Monday, March 23, 2009

Our Med-Con Adventure, Part 2

The wife was pretty much free of conference duties on Thursday. So instead of going to one of the breakfast sessions, we opted to dine at the Gaylord National's breakfast buffet. Now, let me tell you, I am not accustomed to paying $25 for a single breakfast, let alone the $50 it takes for two. But the way we looked at it was that since the hospital was paying for half of that, we were really only out $25 for the both of us, which we do regularly spend for both of us to break our fasts. And what a fine break it was, too! This was no continental muffin basket kind of place; this joint had pretty much all the breakfast items we care to eat and everything was top notch. I mean REAL eggs in the scrambled eggs (when's the last time you went to a breakfast buffet that had those?) and these tasty little apple-chicken sausages that were nearly worth the $25 alone. Yowsa, this joint was fantastic. We feasted heartily, as we knew we had a lot of walking in our future.

Instead of driving back to downtown D.C. and going through the ordeal of having to find parking, we opted to use the hotel's free shuttle service to the National Mall and just walk from there. The only bad part is that I knew I didn't have good shoes for walking, as the only pair I own that I'd trust to remain comfortable for a day's jaunt are my New Balances which I left at home cause one of them is covered in a layer of Goldcoat from our still ongoing bathroom renovation adventure. I figured my Rocket Dog's would leave me with hurt feet by the end of the day, but I was prepared to make the sacrifice for the sake of not looking like a rube with a yellow foot.

The shuttle dropped us and 30 other medical types in front of the capitol building. From there we visited the National Botanical Gallery, which was nice and earthy-smelling. Then we hoofed it to the air and space museum, which I'd been to before as a kid. From there we strolled across to the National Gallery of Art, where we dined in their food court before heading back to the Western building to gaze upon us some art. Among the highlights were some paintings by Edgar Degas, who is a figure I once played a man pretending to be in a production of Degas C'est Moi by David Ives; we also saw what is currently the only portrait by Leonardo Da Vinci in the Western Hemisphere, Generva de' Benci. I was excited to get to their photography displays to see some Ansel Adams they had, as I've never seen any in person. It was pretty underwhelming. Instead of the vast landscapes he's known for, this was a series of pictures of ocean surf which, sure, were all crisp and Ansel Adamsy, but not at all the dish I thought I'd ordered.

My major goal of the day, however, was to head over to some of the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History so I could check out something I remembered from my childhood. See this was a museum I'd once visited with my dad and sister when I was probably around 10 years old and my sister was 6. The primary memory I have of the event was not even inside the museum itself, but out in the mall in front of it, where a life-size, fiberglass triceratops was on display. The triceratops was facing the museum itself and, in my memory, was nestled in or near a small cluster of bushes. Being adventuresome kids, it was easy for my sister and I to climb up the horned head of the giant dinosaur and then scramble all the way up to the crest of its back, which, in my memory at least, was probably eight to ten feet off the ground. There was plenty of room up there for a couple of kids, provided we stayed astride the spine. Any further out, though, and you risked falling off.

My sister, having no external gonads, took to sliding down the tail of the triceratops, landing in the dirt below. It was by no means designed to be used this way and made for a really steep slide for her, but she liked it. I wouldn't take the risk, cause it really was a long way down. I think this may have offended my sister, somehow, because about the second time she'd slid down the tail, she looked up at me from the ground below and announced that she was going to push me off. Maybe she was hoping I'd slide down the tail to get away from her. I don't know. Whatever the case, she dashed around to the front of our cretaceous beastie and began climbing up toward me, cackling with evil 6-year-old glee the whole time. I, being a wussy child, began screaming bloody murder. I had no escape other than the tail and I don't know how many dinosaurs you've ridden, but this one's ass was pretty slick and there weren't a lot of hand-holds. True to her word my sister reached me and began to push at me with her feet, kicking me until I reached the tipping point and slid off the back haunch, falling--again, to my memory--eight to ten feet. I landed feet first, in a heap, in the dirt below. And while it hurt, I didn't break anything. I resolved that my sister would not be so lucky, though, and began scrambling up dinosaur's head after her. I don't know why I thought I had a chance at flinging her off, as she had no fear of sliding down the tail and could have just run around and pushed me off again if she wanted. I also have no idea what my dad was doing during all this, but he only started paying attention when she was screaming and made us both get off the triceratops.

Perhaps fortunately, the triceratops of my memory is no more. There is still a triceratops skull on display in front of the museum, but no trace of the fiberglass one.


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