Monday, July 04, 2005

July 2nd in D.C.

I awoke at 2:45am unable to go back to sleep. I wrote a letter (on paper!), and then went back to sleep at about 4:30am. My aunt and her brother woke up at about 6am. He had a golf tee-time of 7:45am. We had breakfast and had some great conversation together.

During this conversation, my aunt related to me a story of a woman that lives next door to her who has said that she can remember going to Virginia Beach at a time when German U-Boats were firing on the beach. I knew that they had been sighted up and down the east coast during the war, and that they sunk ships just off the coast; but I had no idea that they had fired on civilians on the beach. I'm going to have to check on the accuracy of that story... but it's a good story in any case!

I had made plans to go with my cousin to the Folk-Life Festival in D.C. on Saturday, so she came over from her new apartment and we got ready to leave. She has grown up so fast! She is already living on her own and has a nice apartment (which we went to see before leaving Richmond) in a nice area of town. I was impressed.

We had decided that the best route would be to take the Metro from Springfield into D.C. to avoid the traffic and the probability of getting lost. We left for Springfield and had an interesting conversation on the way up. The best story of the day is when we stopped after getting off at the Springfield exit and didn't see a sign for the Metro. I stopped and asked a man for directions to the subway. He gave me directions around a corner and down the street about 1.5 miles away. We followed his directions, made the left turn, and voila! There in front of us was the Subway... restaurant. We laughed about that all day long.

We arrived in D.C. and headed towards the mall. Neither one of us being from the big city, the idea of crosswalks that tell you how much time you have left to cross the street was a bit of a fun novelty. We had a silly moment trying to walk across one of the streets slowly enough so that our arrival on the opposite curb would be syncronized with the expiration of alloted crossing time.

My cousin and actually ended up spending most of our time in the National Gallery of Art and the National Museum of Natural History. What an amazing collection of art there is to be found in the National Gallery! (As one would expect I guess...) I had never been to the National Gallery, and I found myself closely examining paintings for long periods of time in a way that I have never done before. They have placards in each room that explain a bit about the artists and the history behind the various works. I could spend weeks there and not get tired of absorbing all the richness that is found within the expansive confines of those walls. I had been to the Museum of Natural History a few times; but it's always great to see the great exhibits. I found myself realizing once again just how lucky the people of Washington D.C. are to live in the vicinity of so many amazing free educational resources.

The festival was not all that I had expected, but there were some interesting things to see and I'm glad that I went. It was a bit more commercialized than I had hoped it would be and it seemed that it was geared around selling food and imitation trinkets. That was a disappointment. I probably would have attended several more of the demonstrations and presentations being given in the several large tents that had been set up for the festival, but the few that I attended were pretty dry and I didn't want to risk boring my cousin to death. I actually enjoy sitting through dry, informative talks and performances as long as I'm learning or seeing something new. My tolerance for lack of excitement is pretty high; but I wanted our day together to be a fun one. So we basically passed through the festival on the way from the National Gallery to the the Museum of Natural History.

We returned to Richmond via the metro and I picked up my late uncle's beer making supplies from my aunt. I remember that my uncle always offered me one of his own special brews whenever I visited their house as an adult, and that always added a very personal touch to the visit. My uncle passed away on my birthday last year. I feel honored to be the new owner of these supplies that he used to create his special creations that he loved to share. I plan to brew up my first batch of beer so that it will be ready to drink on my birthday this year. I hope to share a brew of my own, created with his brewing equipment, as I remember this man who has had a major impact on my life.

To family and to love! May both grow and fill our lives with rich, rewarding memories. Cheers!