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Thursday, March 29, 2001

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Rain and embassies

It was gray but dry when I got up today. As I was getting ready to go out the door it started to rain and it rained all day long. I just looked out the window and the rain is still coming down in the light of the headlights and streetlights. I didn't know that this morning so I decided that I would take a chance. I wanted to to the Embassy Row/National Cathedral walk since I hadn't done that yet. I had an excuse to use the Metro so that was a good enough reason it itself.

I took the Red line up to the Woodley Park station, found Washington Park Gourmet Deli, where the walk started and headed out. The walk first took me through the Washington Heights area, past a few embassies and so many beautiful houses. From there I went to the National Cathedral. This was on my 'to see' list so check one off. I didn't do the tour since the docents were all out on tours already and I didn't feel like doing one of the self serve audio tours. I always like being able to ask people questions. It looks like a gothic castle as you approach it and is a beautiful building.

The walk continued down to Massachusetts Ave via Wisconsin, Calvert and the Observatory Circle. It was fun seeing the Naval Observatory since that's what I set my clocks by from the internet. I figure all the clocks at work are at a different time but at least I'll be on time. I passed so many, many embassies from large to small. They are such a variety of styles, also, though Georgian and Federal seem to predominate. DC is not really a victorian town. I can't recall seeing a victorian house here.

When I reached Dupont Circle I stopped at Starbucks just to warm up. I'd picked up some bread and bananas at the deli for lunch but I wanted to get out of the rain and drink something warm. The Starbucks is a wedge of glass toward the circle so you can do some nice people watching from it.

I then wandered back and forth in the area west of Connecticut Avenue and saw even more embassies. I at least knew that most of the names were countries but there were a few that I didn't recall hearing of before. Either I just hadn't heard of them or they've changed their name. This is always a problem with countries, especially small ones, now a days. Finally I crossed the Taft Memorial Bridge, high above Rock Creek, and it was back to the start point. I really wanted to go on the Rock Creek walk also but decided it was just too wet for that.

I took the Metro back to the Smithsonian Station and spent the rest of the afternoon checking out the museums. The Museum of American History was jammed with kids on field trips and other tours. The doorways of all the museums were full of large groups looking for their bus and the tour buses were lined up along the mall. For a Wednesday in March with all that rain it seemed busy but I guess it's always busy here. At there hostel there is a group from a small school in Oregon and they said they come here once every three years. When you come that far you don't let a little thing like rain slow you down and it didn't slow me down either.

So I went on to the Museum of Natural History and looked through their dinosaur and pre-dinosaur sea life exhibits. They had a real reef with explanations of what all went into one. They are so incredibly complex.

Next I spent some time in the National Gallery of Art. As always, I was upset that they wanted me to leave my backpack at the checkstand. At least this time they told me it was because people have turned around and damaged art work with their backpacks. They will allow you to carry it by the handle at your side but it's much to heavy for that. It is a hassle taking out my really valuable stuff like money, cell phone, palm, etc. Things that I just don't want to take a chance on. By this time I was carrying my umbrella in a plastic grocery sack inside so it would drip all over the floor and me so I was glad to check that. I looked through the American artists section and the Dutch artists section, which pretty much took the rest of the afternoon since it was nearly four when I got there.

By the time I left it was getting darker and rush hour was in full swing. The tour buses were pulling out in droves and I'm sure the drivers were ready to get this day over since it was too wet for them to even stand around outside chatting with each other. I was going to take a bus to the hostel since I was cold and tired but it was too much trouble to dig out the money and figure out which bus so I just walked. The hostel dining room was full to the brim. I guess everyone decided to stay in. I had some hot soup and it was so delicious.

There is one older lady staying here who was sitting in the dining room talking to herself. She talked to me some last night but if there's no one to talk to she just talks to herself. I don't mean just a thoughtful murmer but an out loud rant against doctors and telephones and insurance. Some other people sat at her table and she talked to them but when they left she started in again.

I'm sitting in my room with a blanket on my knees because it's cold. I'll have to dress warm tonight. E ven with a blanket it was just warm enough last night and it feels so much colder in here now.

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Rachel Aschmann 2001.
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