National Maul

We had a 9:30am appointment with our congresswoman, and we didn’t want to be late.

WP_20140708_10_01_39_ProWe had a Capitol Building tour scheduled with Susan DelBene’s office. We had contacted her office about a White House tour, but that wasn’t available, so they offered us a House tour instead. We thought that was a nice offer and were given a time to come by the office. It was easy to find as it was the only office in the Cannon Building with a Seahawks “I’m In!” poster on the front door. We went in and were greeted warmly by the whole staff. It was a great feeling to be warmly greeted. Susan was coming back from Seattle, so the Chief of Staff met us and introduced us to the rest of the staff.

One of the new interns was our guide. He took us down through the tunnels to the central security for the house. We passed that had had him escort us past the public lines to get into the house. Our guide was a quiet kid from Kirkland, just down the hill from our house. He had arrived for his internship only about a month before, and told us he had just gone through tour training. Apparently tours is a big part of House internship. He said his other jobs included writing up reports and doing basic research. Not a bad gig for the summer.

The House is amazing, There was an art exhibit on the tunnels in, submitted by stepchildren from each state. Distributed around the Capitol building are statues from each state. Every state gets to submit two statues, and they can replace them after a few years if they choose. I knew the Marcus Whitman statue from Walla Walla, but the other was no one I recognized. The Hawaiian statue of King Kamehameha was beautiful in black and gold. Our guide told us that according to Hawaiian tradition, no one is permitted to walk over statues of the king, so they had to hunt to fund a space that would work. This was pretty hard as the whole complex is filled with tunnels and overpasses.

We had some trouble understanding our guide, he was seriously nervous, and tended to walk and face away from us as he talked. We tried to engage him, and he got a little better, but I’m pretty sure we were his first tour. We were taken through the original House and Senate rooms, the original Supreme Court, saw some damage from the War of 1812, and saw the house 9/11 memorial, dedicated to the plane that was destined for Washington, until the passengers and crew took over. Still tragic.

The house was supposed to be in session, but apparently had been postponed until 6:00 that evening. So we were able to go up into the house gallery and sit, but there wasn’t much to see in activity. I still loved sitting there. You can be as cynical as you want about government, but in the end America is defined by our government. Modern democracy started here. The Constitution was an experiment, and for the most part it has worked better than anything else out there. And it has kept working for over 200 years. We had a lot of American History this trip. Sitting in the chamber, even empty, was a treat.

Once the tour was complete, we headed back to Rep. DelBene’s office, thanked everyone, and left the building.

It was hot. Africa hot.

We crossed the mall over to one of the Art museums, mostly to escape the heat. The museums on the mall are free. These were part of the National Gallery of Art. The building we entered first was mostly under renovation, so there wasn’t much to see. But it had an underground connection to the main building. The main gallery was massive, and we found a highlight guide to help us find the best exhibits.

I loved the fact that they sorted the art by era and type, you get to compare artists within styles better that way. I’m not completely sure whether sorting by artist, or period is more common, but I’ve seen both and this was nicely laid out. The collection of Van Gogh and dutch artists was great, and one of Sasha’s favorites, along with the only Davinci in North America. It was a small portrait of a woman, but according to the notes, appeared to have been trimmed smaller at one point. This meant that somewhere in the world was a small, but priceless portrait of a woman’s hand in her lap. I loved the impressionist collection. I saw several landscapes by Monet that I recognized, mostly because I once got sick on my roommate’s Monet print, and had to go buy another, but of course I got a Manet, because they sound the same as spoken by the snotty print shop clerk so I had to go back a second time and I’m never drinking peppermint schnapps again. With the flashbacks over, we continued through the renaissance art, Asian art, and Sculpture galleries. This place was just damn huge.

We finally got out of the gallery, and wanted to walk around for a while, like we did in New York, but we were overheated after a block. The closest place on our list was the Crime and Punishment museum. Sasha has become very interested in forensics after binge watching Bones, and from what we saw on the brochure, it looked like a pretty cool collection of exhibits and crime memorabilia. It was a hot couple of blocks up, but we walked in to a blast of AC. Right in the lobby was Ted Bundy’s VW bug. Wild.

We paid and went up the stairs, The whole building was section after section of various time periods, crimes, police information, and artifacts ranging from Elliot Ness to John Wayne Gacy (clowns will eat me). Sasha was going over everything in detail. I was surprised how huge the place was. I was also surprised how tired I was getting. We hadn’t walked nearly as much as we did in New York, but the transition from extreme heat to full AC was getting to me. I sat a bit and let the girls walk on. Close to the end of the museum they had two simulators. A cop car driving simulator, and a gun simulator. The car scenarios was just driving through intersections, trying to beat the clock. Everyone got hit by someone running a light. I couldn’t figure out the trick to that one. The gun as multiple different scenarios, and you had to fire once the suspect drew their weapon. Everyone pretty much just fired wildly. In the end it would tell you if you had “kill” or “wound” shots, and how many missed. Sasha knew how to use the sights on a gun, and had a couple good body kill shots. better than most of the other kids who tried. I Got two head kill shots, and a body wound shot. Not too bad.

We left the Crime Museum and the heat was worse than ever.

We planned to walk over to take a picture by the White House, then Cab over to Georgetown to get some food and shopping. Again, compared to New York this was a really small walk. We got maybe halfway and had to go into a coffee shop to get some water. Everything we brought with us was long gone. We kept going, Trying to find share but both sides of the street were about the same. Once we got to the Oval, the trees offered a bit of shade, we walked around the security huts, and found the crown out by the front taking pictures. There were security guards and police all around. It looked like one guard for 4 tourists was the ratio. They weren’t smiling, and at this point, neither was I. I could feel Heat Exhaustion coming on, we walked out of the front, and sat over by the side security gate. This turned out to be a good rest stop, as they cleared out the front a few minutes later, and cars started exiting the front parking lot. We weren’t sure if something was going on, or if it was just the end of the work day.

After a bit I felt good enough to walk over to a normal street and we had a cab take us up to Georgetown. Yulia had been there once before, and remembered a small section with shops and wooden streets. She had been to DC 10 years before for gymnastics, and she thought that was a beautiful old part of town that was worth seeing again. The cabbie didn’t know it, and dropped us int he middle of Georgetown. Yulia asked in a shop, the girls there thought they knew where it was, and we headed that direction.

Nope. We couldn’t see anything that looked right. It was a nice part of town, but too much had changed for Yulia to recognize where to go. We were getting hungry, it was really hot, so we went back to the main street and found a nice French place, with a sad Brazilian waitress watching her country lose the World Cup on the big screen overhead. Sorry miss.

We sat, and I ordered a light beer. The menu looked great, but I was so dehydrated and overheated at that point that I was getting chills. The beer and water helped, I had a little of some very good chicken, and both Yulia and Sasha ordered some fantastic looking food. All throughout dinner, our phones kept beeping with STORM WARNINGs from our various weather apps. Outside looked clear. But by the time we were done, we looked out and it was *pouring* rain. I didn’t want to push it by walking to the metro station, so we called a cab. Not a cheap ride, but I was done for the day. Halfway back the lightning started. Once at the hotel I crawled into bed. I was freezing. The rain was coming down in sheets, and the sky was filled with lightning.

D.C. won this round. We will see how the next day goes.