Smithsonians

I just realized a very crucial element to today’s post. It’s my birthday!

Surprise!

Nineteen years ago today, I was born. Ta-da!

I woke up this morning to my Mom singing happy birthday and got two pairs of earrings. Both dangly, one of two purple guitar picks with “Pick Jesus” inscribed in gold on the front and a verse on the back, from Oklahoma, and the second of two mini copper pennies, from the mint.

I had suspected something at the Christian book store, but not at the mint.

We then had a breakfast of sweets and junk food, got dressed, and headed out to the train station.

The metro cards are different here. They’re not even called “metro cards,” but “SmartPass” or something of the sort. A girl in a floppy striped Afghan and bulky headphones showed us which of the many huge machines to use. We got a card, and went to the strange entry gates.

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I’ve never seen them like this, but my mom went ahead, tapped the card to the pad (fancy), and handed it to me before walking through. We’ve developed¬† a system. I scanned the card next, and nothing happened. The screen kept saying to ask train personnel. The man told us we each needed our own card.

So traveler tip: in DC each one of you needs a card. You also have to scan the card in order to get OUT. I believe at that point is when the money gets taken. But I’m not totally sure how the money part works.

We got to our stop just fine, surfaced. . and it was raining. Sprinkling, really, but consistently to the point were you do get wet. None of us brought an umbrella. My hoodie was too small to even cover my forehead.

Then I felt like a wimp because there was a good percentage of people just walking in the rain, no hats, hair wet and matted, and without a care in the world. I tried to suck it up and squint through the rain.

Our first stop was the Museum Of Natural History. So. Much. Stuff. We started in the aquatics, where there was a giant squid and all sorts of creepy bottom dwellers.

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(This paragraph made me laugh, as the females are also described as “seadevils” and the males as “parasites.” Haha. Ah. Love.)

We breezed through the apes and “early humans,” as they described them, which my mother struggled to find words to explain her feelings about before finally deciding on, “just insulting..”

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Then there were the mammals! It’s so amazing. I think they have every animal you can think of.

I liked that they had this huge display.

IMG_0088For a wittle bitty mouse.

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After about an hour, we finally went upstairs, where they have a butterfly room (for a charge we found), gems and rocks, the Hope Diamond, and insect room. At least, that’s where we browsed.

The insect room was pretty awesome. In a “oh gross. . . Hey everyone come look at this!” way. We entered to find a cluster of people watching something and quickly positioned ourselves to see between the heads. It was easy to find a spot, because a lot of people would rush over to see, then exclaim “oh my gosh, it’s a spider” and quickly exit.

A woman was holding a HUGE black and orange tarantula against her thigh. I thought it was really crawling up her leg until I saw it was plastic. The real tarantula was in a little glass box in the middle of the floor, and normal size. There was no lid on the box. Soon she put the plastic spider on her cart and picked up a little flask, telling the group that if “she” was hungry, she would grab the cricket in a flash, otherwise she’d just ignore it.

“So let’s see what she does,” the woman smiled. She uncapped the flask, bent down, and dropped the cricket in.

BOOM! The spider pounced on it.

And the entire room, adults and kids alike, flew backwards, letting out the most uniformed scream I have ever heard from an audience. It was hilarious.

Locust

They come, they eat, they leave. .

Next time you hear the story of the twelve plagues, think of this four and a half inch monster. *shudder*

We had a snack-lunch of pretzels and nacho cheese at a little kiosk outside the museum, that charges quite a lot, I think. I also didn’t like any of it. But I’m really picky and my family was fine with it. We ate outside under the sprinkles, standing because the park chairs and tables were soaked.

We walked into the castle across the field, just to say we did.

IMG_0259There wasn’t very much inside, but a Smithsonian crypt and a miniature model of the grounds, showing that if you look left or right from the middle of the field, you’ll see the Capitol on the left.

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And the Washington Monument on the right.

IMG_0264Pretty cool.

We also went in the Air and Space museum for my little brother.

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I decided I’d sit for a bit, while they went into the Wright Brothers’ “Early Flight” room. And waited. And waited. Finally I got up to check on them and found them watching a black and white film in one of the dark side rooms, so I went back to my bench outside.

Around the time when I started falling asleep with my eyes open, I realized I needed to be moving around. So I got up and went in the room looking for them.

Long story short, I ended up losing them in the museum, and it took us about thirty minutes and a lot of hassle, short of asking the security guards to please page my mommy, for us to reunite. And everyone’s frustrated after that.

That being said, I’m supposed to be an adult and I got lost. So watch your children.

The train ride home was a crowded one. We all crammed in, then a girl in a green jacket smiled at the door and called, “one more??” All attempted to shift. She grabbed the top railing and basically swung herself smack into the throng, wedging and sucking in until the doors slid shut behind her. She was lucky.

I don’t know why the train kept going, and stopping. My mom even noticed it backing up, she said. But I was too busy trying to keep to my space. I had realized I had been stepping on the woman’s foot next to me.

It was scary when the train stopped on the bridge – over the water. And stayed. .

I kept looking down at the blue-green water and my immediate thought was this is how I die. Bridge snaps. Train car slaps against the water. Windows burst. Water pouring in..

I was good enough not to mention these thoughts as we were stopped there. But I did comment, “this reminds me of a bad movie.” Which was enough for my mother, because she gave me this look and told me not to say any more.

Gosh it was scary.

However, I’m glad to report I’m not at the bottom of a river.

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