Gregory G. H. Rihn (milwaukeesfs) wrote,
Gregory G. H. Rihn

Greg and Georgie go to Washington, Day 2: Air and Space Museum, American History Museum, Spy Museum

We started touring for the day at the National Air and Space Museum. I was pleased to see that a number of new exhibits had been added since my trip decades ago, including Spaceship One, the Breitling Orbiter balloon gondola, and the Voyager aircraft that circled the world non-stop (surprisingly small!). We looked at most of this museum, including the very nice exhibit surrounding the Wright Flyer, through WWI and WWII aircraft, to the X-1, X-15, and the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo spacecraft, including the inside of the Skylab replica. Then, we took a break for lunch. The Air and Space Museum has a nice restaurant pavilion attached, which is served by a combined McDonalds and Boston Market franchise (!). We got Boston Market lunches, noting that Washington is an expensive city, since the meal cost us $20.00 that would have been less than $15 here. (Most of the other places we ate were closer to Milwaukee prices—we hoped the Museum was getting a cut--). Fortunately, admission to the Smithsonian museums and government buildings is all free.

After lunch, we went to the Museum of American History, which, frankly, I found a bit disappointing. It is smaller than some of the other museums, and, instead of trying to present a comprehensive timeline of our history, relies on a number of transient exhibits built around a core of permanent exhibits, which include the “Star-Spangled Banner,” the First Ladies’ Inaugural gown collection, a Revolutionary War gunboat retrieved from Lake Champlain, and Julia Child’s kitchen—all of which we looked at. There was also an interesting temporary exhibit on the life of Abraham Lincoln, but, after that, not much else of interest other than the “John Bull” locomotive.

The good side of that was that it left us time and energy to get to the International Spy Museum. The Spy Museum is a for-profit operation, so one of the few things we had to pay admission for, but the $18.00 each was worth it. The museum has a large number of exhibits, mostly focusing on modern and Cold War-era spying, but with some interesting historical information also. There were lots of good photographs, devices, and interactive stations that could have substantially prolonged our stay had we attempted to try them all. As it was, we were getting tired and coasted though the last bit so as to have energy enough to negotiate the dangerously attractive gift shop.

Then, back to the hotel, and, having had our main meal of the day at noon, went out to a highly regarded place called Crepeaway, which does lunch crepes (all containing cheese of some sort) and dessert crepes, most of which have Nutella as a filling augmented with various types of fruit. This simple formula works well. We each got a large, freshly made crepe, which was folded into a cone and had the filling poured in. Georgie got the Nutella and fresh strawberries, which was quite delicious, and I got the Nutella and banana crepe, which was very nice as well. For a light, tasty dessert, this was hard to beat.

To be continued, Day 3--

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Tags: smithsonian, spy museum, vacation, washington
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