Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Trippin' in DC

It's Spring Break at Kent State this week, so Katie and I took a few days to get out of town and visit our brother and sister-in-law in suburban Washington, DC. My brother Andy is, of course, still working and Heather has Spring Break next week (she's in medical school), so Katie and I have had the last two days to go off and visit the sights downtown DC. Of course, we did as much FREE stuff as we could, but anyone who's been to DC before knows that there is TONS of free stuff to do and see! Thankfully too, DC has a pretty reliable and extensive subway system (the Metro), so getting into and around town was not hard at all. I did get in my fair share of walking yesterday, though!

In reality, we actually didn't do much...we mostly saw the outside of buildings. On Monday we visited the Smithsonian Air & Space museum, which we both enjoyed, though like most things in DC, it was pretty crowded. I was happy to finally see the original TV model of the starship Enterprise from the original Star Trek TV series. It's located in the basement of the museum in their toy store section of the main gift shop. I wouldn't call myself a "Trekkie", but I do enjoy the Star Trek franchise. Seeing the Wright Brothers' original plane was pretty cool too as well as the displays from World Wars I and II. One of my classes I'm taking at KSU is called "Politics of War," so it was nice to see some application of what I've been learning in class about the history of warfare and strategy. One thing I found rather interesting was the Vin Fiz Flyer. It was the first aircraft to fly across North America back in 1911. The actual flyer is hanging in the ceiling, but right below it is a map of its 1911 flightplan. Turns out it landed in none other than Kent, Ohio on September 28, 1911 and stayed there until the 30th due to high winds. Today, the only airport near Kent is the Kent State University airport in neighboring Stow, but that wasn't built until the 1940's and obviously airports wouldn't exist ANYWHERE in the 1910's since air travel was brand new. Some other cool stuff (well, cool to me) at the Smithsonian Air & Space was a section of the original Skylab space station and the original Apollo 11 command module. One of the displays I really liked was like you were on board the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Enterprise (CVN-65), the world's first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. I could never land a plane on a moving runway like that (I could never land a plane on anything for that matter!) amazes me that anyone can!

On Tuesday we mostly just wandered around downtown. The only thing we actually visited was the Holocaust Memorial and Museum and since we didn't have tickets, there wasn't a whole lot to see. Without tickets, you can only see the special exhibits (not the permanent ones). I enjoyed what I saw, but wish I could've seen more. The main special exhibit Katie and I went to was called Daniel's Story and basically it's a walkthrough of the life of a child named Daniel, who was a Jewish child in Germany who survived the Holocaust along with his father. The viewer walks through his "house" and then moves to the ghetto, then the concentration camp and there are little pages of Daniel's diary in each place giving the viewer an idea of what's going on. The only drawback was that it was VERY crowded and slow tp go through, but it still had a powerful message. Hard to believe something like that happened in modern times, but it did.

We had also tried to go up inside the Washington Monument, but again, that needs free tickets and we got there too late. We got some good pictures of the outside, though! We also saw the outside of the Library of Congress and the Supreme Court (where we saw the media all set up for live newscasts!). Of course we saw the outside of the Capitol, but we have been on a tour of that before (2005). Katie and I still had fun walking around and the weather wasn't too bad...just cloudy! Today we didn't have much planned (Katie visited a friend), so I have some time to get online! It's a good thing because it's been raining pretty hard much of the day...not a day to be wandering downtown!

On Monday I also was able to visit with my good friend and former missionary companion Will Graff and his wonderful wife Sarah, who live nearby in College Park, Maryland where Will is working on his master's degree at the University of Maryland. It was great to see them again and was the first time I'd seen them since their wedding in Salt Lake back in June 2006. Both times I've visited this area recently (June and September of 2007) they were out of town, so I was glad to be able to visit with them before they head off to Texas this Spring for Will's flight school. Will and I served as LDS (Mormon) missionaries together in Las Cruces, New Mexico from December 2002-February 2003. We had a lot of crazy and good times together and he is currently one of the few missionary companions I'm still in contact with and by far the only one I'm in regular contact with. We also seem to see things pretty similarly, particularly missionary work and the way the Church operates and the "Mormon culture." I had a wonderful dinner and visit with them!
Katie, Andy, Heather, and I had a lot of fun decorating Easter eggs last night. I made this one egg covered in silver looks like a freakin' disco ball. It was a lot of fun though...we're planning on going to Dave & Buster's tonight for dinner and general fun. The last time I went to Dave & Buster's was the night before Andy & Heather's wedding and I had some of the most fun I'd ever had in my life! In typical fashion, Katie, Andy, and I stayed up until like 4:30 AM this morning talking. It was great! Stuff like that happens every time we get together since we don't have many chances to just talk being all spread out.
Notes on pictures: 1. Me in front of the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday, March 18, 2008; 2. Katie and me on the National Mall in DC on March 17; 3. Victory at the Supreme Court!; 4. Waiting in line at the Skylab station at the Smithsonian Air & Space museum; 5. Andy, Katie, and I coloring Easter eggs; 6. showing off my awesome silver Easter egg!

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