Saturday, October 10, 2015

Washington DC

The drive to Alexandria to see our friends Joan and Len and tour the DC area was uneventful. We did get photos of a few more “Welcome to” signs, catching up on ones we'd missed while coming to the Brandywine area.

Friday we went to the Natural History Museum in DC. Viewing the History of the Earth and its geology among with the the progression of humans and other animals that existed in the past or present took about 5 hours. We were greeted by Harry, an African Bush Elephant.
Harry, African Bush Elephant. Weight 24,000 pounds, Height: 13.2 feet
We then visited the Gem & Stone collection where we saw the Hope Diamond.. The diamond was 112 3/16 carats when acquired by King Louis XIV in 1668. After several recuts it is now 45.2 carats.
The Hope Diamond as reset by Cartier in 1910
Other stones...
Gorgeous image of what is now called Crater Lake.
What a great shot!
A Nature's Best Photography Winner for Most Inspirational Moment:
Milky Way shot over a remote point in the Olympic Wilderness in WA by Joe LeFevre
We returned to Alexandria to meet Len and Joan and head off to dinner at Central Michel Richard. The Cava was quite good and made a great accompaniment to the Cheese Puffs / Gougere and Charcuterie appetizers. Dinner was halibut for Bill and a lobster burger for Pat. Both went very well with a fine Roero Arneis.

Pat's Lobster Burger
After dinner Len took us for a drive around DC. It was hard to get around due to the traffic restrictions (maybe worse than usual because of Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit?).
Capitol Building...under renovation but interesting lighting effect
Lincoln Memorial
Saturday morning Len took us to Total Wine to replenish our traveling cellar. We were quite impressed with the breadth and depth of the selections. Later the four of us went to lunch at the Fish Market in Old Town Alexandria. We had sandwiches, cod for Bill and oyster for Pat, with a nice New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. 

Later we wandered around the galleries in the Torpedo Factory and shops along the streets. As we entered one store Pat's immediate reaction was "Wow". And the staff said "We get that a lot". It was the showroom for Cyrous, a Turkish Designer. After adjusting to the casual display, Pat spotted a piece that Joan might like. That one didn't work but we found one even better. Unfortunately nothing quite suited Pat...

Joan shopping at Cyrous Showroom
Sunday we visited our former neighbor Sue and her husband Brian and son Chris. Sue was our neighbor in Sudbury MA in the early 70's while she was in high school. We had an excellent lunch of grilled pork, potato salad and green salad with squash. They live in the Buckland area of Gainesville VA (west of DC about 40 miles.)  After lunch Brian toured us around their neighborhood. Buckland is a historic district with several buildings circa 1800, including a Roadhouse, a Post Office and the Mill that is on Sue & Brian's property.
Bill noting the "height" of the door as he enters the Buckland Post Office 
Buckland Tavern, ca 1800
Later we went for a walk around Sky Meadows State Park, in the Blue Ridge Mountain area. Then on to two wineries, Deplane and Barrel Oak Winery. Both had some good wines and we enjoyed a little “snack" Sue had prepared with a bottle of Norton at Barrel Oak.
Bill with Sue & Brian. Note the little glimpse of the
Mountains in the background between Sue & Brian.

Monday we headed back into DC and visited the American Indian Museum, it covers the whole western hemisphere from Patagonia to the Arctic. We didn't do it justice but breezed through the exhibits on the ever changing US government agreements with the natives, the truly lovely displays of clothes and tools used by groups throughout the Americas and a special exhibit on the engineering feat of building the Great Inka Road (through the spine of South America). The cafe is particularly good in that they feature true native foods.  Many looked great, but we were saving ourselves for dinner with Len & Joan. So we got a piece of blue quinoa bread and a piece of fry bread, accompanied by a true native classic, Not Your Father's Root Beer.

From the American Indian Museum
View of "The Mall" from the Museum of the American Indian
Bread at the American Indian Museum -
blue quinoa bread and fry bread
After lunch we went next door to the Botanic Gardens. We enjoyed both the outdoor gardens and the conservatory. There is a special exhibit titled "Roots - The Secret Life Exposed" with associated sculpture and photography.

Dancing Roots Sculpture 
Huge mural showing life size tops and root systems for various plants
Next stop: A swift tour through the American Art Museum. They have a good selection of including some European impressionist & Dutch Art. Thinking back, it is unclear why this doesn't focus on American artists... 
Frederic Edwin Church...Niagara Falls 1857
This is from Pat's favorite viewpoint of the falls
Pissarro...Blvd des Italiens, Morning, Sunlight 1897
From there we headed out to meet Len and Joan for dinner.  Enroute we noticed the way the massive government buildings have engulfed older ones, saw a wonderful shop with spy gear (at the Spy Museum), stopped for a glass of wine at Bistro D’oc near the Ford’s Theater and checked out a few of the nearby shops.

Dinner was a few blocks away at Brasserie Beck, a Belgian restaurant. Muscles for Pat and Scallops for Bill.

Next day after breakfast at the Delray Cafe, we returned to DC for a stroll around the Monuments. We actually started with a brief stop at the Hirschhorn Museum (modern art) and another at the Castle, the original Smithsonian building and home to the visitors center.

After viewing the Washington Monument we walked around the Tidal Basin to the Jefferson, FDR, Martin Luther King, Korean War, Lincoln, Vietnam (2) and the WWII Memorials.
One of many road signs 
Lincoln by Daniel Chester Frank (one of our favorite sculptors)
The FDR Memorial spans 7.3 acres and includes sections featuring each of his 4! Administrations

WW II Memorial
We next went to the Museum of American History. 

Caroline Harrison's Inaugural Dress
...part of the collection of First Ladies' Gowns 
Later we took the metro to Foggy Bottom and walked to Georgetown where we ducked out of the rain into a wine bar!! After strolling around Georgetown we walked back to dinner at Rasika, very good Indian restaurant.

Rainy Georgetown
With Len & Joan at Rasika

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