Sunday, June 18, 2023

Planes, Trains, Automobiles, Museums, and Statues

The retouching helped with the smoke, but still hazy

Tuna here.  My wife and I visited that most wretched hide of scum and villainy last week, but we were fortunate enough to not run into any of that. It was a business trip that had been scheduled for a couple months, and my wife had never been to DC, so I planned to take her along.  Always being fairly cost conscious, I found her a flight that was semi-reasonable.  Now when I say semi, it seems that all airfares are quite high right now, especially to DC. There is still a lot of revenge travel going on, schools had begun to let out for the summer, and you have your regular government travel to and from the area, all which seem to increase demand and keep those prices high.  Nevertheless, I found her a flight that was workable and not too painfully expensive.

However, about 2 weeks before my scheduled departure I received notice from the Navy office at the Pentagon that the space was limited and we were restricted to one member per command. Completely ignoring the reality of the situation and being somewhat self-centered, I tried to stress how important it was for me to go, but I was directed to allow one of my lieutenants to take the trip.

So, if you caught my foreshadowing, the ticket I purchased for my wife was non-refundable. Yes, we could get a travel credit, but that's a P.I.T.A.. My travel was officially canceled so I decided to salvage the trip and find my own flight there. Increased demand and two week advance purchase of a ticket to DC?  That one is going to sting.  Nevertheless, I found a seat on the same flight as my wife.  She was going to travel a day later than I, and so we were both together for the red-eye through Phoenix, landing in DC about 7:45 in the morning. Unfortunately sleep was elusive for each of us and so we were exhausted by the time we got to our hotel.  We were able to check in very early, which mitigated some of our fatigue.  After a shower and a very brief nap, we made our way to the mall.  No, we're not doing any shopping, I'm talking about the National Mall and its plethora of monuments.  

Had to post this-  John Paul Jones- a founding father of the Navy.  
The photo of Farragut didn't turn out well.

Is that a Dolphin, or just a fish at the base of his statue?  Posted due to my final paragraph subject.

WWII Memorial

Reflecting pool.  I think the Park Service laid off the pool cleaners.

Viet Nam Memorial

His statue was quite dirty which didn't sit well with me

Heavily zoomed in, you can see the difference in materials used in the Washington Monument.
Construction was halted for many years.

My Viet Nam era USAF Nurse mother would appreciate this.  She volunteered to go over but got pregnant with my older sister.

Korea War Memorial.  Apparently at night it's amazing with LED lighting

MLK Statue

Jefferson Memorial.  Unfortunately it was closed, and too far to walk at this point in the day.

Part of a very expansive FDR memorial, much focused on the New Deal

We walked our feet off that day and coupled with the lack of sleep in the previous 36 hours, we were exhausted. I usually average about 11,000 steps on my Fitbit each day, and I broke 31,000.  We finished the mall ending up at the Roosevelt memorial and could go no further. Fortunately cabs in DC are easy to find and metered reasonably, often cheaper than Uber.  

The next day, still with sore feet, we made our way out to Chantilly Virginia.  The Metro now goes all the way out to Dulles, and it's a slow bus from there to what would be the highlight of the trip (at least for me), the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum Udvar-Hazy Center.  

If you ever use that method to get there, don't take it all the way into the Dulles airport, which will require you to walk from the Metro underground into the airport, upstairs, back out of the airport, and across the parking lot to the bus station.  Get off one step early at Innovation Center and go downstairs make to the bus stop.  That same bus stopped at Innovation Center anyway which saved us 15 minutes or more on the back side when I figured it out.

No S-3 Vikings there so I snapped my good friend's ride.

I should have gone upstairs to take a better photo

This one looks like it's been around the world a few times

One of the jets my Dad loaded weapons on

Unfortunately it was pretty much an all-day trip as there was track maintenance between Roslyn and McLean, so we had to get off and get on a bus, not realizing that until the silver line headed back east with us still on it, twice.  They were making the announcement but it being horribly enunciated over a lousy sound system didn't help.  By the time we got back into DC, other Smithsonian museums were getting ready to close.  Fortunately the portrait gallery is open until 7:00 p.m. and we saw the whole thing before getting booted out with the last of the visitors.

Henry Ford

Her gown was seemingly translucent

I am avoiding politics for the most part in this post, but as I was looking at the presidential portraits there, I noticed an interesting dichotomy.  The one of Obama was very modern had him sitting in a chair surrounded by Green ivy. Very bright and cheerful.  On the opposite side of that exact same wall in the center of the room, was one of Trump.  Very dark and foreboding in my opinion.  I don't know if these are official presidential portraits or just for that gallery, but this one is very dark as you can see.  Maybe I'm reading into it too much, but it's sort of shows how much he is disliked in DC.  

When I searched online for the portrait, a different one came up. You can look for it using his name at the link here.  Maybe that was a photograph that they used until the dark one was completed.

The Hope Diamond- better colors in person

"Hey Dumdum, you got gumgum?"*

I think this is an early Toronto Raptor

A very bad kitty

I think I'm gonna need a bigger camera

The Elephant in the room

Saw some old paperwork here (Declaration of Independence, Constitution, Bill of Rights)
No photos allowed!

The next day after a good night's sleep we saw a bunch of dead things at the natural History museum. My son loved the movie "Night At The Museum, which was actually filmed in the New York Smithsonian, but the sequel was in DC.   We followed that up with a visit to the Navy Memorial a block or so away, then to visit my former squadron mate who lives in Georgetown.  Next door to Kissinger's old house.  It was a nice visit as his home is well decorated by his wife, they are excellent hosts, and Georgetown is a very vibrant neighborhood.  As we got out of the train station in Dupont circle, we had to swim upstream through the pride parade celebrants, which was interesting to say the least.

We finished off the weekend with a somber visit to the Arlington National Cemetery.  Another long day with a bunch of steps on my Fitbit, renewed soreness in our feet, and a quick drop off at the airport. Unfortunately Dallas was closed due to lightning so we diverted to Oklahoma City for 3 hours on deck.  By the time we took off again we had missed our connection, finding out later that it was actually canceled.   And with the revenge travel that's going on, there were no seats on American until Wednesday, so they were gracious enough to reroute us on united.  The flight was the next day (really later that morning) at 6:00 a.m. through Newark.   We got home approximately 25 hours after arriving at the airport in DC.

I am definitely not a fan of overnight airport grunge, both from the red eye on the way there and the long trip home.  I will plan better next time, avoiding the North route in the winter, and the southern route in the summer.

All in all, a very good trip and I'm very glad to have finally seen Udvar-Hazy.  Plenty more to see I expect, and will plan another trip eventually.

By the way, you may have heard me talk about my current job, and my frustration with not being able to see my efforts bear fruit.   Working in the Navy's budget is a very challenging field, and finding money for MCM was always difficult.  Fortunately another opportunity arose and I jumped on it.  It's back in the ASW world, at the Undersea Warfighting Development Center in Pt. Loma.  I'll be working with a bunch of great Americans I once worked with years ago, and at a higher pay rate.  I expect I will still be doing mine warfare but on the mining side of things vice the countermeasures side, as the bubbleheads now own the mission.

*Night at the Museum quote


  1. So, all in all, a pleasant trip Barad Dur on the Potomac?
    The Obama portrait looks like it was done by a high schooler, during a single afternoon.

    1. Yeah, not a fan of the modern art versions of the presidents.

  2. Good selection of photos to aid the retelling of your trip Tuna, well done. The Last American Dinosaurs can be found in Congress these days.....

  3. Tuna, looks like a great trip to a town that regularly puts Sodom and Gomorrah to shame. Glad to see they haven’t completely destroyed its history. But…why is photographing the most significant documents in Human history prohibited? The rapidly disappearing trusting American says so that flash photography doesn’t damage them. However… That trust is waning.
    Posted 250nm in the Gulf of Mexico via Carrier Pigeon. Hope it makes it.

    1. Reading you 5x5 Juvat. Maybe no photos because it deteriorates the paper? Our rights are already deteriorating.

  4. I didn't realize all that stuff was in Sacramento!

    Nice travelog, thank you.

  5. I need to get back down there, love the museums.

    1. With the museums all being free, DC is actually a fairly economical trip.

  6. Yes, that is indeed a dolphin. Medieval styling. Very nicely executed, too.

    As to the diaphanously gowned statue, that's the second one I've seen in two days. It is a style that is quite beautiful. The other one was a Madonna head. Gorgeous.

    I reserve comments on that FDR memorial. Enough about politics...

    Good to hear about your new job. Hope the commute is as good or better than your current one.

    Sounds like your feet and legs need a vacation from your vacation.

    1. I really love those statues that show that style. Is the one you saw the Veiled Madonna? FDR- meh. Job is gonna be great. Commute isn't. Oh well. Feet have recovered, but we're going to be walking all over Ireland in a couple months, so I need to figure out how to manage that stress.

    2. Sculptors that are so good that they can do statues like her, are kind of scary.

    3. Check out The Rape of Persephone by Bernini. So realistic (fingers pushing into skin) that people thought he was a wizard who turned real people into stone.

  7. Tuna, having just returned from Greece, you have nothing but my sympathies on the cost and timing of air travel. Oddly enough, our overseas travel was fine. It was the domestic getting home that was terrible.

    I, too, was a late visitor to Washington D.C. (my mid forties). I think of all the monuments, I enjoyed the Korean War Memorial and the Vietnam War Memorial the most. To Tuna's point, the FDR memorial was not particular moving for me.

    We visited the Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian, which is by far my favorite one.

    Congratulations on the new job!

    1. Thanks! I need to stop whining about the cost of travel. It's the cost of doing what I want to do, and the new pay is good so I should suck it up. I think I'll have a trip out to DC for my new job so maybe I'll visit others sooner rather than later.

  8. Crusty Old TV Tech here. Happy Father's Day to my fellow OM's.

    I think Mos Eisley would recoil at the comparison to DC!

    Ah, yes, my old friend OV-103. MADS, TRW S-Band, RCA's CCTV system, Hughes Ku-Band, etc. She was a good bird. She was supposed to be operated by the 1st MSCS from Falcon AFS, launched from SLC-6 at Vandyland, and recovered at Edwards AFB, back in the day. That never happened. With the 51-L accident killing any joy the USAF had for operating the Shuttle, mother AF in its infinite wisdom backed away from their 33% (some say 50%) of the deal with NASA. But, OV-103 will always hold a special place in mil aerospace history, and in USAF space weenies hearts. And, with a TDRS satellite over it, appropriate.

    1. Sorry, you're speaking greek to me for the most part. Are you talking about Discovery?

    2. Sorry, yep. OV-103 = Space Shuttle Discovery. NASA is Acronym Central, more so than the Navy even. I'd forgotten Discovery was in DC. We always thought it should have gone to the USAF Museum, but the Smithsonian is OK.

    3. Thanks. Btw, I heard some CIA guy refer to NASA as "Not a space agency." Not sure what he meant.

  9. Great travellog! You may have convinced me we want to go there for a week (5k steps a day lets each of us recover for another, I can do 30k in three days and then it's quit for a week.)

    1. Thanks htom! Better shoes might help, but less walking is probably the right mitigation strategy.

    2. It's not so much the shoes as muscle loss with massive weight loss. I used to average 5k-10k steps a day a couple of years ago.

    3. I meant for me. Some weight loss is in order for me though.

  10. Don't sweat Dishonest Abe's statue being dirty. That bastard was pretty dirty in real life.
    --Tennessee Budd

    1. I've heard bits of that, but haven't researched. I'm not a fan of taking down our heroes, and nobody can survive a microscope, so I'm not sure I want to.

  11. FDR made it clear he did NOT want a memorial and if it was build it was NOT to depict him in his wheelchair. Needless to say both request were ignored. And I love the Braille comments so high off the ground even I (at 6'6") can't reach it.

  12. Nice tour, Tuna! I was in DC for work some years ago with my boss for a meeting with entrepreneurs and lawyers (they paid for the trip). Meeting ended early, so we could tour (walk [with my dress shoes eating my feet]) as much as we could before our flight left. Past a statue of a South American leader on horseback with a bird perched on his outstretched finger, past the infamous Watergate Hotel to the Lincoln Memorial (there are two unnoticed plaques of Lincoln's speeches in the side alcoves). Then past the pond and Vietnam Memorial and the (closed for renovation) Washington Monument. Salivating walking by the Smithsonian (I would want to spend weeks in there). Got as far as the back fence (I think) of the White House. The arresting thing there was a Union Civil War Memorial. In fact, the area is strewn with these small Memorials. I only wish there was a map and description of them. Not enough time to even go to the CIA Spy Museum (they have Maxwell Smart's shoe phone and an Enigma Machine, among other things). Got back to RR Airport in good time, and took a civilian Freedom Bird out of that shithole back to God's Country

  13. I was observant and noticed the speeches. Last trip there the Viet Nam Memorial was closed as well so I'm glad I was able this time. There are so many Smithsonian Museums there was no way to see them all. Maybe a couple each trip if I'm smart enough to schedule flights well.


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