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On our second full day in D.C., we stayed in bed a little later and had a leisurely breakfast. First on our list of places to see that day was the splendid United States Botanic Garden located on the Mall. They were having a special exhibit called Orchid Symphony with orchid plants from all over the world. It was really quite beautiful! And, oh, so fragrant. Greg took well over 100 pictures to share with his coworkers back home (he works at a plant nursery that has a florist attached). The orchids were not only of all shapes and colors, but sizes, as well. He had me stand next to one plant so as to get a proper size comparison.
You may not be thinking that a trip to a botanic garden sounds all that interesting, but it was just so beautiful and very spacious. If you make a trip to D.C., and especially if you visit the Mall, and you don't stop by, you are doing yourself a very serious disservice. Unfortunately, while we were there, the outside gardens were still hibernating, so we didn't get to see any of them in all their glory, but we did spend quite a bit of time enjoying the inside. I think if the outside gardens had also been in bloom, we would have spent all morning there. (We already spent most of it in the conservatory.)
Next up was the National Museum of the American Indian. For such a very large building, there didn't seem to be a lot of exhibits inside. This isn't to say that the museum is not interesting - it really is! Greg was particularly impressed that each tribe exhibit is curated by members of those tribes. I found it especially interesting that although most tribes seem to have basic beliefs in common - the sacredness of the four directions, each direction signifying a different stage of life, and each direction also being represented by a different color, for instance - they did not always agree on the meanings. For some, north meant one life stage while for another tribe, it represented an entirely different life stage. Childhood for one, old age for another, etc.
There was a particularly large exhibition on Mesoamerican art and artifacts that we sort of breezed through because it was getting late and we were hungry. A number of people and books had advised that we eat at the cafeteria on the main level. Am I ever glad that we did! Everyone should! Be warned, though, it is expensive. Also keep in mind that admission is free, and the museum must make its money somehow so that it may continue to bring us its wonderful exhibits - and food!!
The cafeteria is divided up into the various regions of North and South America. Each dish is made with native foods, though probably served with much fancier flare than the originating tribes used. Greg and I chose smoked salmon, bison steak, blue corn salad, okra cooked in tomatoes, and another salad that I can't recall all from the Pacific Northwest. We also got some frybread with blueberry wojapi which was so delicious. I once made strawberry wojapi and frybread that did not turn out nearly so fine.
From there we headed across the way to the Smithsonian Castle where we observed a lot of goofy historical souvenirs and the Smithsonian building made out of Legos. It was neat. (By the way, the Lego Movie was fantastic.)
Our last stop of the day was the National Air and Space Museum. Everything looked like it was made out of tinfoil and paper mache. I understand that they need to make things as light as possible to shoot it out into space, but effect was somewhat underwhelming.
The next morning, we made one more stop before leaving Virginia and D.C. behind and heading to Massachusetts: the Exorcist stairs. In the movie The Exorcist there is a scene in which someone is thrown down an exterior flight of stairs. Those stairs are located in Georgetown, and there is a convenient gas station right next to them so that one can both refuel the car and park for some quick snapshots, which is precisely what we did.
The drive to Massachusetts took us through Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut, most of which I had never been to before. We hit Connecticut right at sunset, and it was beautiful!
Next week, read about our adventures in Massachusetts, including Salem and Concord.