Friday, October 17, 2014

DC Trip, Day 4 (October 13)

Are you getting burned out from hearing about our DC trip? I know I am. But I will forge ahead anyway...

On Monday morning we had an appointment for a tour at the Capitol Building. Getting there was a bit of a pain...for some of us. We rented a parking spot online and walked from there to the Capitol Building. We were crossing one of several streets when the walk sign turned to a flashing hand. "Oh, no!" Rachel said as she took off running. She sprinted the rest of the way across the street and jumped onto the marble-ish sidewalk and (thanks in equal part to her crocs and the rain) completely biffed it.

She slid and landed—hard—on her rear end, and immediately started crying.

Miriam, who was running right behind her also slipped but managed to catch herself without doing too much damage. She sure was angry though. "Rachel could have at least warned us it was slippery!" she said indignantly as she peeled herself off the sidewalk.

"Rachel did warn us that it was slippery," I said. "Remember that part how she slipped and fell. That was the warning."

Poor Rachel was so sore she could hardly stand up straight. She's still quite bruised (and we're—what?—four days later now), poor thing.

The instruction on our tour booking told us to arrive at least 45 minutes early during peak season and 30 minutes early during non-peak season. We're  pretty well in non-peak season here and even with Rachel hobbling along we arrived plenty early but there was still a long line waiting to go through security. We were at the very top of the stairs and managed to get inside with five minutes before our tour time, which left us just enough time to run to the restrooms (which were the most impressive restrooms my kids have seen—they kept commenting on how pretty everything was and how nice everything smelled).

Here we are waiting in line to see the movie before the tour:

Andrew and Benjamin with Philo T. Farnsworth behind them

Miriam just passing the time
Rachel reading about the Apotheosis of Washington
The kids were pretty excited to go into a real movie theater. They haven't seen a movie in a theater since we lived in Utah, I'm pretty sure. Here's Miriam trying to figure out how the flip-seats work:

Benjamin started yelling as soon as the lights went down. "Dark! Dark! Ooooh! Dark!"

And as soon as the movie started he relaxed and said, "Light now! Light! Not dark!"

Every time the screen went dark he alerted the theater it was "Car!" (because that's really how he says dark) and every time an image flickered on screen he was sure to tell everyone it was "'Ight!"

I was pretty glad when the movie was over. Our tour guide was fairly hilarious and the tour was excellent, even though the chambers were closed for the holiday (Happy Thanksgiving, Canada! (but that's not actually a holiday down here so it was closed for Columbus Day)).

Andrew had the camera in the Capitol Building. He didn't take many pictures, but here's one of the dome, with the Apotheosis of Washington partially (mostly) obscured by the safety net. They're doing some restoration work on the dome (which hasn't been fixed since the 1960s or so if I remember correctly (but I might not because I was too concerned about my kids touching anything to really pay attention)):

And here's the spot where John Quincy Adams desk sat (Andrew was standing right by it when our tour guide pointed it out):

Our tour guide was pretty adamant that what we all really needed to do was take the tunnel to the Library of Congress. We're pretty big library fans in this house (just today Benjamin was begging to go to the 'ibee) so we took his advice and were not disappointed. The reading room is open to the public only twice a year and it was just happenstance that one of those days was the same day we visited.

We also learned that the line to go through security from the Library of Congress into the tunnel leading to the Capitol Building Visitor's Center is much quicker than waiting outside of the visitor's center itself (meaning that there was virtually no line). So, as Andrew so rightfully quipped, "We'll just be going through the tunnel from now on." Because we're sure to become habitual visitors to the Capitol Building.

Anyway, the reading room was spectacular:

We all took pictures sitting at the desks in the reading room. We did our best to look very wise:

And also not-so-wise:

The card catalogue was open as well, so Andrew and Rachel went exploring. I took Miriam and Benjamin in for a quick look around but dragged them out pretty quickly because one of Benjamin's favourite things in the entire world is opening drawers and emptying the contents. I just don't think that fetish would go over well in a place like this.

On the way out of the reading room Andrew had to snap a picture of the volumes of LOC subject headings:

The LOC was teeming with friendly librarians. It was probably the friendliest place we visited in DC. They librarians didn't have uniforms and went out of their way to be super helpful. It was rather refreshing. I think we were informed about the day's activities in the children's library at least half a dozen times by at least half a dozen librarians, so we found our way there and let the kids loose.

There were crafts:

And puppets:

The kids were in library heaven:

I loved the long hallways, even this one that had an odd (in my opinion) colour scheme:

After visiting the library we were ready for lunch, so we walked back the car to put together some sandwiches (you can't bring anything with you to the Capitol Building, basically). On the way we stopped at the Supreme Court...

For a picture with the Capitol Building...

And to admire the outside of the Library of Congress:

Here are the kids goofing off in the van while we got lunch ready:

And here they are goofing off between the van and the wall while we got ready to head out again.

Rachel was not impressed by Miriam's dancing (which went on forever):

We hit up the Air and Space Museum next. We'd been hoping Caitlin and her crew would join us but their family was having a recuperation day at home. Benjamin was the most excited boy in the history of the planet. "Ooge pane! [Huge plane!] Up high! Space ship! Zoom!" he said. Everything that he had no particular word for he just made up a new word and tacked "space" in front. Astronaut? Space guy! Lunar module? Space house!

His stroller, in case you're wondering, has space ships on it and he loves them. It also has robots on it and I'm not sure why or how but at some point he learned how to pretend to be a robot and it's adorable. "I am a 'obot!" he'll say in a mechanic voice.

He just loved exploring everything!

Here we are looking at (and touching) the moon rock display:

And here we are by the very first plane:

When Benjamin had had his fill of airplanes and space ships, we struck out for the National Archives, by way of the Newseum. We didn't visit the Newseum but we did walk by the display of newspapers outside. They have the front page from one newspaper from one random city in all fifty states as well as a few international front pages and they replace them daily.

Benjamin was completely zonked and missed the entire National Archives experience (which is probably alright because I don't think he would have appreciated it very much). We had to go through quite a bit of security here, and understandably so. I forgot to take the first aid kit off the stroller before we went through and the security guard just about flipped. "Hold it right there! What is that?! Open it for me, right now!" she barked.

"It's a first aid kit," I said, showing her the contents. "It has bandaids, an emergency diaper, and a plastic bag. That's all."

"Next time just take it off," she said.

Then she sent me back through the metal detector a second time. Poor Andrew had to be wanded because of his belt (which they said to keep on (the Capitol Building instructed everyone to take off their belts)).

We made it through security in the end and it was pretty cool to see the original founding documents of our country. The girls were most impressed that the ink was turning invisible, though I suppose that's more of a shame than anything else.

After the National Archives we were ready for dinner. Here we are hanging out while we discussed what to do (I think Benjamin is absent from all these pictures because he's still sleeping)...

Miriam being a bit silly:

Rachel being so cool:

Rachel took a turn with the camera:

Miriam striking a presidential pose:

And the girls together:

The kids wanted McDonald's. I wanted Panda Express (we haven't had their orange chicken since Benjamin was in the NICU—and their orange chicken is good) but the girls weren't so sure. I told them to just try the orange chicken because they'd most assuredly enjoy it. Andrew found a place in a mall not too far from where we parked. We walked all the way to the mall, found our way to the food court and...every single restaurant was closed for the holiday.

It was kind of a let down.

We found another place on the way back to our friend's house, though, and the girls found, much to their delight, that the orange chicken really is divine.