We got up early on Thursday to head for the White House.  I was unable to arrange a tour in time but we took the Metro subway over there just to say we’d walked past it and seen it in person.  We walked all around it taking many photos.  From there we visited the visitor’s center a block or so away.  This is a bit of a yawn.  It needs some work to make it worth visiting.  It’s in part of the Commerce Department building which is the usual impressive structure but the visitor’s center itself does not amount to much of anything.  We headed off from there towards the Smithsonian American History museum.

The weather was quite nice for most of our stay but this turned out to be the hot day.  The temp was forecast to be about 90 but instead soared to 95.  We had to wait awhile for the Smithsonian to open and spent it outside in the heat.  Mel had come prepared with umbrellas to keep off the sun and these came in quite handy.

I had heard that the Smithsonian was gigantic and was prepared to leave without seeing everything.  We planned our visit to head straight to the Star Spangled Banner (the flag that flew over Fort McHenry and inspired the national anthem) and from there to the pop culture section.  Having accomplished our requisite view of the Ruby Slippers, we then visited the First Ladies’ Gowns exhibit.  At some point I went off to see the steam engines and other engineering type stuff but met up with Mel just before she was to enter the exhibit of gowns.  We had lunch down in their café and headed over to the Air and Space museum.

The place was hopping – it’s the most popular museum in the world in terms of number of visitors and that day was no different.  There was large numbers of kids to avoid stepping on.  Rockets and planes have always been a big deal with me and the NASM has that in spades.  By this time, we were both exhausted from the previous two days of walking and from the heat.  My legs and feet have never felt that way before; just really tired.  Astronaut Alan Bean was there signing copies of his latest book of artwork. We got our fill of history and headed to the gift shop which is without doubt the finest anywhere.  We stocked up on souvenirs and staggered off towards the hotel.

It wasn’t far, maybe half a mile, but as I mentioned before, we were suffering the accumulated fatigue of two previous days and with the heat, we both began to feel like the cartoonish images of people trudging across the desert.  We made it back to our hotel where I stripped off my sweat-soaked clothes and fell onto the bed.  It took me a long time to cool off but not too long to fall asleep.  Mel took the time to shower off and soak her feet.  I only did this later on.  We had both put those blue gel-soles into our shoes before leaving Tulsa and I’m sure they helped but my feet were pretty sore even so.

We got up and had dinner at Union Station and then went out to the Grayline terminal for a tour of the monuments after dark.  This was something we signed up for on a whim and were glad of it since our legs were so tired.  This took us to most of the monuments.  While standing on the steps of the Lincoln memorial, I saw three helicopters heading towards the white house.  Two of them peeled off and one landed and I suppose it was the president coming home from his European trip.  Pretty cool.