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Capital Adventure, Day 3

April 20, 2008

After a good night’s sleep at the Americana Hotel, I got all packed up and headed into the city. It was a very short and easy trip in. I think it only took me ten minutes! I parked in the GWU garage, ate breakfast at the hospital cafeteria (a bargain at less than $3 for eggs, bacon, and diet soda), then headed up to see my dad.

He was sitting on the side of the bed like he was waiting for someone. They had already removed his catheter at 6:00 AM (what a way to wake up!) and informed him that he had to pass 1000 ccs of urine before he would be discharged.

I gave him his hearing aids (oh my word was I sick of shouting and repeating), got him a coffee from the Starbucks stand downstairs, and then kept him company for a while. He went into the bathroom and when he came out I asked, “Well, how’d you do?”

He showed me the measuring jug with his “output.” He was about 10% there. We agreed that this was going to take a while. I asked him if he would mind my leaving for a while and he said no, so I went off to do some final sightseeing.

Rather than go out into the traffic and chaos with my vehicle (and lose my parking space in the garage), I opted to take the subway. I didn’t really have a plan, but I knew that if I headed to the Mall area, there would be plenty of free attractions to choose from. So I got off at the Smithsonian stop and surveyed my surroundings. I saw this lovely museum entrance and headed for it.

Nice, huh? Now, you may recall that I don’t always appreciate art (see previous comments about trash people and gummi bears). But it’s a museum, it’s free, and I get to tour it at my own pace because I am traveling solo. So I entered the Freer Gallery of Art.

It’s exhibits, and that of the connecting Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, are devoted to the art of Asia. Not exactly my cup of tea, but I did find some admirable pieces. For instance, the Peacock Room. It was all blue and gold and lovely. My flash-free pictures don’t do it justice, but here’s one of the better ones:

My favorite exhibit at the Sackler Gallery was the contemporary Japanese porcelain. Such vibrant colors and exciting patterns! Here’s my favorite:

After touring those galleries, I headed back outside and discovered the pretty Victorian parterre on the back side of the Smithsonian “castle.” Then I ducked into the National Museum of African Art. It included a great exhibit of art made from discarded metal items like bottle caps. The artist’s name is El Anatsui, and he is from Ghana. The metal items were pieced together in such a way that they seemed fluid, almost fabric like. Unfortunately, photography was not permitted, so I have no pictures.

Once out of the museum, I went to the Smithsonian “castle.”  The building’s exterior  is quite impressive but IMHO, the inside is even more so!  There were only a few rooms open to the public, but they were magnificent.  The largest room held mini-displays of items similar to what you see in the other museums — animals, historical items, art, etc.  Here are two shots of opposite ends of the display hall.

After touring the castle, I went back out onto the mall and had some momentary indecision as to where I should go next.  The National Museum of Natural History was always my favorite, but when I revisited it last December, I found that they had renovated most of it in a disappointing way, and seemed to really be pushing evolution.

I decided to head to the National Museum of American History instead.  However, just as I was getting close to the building, my dad called and said he was being discharged.  I hopped back on the Metro and picked him up, then we headed home.

It’s weird how a surgery for my dad turned into a much needed mini-vacation for me.  It was the first time in as long as I can remember that I was able to explore an area by myself, going where I wanted and taking as much or as little time as I wanted to view museum exhibits.  It was great!  But after three days of walking and sightseeing and picture-snapping… I was tired and missing my family.  After all, there’s really no place like home.

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