Day 43 - Explorers' Hall and NMoNH - Su

Last night someone was talking about seeing the National Geographic Explorers'
Hall.  It sounded interesting, so I had to go.  They have exhibits highlighting
some of their recent topics, plus a special exhibit of Mongolian art.  There 
was an exhibit of some recently discovered mummies from Lapland or something 
like that.  The line stretched around the building, so I didn't wait to see it.

The Explorers' Hall gift shop is worth a visit.  They have bound editions of
back issues of National Geographic, video tapes, and dozens of trinkets for
amateur explorers.  I was tempted to get a pocket-sized, collapsible, brass 
telescope, but I talked myself out of it.

Then I headed back to the Museum of Natural History, where I finally saw the
Hope Diamond.  It's pretty big, but it is hard to get a sense of its true size
because it is behind a couple of layers of bullet-proof glass.  It is also
very blue.

There was a troop of girl scouts staying at the hostel.  I think they sold
cookies to pay for their trip.  We were sharing a table and I told some of 
them about my trip.  They were playing with chop sticks, which were free in 
the hostel store next to the plastic spoons.  I showed the girls how to hold
the chopsticks and they kept practicing until they had to leave.

Day 44 - Bureau of Engraving and Printing, Capitol, and Gallery of Art - M

This morning I decided to see the Bureau of Engraving and Pringing, where most
of our paper money is printed.  They hand out tickets for a particular time,
so I had to wait in line.  The tour is interesting, but not as exciting as I 
expected.  I could stand to miss it next time.

I was feeling overloaded on museums, so I went to the Capitol to see the
inside.  The line was pretty long, but it was worth the wait.  The building
is beautiful; but it is also filled with art purchased by the US, donated by
the states, and donated by foreign countries.  

The murals on the inside of the dome are gorgeous, and I might have missed
them if I hadn't seen a few people staring up.  I joined a tour, which was a
good idea because the guy told us a lot about the building that we wouldn't
have found out from reading the plaques on the walls.

Every state was invited to donate statues of two state heroes, and the statues 
were to be placed in the old House chambers.  However, each statue weighs more 
than a ton, so they decided instead to distribute the statues throughout the 
Capitol building.

After the Capitol I went to the National Gallery of Art.  I wandered among
a large selection of mostly portraits, trying to get a feel for what each
person was like from the facial expressions, posture, and other details.
I found that the Gallery of Art closes before the other Smithsonian museums,
so I had to leave before I was ready.  Next time I will go earlier.

Day 45 - Out of DC - Tu

(Side note: Nearly all of my recollections of Washington, DC, were written
weeks later, so my memory has gone fuzzy.  I remember the first few days
better than the last few, so I know I was getting overloaded on museums.
But the week in DC is definitely one of the highlights of my trip.  I could
go back and spend another week and enjoy it just as much.)

Today I waited around the hostel for my parents to show up.  We are headed
to my uncle's wedding in Saint Lous, via my dad's parents in eastern Indiana.
We just drove from DC to someplace in western Maryland or West Virginia and
camped, which was enough for today.

Travelling by car is amazingly different from travelling by bike.  So much
passes by the windows of the car that I go into sensory overload, and I don't
remember very much.  The car is OK if I only care about the starting and
ending points and I don't care about what's in between.  But the bike is much
better if I want to know what I passed along the way.

I decided that my journal for the rest of the time I spent with my
parents is of too personal a nature, so the next part I'm uploading
will be week 9.

Changes last made on: Wed Aug 14 06:18:58 1996