The question we've been answering the most over the last week has been, "how was Washington?" My answer? Hot. We get some hot weather here but it's got nothing on the unremitting heat and humidity of August in Washington, which was almost too much for us. Plus in turns out that it's hard to get good drinking water when you're staying in a hotel. So we were perpetually thirsty. But that may be universal in Washington, judging by the number of folks selling bottled water and gatorade on the streets around the Mall. It seems like a fine gig, if you don't mind shouting the same thing over and over again for hours.
Our hotel room, home for four long days, was very nice. We had two big beds, a table or bar sort of thing, and a L-shaped couch. Two TVs. The most important feature was the tiny refrigerator, which we needed so we wouldn't have to go out to eat for every single meal. The only downside to the place was the ridiculous bathroom sink—the only sink. It was a shallow box-shaped thing set on the countertop with a faucet that sprayed a flat sheet of water, maybe an inch and a half wide, out at a 45° angle. It made me think of hostile architecture—how cities install uncomfortable benches to keep folks from sleeping on them. Though in this case I think it was just bad design. Hard enough to wash hands in, never mind cleaning dishes.
We spent most of our time in Pokemon world—the main hall at the Convention Center. At least, Harvey, Zion, and I did; Lijah was having none of that (none of anything, actually) so he and Leah swam in the pool, walked the neighborhood around the hotel, and enjoyed the AC in the hotel room. Harvey and I played lots of Pokemon, and Zion played lots of Let's Go Pikachu on the game systems they had set up for him.
After the competition finished up Sunday at lunchtime, the bigger boys and I were free to be tourists. We walked down to the mall and through the Sculpture Garden, which is full of beautiful artwork. Also a giant fountain, by which we stopped for a picnic lunch. There was very definitely no wading allowed, but we could still enjoy dipping our tired feet in the luke-warm water.
Next we visited the Natural History Museum. We stayed for about three hours, and we would have been happy with twice that, but I had hopes of catching a glimpse of some more Washington-specific attractions (I mean, lots of towns have Natural History Museums). Unfortunately we were defeated by heat, distance, and the construction fence around the Washington Monument—but we did see it, at least. Then we got yelled at near the White House, without seeing that at all. That meant it was time to go home.
On Monday we finally got to do something all together: go to the zoo! After we got all packed up and checked out of the hotel, that is. Liberated our car from its underground storage where we had left it five days previously, I found that I had lost the parking slip—that meant we had to pay the daily maximum of $30. I'll take it! The zoo was wonderful, and we were entranced not only by the elephants and lions and gorillas, but but the otters and tamarinds as well. Plus the tamarinds were inside in air conditioned comfort! Did I mention it was really hot there?
We finally tore ourselves away from the zoo in the early afternoon and headed towards home. There was more traffic on the return trip but that was fine; we had a good book to listen too and lots to talk about—and we were happy to be sitting still. There were some adventures on the way: we went over the Bay Bridge again, we saw some more broken-down trucks, and we stopped in a little town in Eastern Maryland for gas. There we visited what was instantly my favorite convenience store in the world: not only did they have like 12 different varieties of pork rinds, but for once I didn't have to worry about the boys not having their shoes—there were barefoot adults in there too!
Did I mention that Zion didn't actually bring shoes on the trip? Traveling is fun. I'm also glad to be back home.