Last week I wrote about Christian Submission to authorities so it seemed only right that a trip to Washington D.C. was in order. The wife & I planned a little mini-vacation to stay with a Russian friend in Alexandria, Virginia, just a piece up the ways (man it feels good to speak Texan again) from the capital. Capitol? Kapital? I’m pretty sure it’s “capitol” but that was one of those words I stumbled over every time in English papers.
We arrived Friday afternoon and unpacked and went to the Russian friend’s grandmother’s house for homemade something. I don’t know what it was, it looked like a gigantic chicken pot pie but it had ground beef and potatoes and Russian spices in it. Babushka (the grandmother) didn’t speak a lick of English, but she sure was a lof of fun, full of smiles and hugs. Afterwards, the Russian friend (let’s call her “the ex-wife of somebody named Boris” or TEWOSNB) took us to a Russian disco with her friend Igor. We didn’t particularly want to go to a Russian disco, but she was driving and was determined we should go. This sort of set the tone for the weekend as TEWOSNB was apparently ex-KGB or Russian mafia or something and made unilateral decisions frequently about how we were going to spend our time. We tried to make the best of it, but if you were going to Washington D.C. for the weekend, would disco dancing with Russian people who did not speak English be high on your sightseeing wish-list?
The next morning, up and out early to see the Smithsonian which of course cannot be viewed in a single day. Lot’s of activity going on; there was a kite festival on the Washington Mall as well as the Cherry Blossom Festival, so parking was scarce. We parked in Baltimore, I think. The Smithsonian Museum of Natural History took most of the day; we saw the ice age exhibit, the geological exhibit and the Hope Diamond, and a fabulous orchid exhibit with hundreds of live orchids. I don’t know how they keep them all alive and blooming simultaneously. And then quick visits to the Mammal exhibit and the Sikh exhibit.
On the way back out, a walk around the White House which is no longer open to visitors except for pre-planned tours, so we had to setle for looking through the fence. I asked the security guard which was the best fence for jumping over, and he said the north side. Good information to know. I saw a few protestors outside demanding our troops be brought home from Iraq; out of a few thousand visitors during a festival week, there were maybe a half-dozen protestors. The mainstream media makes it seem there are thousands of protestors all the time.
A stop at the Post Office to ride to the top of the tower, the 2nd largest structure in Washington D.C. after the Washington Memorial, and then our day was complete. We walked back to Baltimore to fetch the car and home for dinner, then out to a play called Condensed Mikado, a shortened version of the comedic libretto Mikado. It was only an hour long and absolutely hysterical, I thoroughly enjoyed it. TEWOSNB slept through it, I think.
Sunday, breakfast at Babushka’s for Russian pancakes and then to church at the National Cathedral; the (priest?) gave a sermon on the horrors of war. I guess he was protestor number seven. I don’t know what denomination thich church is and I’m too lazy to look it up, but the structure was like a Catholic Church without the word “Catholic” written anywhere. Episcopalian? Lutheran? I donâ€™t know, but the wafers werenâ€™t as good as the Catholic Church and the wine was real wine but very bitter.
Afterwards, we walked around the Washington Mall, and a long walk it was. We started at the Lincoln Memorial, walked around the lake to enjoy the cherry blossoms, through the Vietnam Memorial and Korean Memorial, then the Teddy Roosevelt Memorial and then the Jefferson Memorial. Anybody that tells you that this nation isnâ€™t founded on a belief in God has never visited these memorials; these great men praised their creator for His great gifts.
Then out to dinner with TEWOSNB and a different friend, Mark. Mark was an absolute delight; he was friendly, funny, knowledgeable, polite. Not at all a good fit for TEWOSNB, but since she was Russian and he worked from some secret government agency (he avoided even direct questions about it), it was like being out to dinner with international spies. Dinner was fabulous; TEWOSNB complained the wine wasnâ€™t expensive enough.
Mark joined us Monday morning and took us up to Arlington Cemetery, and Mark turned out to be quite the military history buff, explaining various military events when we saw famous tombs, explaining the various insignias and so forth. Then up to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (which actually says â€œknown but to Godâ€ on the side, not â€œunknownâ€) to watch the changing of the guards and the changing of the memorial wreath. Amazing precision and I was quite impressed. TEWOSNB said her feet hurt.
Mark then took us on a special treat â€“ he had a security clearance for the Pentagon and could escort visitors, so he took us to lunch *inside* the Pentagon. Wow. We felt incredibly privileged when the couple in front of us were turned away, but *we* had an *escort* and were permitted entry. TEWOSNB said restaurant wasnâ€™t up to her standards and wanted to leave, but we were having none of it. OK, so lunch wasnâ€™t exactly haute cuisine, but hey, it was inside the Pentagon. We even got a tour of the various halls and saw were the 9/11 attack occurred (all repaired, of course). Department of Defense newspapers, the Pentagon newsroom, the office of the Secretary of the Army, very cool.
And back home again. And even though I didnâ€™t get to vote on anything while I was there, I had a fabulous time.