To be young again

Trip Start Mar 10, 2011
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Trip End May 05, 2011


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Where I stayed
International House of United Tel

Flag of United States  , Washington, D.C.
Saturday, March 12, 2011

Disaster! I lost my earplugs last night and had to wake to the sound of my bunkmates sleep. So I made the most of my time awake and fortunately managed to sneak a couple more hours sleep before breakfast.  Today there was the added noise of a group of spring-break schoolkids, so no peace. I made for new lodgings because HI was booked out) at the cumbersomely named International House of United Tel (somehow abbreviated to UTI) and was greeted in a vintage home on 6th street with plentiful facilities but complete with period carpets and dangerously rickety stairs.  Memories of Gatehouse Street.
Here I met Quentin, a Frenchman who was taking a much needed break from his facebook dating project. Turns out we both had to look forward to a long trip and he too was ejected from his last hostel due to bookings.  We were not inclined to visit similar attractions so as he headed for Arlington Cemetery I made for the Air and Space Museum.
I had already scouted this place the day before and was tickled by the prospect of walking amongst the relics of the aerospace age. Yet nothing could have prepared me for the mechanical wonderland that was so distinctively Smithsonian. There I found my boyhood dreams in the metal.  The Wright Brothers flyer, the Spirit of St. Louis, Messerschimdts and Spitfires to the Geminis, Apollos and even Hubble.  Nothing was omitted, even Soviet craft were displayed proudly!  I didn't care about battling the throngs of schoolchildren nor the elementary nature of the information, I was a child again - stars in my eyes again.  Dreams of walking on the dusty moon and through the vast abyss of space rushed back. Goosebumps. Sadly time and stamina were against me, I retreated for a short lunch at the McDonald's and left for the Museum of Natural History.
This was an even more childish Musuem than the last, but doubtless the children would have found the exhibits fun and somewhat educational aided by the immaculately presented displays and dioramas. Of course, the Dinosaurs and Hope Diamond were the most popular but after jostling families for the last 6 hours I was spent.  Secretly I cursed the fortunes of the children, they who had the priveledge to access these treasures and information so freely, yet some suffered the misinformation of their parents. At least there was an exhibit on evolution to quell any myths.
So finally out of scientific energy and foot power I grabbed a bike and set off along the Potomac for the trio of memorials, each with their unique charm.
Lincoln is the star of the mall. He looks toward the monument and imposes his view on his subjects at the Capitol. The most vibrant and popular, it was covered with pedestrians, bicycles and even a band on this day.
FDR is Lincoln's antithesis.  Rather than a formal stage the Wartime President resides (with his wife) among peaceful collections of stone, fountains and the river.  A walk through is punctuated by the Man's reflections on life and leadership, and in the fading light of dusk it is quite poetic.
Jefferson is the shy brother to Lincoln.  Little fanfare surrounds the third President despite his position facing the White House and his ultimate contribution to America - The Declaration.
So after this bike ride and now out of mental, physical and electrical power (my camera capitulated too) I came home.  This day has left me in something of a delirium - wondered at the marvels of these glorious institutions and yet bewildered that despite these, Americans are often critcised of blind ignorance. How is this possible?
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