Washington, D.C. – Day Two – Capitol Hill (Part Two)

Let’s try for a shorter post, shall we?  I’ll just post two of my more favorite pictures from my afternoon on the Mall/Capitol Hill and not bore you with all of my deep thoughts on life as I trudged through the puddles of a busy metropolitan city…  Oh, wait, there I go!!

Without further ado…

United States Capitol Building

United States Capitol Building

Equal Justice Under Law • United States Supreme Court Building

Equal Justice Under Law • United States Supreme Court Building

Washington, D.C. – Day Two – National Mall & Smithsonian Museums

After watching egregious amounts of back episodes of Barefoot Contessa and Pioneer Woman, and spending a good half of my weekend cleaning my living space and watching The Wolf of Wall Street (OMG, the debauchery!!), I’m just now getting around to continuing my blog posts from my trip last month to Washington, D.C.  I’m headed to Nebraska this weekend to meet my friend, Laura, for Sandhill Crane sightings, country road photography, and all-around fun.  Her birthday is Thursday, and I found a birdy gift I think she’ll just love!

Formalities out of the way, let’s get back to the main point of this post:  Mister “Macho Traveler” thinks he knows where he’s going, and ends up making an accidental trip into the wrong museum, but it ends up working out A-OK.

With rain pouring from the sky at a rather alarming rate after lunch at Good Stuff Eatery, I left my aunt back at The Library and took the short metro ride over to the Smithsonian/National Mall.  By the time I got off the train, the rain had turned to a light mist (D.C. weather is about as weird as weather in Southwest Kansas, which is saying something).  I photographed the Capitol and Washington Monument from afar with the Hipstamatic app on my iPhone before making my way to the “National Gallery of Art.”

The U.S. Capitol building and Smithsonian Castle.

The U.S. Capitol building and Smithsonian Castle.

The Washington Monument, still being "dealt with" after being damaged during the 2011 earthquake that struck the area.

The Washington Monument, still being “dealt with” after being damaged during the 2011 earthquake that struck the area.

I say it this way because I honed in on a domed building on the Mall, walked up the stairs and – instead of seeing banners of renaissance art – saw pennants with butterflies and other natural creates.  “WTF?!” I thought to myself.  It turns out I’d arrived at the National Museum of Natural History, not the National Gallery of Art like I’d expected to spend a leisurely afternoon at.  Apparently disoriented (I mean, seriously?!) and short on time, I decided to go for it and snap some pics (I remembered there was an elephant and a dinosaur or two from a childhood visit).  Turns out this was a good move, as a major part of the museum is slated to close later next month for a $48 million, 5-year renovation.  I guess I’m glad I got to see them while I was still somewhat young!!

The entrance to *a museum on the Mall*, also known as the National Museum of Natural History.  Or so I've been led to believe...

The entrance to *a museum on the Mall*, also known as the National Museum of Natural History. Or so I’ve been led to believe…

Elephant display at the Natural History Museum.  How dramatic!!

Elephant display at the Natural History Museum. How dramatic!!

Dinosaurs, Oh My!!

Dinosaurs, Oh My!!

"I am Lion, HEAR ME ROAR!"

“I am Lion, HEAR ME ROAR!”

I couldn't *not* get a photo of the Hope Diamond, now could I?!

I couldn’t *not* get a photo of the Hope Diamond, now could I?!

Does anyone else find this ironic??

Does anyone else find this ironic??

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From Where I Stand:  Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History.

From Where I Stand: Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History.

After a brief jaunt through the museum, I headed outside, met by a rainless sky and a Stomp-like performer’s music.  I decided to slowly make my way east on the Mall towards the Capitol building on the way to my aunt’s office and the end of my day in the city.  In a way, I did get to visit the National Gallery of Art.  It turns out the two are very close (let the rationalization begin…), and I made the time to walk through the Sculpture Garden, which I hadn’t done in the past.  The sculptures were quite fascinating, and I took Hipsta shots of my favorites and have posted them below.

Roxy Paine's "Graft" • National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden

Roxy Paine’s “Graft” • National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden

Alexander Calder's "Cheval Rouge (Red Horse)" • National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden

Alexander Calder’s “Cheval Rouge (Red Horse)” • National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden

Hector Guimard's "An Entrance to the Paris Métropolitain" • • National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden Naturally, as a Francophile and lover of these Metro entrances in Paris, I freaked out.  Just a bit, though.

Hector Guimard’s “An Entrance to the Paris Métropolitain” • • National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden
Naturally, as a Francophile and lover of these Metro entrances in Paris, I freaked out. Just a bit, though.

Louise Bourgeois' "Spider" • National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden

Louise Bourgeois’ “Spider” • National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden

Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen's "Typewriter Eraser, Scale X" • National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden

Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen’s “Typewriter Eraser, Scale X” • National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden

Ice Rink!!  Too bad no one was on it - can you imagine how many awesome photographs I could have gotten?!!  Oh well...

Ice Rink!! Too bad no one was on it – can you imagine how many awesome photographs I could have gotten?!! Oh well…

Robert Indiana's "AMOR" • National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden

Robert Indiana’s “AMOR” • National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden

Stay tuned for the final posts (you didn’t think the time would come, did you?) from my trip to D.C.!

The Beat of the City Arrives: Washington, D.C. – Day Two – Georgetown

The beat of the city arrives…

Ambulance sirens race down the street.

The pitter-patter, clomp-clomp of busy and important steps hitting the pavement.

Street musicians showcase their talents, providing a harmony for the chaos.

-Luke A. Bunker

I was compelled to write the above poem after exiting the Foggy Bottom-GWU Metro Station, hyper-sensitive to the sights and sounds around me.  There was a slight chill to the air, with sirens racing down the street and an older male musician pounding away at his keyboard as if it was his true calling in life.  As I alluded to in a previous post, I hopped on the Metro last Friday morning with no set itinerary for the day (perhaps the aforementioned hypersensitivity was due to a mind not clogged by schedules and “things to do”?), save for lunch with my aunt on the Hill sometime in the afternoon.  Aside from that, the day was mine, and I knew about halfway through my Metro ride where I would begin.

Cupcakes for life • Baked & Wired in Georgetown provides a more quirky cupcake experience than most cupcakeries (is that a word now??) in the city.

“Texas Sheetcake” • Cupcakes for life:  Baked & Wired in Georgetown provides a more quirky and intimate experience than most cupcakeries (is that a word now??) in the city.

When I was last in D.C. in August 2013, my cousin and I spent a morning similar to how I spent it last Friday – exit GWU Metro and make the short walk to Baked & Wired in Georgetown while admiring the beautiful homes and architecture.  Although the activities were similar, the journey was different.  As I settled in with my ham & gruyere quiche and iced mocha, I reflected on the pages of my Moleskine of how taking a different path with a receptive mind left me further open to experiencing the truth of life in Washington, D.C.

"Seek Truth and Pursue It Steadily" • This quote, on GWU's campus, helped put me in an open mindset, receptive to the familiar, yet unfamiliar, world around me.

“Seek Truth and Pursue It Steadily” • This quote, on GWU’s campus, helped put me in an open mindset, receptive to the familiar, yet unfamiliar, world around me.

I opted for savory instead of sweet...  Well, kind of.  You can't beat the beautiful combination of chocolate and coffee!

I opted for savory instead of sweet… Well, kind of. You can’t beat the beautiful combination of chocolate and coffee!

For, you see, on this particular morning, I took a perhaps less glamorous journey to Georgetown.  Instead of walking Pennsylvania, I took K and the Whitehurst Freeway.  I say less glamorous because it was on this walk where it struck me that there is absolutely nothing romantic about homelessness.  I don’t know if “romantic” is the right word, but when you can see (and, in reality, smell) the situation, you realize that it’s a real problem – not always a choice for those people – and one that we prefer to ignore than do anything about.

As I picked “pesky” down feathers from my $200 jacket while toting around $1000 in camera equipment and preparing to spend $10 on coffee and a small slice of quiche, having traveled via air to a city for the sole purpose of visiting a travel show, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel even just a twinge of guilt.  But, at the same time as I saw the inequities of society (how had these people gotten to this place?  what events had transpired in their lives where a shopping cart full of cans, no showers for days or weeks, and despair evident on their faces, was the life these people now led?), the presence of blessings in my own life became abundantly clear.  Sometimes it takes seeing this aspect of humanity – one that is largely ignored and is surrounded by a gargantuan taboo – to realize gratitude for how well a person does, indeed, have it.

A portion of the "Baked Wall" at Baked & Wired in Georgetown.

A portion of the “Baked Wall” at Baked & Wired in Georgetown.

With this newfound perspective fresh in my mind, I posted my poem on the Baked Wall (a wall where patrons’ doodles, writings and thoughts are drawn onto napkins and taped) and set out on a photo journey with my Hipstamatic and architecture, along with capturing a not-often-seen Washington, in my sights.

Look twice - that's a statue of a dog with a tie around it's neck!  Too funny.

Look twice – that’s a statue of a dog with a tie around it’s neck! Too funny.

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Rose Park Playground:  Rose Park is sandwiched between the back of Georgetown and the overhang of Rock Creek Parkway.  It is here where I saw a part of D.C. life I'd previously not seen - the normal day-to-day life of nannies with young ones swinging and playing the morning away...

Rose Park Playground: Rose Park is sandwiched between the back of Georgetown and the overhang above Rock Creek Parkway. It is here where I saw a part of D.C. life I’d previously not seen – the normal day-to-day life of nannies with young ones swinging and playing the morning away…

Sharing is Caring

“Sharing is Caring”

"Canal Bike" • Green is my favorite color, so between that and the composition, I had to take this photo.

“Canal Bike” • Green is my favorite color, so between that and the composition, I had to take this photo.

Has Hell frozen over?  Well, maybe not...but the C&O Canal has.

Has Hell frozen over? Well, maybe not…but the C&O Canal had a thin layer of ice on the morning I walked by.

"Woman in Red" • This is one of my favorite little streets to photography.  The building fronts, the American flag, the always-interesting people, and the canalside brick sidewalk are just too lovely to pass up.

“Woman in Red” • This is one of my favorite little streets to photograph. The building fronts, the American flag, the always-interesting people, and the canalside brick sidewalk are just too lovely to pass up.

"Brick, Shutters & Iron Fences, Oh My!"

“Brick, Shutters & Iron Fences, Oh My!”

"Rose Park Walker"

“Rose Park Walker”

"Rose Park Robin"

“Rose Park Robin”

Stay tuned for more from my recent trip to Washington, D.C., including more pictures from my first day of the Capitol and Supreme Court buildings, as well as my fun museum mix-up!

My Life-Pausing Trip to Washington, D.C.: An Introduction

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I just came back from a wonderful long weekend and transformative experience in Washington, D.C., visiting family and enjoying the Travel & Adventure Show at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.

Unlike most trips, this was an impulsive one without a great deal of planning and analyzing (normally I go nuts over every little detail, due in no small part to my obsessive-compulsive and perfectionist tendencies).  Like most trips, though, I felt anxious and worried 1-2 days ahead of the trip, thinking, “What the hell was I thinking?!”  This is not an uncommon thought, believe it or not!!  It’s weird that I still get cold feet (having a limited travel budget and time off from work does that to a person), but I guess I’ll chalk it up as another of my rather unique, err, “quirks.”  The short time period (I was flying in late Thursday evening and coming home first thing Monday morning) and my uncertainties about enjoying the travel expo – especially since I was going by myself – sent doubting thoughts creeping into my brain.

Upon the eve of my departure, after attending the second day of the show and spending time with my family, it became clear that I was meant to go on this trip.  Where I’d normally hug my backpack close to my body on the Metro or on the streets, I felt free and secure; where I’d normally have every little thing accounted for on a schedule and detailed itinerary, I went with the flow and realized that “mistakes” – like walking into the wrong museum – can color your experience and make for fun surprises!

I think the expo and listening to, meeting and talking with the speakers (Rick Steves, Samantha Brown, Pauline Frommer, Andrew McCarthy & Don Wildman) gave me clarity that travel is where I should be, that it is what I should be doing, saving and sacrificing for.  I say often that I want to spend less on material “stuffs” and use that money toward travel.  In reality, I just haven’t done that.  But, due in part to the newfound clarity I was awakened to through being completely enthralled and inspired by the travel speakers, as well as feeling confident and comfortable in my travels throughout the city, I’ve decided that I don’t need to have the fanciest apartment or the newest car – travel is life, and life is what I want, not “stuff” that I’ll forget about years from now…

I believe this trip/experience also gave me confidence.  It wouldn’t have been shocking for me to want to meet and get autographs from famous people, but actually doing it freaks me out.  After each encounter at the travel show, however, anxiety gave way to excitement.  What helped was the realization that they, too, are just normal people who, like me, love to travel.

Upon further reflection and discussion of the trip with friends and coworkers, I’m a bit floored that it felt so life-changing.  Andrew McCarthy, one of the speakers, said travel is transformative, powerful and emotional, and that “[Travel] matters.  This is important.  It is the impetus beneath everything.”  This trip was just that and really encouraged me want to pursue travel as more than just a hobby and thing I like to do, compelling me to blog, write and photograph until I can be up on that stage sharing my stories, experiences and travels with the world.  One of my coworker friends said she hasn’t seen me this excited in quite a long time!  We’ll see how it goes…  🙂

**Stay tuned for in-depth posts on my experiences in D.C., including the Travel & Adventure Show!