I wanted to visit the National Archive. Home of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution. I arrived. The line waiting to be admitted wrapped around the block. I joined it. Fifteen minutes later, I was still standing in the same place as when I arrived. That was it! I would not be visiting the National Archive.
Across the street was the Smithsonian – Natural History Museum. It was not on my itinerary. My second stop was to have been the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. However, it was several blocks away and Natural History was more convenient.
If it has escaped you, I was getting tired. The Memorial tour the day before had been a killer.
The first thing that hit me when I entered Natural History was a huge prehistoric elephant. Daunting!
My grandchildren Robert and Ally would have enjoyed the dinosaurs. Many of them. Big. Their bones reconstructed.
There was also a Bone Lab. Old bones probably found in some dig were being cleaned up. Reminded me of Key West’s Mel Fisher Museum. Workers sitting around in a huge sealed enclosure wearing white coats and pants. Many with ear phones and dentist like drills. Drilling away in the process of cleaning million year old bones.
I saw two I MAX films. Actually, I was tired. This gave me the opportunity to sit and rest. First time I had seen an I MAX. Impressive! In 3D. One had to do with butterflies and the other the ocean. I had butterflies all around me during the first film. I was underwater with fish in the second.
There was a mummy on display. Royalty from the distant past.
The big deal at Natural History is the Hope Diamond. There it was. Gleaming and sparkling. Everyone stretching their necks to get a view.
Time to go. I walked outside. There is a huge stone overhang between the door and steps leading to the sidewalk. I was on it. The door had closed behind me. Then I saw it. Rain. Monsoon like, just as in Key West.
The weather report for the day predicted rain. When I was ready to leave the hotel earlier in the morning, the sun was shining and there were no clouds. So I left my rain jacket and cap in the room.
I stood around 15 minutes. I could not go back into the museum. I would have had to go through security again. The line was long and people were standing in the rain waiting to get in.
All of a sudden, a young man appeared with a box of umbrellas. $10. I bought the first one. Small collapsible type.
Off I went. In shorts, a short sleeved sport shirt and sandals.
I had about twelve blocks to walk. Washington blocks are long.
Two blocks into the walk, my collapsible umbrella collapsed. Water streaming onto me from the seams.
What to do? I am completely wet. No stores or bars to duck into. Could not enter the hallway of one of the public buildings. Not permitted. There was no alternative. I continued on my trip back to the hotel.
Never in my life have I been so wet. I became chilled. In spite of all this, I was saying to myself…..Louis, you are in great shape at 77 to be able to do this!
I woke in the middle of the night. Did not feel good. Stomach and chills. Think I have a fever. I am exhausted. My Washington experience today will be staying in bed in my hotel room.
When I returned wet to the skin, I immediately took a hot shower. Then down to the hotel bar. Two Grand Marniers and a hot cup of coffee. I thought that would keep the evil spirits away. Apparently it did not.
Dinner was at the Willard Hotel. Directly across the street from the Marriott.
The Willard is an old historical Washington hotel. Magnificent.
The waiter shared a bit of Willard history with me.
He told me President Grant enjoyed smoking cigars. His wife would not let him smoke them in the White House. He used to visit the Willard each day, sit in the lobby and light up. Persons who wanted favors from him, hit on him. Thus the term lobbyist was born.
A story I wanted to share with you. First however, I checked it out on the internet. The story was not completely true. It is commonly accepted as true. However, it is a myth. Nevertheless interesting. Grant did smoke there, his wife would not let him smoke in the White House, and people talked to him in the lobby seeking favors. The untrue portion is the birth of the term lobbyists. The term correctly comes to us from the English Parliament of the 1840s.
Interesting local lore, nevertheless.
One of the things I have observed is that Washington is a city of two type peoples. Suits and tourists. The suits are governmental people and business persons. I used to see them on my business trips to Washington. The tourist group are in shorts and tee shirts. Many with families. Visiting from all over the world.
The two are not together. They are truly separate. I have seen few suits while playing tourist this week.
Tonight is my blog talk radio show. I will be doing it from my Washington hotel room. I will probably spend most of the show discussing my Washington impressions. Perhaps a few news items. Which, if any, I have yet to decide upon.
Join me. I guarantee the show will not be boring. A fast moving half hour beginning at 9. www.blogtalkradio.com/key-west-lou.
Enjoy your day! I am going to rest and get better.