Tuesday, March 28, 2006

spring break, day 4  

posted by Michael Piwonka 9:31 PM
Today we took in the Museum of Natural History, the Smithsonian Castle, the World War II Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial and the Korean War Memorial.

I added pictures from the memorials to the Washington DC photo album, and created a new album for the Museum of Natural History.

While we were at the Museum of Natural History, we watched an excellent IMAX movie called Aliens of the Deep. It detailed the incredible animals living at the bottom of the oceans, in 3D, no less.

Just like the previous days, I knew it was a good day because the kids were exhausted by the end of the day (not to mention Dennis and me).

The trip has been a success up to now. The hotel accomodations are great, with two separate bedrooms, along with a sleeper sofa. We've used the kitchen to prepare a couple dinners, which reduces the cost of food significantly.

The hotel also has a wonderful complimentary breakfast, which we all look forward to. The kids particularly enjoy preparing their own waffles, while Dennis and I tend to go with the traditional items, such as bacon and eggs.

The hotel also has complimentary laundry service, which I used this evening. We all have fresh, clean clothes for our trip to Blowing Rock. The hotel also has a complimentary happy hour during the week, which we of course are not partaking of. However, the guests I witnessed with beer in hand sure looked happy.

Best of the all, the hotel is relatively inexpensive, mainly because we're staying outside the Beltway. The tradeoff, naturally, is the distance to get to downtown. Fortunately, the subway system is clean, efficient, and safe.

Everyday we learn a little more about the mass transit system, and today was the first time we used the bus system to connect us to the closest subway terminal. We drove a couple miles to the bus station, paid $1 each to ride the bus about 10 miles to the subway, then paid $6.50 each for all day passes on the subway. The subway has convenient stops everywhere we want to go.

I asked Mason what his favorite part of the trip has been so far, and he said it was the subway. Better than the zoo. Better than the museums and memorials.

However, we learned first hand what the subway is like at rush hour. This morning we took the subway well after rush hour, and were treated to a train that seemed to be exclusively for us. No delays, no traffic, no crowds, no hassle. But when we returned this afternoon, we ended up in the middle of the evening rush hour.

The subway was packed, with people standing in the aisles. When we eventually got to the stop to board the bus to our car, the bus was running late (perhaps because of the rainy weather). However, the locals didn't seem to notice; they just stood in line quietly and patiently, as if this was the norm.

Welcome to the rat race. As I sat on the crowded bus, which seemed to take much longer to get to our car than it did to get to the subway in the morning, I remembered the pop song by The Police from years ago:

Another working day has ended
Only the rush hour hell to face
Packed like lemmings into shiny metal boxes

With traffic and parking being what it is in downtown DC, the need for mass transit is obvious. But it would take a little getting used to for me. However, many people wisely take the opportunity to read or write. I guess once you got used to it, the ride could provide a little time to yourself.

But sitting would sure beat standing in the aisles.

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