Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Back from D.C.

Kat and I returned yesterday from a week-long trip to our nation's capitol to visit friends, family, restaurants, and museums. We apparently just missed the worst of the summer's heat wave and had mostly excellent weather.

One of my must-see places for this trip was the Steven Udvar-Hazy Center, an extension of the National Air and Space Museum located near Dulles Airport. The second picture above was taken there, and shows one small piece of one wing of the Center, with an Air France Concorde in the center and a Lear Jet 23 above it. The Center also has an SR-71 Blackbird, the Enola Gay, the Space Shuttle Enterprise, and a huge variety of military and commercial aircraft, missiles, and spacecraft. Two of Paul MacCready's planes are at the Center--the high-altitude solar-powered Pathfinder and the English Channel-crossing human-powered aircraft, the Gossamer Condor. MacCready's Gossamer Albatross, the first human-powered aircraft capable of sustained flight, is down at the Mall in the main National Air and Space Museum, which we also visited on this trip.

We spent much of our last day in D.C. at Arlington Cemetery--the first picture above shows Pierre L'Enfant's grave, overlooking a great view of the city he designed. We visited the usual sites such as JFK's grave, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers, and the Custis Lee Mansion. I also tracked down the gravesite of John Wesley Powell (first or possibly second man to travel the length of the Colorado River by boat and second director of the U.S. Geological Survey) and a number of other lesser-visited gravesites (e.g., a number of Supreme Court justices buried near JFK, the Pan Am 103 Lockerbie memorial, and President and Chief Justice William Howard Taft's grave, which although well-marked did not seem to be well-visited).

We also visited the Freer and Sackler Galleries' exhibition on "Encompassing the Globe: Portugal and the World in the 16th and 17th Centuries," saw what was open at the Hirshhorn during some maintenance, made a quick pass through the mammal exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History, saw some part of the collection at the National Gallery of Art's West Building, visited the Washington National Cathedral, and spent a day at Mount Vernon.

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