Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Day 11: American History and Money - What Could be Better?

Here's how we started our morning ride on the Metro. It was the boys' first time on a subway, and they were thrilled.

And here's how we ended our day on the Metro. ;)

There are over a dozen different museums that are part of the Smithsonian, and most of them are lined up around the National Mall. We had visited the Udvar-Hazy air and space museum on the first day of our trip, and I had the Zoo planned for a later date. I narrowed down the other museums to the three I thought would most interest the boys: the main Air and Space Museum; the Natural History Museum; and the American History museum. I was sad to miss out of the beautiful artwork at the other buildings, but one can only take Team Danger to so many museums. And my general idea was to just do one of these each day, so we didn't get museum-ed out.

I also had arranged through our senator to get tickets for events you need security clearance, like the Capitol, the Bureau or Printing and Engraving, and the White House (oh , right... not the White House, since the tours were cancelled... not cool, Mr. President. I love you, but this really disappointed two future voters) As my tickets came in, I had to rearrange my schedule to accommodate those events. The BEP, for instance, was set for 4:30 p.m. on our first day, which limited what and where we would be in the afternoon.

First up: the American History Museum.

My personal favorite, and I thought the boys would dig it, too.

They have several interactive family-friendly events, like washing clothes like the pioneers did, or participating in a Greensboro Lunch Counter sit-in, and singing freedom songs.

Plus, cool things to see, like Lincoln's hat and clothes he was wearing the night he was killed.

The original Star-Spangled Banner (which is not where it used to hang - see below - but is now behind closed glass and not able to be photographed).

Big trains, planes, automobiles, and boats (part of a transportation exhibit).

One of every type of coin and bill currency ever used in America.

Even a $5,000 bill! Did I even know these existed?

And some fun modern popular culture artifacts, like Kermit the Frog, Oscar the Grouch, Dorothy's ruby slippers, Archie Bunker's chair, and Idinia Menzel's dress as Elphaba (which didn't photograph well for me, but its such a cool image, I'm including it).

A huge exhibit all on our presidents, and you get to speak at the president's podium.

And the First Ladies' gowns. (no big surprise, but this was NOT a hit with Team Danger. Some days I really miss not having a daughter)

We ate a truly horrible lunch in the museum's cafeteria that cost us over $50. Oh. My. God. I'm still bitter at how bad that food was, and how much it cost. I think this may have jaded our memories of the good parts of the museum, but somehow, which is a shame. My original plan after this museum was to then go down to the Jefferson Memorial, and do a paddleboat ride. We would have just the right amount of time to do both, and make our 4:30 money factory tour. Alex really wanted to do the paddle boats, but when it came time to head that way, it was raining. We could walk in the rain, but even Team Danger wouldn't be foolish enough to take a boat out on water in the rain. Cue some unhappiness. Our rain alternate, though, was to head to the National Archives.

The National Archives houses the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and the Constitution. In large part due to National Treasure, this was a must-see spot for Team Danger.

Except... its crowded, your visits are time-controlled, and its hard to get your time in front of the documents. Plus they are faded. No pictures are allowed. And, well, let's just say, this was not what we were expecting thanks to great and not-so-great Hollywood movies, like Protocol. (I don't remember it being this way, either... not sure if the place has grown in popularity, or of security measures dictated changes) Oh, and did I mention that a good 20 minutes of our line was out in the rain?

Since we couldn't take a picture inside, we pretended outside.

The best part of the Archives was its hands-on "research archives", which is a museum of sorts. Alex really liked this. Ryan really liked finding a place to sit down and "watch" a movie for twenty minutes.

When I decided to move the Archives to this day to help with rain, well, I'm not sure what I was thinking, because it was in such the wrong direction from where we needed to head next, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. We had a good 20-30 minute walk in humid conditions to get there, and we were worried we would be late. we did pass the Washington Monument, all covered up after its earthquake damage.

We weren't, happily, but we were all sorts of sticky when we got there. The money factory, as Ryan called it, was a big hit. Even bigger than I had hoped. The boys absolutely LOVED watching millions upon millions of dollars being printed.

You can't take pictures inside, but there was plenty of pretty awesome money in the lobby where you could take pictures. Here's Ryan with one million one dollar bills.

My little money collectors were super happy with their money factory, so this day ended on a good 'note.'

Oh, and if we measure Ryan by a stack of $100 bills, he'd be worth $1,281,000.

We were in great moods on this walk. The money factory was a hit, and they knew we were headed back to our hotel for food, swimming, and sleeping.

Up Next: Spying in the Nation's Capitol

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