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23 February 2014 @ 05:27 pm
Very Washington DC (Wednesday and Thursday)!  
The continuing adventures of softlykarou and myself at her NASP conference in DC.

Wednesday - All the Smithsonians, Free Middle Eastern Food, and Good Company
softlykarou didn't have anywhere to be on Wednesday, so we got up relatively early and set out to meet up with friends at the Air and Space Museum. After taking the shuttle to the conference site and then diving into the Metro, getting out at Metro Central, and walking down to the Mall in the rain, we wandered around and checked out the space side, but I don't have much to report on it. My father inherited my grandfather's interest in flight and airplanes, but I never did, and while I have the same interest in space that any reasonable person does, I don't have much to say. Those rockets sure are cool, though.

After that, we headed over to the Mitsitam Cafe at the National Museum of the American Indian because q99 had told me that it was fantastic, and truer words have rarely been spoken. This is what I ate:

From left: chili-roasted carrots in jalapeño butter, celery roots and raisins with honey vinagrette, roasted brussel sprouts and onions, and buffalo chili. It was fantastic. Much like Marrakech, if you're ever in DC for any reason, stop by in here, or in the coffee-and-dessert cafe closer to the entrance that sold me hot chocolate with enough chili in it to burn my throat. They even have a cookbook, which I'm really tempted to get now. The food is really expensive, though.

softlykarou had to go after lunch, but the rest of our friends decided to skip the rest of the conference day, so we wandered around the museum for a bit before moving on. We had a bunch of stuff we wanted to see and needed to be at a Loyola-sponsored mixer at 5 p.m., so we didn't stay long, but we went up to the Our Lives exhibit at the museum which was all about different tribes in the Americas and their customs. I mostly wandered around and looked at the ones about the tribes in the Southwest and a bit about the Yakima. The Yakima exhibit was actually pretty hopeful, since it repeatedly made the point that they still live on their ancestral lands (well, the 10% of their lands that are left) and can practice most of their traditional practices, which is way better than the vast majority of tribes are doing, sadly.

While we were there, someone mentioned that there was a similar museum in Evanston, so now I have to go to that.

We left the museum and hit up a few of the other museums and exhibits in relatively quick succession. In the Museum of Natural History we ducked in past the water life and mammals exhibits and saw the human origins exhibit, where I learned to my surprise that I'm much taller than the neandertals were. I'm not sure why I expected them to be so huge, considering that modern height is mostly a result of modern diet and modern medicine, but I had this idea of the neandertals as being huge in proportion to how they were apparently much stronger than our ancestors. Nope. I was completely wrong.

After that was the Museum of American History, where we just popped in quickly and poked around the main display on the bottom floor. The one thing that sticks out in my memory other than seeing Kermit was this:

The iPod already being in the Museum of American History is an obvious sign of how old I am. I remember when they first came out, and I told nytesenvy that they were a fad that would obviously never catch on. That was my own "640K ought to be enough for anybody" moment, as should be obvious considering I took all these photos (and indeed, all the photos I've taken in the last five years) with my iPhone.

We walked past the Washington Monument, which is still closed due to the 2011 earthquake, and went into the Lincoln Memorial, and then went off to the bus stop where the L1 bus promptly failed to show up. Not wanting to risk being too late, we hailed a cab (and later learned that the buses don't take temporary fare cards, so good thing we did) and took that to Lebanese Taverna, where Loyola University was hosting a meet-up/party for its students and assorted hangers-on, including myself. At least, I think it was for hangers-on, though I didn't see anyone else there who wasn't a student. Well, I won't complain. Great Middle Eastern food, including plenty of kabob meat, waiters going around refilling people's wine glasses, falafel and vegetable trays along with big bowls of hummus, and trays of baklava dripping with honey brought out near the end. I didn't eat much of those, though, because we had other plans with nytesenvy later on.

She was at dinner nearby, and after the party was over--I did not really get to meet softlykarou's professors, since they were talking shop most of the time--we met up and she took us to Dangerously Delicious Pies, which were indeed pretty damn delicious. I mean, look at this:

Winter berry pie a la mode. There were pears and raspberries and a couple more fruits in there, and it was fantastic. The conversation with nytesenvy was fantastic too--it's been a year and a half since we've seen each other--but for obvious reasons I don't have a picture of that.

After our pie, she took us back to our hotel and we went to bed. softlykarou had a presentation to get to in the morning again and I had other plans.

Thursday - Alexandria Old Town and Seeing Friends
I woke up with softlykarou in the morning because nytesenvy was going to pick me up and take me down to Alexandria. We ate in a cafe and chatted, and then I left her to study for the bar while I wandered around and looked at the sights. Well, I only briefly wandered, because I had seen that there was a history museum in town that softlykarou told me she didn't care about going to, so that was the first place I headed and I stayed there until she finished her presentation and headed down to Alexandria.

Did you know that Alexandria used to be part of DC? I didn't. Apparently they thought it would bring in a bunch of business and help grow the town, and when that turned out to be completely wrong they decided that they had gotten the wrong end of the bargain and petitioned to be let back into Virginia. And having been let in, when the rebels seceded from the Union, Federal troops were pretty much waiting at the bridges and marched right across from multiple directions and captured the town, which was occupied for the remainder of the war. There was a neat exhibit about the occupation with excerpts from people's diaries, newspaper accounts, books written afterwards, memoires, and so on which it turns out I didn't take any pictures of so I can't post one of them here. Boo.

I did take this one though:

Not the best picture of either of us, but what's what happens when you're awkwardly trying to take a selfie that also gets the street sign into view while having to deal with the bright sun.

We went to a restaurant that nytesenvy pointed out as a good one (and it was), and then went down and took that picture and then just wandered around Old Town, going into shops and down to the Torpedo Factory, which is now an artists' display area, though we sadly didn't have enough space in our apartment to get any of the great art that we saw in there. Same with the furniture store we went into. Battered dark wood is probably be favorite decor ever, and the store was just loaded with great pieces on sale, but even if we had bought it and had it shipped back to Chicago, we really don't have any place to put it. We did have a place to put yarn, though, so we went into Fibre Space where nytesenvy works and bought two skeins of yarn. One for my wife to make into a scarf, and one for nytesenvy to make into a hat for softlykarou.

After buying that, we walked back to the Metro stop, but I persuaded softlykarou to go past it to the George Washington Masonic Memorial that I had seen listed when I was looking around for places to go in Alexandria. I figured that maybe it was in the park somewhere on the other side of the giant building we could see. But then we got closer:


Nope, it's totally the giant building. The inside is exactly the way you'd imagine it to be too:


There was a tour, but we decided not to go with it since it was $8 each instead of $5 each and we did have other places to be and didn't want to be tied down to a schedule, so we wandered around and looked at all the displays of masonry in America. In addition to a lot of Washington's personal masonic memorabilia, they also had artifacts (I guess that's the term) from Franklin and several other figures of prominence in America. And John Philip Sousa's conducting baton, for some reason. My middle school band teacher would be proud.

We had an appointment to meet bexplant for coffee near the Foggy Bottom stop, so we spent about an hour in the Memorial and then got on the Metro and headed over. It was a bit rainy again, so we ducked into the nearby George Washington University Hospital and waited for her to show up, which didn't take long. I was pretty quiet, since I didn't know bexplant that well since I was only at Knox on alternating weekends, but it was nice seeing old friends. Then, we had another meeting to see more old friends, so we said our goodbyes and walked up to M Street to meet up with redpikachu and her boyfriend at Clyde's. We had originally planned on going to Paper Moon, but I happened to look it up on the internet because I wanted to check the menu before we went to see what I would get (a habit I've gotten into now that we all carry the sum total of human knowledge in our pockets) and noticed that it only had two stars on Yelp. The new restaurant was a whole lot better than the internet thought the old one was, though.

After that we went out for dessert at Gelateria Dolce Vita, where the gelato was average but the view was really nice:

I'm sure if it had been summer I would have been able to take a great picture of the waterfront or the river, but it's winter and night, so the ice skaters are what you get. Though it's still kind of impressive that they were able to skate that well, considering how warm it was. It had been above freezing for days at this point.

After gelato, we parted ways and softlykarou and I went back to our hotel.

Next post: Friday and Saturday
 
 
Current Mood: happyhappy
Current Music: Sum 41 - So Long Goodbye
 
 
 
q99q99 on February 24th, 2014 03:35 am (UTC)
To be fair to you, iPods were a fad largely eclipsed by iPhones ^^

-
We walked past the Washington Monument, which is still closed due to the 2011 earthquake,-

Confession: Still never been up it.

-and went into the Lincoln Memorial,-

You know all those movies where someone goes up to Lincoln, talks to the statue for a bit, then leaves, and they're always the only one there?

It wasn't anywhere near that empty, was it? ^^

-
Did you know that Alexandria used to be part of DC? I didn't-

Yep, part of the square!

-
After that we went out for dessert at Gelateria Dolce Vita, where the gelato was average but the view was really nice: -

Oh, didn't know they had ice skating open there!
dorchadasdorchadas on February 25th, 2014 03:27 am (UTC)
It wasn't anywhere near that empty, was it? ^^

It was not. The only time I remember being not that full, I was there with a band trip, so we were filling it instead. :p
q99q99 on February 25th, 2014 05:40 am (UTC)
They should really do a sign-up for 'movie style Lincoln confessions' ^^