We didn’t have long in the Museum of Natural History, which was sandwiched in between the Air & Space Museum and a trip to Georgetown for lunch.
From the outside, this museum is imposing; it is seemingly miles long and sports a giant gold rotunda in the middle. Inside the rotunda, which we found after going through yet another metal detector, is a giant elephant, which I vaguely remembered from my 5th grade trip. The squeals of children echoed throughout the rotunda, and after deciding that most of them originated in the dinosaur exhibit, we decided we didn’t really need to see those bones after all.
Our main point of interest was the Gem Exhibit, which contains the Hope Diamond as its centerpiece. I had wrongfully told James that it was the largest diamond in the world (partially due to a memory that greatly exaggerated its size), so when he saw it, sitting on its pedestal in the middle of the exhibit, glistening blue, he was very disappointed. Perhaps I meant to say “the most cursed diamond in the world,” since the diamond hasn’t exactly had a boring past (some of its previous owners have committed suicide, had to abdicate their rule, or been beheaded, to name a few).
After a look at some of the strange rock formations in the exhibit surrounding the Hope Diamond, we met up with Debbie and headed to Georgetown. The weather became more atrocious by the minute, which made for an interesting drive. When we finally arrived there—after a drive that seemed inordinately long after my friend Sonia, who attended Georgetown, talked about being able to run to the Washington Monument from campus—we were greeted with roads that looked like parking lots, such was the traffic. I’m convinced there were snails in DC that made it to Sonia’s quicker than we did.
We ended up eating at a nice Thai restaurant (which I can’t remember the name of at the moment). I had a wonderful Pad Thai (and when I ordered it, the waiters actually listened to my “no peanuts” order. It’s surprising how often they just toss peanuts on there anyway, regardless of the fact that it’s the most dangerous allergy today), and it was great to catch up with my friends, who I hadn’t seen in quite awhile, since I had been spending all my free vacation time in Australia. Plus, it was much better than eating lunch at McDonald’s in the Smithsonian food court!
After lunch, we had a much quicker drive back into the District. By now, it was absolutely bucketing it down, so when Debbie dropped us off opposite the Washington Monument, we were more than happy to stop at a vendor and buy a very large umbrella. It was very fortunate that there was a large (but getting smaller by the minute) protest going on nearby, which was the reason the vendors were there in the first place.
Armed and ready (with an umbrella, just to clarify for any… government agents that might take that phrase the wrong way), we headed to the White House.