Monday, February 13, 2023

Trains, Bikes and Automobiles: Easy Smithsonian Fun

Living close to the National Mall it seems like we should be able to duck into the city, experience an exhibit at a world-class museum, and get out before we've spent a significant amount of time, money and sanity. In practice, traffic, crowds, parking woes, over-priced cafeterias, and countless other factors usually stand in the way of letting this perfect-on-paper plan work.

And yet, yesterday the stars aligned and we did just this with G. Between the awful weather and the fact that it was Superbowl Sunday, we managed to find close, free parking and a nearly empty Smithsonian Museum of American History. Our goal for the day was to check out the America On the Move exhibit. This exhibit features a variety of trains, cars, bikes, boats, buses and motorcycles; perfect for a 3 year old and his Uncle to gawk at.

We met Bud the bulldog who was part of the first cost-to-coast drive that took place in 1903, and took our seats in a 1959 Chicago 'L' train car. We ogled the cramped and loud engine room from the Oak and even caught glimpse of a model zeppelin flying above. The mighty PS-4, a locomotive from 1926 was a highlight, with it's simulated train noises and larger than life components. It was even painted in green, G's favorite color!

Mom later reported that along with all that we saw, G very much liked the escalator ride we took to get to the exhibit. In fairness, it was a very nice escalator.

After making our way through the exhibit, we ducked into the nearby On the Water exhibit. While this exhibit had some boats for us to check out, it wasn't nearly as captivating as the On The Move exhibit. G kept asking: where are the canons? Where, indeed.

We also ran out of time before we could play in the Wegmans' Wonderplace, but we'll definitely save that for another day.

After perusing the exhibits we stopped by the cafeteria to eat the snacks we'd smartly brought along. And then it was time to call it a day and head home.

We couldn't have asked for an easier or more fun day. I highly recommend America On The Move. If you do a bit of research ahead of time, you'll see what appears to be a random collection of transportation artifacts connect up in a meaningful way. But even if you go in cold, you'll be treated to some incredibly cool stuff. And because of its basement location and lack of name recognition, the exhibit has always been relatively crowd free whenever I've visited. It's definitely a winner.

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