On Michael’s day off we had a picnic in the park and then went to the Smithsonian National Zoo.
Of course our favorite was the Panda…how could it not be?
We opted not to go to the International Spy Museum since it seemed like a whole ‘to-do’ and instead wandered for quite a long time in the National Portrait Gallery. I love it in there…one of my favorites was seeing this portrait of Edith Wharton (author of The House of Mirth, The Age of Innocence, among many others) as a little girl. I’ve only recently learned about the Gilded Age of New York, so it’s fresh in my mind.
We ended the day with another stair climbing mission to the top of the Jefferson Memorial.
That place is big!
The next morning we took a somber stroll through the Arlington National Cemetery. The weather was beautiful.
After we dropped Michael at the Kennedy Center, the baby and I headed for the National Archives to see the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. They are both held in this big rotunda made of marble. It did not take the baby long to figure out that the acoustics in there were fantastic. This is how he tricked me into possibly the quickest viewing of these documents in history.
We moved on to the exhibit about America and food. I did the speed through viewing while I chased the baby through the hallways. I LOVED this donut poster!
So the National Gallery of Art was where it really happened. Uncle Jack, I may be addicted. I have never appreciated a museum more and thought perhaps I should start to get a little bit more of an education in art for goodness sake. This museum is big and wide and the art is hung high on the walls so the little man could run free without putting his elbow through a Picasso. The place is SO big we really only made it through part of the first floor.
One of our friend’s favorite story about the National Gallery goes like this…when she and her brother were little, her parents took them there and suddenly her brother started howling. Their Mother said, ‘I don’t understand. He’s usually so well behaved.’ That’s when their Father pointed out, ‘Yes, but we’ve been here for 6 hours!’
We didn’t even get to the permanent collections, we spent most of our time looking at the Chester Dale collection. Chester Dale worked on Wall Street. His wife was an artist. So, naturally, she influenced his appreciation of art. Then when he died, he bequeathed it all to us.
At one point I picked up the baby and carried him around the room with me and asked if he liked certain paintings…
‘Really? Ok. How about the Girl with a Hoop? No?’
‘Well how about The Beach at Villerville? No.’
Snow in New York? But you love snow. No. OK.’
‘Picasso? But it’s from his blue period! No. Not even the blue period.’
‘Ok…well how about this one?’
We went to the East Wing of the Gallery just to see the Andy Warhol exhibit, Headlines. He didn’t really like it. In fact, the paintings were hung low to the ground in this exhibit. When I set him down for a moment, much to my horror, he went running full steam ahead to crash his little hands into the first painting he saw.
Lastly, one of my favorite sneak peeks of the trip was getting to go backstage at the Kennedy Center. They have posters up there of everything that has ever been done there including some Obama/Biden event. If you look closely you can see their names above those wings.
One day Michael was back there working and one of the stage hands and two other men were playing basketball with the basketball net they have backstage. The next day he told the young man he was a good shot. He replied, ‘Thanks. Did you see who I was with? That was one of the guys from Team 6 and his Dad. I was showing them my basketball moves.’
Team 6 ??? Those are the Navy Seals who got Bin Laden. !!! Yikes!
Well, after all of this ‘America!’ we got on the Amtrak back to Harlem. Saying goodbye was hard, but you know, as soon as you do it, you just fall right back into the rhythm of your own life. It’s hard, but I think it’s healthy. And now I can’t wait for the next visit, which is honestly in 4 days. Michael is coming home Sunday night. We’re ridiculous…I know.