ever performed again.

Mom and I both wanted a good salad for lunch, so we stopped at a chain place called Potbelly that looked interesting, and had good salads. They would have been great salads except they were both made with iceberg lettuce instead of something more vitamin-bearing and interesting. After lunch, we meandered down Pennsylvania Avenue just far enough to find a venerable Post Office which had been converted into a small mall. Mom found two gorgeous pashmina wraps for $20, and we were on our way out when I spotted something wonderful in the window of one of the tourist traps.

We went inside, and I am now the proud owner (and my nieces will be, too) of a Federal duck! He has a blue baseball cap, and a stars-and-stripes t-shirt. :)

At that point we split up, Mom heading for the Library of Congress, properly called the National Library, and me for the Holocaust Memorial Museum. Mom took the map, so of course I got lost and had to call her. When I found the museum, I had about forty minutes to kill, so I found a bench near an ashtray, hauled The Last Full Measure out of my purse, and settled in. My peaceful solitude was briefly interrupted by a horde of teenagers on a bus tour, but fortunately their chaperones and tour guide were just lining them up for the next stop.

There is not a whole lot I can say about the museum. It's a very intense experience, and I didn't, couldn't, look at everything. I had been there for just under three hours when my phone rang, startling me. I thought I'd turned it off before going into the museum. I checked, and the call was coming from the vet hospital where I'd boarded the dogs. Already on the verge of tears, I answered the phone, heard one of the receptionists ask for me, and then the call dropped. It took me about ten minutes to get outside, and in that ten minutes, I thought that Littlefoot was gravely ill or had already died.

My peaceful smoking bench was now in full sunlight instead of shade, and there were people all over, but I called the vet's back and got some not-good news. Littlefoot is in mild to moderate kidney failure. They had started him on a prescription diet, and the best option is that he'll be around for quite a while longer on this expensive stuff. The worst option, of course, is that the food won't help, and I'll be looking at lots of subcutaneous injections of saline or euthanasia. I've seen too many owners keep their animals alive past the time when it would be kinder to let them go, so I know that if it gets that bad, I'll have to let my boy go.

I called Mom, and she was on the grass across the street from the museum, so I walked around it and plonked down beside her and told her. After a few minutes to ease my aching feet, we headed out to walk the Mall and see at least some of the memorials. I had no interest in going to the top of the Washington Monument, so we admired it from the outside, and then walked slowly down the mall to the World War II Memorial. It's absolutely beautiful, and I was a little envious of all the people paddling their feet in the fountain, but not even for cool feet was I going to sit in full sunlight of an 83ยบ day.

Have I mentioned it was freaking hot and I hate heat? It was, and I do. I had pretty much sweated off my sunblock and was just miserable from that, to say nothing of the misery from my poor legs and feet. Still, there was one funny moment as we walked toward the Lincoln Memorial--I swear a squirrel stopped and posed for these two tourists. I said that to them, startling them, and when they'd walked on, I said to Mom that I have got to stop talking to strangers--I say weird things and freak them out. Mom said it was just that they didn't speak English.

Mom had seen the Lincoln Memorial, so she went to see the Korean War Memorial. I sort of gulped a little at the sight of all the steps, but there is an elevator, yay, which I rode up with a nice family--Mom (who took pain pills to make it that far, to which I was all, "Sing it, sistah!"), Dad, and late-teenaged son. I took a picture of the three of them with the statue, politely declined their offer to do the same for me (I do not need a record of how I look when I'm sad, sweaty, overtired and in pain, thanks, I can look in a mirror and see that) and then walked very, very, VERY carefully down the slick marble steps.

We walked slowly past the Vietnam Memorial, and I gave a selfish little prayer of thanks that both of my uncles came home safely. Then we had to walk all the way back to the Smithsonian to catch the Metro. We managed by picking out a bench and aiming for it, stopping to sit for a few minutes when we reached it, then picking another one farther down and repeating the process. Mom said that on her entire eleven-block walk to the Library, there was literally no shade and no place to sit on all of Pennsylvania Avenue. We actually hit a Metro stop north of the Smithsonian, charged up our passes and headed for the airport. It was about 7:45 when we got there, so we decided just to pick up dinner there and either eat it where we got it or downstairs waiting for the airport shuttle. The first place we saw had a gorgeous poster of a caprese sandwich, so we stopped there. There was a manager-type at the counter with the cashier, and when I asked if they had that sandwich, he said the only thing they didn't have was the dinners.

I requested the caprese sandwich (which this place calls an MBT) with chicken. The cashier, who was not all there, asked if I wanted wheat or white, and when I said wheat, promptly said that they only had white. I said carrots rather than chips (they did have those) and asked for a Diet Coke. Mom asked for a smoothie, and was told they didn't have those, so she got hummus and veggies. The cashier then discovered they were out of Diet Coke, so had to deduct that from our total.

Despite the fact that we were the only customers, it took so long for them to get us our food that we decided we'd better eat and wait for the shuttle. So grimy and sweaty and tired and achy, we ate our dinner alfresco, with engines for music and exhaust for atmosphere and concrete for ambience. My sandwich was really good, though.

We got back to the hotel more than twelve hours after we left it, took turns showering, and then spent the evening reading, knitting, and talking a bit. Another good vacation day, except for the bad news about Littlefoot. Btw, he seems to be doing okay on the new food, at least he's eating it.

1 comment:

sistinas said...

Jammies, so glad to hear that littlefoot is eating. I am envious of your trip. Hope you are having a great time.