Thursday, August 16, 2012

Back to the last few days in DC - Holocaust Museum

We had a week in DC and near the end of our time we went to the Holocaust Museum. It's been on our To Do list for years, and the plan was to only take the girls because of the subject matter. As it turned out, we all went. Ian had meetings in the morning, and the museum doesn't open until 10 a.m., so we walked down and met up with him there. FYI, I paid for tickets so we'd have them. They were $1 each and ensured we wouldn't wait in line for hours as timed tickets are only freely distributed in the morning, for times throughout the day. But the tickets I got were for later in the morning and after all that, I actually read the information page on the website. Here you go:  "With identification, members of the armed forces (including retirees), law enforcement personnel, and federal government employees may obtain complimentary passes for themselves and their families in person at the Information Desk on the day of their visit."  So Ian showed his badge and in we walked. After drinking up our water and sodas. No beverages allowed inside. And no photos either.  The first stop, especially if you have kids, is Daniel's Story, a walk-through of how Daniel's life changed. It's slightly interactive and gets full quickly so everyone ends up shuffling along. It's a good intro for kids who aren't familiar with the history.

Slugs = legal hitchhiking
The permanent exhibit covers 3 floors.  It begins with the history of the region and the rise of the Nazi party, and culminates in a room of remembrance.  There is a lot to take in.  The walls are covered in items to read and absorb, and in several of the areas there are 10-15 minute videos to watch: the history of Judaism, propoganda, Nazis around the world.  Near the end is a room with several aspects unsuitable for children.  These are walled off and only adults of certain height should be able to peer over the walls.  

When we entered the elevator for the ride up, the guide told us the exhibit should take around 90 minutes.  We emerged 2 1/2 hours later and still didn't see it all.  Very well done, and too much to take in.  We needed air.
A pit stop led to a Zen moment.
Right next to the museum is the Tidal Basin.  I'd promised the kids during our DC tour that after the Holocaust Museum we would ride on the Tidal Basin boats, and so we did.  The only ones with canopies are 4 seaters and there were 5 of us, so in order to avoid any fried children we rented 2 canopied boats and attempted to race each other across and around the basin.  Easier said than done.  Those things move at a snail's (or slug's) pace.  And as if our walk to the museum wasn't long enough, or the 2 1/2 hours walking through the museum wasn't enough, we now pedaled our slow-as-molasses way across the basin to the Jefferson and then over to the MLK Jr. memorial.  Going back to the dock took even longer.  I think the tide was going out and we were pedaling and pedaling against it for what felt to our thighs like hours.
The kids were just plain too tired to walk back to the hotel.  We hiked past the set-up for the FolkLife Festival on the Mall, it was quite a mess thanks to the powerful storm we had the evening before, and took the Metro "home."  The day was so hot we stopped at the Whole Foods right off the Metro stop and enjoyed some extra fruity and vegetablicious smoothies.  I think we all chose the only 2 drinks that didn't involve spinach.  Or beets.  I'm all for spinach and beets, just not in my drink.

I can't say enough about DC.  I love it.  It's the only city so far that I've found feels like home.  Yes, it's expensive. And if you can, it's best to ignore the whole political side of it.  So the subway isn't a great one, and it has trouble with large capacity or any flake of snow.  But I like it's low stature, no massively tall buildings that make you feel like an ant walking down the street.  I like how much is free: museums, arts, performances, talks, tours.  And if you add in southern MD and northern VA, your options quadruple.  I like the green spaces.  I like the history both big and small, you can turn a corner and find a tucked away garden with another statue.  I think that's why the George Mason Memorial garden is now one of my favorites.  The guy gets no love, stuck on a parcel of land between two fast-moving streets.

The next day we took it easy, there was nothing we wanted to see if it involved traipsing in the heat again.

So we had people over instead.

Patricia and Jade are sisters who went to middle school with me in Niamey, Niger.  Tell me it's not a small world. Trish lives in Rhode Island and Jade in Washington State, and they were both in town for a memorial service and family reunion.  They were awesome and came by the hotel to hang out for a bit and catch up.  Trish and I have kept in touch, she came to our home in Woodbridge last year when she was in town.  Jade I haven't seen since I left Niamey in 1988.  Yes, it's a small world, and they are two amazing women.

In the evening we decided to do one final big thing, and attended a little show at the Kennedy Center.  "Shear Madness" is one Ian and I have seen many times.  Marymount shuttled kids to see it, with cheap tickets, every year.  This time we brought our own kids.  It was the first time Jonathon had been to the Kennedy Center.  Nicholas went on a class field trip, Rebecca saw "South Pacific" for her 13th birthday with her grandparents, Katherine and Rebecca went with us when they were much younger, though I can't recall the performance.  We weren't dressed up, but "Shear Madness" is a low key performance.  It's also funny and interactive, and though I had a kid (or two) who weren't excited about going (!!), they all warmed up to it.  Honestly, I think it was a great wrap-up to our time in DC.

It's always nice to get to be tourists in your hometown, whether it's natural or adopted.  I'm looking forward to going back.

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