Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Jake Came to Visit! Woo Hoo!

Last week at work was fairly uninteresting other than a few sightings of some famous representatives.  I walked by Barney Frank in the hallway and saw Dennis Kucinich get in an elevator!  I also got to work the door for an event the boss was having and caught a glimpse of Al Green, Whip Steny Hoyer, and others walk in to that.

Thursday for theater class, we went to see "New Jerusalem: The Interrogation of Baruch de Spinoza" at Theater J.  It was about the Dutch Jewish philosopher, Spinoza, and his excommunication from the Jewish community for his philosophies about religion and God.  It was pretty interesting.  It really took me back to my philosophy class last semester.  Unfortunately I had a headache so these deep world concerns were a little much for me at the time.

Finally Friday came, and I got off of work for the day.  I went to go meet Jake at the airport and brought him back to the house to drop off his suitcase.  We then headed over to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing for a tour.  You get to learn a lot about how the money is printed and inspected each step of the way before it goes into circulation.  You also learn a lot about the different security features of the bills and how they are trying to prevent against counterfeiting.  There are a lot of different layers of ink printed on the bills to make them so colorful and safe.  It is incredible how much money you get to see in big piles right before your eyes. 
Jake with $1,000,000 in $10 bills
Afterward we walked around the Tidal Basin area where the Jefferson, George Mason, FDR, and MLK Jr. memorials are.  None of the cherry blossoms out there were blooming yet, but it was a gorgeous day out besides being a bit windy.  Eventually we walked back towards the mall and decided to go in the Natural History Museum.  We did the dinosaurs, mammals, and ocean exhibits.  We got through part of the geology and gemstones exhibit, then we had to leave as they were closing.  We ate at We the Pizza for dinner, which was delicious as always but pretty crowded and hot.

Saturday we headed to Eastern Market to get pancakes at the Market Brunch I have heard so much about but never had a chance to get.  We ended up having to wait about 45 minutes to get them.  I was expecting a wait, but that's a bit crazy.  They were just as great as they were hyped up to be though I'm not sure I'd want to wait that long for pancakes again.  We walked around the market for a bit, then headed to the National Aquarium.  The aquarium had some cool fish, tree frogs, an octopus, and an albino alligator, but we are definitely spoiled at home with the Georgia Aquarium being as big and wonderful as it is.  This didn't compare at all, but it was only $10!
Blue dotted fish
Awesome polka dot stingray
Baby Sea Turtle
Blue Tree Frogs
Then we went to the American History Museum and checked out some of the exhibits.  We weren't that impressed with it.  I don't think the exhibits we went to was stuff we were really that interested in, and we both felt like for as big of a museum as it is, there wasn't enough in it and the displays were kind of odd.  We didn't spend a lot of time there.  After that we walked down to Chinatown to see what we could eat for a snack, as the pancakes weren't holding us until dinner.  We got some shakes at Fuddrucker's and walked through the Presidents section at the National Portrait Gallery before heading home.  For dinner, we went down to Barracks Row with my roommate and her friend and got some Mexican.

Of course we went back to Eastern Market on Sunday for my favorite crepes!  I also got some awesome mini donuts with powdered sugar from the cart next to the crepes, which tasted a lot like funnel cake or beignets.  I also broke down and finally bought a painting from a booth (Turbopolis) I had looked at a couple times.  I think it will be a great souvenir from the trip for myself.
My Painting
We decided to go back to the Natural History Museum to go to an IMAX movie, as the tickets were pretty reasonable at only $9.  We saw Tornado Alley 3D.  We liked it, but we would have liked to see more shots of tornadoes and less of the team driving around trying to find them.  We also finished up the geology/gemstone part we didn't get to finish on Friday and made a stop at the gift store for some secret things for people we love!  We happened to see part of a St. Patrick's day parade on the mall when we left.  We toured the National Archives and saw the Constitution, Declaration, and Bill of Rights.  We tried to go about 3 or 4 different places for dinner that night which were all closed, as it was Sunday.  I'm always surprised with that, since DC is such a big/tourist city.  It seems odd that so many places are closed.  We eventually just decided to try an Italian place we walked by on Barracks Row.  It was a nice romantic meal and a great choice.

I was off again on Monday, but we went by my office to print Jake's boarding pass and so I could give him a tour of the U.S. Capitol.  I hadn't given one before so there were a few glitches with getting different places and passes for him, but it was good practice.  I wasn't able to take him on the House floor, which my office thought I could do, as we didn't have a staff member with us.  Unfortunately we were a bit tight on time too, so we couldn't really have a staffer meet us over there.  That was a little disappointing, but we did go on the Speaker's Balcony, in the gallery, rotunda, and everywhere else.  Next time I will know to have someone from my office meet me so I can take people on the floor, which is a really great privilege of going on a staff-led tour.
At the Reflection Pond with Capitol in back
Jake on the Speaker's Balcony
On the Speaker's Balcony
Then we went back to the Natural History Museum again (3rd time) for another IMAX movie.  This time the tickets were only $6 each.  Since we had gone to the one on Saturday, we got a discount, which is why we came back.  We went to Coral Reef Adventure, and this one had a lot more visually stunning scenes so we liked it better than the other one.  I think it is pretty clear that we love the Natural History Muesum!  There is really a lot of cool stuff in it.  I enjoyed it a lot more with Jake then when I went on my own.  We stopped at California Tortilla for lunch, a new restuarant for both of us.  It was a lot like Moe's or Chipotle, and we love Mexican/Tex-Mex so it was great.  Finally, we went to the Crime and Punishment Museum, also new for both of us.  We spent a little over 3.5 hours there and we still weren't done, but we had to leave so Jake could get to the airport.  There was a LOT of info and a lot of reading.  It was very interesting.  I hadn't heard such great things about it so I was pleasantly surprised by how good it was.  I think I may have liked it better than the Spy Museum, and it was definitely worth the money.  There were sections on famous medieval torture, pirates, mobsters, robbers, serial killers, and the like.  Then the second part of the museum was a "CSI Experience" where you had to solve a crime.  There were lots of hands-on activities like quizzes and simulators.  We cracked open a safe, drove cop cars through crazy traffic, and had to shoot down a gunman in a home invasion.  I got him in the head on the first shot!  I had no idea I would be so natural with a fake gun!  I would definitely recommend this museum, maybe not to kids due to some of the gruesome nature, but to any teen or adult.  I didn't realize crime and punishment could be so fascinating, and I'm glad Jake picked this one, as I probably wouldn't have gone otherwise.
Crime and Punishment Museum
Ted Bundy's Car
Learning how to crack a safe
Cop Car Simulator
Firearms Training Simulator
Needless to say, we did A LOT!  It was a whirlwind of a 4-day weekend, and we definitely got some exercise in with all the walking we did.  We had lots of fun.  Some of the things I had done before, but we did different parts of them or they were just more fun to do with Jake. We also did some things new to both of us.  It definitely went by too fast and was bittersweet in that it made me a bit homesick again when he left.  I'm at a weird point now, because I only have a couple things left on my to-do list.  I don't have as much to look forward to as in the beginning, which makes me want to go home more.  I also just realized how much more fun it is to do these sightseeing activities with someone else, especially my family and Jake.  I've pretty much been doing everything on my own here, just because all of my roommates do their own thing and it is easier that way.  So I'm definitely looking forward to seeing my aunt and cousin this weekend and doing some things with my parents on move-out weekend.  It is probably a good thing I'm almost out of sightseeing to do though, as I need to get to work on my research paper for the political science class as well as my final project for theater class.  Plus, DC is getting crazy with tourists since it is prime spring break time and soon to be cherry blossom time so I'm glad I did a bunch of sightseeing early on in the semester.

Today I gave a tour of the Capitol to the Mayor of Orangeburg, his wife, and some of his staff.  It was a lot of fun, and I'm glad to be done with one (two if you count the less official tour I gave Jake) so I feel more comfortable giving them.  That was a good way to start off my work week!  Happy Saint Patrick's Day, and I'll catch you up after!

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