July 24: So much for the aquarium, but a good day in spite of the way it started

I'd never heard of a kiss and ride lot before..  This is at "our" Metro stop.
I’d never heard of a kiss and ride lot before.. This is at “our” Metro stop.

This morning’s wake-up was interesting, in the Chinese sense. We were awakened fairly early this Sunday morning by a lot of yelling down in the parking lot, and the sound of glass shattering. When I looked out of my window, a woman was pounding her fist on the hood of a car whose driver looked like he was considering running her over. All of this was happening in the parking space right next to Merlin. It looked scary, but by the time we were up and dressed and ready to go to breakfast, the parking lot was empty, and Merlin was fine. But when we left, there were seven, count ‘em seven police cars along the street and in the motel’s driveway. They were still there by the time we came back from breakfast, but were gone by the time we got back this afternoon.

I will be really glad to leave this motel tomorrow, believe me.

Anybody want two tickets to the National Aquarium in Baltimore? We were pretty much still recovering from yesterday’s fiasco this morning, and decided that you know, yes, it was $35 a ticket, and we’d already paid for them, but it was just more than we could handle to get up there and back, so well, that’s just the way it was.

Instead we made a short day of going back to the National Mall, taking a very short walk from the Smithsonian Metro Station to the Museum of American History, spending the morning there in the AC and eating lunch there, then walking the short walk back, poking our heads into the Smithsonian Castle, and calling it a day. For one thing, I am taking Loralee to the airport first thing in the morning, then heading north, and after six nights in one place I’ve got a lot of packing and reorganizing to do. So does she. But for another, yesterday was hard on both of us, and we just needed to take it easy.

I’m glad we got to go back to the American History Museum. I loved that museum with a passion seventeen years ago, and I still love it just as much. I adore the fact that it’s not just political or official or whatever history museum, but that it chronicles popular culture as well. We went through the room with Dorothy’s ruby slippers and Archie Bunker’s chair (as well as a lot of other interesting stuff), then we went through another exhibit chronicling American wars from the French and Indian War up through Desert Storm.

Judy Garland's ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz.
Judy Garland’s ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz.
A WWII ration book like the one Will and Karin had in Homesick.
A WWII ration book like the one Will and Karin had in Homesick.
Archie and Edith Bunker's chairs from All in the Family.
Archie and Edith Bunker’s chairs from All in the Family.
A same-sex wedding topper!
A same-sex wedding topper!
Apolo Ohno's speedskates from the Olympics when he took so many medals.  He's a local boy back home.
Apolo Ohno’s speedskates from the Olympics when he took so many medals. He’s a local boy back home.
George Washington's mess kit.
George Washington’s mess kit.
Part of the Berlin Wall.
Part of the Berlin Wall.
George Washington wearing a bedsheet, carved in the 1840s.
George Washington wearing a bedsheet (it’s supposed to be a toga), carved in the 1840s.  And, yes, it was controversial back then, too.  It’s supposed to be all symbolic and stuff, but basically it just looks silly and disrespectful.

After lunch we headed over to the Smithsonian Castle, which I’d never been inside of before. It’s basically just the visitor center for the Smithsonian in general, but it’s a pretty building, with a nice garden out back. Oh, and James Smithson’s crypt.

Mr. Smithson's crypt, in the Smithsonian Castle.
Mr. Smithson’s crypt, in the Smithsonian Castle.

Then, as we were headed back to the Metro, Loralee said there was supposed to be an exhibit put on by something called Turquoise Mountain here (in a building next to the Castle) that she’d heard of, about Afghanistan, and would I mind if we stuck our heads in the door for a few minutes.

Wow, am I glad we did. Turquoise Mountain is a non-profit helping the people of Afghanistan recover their indigenous crafts and industries after so much was destroyed there, and the exhibit turned out to be one of the biggest highlights of our visit to DC. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves here, but it was gobsmacking. Beautiful, beautiful work.

I agree wholeheartedly with this statement, from the Turquoise Mountain exhibit.
I agree wholeheartedly with this statement, from the Turquoise Mountain exhibit.
Gorgeous wooden jali screens.
Gorgeous wooden jali screens.
A hand-carved geodesic dome.
A hand-carved geodesic dome.
Hand-dyed wool (using natural dyes and mordants).
Hand-dyed wool (using natural dyes and mordants).
And the spectacular rug created from hand-dyed yarns.  That thing is about 8 feet wide and 12 feet long at least, and the stitches are so *tiny*!
And the spectacular rug created from hand-dyed yarns. That thing is about 8 feet wide and 12 feet long at least, and the stitches are so *tiny*!
A close-up of the rug.
A close-up of the rug.

So now I’m procrastinating about packing up, and well, I need to get my act together here. It’s been a weird visit, in a lot of ways. Saw a lot of good things, had some seriously strange things happen, and I was really happy to have Loralee here.

But I have to say I’m seriously happy to be hitting the road again tomorrow, and to get the heck out of this motel.