Sunday, 10 June, 2001

Wandering Around Washington

A free day in Washington, D.C. is a mixed blessing.  Not having been here before, I wanted to see everything, but there's so much to see that I doubt I could see everything on the mall (the two mile stretch between the Lincoln Memorial and the Capitol) in a single day.  Probably it'd take more like four days.  But I gave it a shot.  I walked from my hotel down to the White House, then to the Washington Monument and east towards the Capitol.  The Smithsonian Castle and many of its associated museums are located on this stretch of the Mall.  I spent several hours in the Air and Space Museum, continued on to the Capitol, and then to the Library of Congress which unfortunately is closed on Sunday.  I turned around then and headed west on the Mall, skirted the Capitol Pride rally (talk about alternative life styles--some of those people may have been another species), where I spend a couple of hours in the Museum of American History.  Then I headed back up 14th street to my hotel.  I figure I walked four to six miles between 10:00 and 6:00, not counting strolling around the museums.  It was a fine day for a stroll:  sunny, about 85 degrees with a light south wind.

Washington is a beautiful city this time of year.  Everything is green, the streets are clean, and the landscaping appears to be meticulously maintained.  Oh, the squirrels are out in force, too, and they aren't a bit shy.  The one in the picture came right up to me and seemed pretty annoyed when I didn't have a treat for him (her?).  Down on the Mall I was sitting under a tree and when a half dozen squirrels started to approach I began imagining an Alfred Hitchcock script.

While I was examining the antique tractors in the Museum of American History I overheard a man tell his son that early tractors had steel wheels because "the farmers didn't want to have blowouts."  Now this is something that I'd say just to get a laugh, but when I looked over at the guy he looked dead serious--not even a hint of a smirk on his face.  He's either very good at delivering lines like that, or he actually believed it.  I'm hoping it was the former.