08 November 2011

Ms. Kernohan goes to Washington - All the pics that are fit to print

Wow this is overdue.

As usual we took waaaay too many pictures on our trip... but there was just so much to see. One of the things about living in a community where pretty much everything was made with wood (wood being readily available at the time), we don't have too much by way of lasting or even impressive architecture. Well, some impressive... or at least interesting... but still not much. So places like Washington which have longer history and more enduring building materials make for a bit of overkill with the camera.

The Congress Building

And of course, the Air & Space Museum (the Mall and the Udvar Hazy Centre) was like geek Mecca for the both of us. So many gadgets. And Aaron and I totally kicked some ass on the fighter-pilot simulator. He did the flying, and I did the gunning. Oh, did I mention that the simulator even flipped us UPSIDE DOWN? Yeah, it did.

Where are these jokers? Why on the space shuttle!

Without going too far into it, we do have to go back. I need to revisit the Library of Congress (aka Mecca for librarians). We need to revisit the Holocaust Museum (if you are at all interested you need way more time than they say you need, and our tickets were too late in the day) and, of course, the cherry blossoms, not to mention cooler weather.

Us in front of the LoC
Weather. Yes. Washington DC is built on a swamp, and located in a subtropical zone. So in the summer, it is unbelievably hot and humid. 4th of July there were many an entrepreneur with a cooler selling ice cold bottles of water for $1 a piece - which we gladly took full advantage of when street vendors were selling for significantly more. Think about it... a $2.99 case of bottled water from Costco netting $24... not bad, and smart. Also smart... not cooling your buildings to a cool fall day's temperature when the outside temperature is hitting the mid 40's (that's in Celsius... this metric gal has a hard time figuring out that Fahrenheit stuff, sorry) easy. Have to say the buildings were by and large just right, and didn't leave you with the sickly damp feeling when walking out into the humid air.

Yup, it was hot.
Yeah, it's the little things you notice. And obsess about.

4th of July was ah-may-zing. Not so much because we got good seats to view the attractions (we didn't. Our view of the fireworks was blocked by the cloud of sulphurous smoke floating towards us, and our seats on the East Lawn of the Congress building really didn't have a great view aside from the calves of people standing in front of us) but for the sheer amount of people, and the kind of atmosphere it was. We'd never been a part of hundreds-of-thousands-of-people. The closest I've come is Boxing Day in Glasgow on Buchanan Street... a sea of people, store front to store front. This rivalled that for certain - the National Mall was packed. And though the level of security was disconcerting at times (decontamination tents? apparently.), the place really had the air of a county fair. Kids hanging off trees (the amount of green space and greenery in DC is impressive for a dense urban centre), families eating, dancing, laughing, bickering. You could have easily been at the Kinmount fair and felt a similar vibe.

On the lawn of the Congress Building.
As patriotism goes, theirs is certainly a matter of faith. I had very much the same feeling I get when I go to a particularly boisterous church service or religious event (for an atheist, I'm found in either/or at a strangely high frequency) ... that feeling of being a not-we and that I'm most certainly missing some deeper stirring of emotion that those around me are experiencing. But, being part of a cultural event that is clearly more massive than any one person, yet being removed from it (a foreigner), makes for some interesting introspection, and a wider outward view all at once.

Arlington was beautiful and sobering all at once. The monuments that got to me the most were, of course, those for the space shuttle Challenger and Columbia crews.

Shielding my eyes from the sun as I observe the monuments for the shuttles Challenger and Columbia.
Finally, everyone was super nice... I think giving most Canadian cities a run for their money for the prize of "nicest". There was a different level of engagement. Maybe it was the occasion... the number of tourists I'm sure out numbered the number of DC denizens... so perhaps the majority of the population at that moment were on their best behaviour. But, there's no denying that the level of politeness was impressive. As friendliness goes, DC is also surprisingly friendly. Pedestrian friendly, bike friendly... we used the Capital Bike Share many times throughout the week, and for a city where the honking of horns is so constant you notice when it is quiet, we were very comfortable using the many bike lanes. And the police weren't bent out of shape when we biked on the sidewalk either (though we weren't obnoxious about it).

Capital Bike Share
So, this blog post has taken me... oh... 5 months to complete... so how about some more pictures?

Check out my public gallery here:

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