East Coast 08, part 3: Let the exhibits begin!

High of 89, humidity 80%.

Susan and I got up early(er than the kids) and snagged free tickets for the Holocaust Museum, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, and the Washington Monument. Susan headed over to the East Wing of the National Gallery of Art while I went to retrieve the kids. On my way back to the apartment, a tour bus driver hailed me and asked for directions to the Capitol. We’re really fitting in here. Best part was that I could tell him exactly how to get there.

L & Z were finishing up breakfast in the apartment. In my role as Helpful Dad, I tried to move things along a bit and actually assisted Zack in knocking over a glass of orange juice. Oops.

We started our visit to the Holocaust Museum in the “Remember the Children: Daniel’s Story” section, designed to introduce kids to what happened as seen through the eyes of an eight year-old boy. We just had time for a quick look at a few other exhibits there before we needed to catch our scheduled tour next door at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. More about the Holocaust Museum later.

Ironically, E&P was one place where we didn’t feel that we got our money’s worth – and it was free. We thought it would be interesting to see how currency is printed, and of course we hoped for free samples. Denied on both counts. Perhaps it was our uninspired guide droning out his memorized facts. Maybe it was the rat-in-a-maze sense of lining up on glass-enclosed metal catwalks and not seeing or hearing enough to understand what we were watching through the windows. Our closest contact with money being printed was the smell of ink. A couple wags who worked at the bureau had put up signs to entertain the tourists: “The buck starts here” was probably the funniest one. Ho ho ho. This place would not make our “must see” list.

Seemed odd that the Holocaust Museum would have a cafĂ©, but we were just looking for the closest place to eat lunch. Zack spilled his root beer and I was caught rolling my eyes, one of those annoying habits I’m working to overcome. We refilled our water bottles again in the ongoing effort to stay hydrated. I’ve never seen so many shiny faces and so much public sweating; can’t even imagine wearing long pants, let alone a coat and tie.

Off to the Washington Monument. Dang, that thing is bright in afternoon sunlight. If memory serves me correctly (yes, it has been known to happen), we climbed the 897 steps when my family went to DC in 1966. No wonder most of what I remember from that trip is the humidity. Since the surrounding territory is flat (Capitol Hill’s elevation is 89 feet), the view from up top is pretty big, even through small windows. On the way down, gas inside the elevator windows is made transparent, giving a brief view of nearly 200 commemorative stones inside of the monument. I read that arrangements can be made (at least a month ahead of one’s visit) to walk down from the top of the monument for a closer look at and a ranger’s explanations of the commemorative stones. Sorry we didn’t know about that soon enough to set it up.

That evening we walked over to Union Station and saw Kung Fu Panda. After the movie we had some good interaction with fireflies in a park. We also had a blowup with Lauren but got it all sorted out with some chocolate cake, apologies, and prayer.

Quote of the day, overheard from a woman talking on her cell phone, mostly about her hotel in DC: “Yeah, and there are all the historical buildings and stuff.”

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