Thursday, September 29, 2011

Crunchy Socks, Subway Fires, and Dehydrated Space Monkeys

Dehydrated Space Monkey. I call him Kirk.
There's really no other way to start this blog entry. In fact, I'm considering starting everything I ever write from now on with a dehydrated space monkey.  Surely, if it's good enough for the venerable Smithsonian Museum, it is good enough for me.

And you.

Our second day in Washington was spent walking endlessly around the city, enjoying the wonderful sights and lamenting the fact that my socks were all crunchy. It seems indelicate to mention, and I suspect that I am opening myself up to cheap potshots from my friends, but my undies were on the crunchy side as well.

You may remember, from our last episode, I had traveled to Washington D.C. with my family to attend the National Book Festival. Upon arrival, I found that I had failed to pack a single pair of clean undies or socks and was forced to wash my one set of each in the sink and dry them with the hair dryer conveniently supplied by the hotel for just such a purpose.

The downside, if you can even imagine a downside to such a system, is that the hand soap–or possibly inadequate rinsing–left my socks and undies more crunchy than I normally care for them to be. After reading about this predicament, my friend Melissa suggested that I might have purchased new socks and undies in Washington, thus alleviating my suffering. Melissa is a real-life, professional, full-time editor and should know better. If I had bought new socks and undies, I would have had nothing to write about.

Except Kirk, the Dehydrated Space Monkey.

Which, really, might have been enough now that I think about it.

So we spent our second day in Washington wandering through the truly spectacular Smithsonian Museums. Our first stop was at the Air and Space Museum, home to, among other things:

Kirk, the Dehydrated Space Monkey. Again.
I would love to tell you all about this monkey; who he was, why he is dehydrated and propped up on display, what he is thinking about; but I cannot. As soon as I saw him, I fell into paroxysms of laughter so volcanic, that I almost passed out.

I have an annual tradition of swapping horrible gifts with friends and I'd like to take this opportunity to warn ALL my friends that if the Smithsonian ever has a yard sale, you are all in BIG trouble.

Our wanderings carried us to the mock up of the space station where my imagination was captivated by the amazing possibilities of the waste collection system.

I can only tell you that it is a vast improvement over some of the more primitive models they had on display.

Say Cheese!
There was also a nifty, but completely useless thermal imaging camera on display, merrily bombarding our delicate, defenseless, touristy bodies with nuclear radiation. You will notice the cold, black spot where my heart should be. That space is there because I was unable to purchase Kirk, the Dehydrated Space Monkey. That empty void shall remain there until I am able to have Kirk for my very own.

Our next stop was the Museum of American History. On the way, we passed many tourists posing for odd, awkward photos of themselves.

I took a picture of a guy taking a picture of a lady taking a picture of a guy.   I win.

The Museum of American History is wonderful and amazing and blah, blah, blah. You can see the actual Star Spangled Banner (it is huge) or Ladybird Johnson's Inaugural Ball Gown (it is the ugliest thing in history and I am negotiating its purchase for use in the gift swap with my friends), or, if you are very patient, you can see the rare and elusive, Guy Posing Behind A Stuffed Buffalo And Fanning the Air Like The Buffalo Farted.

 This guy actually asked Kerri to take his picture posing with a buffalo butt. He stood there fanning the air and wrinkling up his nose and had Kerri take at least a half dozen pictures of him, because it took him a few tries to find the perfect pose. I was too late to actually photograph him fanning himself because I was across the hall, photographing some Chinese girls who wanted their photo taken with a genuine museum guard. They actually got this guard to dance after this picture was taken. I have no idea how, but they did.

Feeling a need to get in on some of the hilarious photo action, Kerri took this brilliant picture of the kids and me looking through a hole. HA HA HA!

Aren't we clever?

Now you know what I look like when looking through a circle.

After we had absorbed all the culture, history, and Dehydrated Space Monkeys we could tolerate, we began the long walk back to Union Station where the hotel shuttle would pick us up and return us to the hotel. There were a few stops along the way as we had already walked 2.6 million miles and were weary.

I used the break as an opportunity to practice my serious look. I will use this as an author photo if I ever write a book that is not about boogers.
We slogged along until we arrived at Union Station. Once there, we were greeted by what appeared to be the entire Washington D.C. fire department and hoards of happy, patient commuters who had been evacuated from the subway because it was, in the words of an official on the scene, "On fire."

Smoke was billowing up from the grates in the ground so, naturally, I grabbed the camera and strolled over to the subway entrance to get a few shots.

Some of the firefighters objected to my presence and expressed the opinion that I might want to relocate myself.

Kerri suggested, for the first time, that I restrict my picture taking to photos of random strangers that we don't know, posing awkwardly in front of national monuments.

But before I could take any pictures of the happy, patient people, displaced from their evening commute, the shuttle came and whisked us away to the hotel for our last night in Washington.

I spent the long drive home pondering how best to word the letter I'm going to write to the Smithsonian, asking about purchasing Kirk.

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