Sunday 15 July 2007

The long way home


An SR-71 … sweet … oh, and some kids who wandered in to the frame

Today was primarily a travel day, as we broke camp to start the long trek home. Mom decided that while we didn’t have time to stop, we could at least drive around the city a bit and see some famous buildings. I tried to plot a good route, but I messed up while providing directions and we crossed the Potomac on the wrong bridge. Still, I was able (despite the doubters) to get us back on track without a major detour. We passed by the Pentagon, the Jefferson Memorial, then back across the Mall for the Washington Monument. We tried to see the White House as well, but it seems that enough area has been closed off that it can’t be seen without parking and walking. While Mom was pointing out all of this, the kids were complaining about not enough milk, asking what DVD they could play, or doing rude things to themselves that we don’t allow even in the car. The educational value was therefore somewhat suspect.

After our wild gyre about the city, we rolled out to Dulles Airport and the National Air and Space Museum. This is housed in a small building attached to a huge hangar in which is an astonishing variety of flying machinery. I thought it was fun to show the kids real instances of some of the model airplanes they have, but it was unclear how interesting they found it. Charles, for instance, seemed to be more interested in the architectural infrastructure in the stairways than the actual displays. And the gift shop, which he asked about multiple times.

My favorite part, though, was taking pictures of one of the airplanes when my eye glasses came apart. They had been smashed underfoot last year during vacation and living on borrowed time since then. The screw fell on the ground and I spent time looking for it, but couldn’t find it. Some nice gentleman saw me looking, looked some himself, and unbelievably found it. Still, I didn’t have the tools for even a temporary fix, but I had planned ahead and had some contacts in the car which didn’t work so well, but well enough (I think my eyes are now too old for contacts).

In the end, we visited the gift shop and wasted much money on trinkets for Mom, plus some toys for the kids and essential memorabilia for Dad. Both the boys got model airplanes which, despite my predictions, did not both get broken before we arrived home (Charles’ lasted until the next Wednesday). Alice got a space suited teddy bear, which evaporated, unlamented, during the unpacking of the van. Mom got a patch for her purse which reads VSVN. Charles later named his plane, a B-29 model, “Mr. Bomby”. He wouldn’t tell me why the plane got to be a “Mister”. Perhaps it was because of the stress of acquisition. I left Charles pick out any airplane he wanted. Then I let Corwin do so, after which Charles immediately wanted to trade in his airplane for one exactly the same as Corwin’s. I refused to allow that, knowing how it would end, and Charles melted down right there in the store. Maybe having learned a bit from the ice cream problem, Charles eventually decided to pick out a different plane, as long as he was assured that while his model was smaller than Corwin’s, the actual plane represented was larger than Corwin’s.

Mom’s favorite exhibit was a large room at the top of a seven story tower with floor to 20 foot ceiling windows. The museum sits directly south of Dulles airport between two of the runways, so departing planes fly right by the tower. You can easily see planes lined up to take off, with a departure every couple of minutes. The kids thought it was cool for about 3 minutes, but Mom made everyone stay for much longer while she watched the planes.

To pay her back for this, everyone but Mom spent a lot of time looking at the actual mothership model used in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The model builders put a lot of hidden objects that can’t be seen in the movie on the model, such as an R2-D2, a TIE fighter, a cemetery, and a couple of Cesna airplanes. We spent a lot of time looking for these, all of which we found, but there are supposed to be a number of other ones we never spotted.

Still, we had reservations at a hotel a bit closer to home so we had to depart mid-afternoon for a warm up drive to the big drive tomorrow. We drove to south west Pennsylvania, encountering some serious weather on the way. At several points it was raining so hard that even with the wind shield wipers going full blast they had no effect. Mom wanted to stop but there weren’t any good exits and stopping on the Interstate seemed even less safe than pushing on. Still, thanks to my extreme navigational skills, we made it safely to our destination.

Posted by Dad about Family at 23:23 | Ping URL
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