July 21: All natural history, all the time

The inside of the L'Enfant Plaza Metro Station.  I just love the ceiling in there.
The inside of the L’Enfant Plaza Metro Station. I just love the ceiling in there.

Getting around today was much easier than yesterday, with one minor exception late this afternoon (yesterday was something of a fiasco directions-wise, but at least now I know where I’m going). We got up and onto the Metro, and took it down to L’Enfant Plaza, where we caught the circulator bus. The circulator bus goes around and around the National Mall and the Tidal Basin and up to Union Station. Unlimited rides are included in our seven-day Metro passes, which I’m really glad we bought yesterday.

We rode the bus around by Union Station and on to the National Museum of Natural History.

I’d been there before once, briefly, on my first Long Trip, but basically just to poke my head in to see the Hope Diamond late one afternoon. This time we spent the whole day there. Gemstones were just the beginning. We also saw dinosaurs, and animal skeletons (which were much more interesting than you’d think – the birds in particular just fascinated me), and the kinds of displays they called the Dead Zoo in Dublin when I was there in 1998 [g]. Lots and lots of really well constructed taxidermy, in other words.

The Washington Monument looking like it's coming out of the tower of the Smithsonian Castle [g].
The Washington Monument looking like it’s coming out of the tower of the Smithsonian Castle [g].
Harry the elephant in the rotunda of the Natural History Museum.
Harry the elephant in the rotunda of the Natural History Museum.
A ginormous aquamarine in the gemstone section of the Natural History Museum.
A ginormous aquamarine in the gemstone section of the Natural History Museum.
One of the heads from Easter Island.  I've always wanted to see them in situ, but I suspect this is as close as I will get.  It was right across the way from a totem pole from Washington state.
One of the heads from Easter Island. I’ve always wanted to see them in situ, but I suspect this is as close as I will get. It was right across the way from a totem pole from Washington state.
I loved, loved, loved the bone room, which was really weird.  This is a swift, which is worth more than its weight in gold as a species for how many mosquitoes it eats.
I loved, loved, loved the bone room, which was really weird. This is a swift, which is worth more than its weight in gold as a species for how many mosquitoes it eats.
The skeleton of a penguin.  I had no idea they had such long necks.
The skeleton of a penguin. I had no idea they had such long necks.
A triceratops from the abbreviated dinosaur display (they're redoing the dinosaur room and it won't be open again till next year).
A triceratops from the abbreviated dinosaur display (they’re redoing the dinosaur room and it won’t be open again till next year).
 I *love* the expression on the leopard's face.
I *love* the expression on the leopard’s face.
More dead zoo, this time the Australian section.
More dead zoo, this time the Australian section.
One of the few glimpses I got of the White House.  I sure hope Trump doesn't end up living there.
One of the few glimpses I got of the White House. I sure hope Trump doesn’t end up living there.

After we exhausted ourselves (it’s amazing how much walking through a museum – especially a huge crowded one – can tire you out), we got back on the bus, which this time took us around by the Tidal Basin on our way back to the Metro station.

Then the Metro to our station, and back to the motel.

All in all, a really good day. Tomorrow morning we have tickets to an exhibit about the ancient Greeks at the National Geographic Museum, then we’ll probably spend the rest of the day at the American History Museum.

I could literally spend months here and not get bored. But I’d have to do something better about where to sleep.