The first thing you notice about Washington is that it's short. None of the buildings are over 12 stories max -- something to do with making sure the Capitol Building isn't overshadowed. Coming out of New York it certainly has a different vibe, giving a small city feel to what's a pretty big city.
It rained all day today, but I was determined to get some shots of the White House, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Washington Monument. Mission accomplished. Still, the way the rain was falling the front of my shirt was soaked through by the time I got to ol' Abe. The Lincoln Memorial was, for me, the real object of the trip. Even in a cold wet spring day, the sight of the greatest American President carved out of several tons of white marble perched on his chair and literally larger than life still gives one the feeling of being in the presence of greatness. His words etched on each side of the memorial are still as eloquent as the day he spoke them.
After I got my shots of the big three, I headed over to the National Air and Space museum to see man's advances in flight through the years, and also to get dry. I caught a 3d IMAX movie about the sun (narrated by Al Roker!--printed prominently on the poster as though that were a huge selling point). The 3d was actually not that great. The cool thing about the Smithsonian is that it's free. Well, mostly free -- the cool stuff like the IMAX movies and the Planetarium cost extra. But there's plenty of learnin' to be had on the cheap. Most of the historical stuff in Washington is free which is nice. Even the free museums in New York had 'suggested' ticket prices.
I did splurge on one other thing than the IMAX movie, and that was the flight simulator. Now we've all played Afterburner in the arcades (at least if you're my age) so we know what a flight simulator is like. It moves back and forth along with the plane on the screen and yawn yawn its done. I want to see if this is any different so I lay down my cash, put my valuables in the basket (this -- ladies and gentlemen should have been my first clue) and head over to the simulator. I play with the little non-moving version they have outside the simulator and it works pretty much like any air combat game. I crawl inside and and put on the restraints. The attendant closes drops down those bars like they have on roller coasters that I didn't even see behind me (clue number 2) and then closes up the simulator. So I'm flying along and the screen is kind of blurry which sucks, and I hit the stick to the right and sure enough it tilts that way. The Enemy MiG (aren't they always) pulls away from me and I pull on the stick and the plane on the screen goes into a barrel roll, and all of a sudden I am upside-fucking-down. For real. My feet are on the ceiling, my body is straining against the restraints, and the blood is rushing to my head. I level the plane off at a nice altitude and do the obvious thing -- I barrel roll it again. The ride maybe lasted 6 minutes of which I spent far too much trying to chase jets and not enough turning upside-down, but altogether really fun.
Getting to bed early tonight. Heading down to Jacksonville in the morning. Why Jacksonville? Because it's halfway to Key West, and I'm due there by Tuesday. The hotel in Jacksonville as a laundromat, so hopefully I can clean the clothes that need cleaning. Really looking forward to Florida. I could use some sun. Haven't seen Dave as he's been hiding wherever the hotel parking people put him. I'm sure he's raring to go for an all day drive, though.