So, after my initial neurological orgasm at the Air and Space Museum, what could I do but go back? In fact, that’s precisely what I did with John on Friday, albeit for a more protracted visit. Our next stop was the spy museum, which you have the pleasure of paying 20 bucks to visit, but which obligingly provides you with a spying “experience”. This essentially involves remembering a bit of information and picking out details on computer screens. It is very kitschy and clearly directed at kids, but most of the museum is actually incredibly interesting. Their one floor exhibit that seemingly never ends(seriously, we were there for probably 3 hours on the same floor and just kept wandering into more exhibits. It was like Narnia in museum form) provides a wealth of information, from gadgets and other tools of the trade, to notable spying accomplishments, and the lives of spies from ancient history to the present. All in all, it was pretty cool. I’ve always loved James Bond, and the museum definitely caters to that particular taste in spy history.
After spending a few hours as a Kiwi spy, stationed in Thailand, I met up with Pieter and Ellen and spent a few hours on the mall, walking around the monuments before being driven inside by a torrential downpour that continued into the evening. We all met up with several friends, John’s mother, Tracey and his uncle, Will at Will’s house for dinner.We had a scrumptious fish dinner there(after I shamelessly exploited Will’s hot tub, shower, and kindness) before heading back into the city to enjoy a Friday night in DC. We met up with several more friends at the surprisingly difficult to pronounce Dan’s Cafe. For those of you who are familiar with Dan’s Cafe, I have said enough. For those who aren’t, that’s probably for the best.
We all met up again the next
morning afternoon for a tour of the Capitol, put on by John’s friend from college, Ben, who knows more facts about the Capitol stored in his head than I could memorize in two lifetimes. We got to see all of the usual stops, statues and paintings, the dome, obviously, and even one passage that usual tours don’t get to visit. It was pretty awesome to look around at the immensity of the Capitol and think that many people actually go to work there every day.
Having seen enough of the government the first few days, we took a slightly different tack on Sunday. We met up at Busboys and Poets(a mouthful of a name, and friggin impossible to remember) for a delicious, if pricey brunch, and then walk up a ways to the Washington DC Zoo. I have a moral quandary when it comes to zoos. On the one hand, I’ve always loved being able to go and see animals I would never see anywhere else. I have some amazing memories from zoos as a kid, and most zoos that I have been to are very involved in conservation work and the preservation of the animals’ natural habitats. There is something to be said, too, for exposing children to such animals at a young age, so that they grow up with an understanding and respect for the natural world all over the earth. Having said that, I always feel a slight pang watching a bear with maybe 500 square feet of space, looking forlornly about at the only world that he will ever know. It’s not for me to say whether the benefits of such institutions outweigh the grave cost in the lives of these animals. It is sometimes simply difficult to watch them seemingly mourn their lot in life. In spite of that…inspiring dilemma, I really did enjoy going to the zoo, as I generally do. The one area that I regret not seeing is the reptile house, because if there is one thing my irrational fear of snakes requires, it’s a constant update of how terrifying and deadly those disgusting, slithering creatures are.
We got up early(ish) the following morning and took a bus back to Annapolis to pick up the boat and continue on down the Chesapeake, heading for the (thankfully well protected) city of Norfolk.