After my trip to the National Cathedral I made my way back to our hotel. Having walked multiple miles, most of that in the heat, I was completely exhausted when I got back to the room. Laura, on the other hand, had just gotten out of her meetings, and was ready to explore. so, we found ourselves back on the Metro and headed toward the Mall and the Smithsonian museums.
On the way we stopped for lunch at the Pentagon City Mall. The area was overrun with middle-schoolers in matching T-shirts. This, apparently, was the week for school trips to DC, and we ran into crowds of students the entire time we were here.
We got off the Metro at the Smithsonian stop and waled out onto the mall. Large white tents were being set up for some activity, and we feared some big event on the mall for Saturday. Regardless, we walked across the Mall to the Museum of Natural History.
There were still tons of school kids running about, but the museum wasn’t as crowded as some times. We first went into the oceans exhibit, then made our way to earth sciences. Laura and I both love the beautiful mineral crystals. Laura got her start in chemistry in radio crystallography, and I had switched majors to geology for awhile at Furman, so we both have a love for gems and minerals. While the Hope Diamond and other cut stones on display were spectacular, we both liked the natural crystals much more.
Many of the exhibits had been redone, and we were very pleased with some of the improvements. One particularly interesting section was the Human Origins section, which was exceptionally well done. Of course, I overheard one couple walk through quickly say, “I bet they don’t have Adam and Eve in here.”
We had already done a lot, but still had energy for more. So, we stepped next door to the Museum of American History. After a brief stop at the display of Julia Child’s kitchen we headed to the Science in American Life exhibit. This was outstanding. Since Laura’s meeting had been about women in science, she was particularly tuned to references about women scientists. The Smithsonian has done an outstanding job of recognizing the contribution of women to the sciences, and has downplayed the old all-male aspects of science.
We hit the history of transportation, then headed upstairs for the popular culture displays. Of course, Kermit the Frog was there, as were Dorothy’s ruby slippers.
The final stop was the dresses of the First Ladies. This was one of Laura’s favorite stop. We were amazed that Michele Obama’s inaugural gown was already on display, although up close it looked a bit weird – almost as if it had plastic spiders embedded in tufts of fur on it. Oh well.
By this time we were truly beat. I had done tons of touring, and Laura had helped organize a conference, then toured. We had a very nice, relaxed dinner near the hotel, then collapsed.