Washington, D.C.

Like I said in the last post, my wife and I just popped off to the cap for a little reunion. We also made time for sight-seeing. I used to live in the DC suburbs, and I’ve been back several times either for work or to visit my dad when he was still there. It is one of my favorite cities to visit, for all the great things to do (many of them free), the variety of restaurants, and the excellence of public transportation.

Red Pen Pals This trip kicked off by meeting the Marlyand constituency of my online crit group, Jon and Robin, who are excellent writers and crit partners. It was great meeting them both in person.We ate at a store-front Ethiopian restaurant where everybody has to sit on little stools and crowd around a big bowl of delicious goops and things that you eat with bread that looks at first like rolled up washcloths–and it’s actually really good.

The next day began the tourist part of the trip, with the inevitable trip to the mall (the grass kind) to point at landmarks. The new one for both of us was the WWII memorial, and we stopped by to pay respects to my grandfathers (who both fought in the war) and my wife’s dad (who did also).

The highlight of the touristy part of our trip was the Jim Henson exhibit at the Smithsonian Institute’s International Gallery. Besides getting to see Kermit, Ernie, Bert, and other icons in person (well, in puppet), the exhibit showed the gamut of Henson’s creative work from early cartoons and commercials to his celebrated films and TV specials. We loved seeing the story boards, the sketches and process documents, that showed his attemts to turn mad, briliant ideas into reality. I was able to appreciate it as a writer and former puppeteer and as a project manager. The exhibit is a bit misnamed since it also pays homage to all of Henson’s collaborators, from his wife who worked closely with him from the early day to his buddy of a hundred voices, Frank Oz.

We took a quick trip through the science building next, just to wave at the elephant and the dinosaur bones and visit the gift shop.

On our second full day, we went to Dupont Circle, a venture that began with a foreverish escalator ride out of the nether regions of the DC metro system. I fully expected to see orcs or maybe chuds down there. The mouth of the tunnel features a poem by Walt Whitman for some reason.

From there it was a quick walk to Embassy Row, and after meeting our friend Vicky who just moved to DC, we wandered around guessing which flag belonged to which country, the sort of thing I ought to know but don’t.

We were making our way to a textile museum, something my wife wanted to do, since she is into sewing and junk. While they looked at fabrics and textiles from around the world, I sat in the little cinema and learned all the different ways people make indigo dye around the world, a topic which was sorta interesting but not interesting enough to sit through the entire film. I made it through Mexico, Indonesia, China and Japan but missed whatever came after that. If I had a take away lesson from that, it was: wow, some people really care about indigo dye. I don’t share that passion, but I sure repsect it after I find out what all is involved in doing it the traditional way. I also have to admit that what the Japanese guy was doing had beautiful results.

We followed that with the Crime & Punishment museum, which looked a lot better on paper… sadly, I didn’t bother photographing illustrations of either of these excursions, though my wife documented it all in a series of pictures featuring Bobby (a monkey with a striking resemblence to Curious George).

Why does every trip end up with me and Bobby in a prison cell?

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