Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Washington, D.C.: Day 2

The word of the day is muggy. Whew! We've got heat in the southern Arizona desert---it'll be about 106 over the next three days---but 94 and high humidity seems exponentially worse. Regardless, we had a great if not exhausting time working our way through many Smithsonian and other museums along the Mall, beginning with Air & Space, moving to the National Art Gallery (West), and finishing at the Natural History Museum. We hoped to hit the National Archives, too, but the line coupled with the heat and sore feet from two hours of tennis this morning was just too much.

The requisite photos:

Technically this shot is from yesterday, when we were at the Lincoln Memorial, but I wanted to post another shot of the Washington Monument, with the U.S. Capitol in the background, because it's always in our line of site when roaming D.C.

The Metro ride in this morning, when we still had some demonstrable spunk.

I'm not sure why this photo of my brother David (with his wife Kelly) cracks me up. It's the stoic mug, I suppose. Of course, he was a USAF fighter pilot....

The National Air and Space Museum, as just about anyone who's been there knows, is absolutely awesome. I was as excited about the rockets, planes, and interactive exhibitions as any of the kids.

Here my family, with my daughter's cousin who joined us for the day, participates in a "universe" quiz.

There's no lack of reflective surfaces, such as on this rocket exterior.

One of my favorite displays: not just because it's a cool airplane, but because my father was a captain for Easter Airlines for something like 25 years, until it went out of business in 1991 or so.

I can't imagine this German World War I paint job lasted long. Psychedelic seems more a mental than physical hiding technique; though against a technicolor sky, perhaps there's a chance? Someone will have to consult Ted Turner.

An infrared thermal camera, demonstrating light and heat in the "What's the Universe?" (or similar) exhibition, allowed me to photograph myself with my older daughter and their cousin.

Here my girls have fun at a hands-on Wright Brothers display. That was a really grand exhibition, among many others, like World War I.

Dad, cousin, and older daughter.

I love the colors of this hot air balloon, though don't know the story of it. I'm generally more of a view-and-cover-lots-of-ground guy than a be-patient-and-read-the-displays museum visitor, though at the International Spy Museum yesterday I could definitely have visited much longer to read it all. Others' opinions are mixed on the Spy Museum, given its steep cover price.

Much of the Buntin gang at lunch at the Air and Space Museum. Mmm, high-priced junk food. But good company helps keep our health up.

Next, we crossed the Mall to go to the National Art Gallery (West), which though Billie and I lived in the D.C. area for a year we had not visited. What a great museum!

And the kids liked it, too; especially my girls.

To wit: the concentration, the earnest investigation.

My nephew in front of what is perhaps my favorite Monet painting. We also saw paintings by Manet, Rembrandt, Bottecelli, and one portrait by Leonardo da Vinci. Plus many others I should recall but can't.

Our older daughter was mesmerized; if it weren't for additional "scheduled" museums, I think we would have gladly spent the rest of the afternoon here. And the downstairs gift shop is fabulous, too!

Our younger daughter agrees, on both counts.

A little work of art herself, no?

But after an hour or more, their cousin was ready to go. Their opinion of this museum: "Dad, they're all so beautiful. This is amazing!" His opinion: "Yeah, it was alright."

The National Archives, which hold all the original founding documents. Alas, the line was too long on this hot afternoon, so I'll just have to rely on the recent movie National Treasures for my inside view.

Then we crossed over to the Mall on an urban habitat trail...

... with our eye on the Museum of Natural History, which was the most crowded (so far) of all the places in D.C. we visited. And the Insect Zoo was closed too, gosh darnit!

Still, being greeted by the skeleton of a T-Rex is pretty cool in and of itself.

Everyone really liked the Hall of Mammals, too, if you don't think about (as our older daughter did later, much to her chagrin) the fact that these were all live animals once.

One of my favorite exhibits was the "Best Nature Photographs" room. In a word: wow.

If you're going to have a herd of zebra run over your head, this is indeed the way to do it.

Our older daughter is an absolute nut for bald eagles, so this stunning winning photograph is posted here (without copyright violation, one hopes!) in her honor.

Who can't smile after coming away from the Natural History Museum? Crowded or not, it's a blast.

We also passed through the Smithsonian Castle on our way to the Metro stop.

Posing and contemplating, the girls agreed that this building is really cool.

Better than cool, even.

Tomorrow, it's the Washington Monument, U.S. Mint, Capitol tour, and, I think, the National Cathedral, plus a swank dinner in Georgetown. Ah, my kingdom for an on-demand energy jolt and a personal mobile air conditioning system.

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