Monday, July 26, 2010
July 24, 2010: Washington - Air & Space, Boy Scout Jamboree, An Astounding Meal
After a morning spent at work indoors, safe from the heat, we set forth for downtown. Our choice of destinations was determined by how close they were to a subway stop - I selected the National Museum of Air & Space, which had the additional advantage of being a place that I hadn't visited yet.
And by the time we got there, it was clear that my initial sighting of Boy Scouts the previous day had only been part of a bigger event. They were everywhere - in packs on the train, roaming through the museum, sometimes slight differences in uniforms distinguishing one group from another. As I now know from looking it up online, it's the 100th anniversary of scouting, and the national jamboree is being held just across the river in Virginia - small wonder we were encountering them everywhere.
I started to doubt whether my choice of the Air & Space museum was doomed (where else would so many teenage boys choose to go?), but we went in anyhow. After a few tight squeezes in the popular exhibit areas (like the flight simulators) we found some peace and quiet in a room devoted to the Wright brothers development of flight. It was a great exhibition - it laid out each step in their ultimate success clearly, showing the experiments they undertook and improvements they made. It made the achievement very comprehensible, yet still just as impressive.
I also liked the exhibitions on early astronomy (some impressive instruments) and a great collection of photographs of the various planets and moons - so many photographs have a strong, raking light which really highlights the textures of the landscapes.
On our way home we got off at the Cleveland Park stop to try out a restaurant I had read about, Ripple. I'd walked past it the day before and it looked like it wouldn't be difficult to get into - this stretch of town has several restaurants, but seemed rather quiet overall. However, at nighttime it was transformed - all the restaurants were packed, and we doubted whether we would get a table. Luckily, there was one small table for two available, and we sat down to an astoundingly good meal. They use fresh, local food whenever possible, but their technique was great too - everything was perfectly cooked and seasoned. The review had mentioned their corn soup, which Mark ordered - it was amazing - each mouthful transforming from sweet to smoky. I ordered duck breast - both crispy and luxuriously rich. For desert we had a cheese plate with five selections. By the end we were deliriously happy, and all for considerably less than it would have cost in Toronto. I think we'll have to make a point of returning here once more before we leave Washington.
Photos: a classic model of the planet Saturn, with its moons in orbit; fascinating texture of grooved sand dunes on Mars; the Wright Flyer; Boy Scouts swarm the Museum; the Screamin Demon