Richmond's Own (but unowned) Website

Washington Monument!
National Air and Space Museum
Protesters outside the Air and Space museum - that large puppet is a bit freaky.
National Gallery - forgot to talk about this in the blog; but we spent some time here - saw some Monet paintings of London (Waterloo Bridge), interesting contemporary art themed around letters, and some fascinating tapestry.
Capitol at night is pretty!
The White House!
Fall Break time at Cornell! Finished off the first half of my semester with a marathon week of an essay due Tuesday, 2 exams Wednesday, an exam Thursday, and physics problem set Friday. Plus grading exams as a TA and music rehearsals and club meetings. Not much sleep in this week. (Though even though it was pretty rough, I’m sure there were people with weeks worse off than mine!)

But Friday came – getting ready to leave on the 2:30 bus was like student anarchy practically. A lot of rushing to the bus as each one pulled up, and everyone disappointedly walking away as 95% of the crowd realized it wasn’t a New York bus. I think 1 person stepped onto the Boston bound bus. But eventually, I got onto the fully packed New York bounded bus.

We got into New York City at night, around 7:30 pm – a very nice view of Manhattan’s night skyline as we were coming in from New Jersey (no pictures unfortunately, sitting on the wrong side of the bus). The bus ended up dropping us outside around the corner from the Port Authority, rather than inside. It was alright though. Made the walk down to Penn station where I had a bit of a wait. There was a ticketed passenger waiting area (which I had not seen last time, but then I was arriving at the station, not departing), and wifi! Ate my sandwich I had bought at Cascadeli, then got onto the train. Pretty much slept the whole way down to Washington, it took about 3 hours – didn’t get a chance to go to the snack car and talk with the train crew. Oh well though.

Arrived at Washington DC Union Station around 12:30am, where Adam and Carolyn were kind enough to come meet me. Took the metro back, got my first look at GWU (and some of the student night life atmosphere) and got into Adam’s room – it was great seeing him again – just like old times (it’s only been a few months, but it really has felt like quite a long time). Fell asleep pretty quickly too.

Had a rather late start to the next morning but it wasn’t too bad. Adam cooked some scrambled eggs and toast for breakfast, and we went off! It still amazes me to see all the various institutions and agencies right here – the IMF, Organization of American States, the Eisenhower (Old) Executive Office Building. (And that was within the first 5-10 minutes of our walk!) We made it past the ellipse (which I didn’t even realize we were going by the White House until I saw it later when we were going in a different direction…too busy listening to a loudly woman complaining about sweat in her hair as she passed by.

We went onto the National Mall, and passed by the Washington Monument – though we couldn’t go up, closed because of possible cracks due to the Earthquake (I’ve got some screenshots of workers climbing the outside of the tower checking for cracks, from CNN). And I left my national parks booklet in my dorm! I could have gotten so many stamps from the DC area! Oh well, next time perhaps.

Adam and I started off in the National Air and Space Museum – which I’m sure is also a favorite of many a young child. We went in and got to go through the exhibits, we saw early flight. One thing I was really impressed by was the craftsmanship of wooden propellers – the curvature, symmetry, and weight balance is perfect to an extraordinary level, it’s amazing to think that they were doing this a century ago! We continued through some exhibits on commercial aviation – there was a display touting new digital instruments, and brand new modern CRT displays! Er…maybe it was outdated? To be fair, there was another display that did have a 21st century cockpit. It was astounding to see some of the old planes and lounges and level of services passengers received. True, air safety (another display) wasn’t as great then as it is now, but I wish we could all get that level of comfort and service! We proceeded to go through a WWI air warfare exhibit (complete with simulated trenches), then a much smaller WWII one. Though there was an air and sea display, which focused mostly on WWII and post war (up to the 90s or so) combination of air and sea power. It was really fun to look at because it was modeled on a real aircraft carrier, with a ready room, bridge, and other rooms, staircases, and ladders and gangways (though we couldn’t go on those). But that was quite an immersive experience (to some point at least), which I thoroughly enjoyed. We then walked past a small exhibit on UAVs (Unmanned aerial vehicles), and their rather recent history. After that, we went through an exhibit about the planets, and some of the information about our exploration, including a life sized mock up of the Mars Rovers! That was pretty interesting.

Finishing that, we walked across the bridge over the lobby, when we noticed that the doors were shut – people were not being let in or out. Police and security were telling people to not walk near the doors. Soon we saw a large group of people outside – protesters. Anti war protesters, as we could deduce from their signs and from the other people who had been on the balcony longer. Heard things about a huge poster being dropped over the railing in the lobby, and pepper spray. Intense sounding, but not sure how much of it was true (turned out to be true later on, according to the news reports – they took a guard hostage too, resulting in the use of pepper spray). We watched as they arrested a woman, and more police from various departments and divisions (or jurisdictions? Not sure what the correct terminology is here), as they came into the building, and then shut the museum down. So we, and a bunch of frustrated families, tourists, air enthusiasts, and some crying kids were quickly ushered out the back (secondary main) entrance. Oh well. We went around to the other side for a bit to see the protesters’ actual signs – and yes, they were anti war (mostly – there was an occupy Wall Street person thrown in the mix), and many police outside, Capitol, Park Service, Met, DHS, and more I think. A chopper was circling too.

After a bit, we had to move on to go up to College Park to pick up Stephanie, so we took the metro, and several transfers. Crazy weekend – red line single tracking (1 track, 2 directions, many delays), and the green line was out for a good chunk of stations – necessitating the getting on the green line, getting off, taking a red line until it met the green line again, transferring, and continuing on. We got up to College Park (Maryland), and waited for Stephanie – though a metro worker came and thought we were lost (probably since we were admiring the U of Maryland area map) – though after a while, Stephanie got there, and we all went back down into the city (after several transfers and one stop too far), to go pick up Katie. We walked up Capitol Hill, past the train station and postal museum out to where Katie’s bus came in. We waited a while, and then after she got in, we all went to get burgers, on Adam’s recommendation, which were great! (I haven’t had a burger in quite a while either!). After that, we walked back past the Capitol and down the mall to the Washington Monument. Felt like a little bit of London…just American. Walked around the circle, then up to the White House! Interesting mix of people outside the White House at that time of night, but it was a rather peaceful evening. We split up, the girls going back up to Maryland, Adam and I back to GW, where I got a glimpse of Adam’s duties in the building. Had a great first day in DC – and a bit more than I was expecting!

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