Friday, September 30, 2011

Washington - the "THIS IS NOT A MUSEUM" edition

On 11th September, I left Colorado for Washington. Well, more correctly, I left for Baltimore because that was the only direct option from Denver. But I digress. When I first booked my flights, my mum claimed that I would die a horrible flamey death if I flew anywhere on September 11th (*I* claimed that it would probably be the safest day of EVER to fly anywhere. HI MUM!!). Obviously, I didn't. 

Megan dropped me at the airport at about 7.30am. I walked through the doors and right into (almost literally) a bunch of military guys carrying flags and a minute of silence. Thankfully, I looked up from searching my handbag for my flight information in time, or I actually WOULD have literally walked into them, and the morning would have been CRAZY AWKWARD... Anyway. After a substandard delicious bagel eaten sitting at a table in a civilised fashion on the floor next to a travelator, I spent a large chunk of the four-ish hour flight to Baltimore watching Pirates of the Caribbean 4. About an hour outside Baltimore, we hit turbulence. Turbulence to the point where the plane was dropping a millionty several feet every few minutes. The seatbelt sign was turned on, and a stewardess came on the PA.

Stewardess: The captain has turned on the fasten seatbelt sign, and has advised the flight crew to remain seated until landing. This means we will be unable to perform our final safety checks. Could you please make sure the people around you have their seat backs upright and their tray tables secured. And in the event of an emergency, please leave all cabin baggage on board the aircraft.
Me: Crap. My mother was right. Horrible flamey death is clearly imminent...

And then absolutely nothing happened. Having now had subsequent flights with the same airline, it appears that such comments are part of their normal pre-take off and landing spiel. But it's pretty much the opposite of reassuring when the plane is periodically dropping out of the sky into a thunderstorm...

Despite the weather's plans to the contrary, I made it to Baltimore in one piece. I then proceeded to spend a millionty years an hour and a bit getting from Baltimore Airport to the hotel in Washington. The first leg was on a bus, which drove through a hail storm so severe that every other car on the road stopped because they couldn't see. The second leg was on the subway from Greenbelt, which took FOREVER, despite only being eight or nine stops. The third leg was on foot, and involved me walking a block in the wrong direction because while I can read maps, I really suck at translating what's on the map onto what I can see around me...

After what seemed like the longest time ever, I finally made it to the hotel and met up with the lovely Kat.  After watching some truly terrible spectacular television for an hour or so, we headed out for dinner. We had quite possibly the vaguest waiter of all time. It wasn't quite Nikki's waitress who forgot to bring the food, but he was pretty "Ohhhhh, so you want to know the specials? Huh." 

The following day, we headed down to the National Air and Space Museum. While the capsules from the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo were pretty awesome, they were also almost impossible to take photos of, courtesy of being encased in very reflective perspex. Sad face. I think my favourite thing in the whole place was this delightful collection of stewardess uniforms:
Check out the leggings/tights on the left!

Well, those and this rather special trophy:

There's only so long you can spend staring at planes and rockets before you get bored, so we went to the most expensive McDonalds in the world (it's actually IN the museum) for lunch, and then headed further down the Mall. There we came across the National Museum of the American Indian. Pretty sure it shouldn't be allowed to have the name 'museum'. I understand the fact that the Indigenous community has had a say in what's displayed and what's been written about. To some extent, this is an excellent thing. But displaying objects completely out of context and with no explanation of what they're for makes the whole experience pointless to the visitor. (#museumnerd)
Kat: [points at object] What is it?
Me: [searches for explanatory text label, without success] A mysterious thingy...
Me: I don't understand either. This place makes my head hurt.
[Repeat 500 times]
Me: We need to leave now. I can't take it any more.

Needless to say, we didn't stay there for very long. Instead, we walked up to the Capitol Building (but not inside it because apparently we needed to write to our non-existent members of Congress six months in advance of our visit to do that), and across to the Natural History Museum. The walk over there was more than a little warm and I was dripping in sweat glowing by the time we got there. 
Security guard: Hi, how are you today?
Me: Quite hot, actually. 
Security guard: Yeah, you are. HIGH FIVE!! 
Me: Well, if you insist...

The Natural History Museum was filled with shiny shiny jewellery...

and the obligatory dinosaurs...

and entertaining taxidermied specimens:
Craziest fennec fox EVER

Once we'd exhausted ourselves there, we walked back to the subway and headed out to U Street in search of dinner. We wound up at a Mexican restaurant where we ordered much needed drinks.
Me: Could I get a strawberry daiquiri, please?
Waitress: And would you like alcohol in that?
Me: Um. YES.

Seriously, what is a daiquiri without the rum? "Ooooh, strawberry flavoured ice. Where do I sign up?!" Lame. Luckily, the food was good, which redeemed the place somewhat! Oh, and a nearby table was occupied by police officers on Segways, which made for much amusement. 

Up next, America changes history for its own purposes, and the most disturbingly excited man EVER.

K xx


  1. I know exactly what you mean about the American Indian musueum ... we wandered around for maybe an hour, feeling somewhat aimless before going 'let's go to the Holocaust museum instead'. So we did.

  2. I love how you write about the USA! DC has an interesting range of museums. I'm sure i'm too late but you should check out the Smithsonian museums. one or all of them!

  3. I like the "Can you guys check the people around you? That sounds adequate, and we'll still get paid for not doing our ONE job... Oh sorry, was that your elbow/knee/foot/head I just hit with the beverage cart because I couldn't be bothered to look where I'm going?"

  4. The Museum of the American Indian is really weird. I only understood what I was seeing when I was there because that was what I was studying. Otherwise? I would've been looking for the people who put that nonsense up and telling them all sorts of why the museum frustrated me and why I didn't understand their history/culture because of their inability to label things and explain them to me (or follow me around the museum telling me what they were, even if that would've been rather creepy in any museum -- most tour guides are a bit odd).

    YAY FOR BAD WAITRESSES. They're actually quite hilarious, even if they're inconveniencing your meal.

    Also, I love strawberry flavoured ice! Seriously. But definitely not when I'm in a serious need of a drink. It's only fun during the hottest parts of summer. And at country fairs. You know, places where it's not a good idea to get drunk.

  5. You write so nicely. Makes me feel like I know you.

    The fox is frightening but mixed with cuteness hey!

    hugs (^.^) hope to hear from you *

  6. I live in Baltimore, so I definitely need to take more advantage of all the museums in DC.

  7. Hahaha my comments at the museum make me sound a bit... special. I promise you all, I can normally understand museum displays! But not ones that have no explanation whatsoever.

  8. @Emma - glad we weren't the only ones!
    @Lauren - right?! I love paying money to do someone else's job for them...
    @Nikki - I was expecting it because one of my lecturers actually wrote a bunch of papers on how it's not really a museum. But it still hurt my brain a lot...
    @Kat - it wasn't you that was 'special', it was the NMAI!!!! Just looking at my photos of the building makes my brain go "I DON'T GET IT..." all over again...


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