7/6 Washington, DC 2793 Miles

The morning starts with happiness. I dress like a tourist with my sunglasses and khaki baseball cap to keep my pale skin the palest, and 2 cameras to document the minutia of my trip. I drew the line at a sun visor and a pink t-shirt with cartoonish recreations of DC’s famous landmarks.
Directions were given and we followed another group of tourists to the closest Metro stop. The DC metro is everything you want your public transportation to be: quick, clean, efficient, with easy-to-decipher maps and tickets with pictures of panda bears on them. We took the Metro to the Mall and I got to stand for a few moments and just sort of drink in the scenery. The best part of the Mall is that it’s okay to look like a tourist because, frankly, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone down there who wasn’t a tourist. Everyone drives like a tourist, everyone talks like a tourist and everyone wanders around like a tourist.
Our first stop was the Hirshhorn Museum. This is where we got our first taste of the heightened security (besides the concrete barriers in place around EVERYTHING), all bags are searched (though somewhat laxly, if you ask me) and metal detectors abound. We passed with flying colors and headed into the exhibit. We weren’t there for the specific exhibitions but just a quick run-through so we could write about how we went to the Hirshhorn. The gift shop yielded a surprisingly good gift for my sister and we had a jolly good time chatting up Minnesota gay bars and climatic misconceptions with the 2 guys behind the counter.
Lunch at the National Air and Space Museum, then a quick jaunt through a few exhibits about the universe and aerial photography. This gift shop yielded the best prizes so far and we walked away poorer but happier.
Washington DC is an infinitely walkable city with easy-to-follow maps and conveniently-placed park benches. We took advantage of these benches and spent much time playing “What’s that guy’s story?” If even a small percentage of what we make up is true, this country is populated with some of the loneliest and most depressed humans in history. On the other hand, we are that much happier for having amused ourselves in such a vicious way.
The National Botanical Gardens were chock-full of herbivorous goodness, iguanas and man-made humidity. I almost knocked over a plant with my big touristy bag and that really was the highlight of the garden.
In our great nation’s capitol there are many exciting things to see and a few of them require a ticket and a reservation. Unfortunately, you can never obtain this ticket at the attraction you want to visit or at the time you want to enter. One must always follow a confusing ritual of being at one place at one time to pick up a free ticket that will instruct you to be at another place at another time to begin your tour. This is really more of a commitment than I am ready to make for some things and the Capitol Building lost out on my visit. I did take a lot of pictures and my laziness was rewarded when I discovered a quiet little watering grotto just off the side. It was a cute 6-sided building with 3 doors and 3 benches, and in the middle was a 6-sided fountain with 3 drinking fountains and 3 little basins with continuously running water for rinsing your hands. It was a surprisingly quiet and peaceful place to rest a moment.
Feeling refreshed, we wandered by the Senate offices, the Supreme Court where I gave a shout out to my biznitch Ruth B-G DAWG, and the Library of Congress. The Library’s function is to sustain and preserve a universal collection of knowledge and creativity for future generations (or so it says on the website). So it seems their job is to keep all the books published, and during a discussion between myself, Jen and my urbane friend, it was determined that they had everything published (even Danielle Steele) except for porn books. We debated many points about whether or not porn books should be kept and catalogued by the Library, with my falling resolutely on the ‘yes’ side.
Back on my beloved Metro and a much-needed rest at the hotel before our first trip to IKEA and meatball dinner.