Monday, July 26, 2010

July 25, 2010: Washington - Farmer's Market, Aquarium Let-Down, The Scouts' Parade, Natural History Re-Visited, A Delicious Roast Chicken

We started off our day with a trip to the Dupont Circle Farmer's Market. We picked up corn, kale, pattypan squash, tomatoes, basil, nectarines, blueberries, bread, eggs, a melon, eggplant and green beans. If it hadn't been so hot already so early in the day we might have sampled some of the many cheeses and meats as well - maybe we'll have better luck next week. But I am loving the heat for the delicious harvest it's delivering.

Mark, being a fan of aquariums, had been keen to visit the National Aquarium since we arrived. Although I'd read in the guidebook that it was housed in a somewhat uninspiring former government building, I didn't imagine that it was quite as uninspiring as it turned out to be - it's basically two long hallways in a basement that's been painted black, floor to ceiling. However, it was air-conditioned, not too crowded, and had a fantastically lively octopus. Since our visit was shorter than we had imagined it would be, I picked out another destination that we wouldn't have to walk far too - the Natural History Museum.

As we walked down the street, we crossed paths with the Boy Scouts, turned out in force for a parade. I've since read that it's the first time they've paraded through Washington since 1937. It was remarkable how little affected by the heat they seemed - I couldn't imagine wearing full-length uniforms of pants and sleeves, walking in direct sunlight, marching in time and playing an instrument. Mark pointed out that at the last minute some groups had been permitted to wear hats as protection against the sun - their caps didn't match.

We escaped the heat but not the crowds in the Natural History Museum. What a change from when I visited before on my own on a weekday - every exhibit was crowded, which really diminished our enjoyment. However, I pointed out a few of my favourites to Mark (like the diminutive skeleton and recreated model of the now-extinct humans from Flores). And then we noticed the dark skies and whipping trees outside - a thunderstorm had come, seemingly out of nowhere. So, we continued to wander about until the skies cleared, and then headed home. We could see the evidence of how fierce the storm had been - there were huge puddles of standing water everywhere that hadn't yet drained.

Once home we stopped in at Pizze, an Italian place across the street that advertises carry-out rotisserie chicken, pizzas and pasta. Our chicken took two hours, but was absolutely worthwhile - juicy, flavourful, and the perfect accompaniment to the corn and kale we had bought earlier that day.

Photos: two nautilus (nautili) suspended in the water; a large tank with fish swimming amongst the seaweed; jellyfish; an octopus; underwater close-ups; Scouts parade; a couple of long-necked species; I pose next to the model of Homo floresiensis

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