Monday, September 6, 2010

Washington D.C. Day 3

From Washington D.C. Day 3 Album
    I started my third day in D.C. with a stop at the National Museum of Art West.  It, along with the Air and Space Museum, earned the title “National” which to me means there shouldn’t be another museum in the country which has better stuff than they do on their topic of choice.  The main section of the museum had some amazing things: a Leonardo, some Raphael’s, some Rembrandt’s.  I think the earliest stuff they had was from thirteenth century.  There are only so many words you can use when describing a visit to an art museum before inciting severe boredom.  On my way to the Allen Ginsberg photography exhibit, I passed through someone’s personal collection on display which I was just planning to pass by, but decided to slow down some when I saw what they had.  Picasso’s, Cezanne’s, Monet’s, Manet’s, Degas’s, Renoir’s.  Unfortunately I think a lot of the joy I got from seeing all these was just to have seen them.  It’s really against my traveling philosophy to do stuff just to say I’ve done it, but this time I think it was largely the case.
    I headed over to the Newseum after lunch.  It wasn’t initially on my traveling radar, but my host had given me an expired ticket, so I decided to see if I could get in.  My ticket was scanned and as I walked in, I looked back and saw a big red “EXPIRED” on the screen, so I hurried up the first stairs I could find.  The museum had a lot of short videos on significant journalism moments in American history.  Highlights included press coverage of the civil rights movement and how critical it was in exposing to the rest of the country what was going on in the southern states, the relationship between FBI and the media including The Washington Post’s publishing of the Unabomber’s manifesto, and a short film on one of the first female undercover journalists who went into this female psychiatric ward to expose the cruel conditions there to the public.
    On my way to the National History Museum, I heard some music coming from the Sculpture Garden and discovered it was Jazz in the Garden night.  There were hundreds of people there, most sprawled out on blankets with their own bags of food.  There was a Jazz band playing at the front of a big pond in the middle of the garden.  I bought a pulled pork sandwich (and almost a $5 drink which I really wanted, but decided $5 drinks weren’t on my budget) and found a spot in front of a sculpture.  It was nice to lie out on the grass and relax for a bit.  All the walking around D.C. can get pretty exhausting (even for a backwoodsman who enjoys running across metropolises).
    After dinner, I headed over to the National History Museum and saw some of the wide variety of exhibits there.  Things I saw included Julia Childs Kitchen, a statue of Washington dressed in a toga, the first electromagnets, and the flag that inspired the Star Spangled Banner.  I also read up on the conditions of regular Joes in the 1800s.  Factories used to be small and consisted of mostly owners and skilled craftsman, but as technology improved, the work required less experience and was easy to scale up, so managers and medium skilled workers were more of the norm.  This lead to poor work conditions and many conflicts between workers and managers.  Lots of workers lived close to the factories in small communities.  There were a few factory rule signs on display in the museum.  They stated no reading during working hours, specified the exact break times, specified the time frame for the sixty hour or so weeks they had to work, and other nit picky things.  Interestingly, they had to give two weeks notice as well and if they didn’t, they didn’t receive last week of pay.  The man was even more of a jerk back then before they drew a jerk box around him that specified how much of a jerk he was allowed to be.  Mostly just kidding around here, but jerk was not my first word choice.
    I managed to make it back without any bomb threats or subway scuffles.  It’s sad that today was my last day in D.C., but even if I’d stayed a week, it would be hard to visit all the “must sees.”  My positive outlook on it is that for the most part, I was able to enjoy all the places I went to without feeling rushed too much, and when I come back at some point, there will be more than plenty cool things to see and do.  Here’s something I thought of while I was walking around D.C. debating how to spend my time: Who has spent his time wisest: the man who runs through five museums in one day barely looking at all the exhibits as he passes by or the man who is so enthralled with a single painting that he sits looking at it all day, studying it’s every detail, feeling like he is in the world that the painting has created?
    The next morning, I finally managed to convey my thanks to my host by cooking breakfast and cleaning some dishes (how can these actions not impress when coming from a twenty something single male).  I spent a large part of the day uploading all the pictures I had taken up to that point.  I spent so much time in front of my laptop that I’m sure my host will remember me as more of a bloger than an adventurer.  I had dinner at a local restaurant whose specialty is chili dogs.  I ordered a couple, had a couple beers (originally was just going to have one which is plenty for my skins and bones, but they had an army of young women with eyes like hawks looking for people with near empty beers which they would approach and ask in their sweetest voice, “Want another beer?”  Thankfully, I was able to resist the second time.)  I had my first beard trim and shave of the trip, took a couple of self portraits (to show the nice beard) with the host’s dogs which I forgot to tell her about, but hopefully she won’t get too freaked out over it, and went to sleep with basically no plans for the next day.


Anonymous said...

Ryan, when you're taking pictures of artwork, it helps to step a little to the side and not shoot straight on. I'll bet you already know that now, don't you?

Mr. M

Ryan Fuller said...

Yes, unfortunately I learned my lesson the hard way.

texascandler said...

My favorite spot in Washington is the tomb of the unknown soldier. I walk up the hill at Arllington, stop buy JFKs grave and them spend time watching the soldiers honnor guard walk back a forth. Its a long walk up the hill with time to think of the many people who have died protecting our country.

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