Local Tourists

Yesterday I went with a big swarm of girls and one tall boy into Washington, D.C., to do some sightseeing and poking around. We love living so close to this fabulous city, and being able to take advantage of its many pleasures on the spur of the moment. We even ran into the President! My girl looks worried -- probably intimidated by all the Secret Service types.

tangent: For many years the tall boy's birthday celebration consisted of a trip to some Smithsonian -- Air and Space? Love it! Natural History? Coolest dinosaurs ever -- and we know some of the scientists who work there. We've had them over for dinner! American History? An old and dear friend. These days it's the youngest urchin who must make an annual pilgrimage to gaze longingly at her beloved, the one and only Smithsonian mummy.

This trip was planned with the idea that we would do some things that we had never done before -- we would stay away from the "main drag" on the National Mall and see some new stuff. The adventure started when we took the train! Which turned out to be no different than taking the subway! Except that most subway stations don't look like this:

Union Station is an architectural stunner -- and makes a sucky commute seem almost worth it.

The tall boy bailed on us immediately and went off to have his own adventure, which I will report about tomorrow. Shockingly, he didn't see the appeal in traipsing around the city with three moms and seven girl urchins who come up to his waist. Weird.

The rest of us went to the Smithsonian's Postal Museum, which is a small space dedicated to . . . can you guess? The best part was that a nice woman encouraged us to begin a stamp collection, and even provided us with stamps to start out! She had boxes and boxes of canceled stamps from all over the world, and we could choose any six for our own collections. We each chose a theme and plunged in, and I got a little OCD and crazed about it.

An urchin not my own obsessed with me, and finally the nice lady had to make harrumphing noises about lunch -- or I think we would still be there.

My youngest girl chose birds as her theme . . .

. . . while I was surprised to find that there are gorgeous stamps from all over the world, celebrating various events in the life of Jesus. And we got to use tweezers, and a magnifying glass -- I felt so philatelical! <-- a real word! Other urchins thrilled themselves by "driving" a mail truck and learning about the joys of direct mail -- which means they learned how to to send themselves junk mail.

We traveled on by subway from the Postal Museum to the National Geographic Hall of the Explorers -- normally an exhibition space -- which unfortunately for us was being renovated. We were able to see a cool photo gallery of lions and cheetahs.

tangent: People just walk all over these beautiful brass medallions set into the floor! Hmmph!

This urchin (who reminds me so much of myself at her age that it makes my heart hurt -- although she's not my own personal urchin) was mesmerized and thrilled and a little grossed out by the up-front bluntness of the predator and prey film footage.

By the time we walked to our last new adventure (a gallery devoted to the textile arts), the adventurous urchins were not so much about the exploring new experiences, and more about the finding new and unique places to sit down.

Good thing we had milkshakes and the tall boy waiting for us at the train station!