Sunday, February 06, 2022

DC, Chaperone Edition

For most of this past week Shira and I proudly donned a new, temporary, title: chaperone. D.'s class was visiting Washington, DC and through our good fortune we had the opportunity to help accompany them in the area.

For the most part, Shira and I tried to remain in the background. This was D's time to hang with his class and get direction from his teachers, not have an Uncle and Aunt Adventure. Still, we savored our time together and took advantage of of any free time we could find.

The class hit the usual DC museums and monuments and I enjoyed getting to see our city through fresh eyes. Here were a few of my favorites.

Favorite Monument: The Navy Memorial. D and I were meeting his class at Ford's Theater, and realized we had a bit of free time. We ducked over to the Navy Memorial and thoroughly enjoyed looking at the 26 bronze scenes that depict Navy history. My favorite was the first one, which honors the Navy's Bomb Disposal Unit. Their unofficial motto was just too clever: Initial Success or Total Failure. D liked the last scene which depicted Landing Ship, Tanks, which were affectionately known as Large Slow Targets.

I didn't realize it at the time, but the globe etched on the plaza itself is the largest map in the world.

Favorite Museum: National Gallery of Art. I was just blown away by the Smithsonian's National Gallery of Art. There were so many well known artists and paintings on display, even an art novice like myself had to be impressed. It seemed that around every corner was yet another breathtaking painting or sculpture. D loved that he got to see the only Leonardo da Vinci hanging in North America.

Favorite Exhibit: the Archive's Public Vault. I always think of the National Archives as a sort of one trick pony: you can see our founding documents and that's about it. But boy, was I proved wrong. The Public Vault's exhibit has all sorts of historic tchotchkes, from an original Emancipation Proclamation to navigation equipment used by Pole explorer Robert Peary. There's so much to see here, I can't wait to drag our next DC visitor back here.

Favorite Activity: Bird Watching. D is a fan of all things bird related, so we basically turned this trip into one massive bird watching expedition. Whenever walking or driving, we kept an eye out for birds; Whether it was a lone hawk soaring above or a few city pigeons looking for scraps, D was excited to spot them. For my part, I never appreciated how many buildings in DC feature birds as part of their architecture.

D's attentiveness paid off near the entrance of the Natural History Museum where we were rewarded with spotting a new (to us) species: a Yellow Rumped Warbler; aka Butter-Buttz.

The bird watching didn't stop when we went indoors, we just had to get more creative. D was thrilled by the Natural History's Bird's of DC exhibit, and loved visiting Martha, the last Passenger Pigeon. The National Gallery of Art provided no end to paintings that included birds, though often they were a bit grim from a bird watcher's perspective. D even spotted birds on dishes at the First Ladies exhibit in the Smithsonian American History Museum.

Heck, at times he even outsourced the bird watching, like when his classmates texted him a picture of a hawk they came across.

Other Highlights: Walking in on Shira and Dovid playing blackjack. She had the poker chips out and was covering betting strategy. Next lesson: card counting. Shira's already planning their first trip to a casino.

Dovid immediately noticed Shira's Gradfather's refurbished Underwood typewriter that we now have on display. After experimenting with typing some random gibberish, he quickly graduated to dashing off letters, including using the typewriter to address the envelope. By the end of the trip, he'd written three letters, one thank-you note, and multitple journal entries--including an evening edition for one day. My gosh that boy is industrious.

What a treat it was getting to both spend time with D, as well as see him shine in front of his classmates and teachers.

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