Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A weekend in DC

9:23 sunrise
18:04 sunset

I just got home from four days in Washington, DC.  Good times.  It's a place that's a bit like Ottawa on steroids in terms of being a "government town" but I like Ottawa so it shouldn't be surprising that I really enjoyed the US capital.


In addition to getting some awesome museum time, I spent the weekend in the company of some pretty fun women for Steph's 40th birthday.  Here are some highlights - of DC but also of travelling through the US, which I almost always enjoy.

Extroverted people in public, but not really interactive, places
I love uber-friendly retail clerks.  This one at the cvs on Pennsylvania Ave near our hotel went on and on with the guy in line in front of me about his yoga practice and how he was really hoping to be able to get Obama into meditation

A woman I met at the National Archives, when I told her I was from the Yukon, wanted to know if I lived a life like on Yukon Men.  I had no idea what this was (hint: it's a tv show that documents life in a small Alaska village).  She explained that I would have to chop wood "to survive "  I told her I have both indoor plumbing and central heat.

The security guard, also at NARA, told me I had awesome hair.  Like, he engaged me in conversation about my hair - the shade of red, how it looked against my black top, etc.

Three guys from Ohio wanted to know "how I liked my healthcare up in Canada."  I have no idea if they were ready to rip the concept apart or if they were looking for support of Obamacare.  I told them that it's an issue I don't spend a lot of time thinking about because it's just there for me and has been my entire life.



The cultural spaces
I had to wait in a line, yes, a LINE, to get in to the National Archives to see the country's founding documents (Constitution, Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights).  Way cool.

The Hirshorn was *amazing* - the exhibition of Ai Weiwei's work blew me away.

Again at the National Archives, I listened to audio recordings from the White House during the Cuban Missile Crisis.  I was so impressed with the basic, but still insightful and important questions Kennedy was asking his advisors about the situation.  Listening in on what was, at the time, a totally private, top-secret conversation gave me chills.

I love all the giant monuments - oversized Abe Lincoln, an obelisk to the first president, a castle for the nation's museum.



At the Museum of American History I got all verkelempt at the star spangled banner and while I had to ignore the narrative about how first ladies make "contributions to their husband's administrations" (*vomit*), I did find it really interesting to consider how their choices have influenced fashion on a national scale.  And plain and simple - I liked looking at the dresses.  I was torn between two favourites: Lady Bird Johnson's inaugural dress and an evening gown owned by Grace Coolidge.  That said, Nancy Reagan's inaugural gown was up there with my faves too.

Photo from the Smithsonian. Visitors can't take photos in the exhibit
http://amhistory.si.edu/starspangledbanner/visit.aspx
Lady Bird Johnson, image via L.B. Johnson Library and Museum, #33637
Grace Coolidge's flapper-style evening gown.
Had to dig this one up via pintrest: http://pinterest.com/pin/135389532518107990/


The politics
Unlike most Canadians, Americans seem to wear the political leanings on their sleeves.  Not only do I enjoy the exchange of views that people (ie: my taxi driver) seem ready to engage in, but also I love that you can buy things like Romney bobble-head dolls in gift shops.  I restrained myself by purchasing only two fridge magnets (1 elephant and 1 donkey) at a museum gift shop (and yes, they were made in the USA) and 1 shot glass that says "Proud to be a Republican."  I just found it too funny to resist.

The weather
It was awesome.  While it was snowing at home, I enjoyed temperatures in the high teens/low twenties and I could have worn flip flops if I had been smart enough to bring them.  And I missed Hurricane Sandy by about 12 hours.  Perfect timing.

1 comment:

Karen/Small Earth Vintage said...

Ahhh, fabulous post! As an American, I love (well, sometimes sort of hate, in a cringing, embarrassed way) hearing how others view us. The whole election fever right now is really insane, and I have to say: I kind of enjoy it. Our political process is in many ways a giant mess, but I do get a bit of an obsessive thrill out of watching it in action.

I'm laughing about those Ohio guys asking you how you like your healthcare. I'd have been wondering just why they were asking, too! It's weird to me that the idea of nationalized healthcare is so unimaginable to so many in this country. Bah.

I haven't been to DC in many years, but your post is making me want to visit again!