Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Washington D.C. Pics Of The Day--Day 3

Ahh, Day 3. This is kid-in-a-candy-store time for me. Ked and I spent the whole day at the National Air and Space Museum--we could easily have spent two, despite the fact this was the second time we have been to this particular museum. I walked around all day with a huge grin on my face. What's not to grin about? We saw rockets and planes, with names like Starfighter and Skyrocket, and learned about how they fly. We saw giant telescopes and planets, and a fascinating 3D movie of the Sun. We soared along with an absolutely fantastic IMAX video about a real-life Air Force pilot participating in international combat exercises at Operation Red Flag. We walked through the field of missiles and space stations that were the offspring of the U.S./Soviet race for space, soaking up the details on every plaque we could get our eyes on, and took our tour through the Skylab Orbital Workshop (or a reasonable facsimile, anyway). We also stood in line for fifteen minutes for a fifteen second glance inside the cockpit of a big-old-jet-airliner, whimpering because the protective glass kept us from pushing all the buttons.

With all of this, and much more, we still didn't have time to investigate aviation during the World Wars, or really dig into jet propulsion, or check out the flight simulators, or peruse the Jules Verne-imagined space capsule, or see again the Wright brothers plane that started it all, or. . . You get the point. We'd probably have gotten through everything quicker if we didn't have the driving compulsion to read every single thing we passed, but I wouldn't give up that compulsion for (almost) anything. There's nothing so cool to me as spending a whole day in an amazing place and leaving feeling like I've only scratched the surface. It was heaven. We are so going back someday.

So, on to the pics of the day. I'm not sure how effective these photos will be at giving a sense of what got us so excited. It's really hard to convey scale, even when you click on the photos to enlarge them (which I encourage you to do), and so much of what we enjoyed was what we learned, but here goes. As usual, we'll just walk out of our hotel and see what we see...

One of the first things of interest which we came across was this demonstration, all bedecked with a combination of American and Chinese flags, an arresting sight by its sheer improbability. We weren't able to ascertain exactly what was going on, but we suspected that the folks here were seeking aid and support for the victims of China's recent devastating earthquake. This is just a guess, however, since what we heard while we were there was a young girl's slightly off-key voice loudly singing "The Sun'll Come Out Tomorrow" through a rather distorted sound system. That could be about the earthquake, right? (Oh, by the way, those little smudges in the air in front of the Washington Monument aren't smudges; they're helicopters. You can see them pretty clearly in my original high-resolution photo, and not quite so clearly if you click to the full-blog-sized photo here. Just letting you know your screen isn't dirty. The helicopters are simply being covert. It's the old helicopters-disguised-as-smudges camouflage.)

What would any day in D.C. be without its share of the abundant columnage that decorates this fair city? This fine example of columnar architecture is brought to you by the good people of Canada, who seem happy to let their embassy reflect this dominant architectural theme.

For just a minute Ked and I thought we had taken a wrong turn at Denver and headed to the City by the Bay, but a few more steps brought us to another set of columns, a fountain, and some statues, so we knew were were still in D.C. and not some Twilight Zone version of San Francisco.

We arrived at Air and Space and I promptly adopted perma-grin. The grin got wider as I looked up to see Spaceship One. Here's what Tier One Project, "the world's first privately funded manned space program," has to say about Spaceship One: "On October 4, 2004, SpaceShipOne rocketed into history, becoming the first private manned spacecraft to exceed an altitude of 328,000 feet twice within the span of a 14 day period, thus claiming the ten million dollar Ansari X-Prize." I want a ride. Do you suppose they'd be nice to me because I gave them a link in my highly insignificant and fluffy little blog? Nah, didn't think so.

Here's Kedley standing next to the Apollo 11 Command Module Columbia. Yep, this is the one that ferried Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins to the Moon and back again, from July 16-24, 1969. Doesn't look very big for spending eight or nine days in space, does it? However, I have photographic proof that previous modules were much smaller. Neil, Buzz and Michael can be glad that they weren't aboard the Mercury or Gemini crafts. Talk about your sardine cans! Apollo looks absolutely spacious by comparison, and, of course, they had the lunar module to kick around in for the flight out. However, since they let that crash back onto the surface when they departed la Luna, the ride home got pretty cozy.

Here's one for any of you ladies who ever wanted to be a stewardess. (Yes, I know the PC term is "Flight Attendant," but in the fifties, when the industry was all about glamour and every girl wanted to fly the friendly skies, the proper form of address was "Stewardess.") Back in the day, potential candidates were evaluated by height, weight, age, marital status (single), appearance, race, gender, and education. I discovered that should some time machine whisk me back to 1952, I would have no hope of being a flight attendant in that strict and bigoted era. Ignoring the fact that I'm married and over a decade too old, I'm two inches too tall!! (The acceptable window is 5'2"-5'6".) At least, I was two inches too tall before that extra decade stole a half an inch from me! Stinking gravity.

It's a shame, too, because if I had been sufficiently unmarried and otherwise adequate appearance-wise to be a stewardess, I could have worn a nifty outfit like this one. Seriously, all snark aside, this little number is pretty darn elegant air-wear. I may have to copy that jacket, even if the only thing I wear on airplanes these days are comfort clothes. Maybe I could make it out of some of that new stretchy fabric that looks all stiff and uncomfortable, but feels like you are in your pajamas, or, maybe I could wear it someplace other than on an airplane! (See, you come someplace like the Air and Space museum and you start getting all sorts of wild and crazy, futuristic ideas.)

How about we talk about something that involves women and flight, but doesn't involve such trivialities as what they're wearing while they're up there? This is the Lockheed Vega that Amelia Earhart flew in 1932 to make the first nonstop solo flight by a woman across the Atlantic, and also the first nonstop solo flight by a woman across the United States. Her 19 hours in the air during the flight across the continent makes me feel a little pathetic for whining about our six-or-so hours in the air from Portland to D.C.. Of course, I'm betting that Amelia didn't have to cope with any cute-but-crying infants either. It's a toss-up.

Here's a fun array of aircraft, from a 1936 Douglas DC-3 passenger liner, which, according to Wikipedia "revolutionized air transport in the 1930s and 1940s," to a 1928 Ford 5-AT Tri-Motor, U.S. mail plane. (Did you know that Ford built planes? I sure didn't.)

Here's the Starfighter I mentioned earlier. The handy museum plaque said this type of day fighter, first flown in 1954, is known as "the missile with a man in it." It's the first U.S. jetfighter to fly at twice the speed of sound, and this one, the seventh one ever built, flew for 19 years as a "flying test bed and chase plane," before retiring to the Smithsonian in 1975. Canada, Germany, Italy and Japan also flew these Mach 2 machines, which goes to show you what a decade can to to change international relations. This baby was built only nine years after the end of World War II, and yet Germany and Japan got U.S. permission to build and fly them. Gives me hope for the future, that does.

Here's a fun thing. This is an honest-to-goodness, real-deal Apollo lunar module. I'll just quote the whole NASM plaque verbatim so you can be as in-the-know as Kedley and I now are:

"This is an actual lunar module, one of 12 built for Project Apollo. It was meant to be used in low Earth orbit to test the techniques of separation, rendezvous, and docking with the command and service module. The second of two such test vehicles, its mission was cancelled because of the complete success of the first flight.

"The lunar module had two stages. The descent (lower) stage was equipped with a rocket motor to slow the rate of descent to the lunar surface. It contained the exploration equipment and remained on the Moon when the astronauts left. The ascent (upper) stage contained the crew compartment and a rocket motor to return the astronauts to the orbiting command module. After the crew entered the command module for the trip back to Earth, the lunar module was released and eventually crashed into the Moon."

There--don't you feel all edified and erudite now? Oh, and as an aside, did you notice how many U.S. flags there are in this shot? I count five. The Apollo Project folks certainly weren't reticent about touting Brand America. I find that quite refreshing.

Here's a whole bushel of Air and Space fun. We have missiles and rockets aplenty, Skylab, and way in the background we have a full-sized replica of the Hubble Space Telescope. This Space Race Gallery was loads of educational entertainment, even if part of it was suitable for the "interesting, but creepy" category, like the Tomahawk missile in the upper foreground.

Ked and I had a ball in the "How Things Fly" section of the museum. We learned about the four forces that act on an airplane: gravity, lift, thrust and drag, and got to play with neato little hands-on gadgets which demonstrate those forces. Many of the gadgets involved water and/or strings in the wind, so that we could see the effects which are invisible when only air is involved (unless it's really, really dirty "L.A. in the 70s" kind of air I suppose). It was cool. We learned about vortices and how wings work, and what the flaps are for, and all manner of information that is pretty useless in my world, but awfully fun to know anyway.

After we learned how planes fly we were running out of time, so we quickly zipped through the "Explore the Universe" gallery, which showed us some of the ways man has devised to look at space throughout the centuries, and saw a few other odds and ends of Air and Space goodness on our way out the door. I have tons more pictures, but this is probably enough to convince you that you need to head to Washington to get to this museum, right? Maybe we can all go together next time, because I'm definitely panting to get back. I didn't even get to tell you about the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, or what free fall is, or about Voyager, the geysers on Triton, the Mars exploration Rover, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. I just don't have time to describe it all, and I'm sure you don't have time to read it either. Too many wonders, not enough time!! That's it--next time you're coming too!

Well, it's time to go back to the hotel and have some dinner. What would the walk home be, though, without another pretty columned building like the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center to admire? See you next time. Hope you enjoyed Day 3!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Washington D.C. Pics Of The Day--Day 2

It's day two of our D.C. vacation , and Ked and I are starting to realize that we've got a lot of ground to cover, and only five more days to cover it. So, we plan our route for maximum efficiency and set out to see the sights and gain some knowledge along the way. Put on some comfy shoes and come along with us. We always enjoy your company!

Even though we had a little more drive than on Day 1, that doesn't mean we didn't take time to stop for pretties. We didn't catch the name of this lovely green pool, but it would have made a nifty picnic area, complete with shade and tables and some charming local bird-life that found this location the ideal place for their morning ablutions.

Our first official stop was the National Aquarium, which lured us in passing on Day 1 when we read the sign which promised to let us watch shark and piranha and alligator feedings in progress, if we showed up at the right time the next day. Sadly, we missed dinner time on our visit, or we could have shown you some nice grisly chomping. As it is we will all have to be contented with less dramatic images. It's probably just as well. The photos would likely have been nothing but blurry red smudges anyway. So, I guess I'll show you this seahorse instead. Come to think of it, this photo is a wee bit blurry, too, since this stubborn seahorse refused to remain still for the camera, but I had to post it anyway. (Many of today's photos will be a bit grainy, since I had to snap them through glass.) Neither Ked nor I had ever seen a real seahorse before. They were cute, and odd, and slightly unbelievable. Did you know that male seahorses carry their young in pouches on their abdomen, like a mama kangaroo? Did you also know that young seahorses may eat up to ten hours a day, and can consume up to 3,600 baby brine shrimp in that time? You did, huh? Well, since you're so smart, could you tell us why this seahorse has a red string tied around its neck? None of the signs shared this information, and we were really curious. You can just leave the answer in the comments if you're feeling helpful.

Any Lolcats fans out there? This gator made us think, "Oh hai..." as soon as we saw him/her/it. This is only a little critter, but the glass that separated human from alligator was still an emotional comfort, If you click on the photo, you'll see a very impressive row of teeth. Respect the teeth.

This guy was a fascinatingly colorful resident of a tank full of poison frogs. Their vibrant color is a shout out to potential predators, a warning that their skin secretes deadly, toxic, nasty stuff, and the predators should look elsewhere for dinner. It's a decorative, "Hey, Stupid, don't eat me." supplied by nature to keep the frogs safe while happily munching on other hapless critters. Turns out these other critters are what make the frogs poisonous in the first place. The ants, mites and beetles they eat provide them with the toxins they store in glands on their skin. Not so good for the insects, but a heck of a deal for the frogs.

This rather lugubrious-looking fellow is a lionfish, a venomous coral reef fish whose family has made its way from the Indian and western Pacific oceans into Atlantic waters. Seems that people like them for their aquariums, and the fish have been inadvertently loosed into the wild in unnatural places. They are considered invasive, because they compete with the local species for resources. Strangely, in the Pacific Northwest, our beloved Chinook salmon are considered endangered, but I was just reading a week or so ago that in other parts of the world (somewhere in South America and possibly New Zealand, if memory serves) they are considered an invasive species. One man's junk is another man's jewel. (Although, I also read that South American anglers are pretty happy with the arrangement.)

Next, like the lionfish, we moved on to completely new territory. Our next stop was the National Museum of the American Indian. We really enjoyed it, although we wanted Sioux Lady and Tasina around to give us their perspective on what we saw. We thought the museum focused a great deal on religion, crafts, the damaging effect of the white man, and how Native cultures are trying to stay Native, but gave very little education on what those cultures actually were. I would have liked to have seen more about the history of the western hemisphere before the Europeans showed up, and not just a skimming of what happened after guns were introduced into the west. I wanted to learn about Native accomplishments, government, social structures, architecture, agriculture, inter-tribal disputes and how they were settled, and other such non-white-related history. Ked and I both thought that the museum seemed too PC, glossing over the less than savory parts of American Indian history, and giving an all too prominent place to white people. I know that the arrival of Europeans changed things in the Americas dramatically, but that's not all there is to the story. We wanted more.

Here is one of those ubiquitous statues. We liked this one a lot. I didn't have the presence of mind to note any actual information about who is depicted by the figures, although I'm guessing we can all take a fairly safe stab that one of them is George Washington.

There were cases and cases of gorgeous Native crafts, and this shirt is a glorious example of bead-work. Click on the link to get some of the detail.

Speaking of glorious--this outfit just blew me away. I know there is meaning and symbolism which I don't understand, and there wasn't much helpful signage to get me better informed, but even without knowing any of the important stuff, I do know what something like this would take to accomplish. I sew a lot, and have done enough hand bead-work to know what a commitment this kind of project is. I once spent three weeks (solid--eight hours a day) hand-beading lace for a friend's wedding dress, and what I did can't hold a candle in a hurricane to the amount of work that went into this beautiful design. I am beyond impressed.

Click on this one for a closer look. I'm not sure how clear it is, since, again, it was through glass, but you'll get the idea, anyway.

Once we had explored the museum from top to bottom, we headed over to the Capitol. We didn't get to see inside, since apparently that takes prearrangement, but we did wander around the grounds. Another reason for us to head back to D.C. in a few more years--they are building a United States Capitol Visitor Center, which "will occupy three levels below ground on the east side of the U.S. Capitol." Looks like we'll need to add another day to our next D.C. trip itinerary.

Even though Ked is sitting down at the fountain (another fountain--and some columns!!) of this same Capitol building, it looks to me like he's at some Mediterranean resort. Where's my Italian phrasebook?

This little hole is, we assume, the home of Senator Baggins. I think he's working on legislation to ensure the rights of home-brewers everywhere.

This is the proof that we were STUPID! As you can see, we sauntered right on by the National Archives, snapping photos like mad of the lovely columns, while completely neglecting the historical treasures within. "I hate being retarded." (Points to anyone who can tell me what book/miniseries this quote is from.)

This structure is somehow related to the navy, and the Naval Memorial sits right out front. Both my father and my step-father were in the navy (WWII), and I appreciated the tribute, but what really caught my eye was the architecture. I loved the curve of the buildings--and note the columns!!

Here is the home of the FBI. (I'm pretty sure it is, anyway.) The building is just downright ugly, but I have to give them props for patriotism.

The details on this one are just incredible. I have no idea what building this is--I don't think it was anything governmental, although I could be wrong--but the architectural details are worthy of any government edifice. Click on this one. Be amazed.

Here sits one of the many statues of people-whose-names-I-do-not-know. I don't even know where I took this photo. I think, however, if things were right with the world, that this fellow should be standing outside the U.S. Mint. Get it? Mint... because he looks so much like he came out of a tube of toothpaste? . . . That bad, huh? Okay, on that sad note, I'll pack it in for the day. Ked and I were tired at this point, anyway. We headed hotelward, for some nice barbecued ribs and a strawberry spinach salad. Yum. Afterward, we had a strange craving for those little green candies they serve at weddings. I have no idea why...

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Washington D.C. Pics Of The Day--Day 1

Every vacation starts out differently. Some begin with drive and purpose and a definite agenda. "We have four days and twelve theme parks to conquer. Let's go!" Some slowly wind themselves up as the fatigue of the previous months' or years' labors gradually falls away, and a new refreshing enthusiasm grows, spreading its way up from the deepest remaining wells of energy you have stored hidden somewhere near your left baby toe. Some vacations meander, never reaching a higher plane than a lot of resting and remembering what sleep feels like, or maybe just flitting from thing to thing, without any compelling goal. Some vacations combine all of the above in varying proportions; enthusiasm, rest, focus and flitting--a jumble of everything that makes vacating worth the trouble, time and expense. That was our trip to Washington D.C.. We had six days of marvelous revel and repose, and even though we've just gotten home, we are already looking forward to our next exploration of the nation's capital.

"Didn't you get enough D.C. in six days?!" You may be asking yourself this very logical question. Short answer--no. It's not that our vacation was not sufficient unto itself, and that it wasn't time to come home when the week was up. It was time. A week was just right for soaking in everything we could absorb this time around. It's just that there's still so much more to see. We had to make decisions every day about all the things we would strike off our priority list, so that we could take the time to really enjoy those things we did choose to do. We've talked to a number of friends here at home since we've been back, and each one has asked, "Oh, did you get to see ______." Each person has had a different place to fill in that blank, and so many of those places were ones that we missed. We never made it to the National Zoo, or Arlington Cemetery, or the National Archives, for example. We still really want to go to those places, and many others.

Now some of the things we didn't see were unavoidable. Certain whole museums were closed for renovations, and others had closed sections which left enough of a hole in our experience that we are going to have to visit them again and finish the journey before we really feel fulfilled and complete about them. Of course, some of the places we did go I could return to a dozen of times and never feel like they'd lost their appeal. Paintings by Renoir, the Jefferson Memorial, and Spaceship One simply do not stop being amazing. Ever. If we go back to D.C. I will probably devote yet another whole day to the wonders of flight and another to the gems and minerals section of the Museum of Natural History. Can't be helped, even if it means that something else doesn't make it onto the list.

Still, I wish we'd made it to the National Archives this time around. Sad thing is, that was really nothing more than a completely STUPID blunder. We very much wanted to see the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, The Bill of Rights, etc., but for some reason we had it stuck in our heads that those things would be in the American History Museum. Do not ask me how that notion got planted--I have no idea. We saw National Treasure just like everyone else, and that alone should have given us a slight clue! As it turned out, the Museum of American History was closed for renovations, and we spent the whole week mourning that we wouldn't get to go in, because we wanted to see those precious documents, when the whole time we were walking every day right by the building where they were actually housed. Did I already mention STUPID? Arrgh. We have to go back. That's all there is to it.

So anyway, now you know what we didn't see, but let's move on to what we did, okay? On the first day, we were still under the illusion that we had lots of time, so we were all about spontaneity. Ked and I set out from our hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue and headed in the general direction of the White House, four blocks away. (Mind you, D.C. city blocks are like dog years--the count would be a lot higher if it were accurate. I swear those four blocks were more like ten in a normal city, where the size of the buildings isn't designed to show the grandeur of a great nation.) Before we had traversed more than three of those blocks, with the White House nothing but a still-distant idea, our first diversion presented itself. Not bad for skipping merrily out into the world without much of a plan. Follow the pictures below, and you can spend the rest of the day with us and see what we saw. (Oh, and I think I've finally figured out how to make it so you can click on the pictures to enlarge them. Let's try, shall we?... Did it work? Cool!!)

This is the Renwick Gallery, where we began our D.C. adventure. Why, you ask, did you start your exploration of the city there? Well, besides being on Pennsylvania Avenue, between our hotel and the White House, the building looked pretty, and a random security guard told us we should go check out the avant-garde "art jewelry" exhibit. So, we did. We can't show you the jewelry, which was fascinating and strange all at the same time, because it's not a permanent museum collection, but we can show you some of the other things we saw. Keep scrolling...

I don't know why I fell in love with this painting immediately, but I did. It's called "The Flight Into Egypt" and George Hitchcock painted it in 1892. I think it's the color that grabbed me.

We thought this piece was absolutely fascinating. It's nothing but threads of glass holding up other threads of glass, and light playing through them all. It was beautiful up close and personal.

Since we're in glass mode, how about this bit of work? I may not understand this completely, but I can't help but be impressed with its scope--and also with its sparkle. I wonder how they manage to keep this thing clean and intact all at the same time.

A very nice man that we met in front of "The Flight Into Egypt" provided us with some of the rare evidence we have that Ked and I were actually in Washington at the same time. He also gave us some Smithsonian suggestions that sent us out the door and onto our next quest for culture and inspiration.

Speaking of doors--how many places in the world can you go and find specimens like this one tucked into little nondescript alleys? We found this gem on the way to a food court, if you can believe it. Even if you can't, actually.

There are three things we have decided are ubiquitous in our nation's capital. One you see there behind Ked. You can't go a block, or at most two, without stumbling upon a row of columns. Doric, Corinthian, or newspaper, this city has 'em all in abundance.

The second item of ubiquity is the bubbling of fountains, like the one you see here on the White House lawn. I'm telling you, they were everywhere. Maybe it's a symbolic thing: hope springs eternal, or rivers of life, or something equally overflowing with cheer. I'm thinking, however, that some landscape designers got together and decided to plant the subliminal message that Washington needs to clean up its act. Works for me.

The final ubiquitous element was what you see before you (no, not me, although I tried). There are more statues in D.C. than eighth-graders, and that's saying a lot. Okay, okay, there were really more eighth-graders, but I hope the hyperbole hasn't weakened my point. There are statues there for anything and everybody. I half expected to turn a corner and see a statue of my dentist. They could do worse for statue fodder. I have a very nice dentist.

Can you believe how perfect this magnolia blossom is? I really wish I hadn't managed to get my sunglasses inserted into this shot. It's a bummer spoiling perfection. You'll be nice and ignore that part, right? Oh, and it is a magnolia, isn't it? (The flower may be perfect, but my knowledge of botany is not.)

The kind man who took our picture sent us on to the Freer Gallery, where we found all sorts of Asian art, collected by Detroit industrialist Charles Lang Freer. The piece above is a Vietnamese jar from the 15th century. Lovely, isn't it?

These are extremely old canteens, although when you see them in person you realize they are far too large to see much actual use in that capacity. Not really something you want to take camping. You never know, though, maybe 13th century Syrians and Iraqis got really, really thirsty on their camping trips. Parts of that region are pretty arid... The brass canteen is quite interesting. The design is Islamic, but the silver inlay includes many images, including Christian ones. The Virgin and Child, scenes from the life of Christ, and even a few saints and knights make an appearance among the geometric patterns, animals and calligraphy. The ceramic canteen looked equally impressive, but if you think the brass one was heavy, just imagine toting that ceramic number full of your favorite summer beverage. The plaque mentioned that it was unlikely the ceramic one was ever used.

Don't you want to rub that tall bottle and see if Barbara Eden comes whisping out? It was made for Sultan al-Malik al-Mujahid Saif al-Din, in 14th century Syria. (Try saying that five times fast, or even one time slowly.) These are absolutely gorgeous glass works, and it's amazing that they have survived in such good condition all these centuries. I bet Jeannie's involved!

The sign said that this is a panel from a mithrab, which indicates the direction of Mecca, so Muslims know what direction to face when they pray. It's from the early 14th century, so no doubt it's very valuable, but I just think it's pretty.

While we're looking at pretty things, here's the courtyard in the Freer Gallery. Oh look, there's another fountain and some columns. Wow, it's a two-fer!

The castle behind me is, of all things, the equivalent of a Smithsonian information booth. It really is the information center. It's a little more sophisticated than that, and there's an awful lot of information to dispense, but still, a castle? Not very American, really, but I guess they're trying to impress people. Pretty good job, if that's their goal.

Well, that was our first day. We finished it off with some stellar Indian food and a relaxing evening in our hotel. It was an awfully nice first outing, and all the better for being such an impromptu kind of jaunt. Thanks for coming along with us. Hope you enjoyed the pictures. More to come...

Thursday, June 05, 2008

There And Back Again--A Blogger's Tale

Ked and I got back to Portland last night from a week spent in Washington D.C.. It was a great trip, with full days and perfect weather (except for that last day--I'll have to tell you about that). I planned on photo-blogging the experience day-by-day, but our computer died the first night off the plane. We were disappointed, because we love to go through pictures together each evening, edit and caption them for posting to the blog as our rather public personal journal. Due to circumstances beyond our control, however, this time that was not to be, and realistically I'll have to do it on my own now that we are back to our normal schedule and obligations. Oh well. We still had a lovely time, and I will try to edit the photos and remember trip details to the best of my ability. I hope to post pictures of each day as I can get to them. I'm not sure how many good ones we got, since I couldn't download them off the camera until we got home. It's a good thing I had a 2 GB card in my camera, with a spare in the case! I went through memory like mad, so hopefully there will be a few pics worth sharing.

Since the pictures aren't ready yet, I'll just share a small bit of the travails of getting to our destination. This really isn't to whet your appetite for things to come, since the bulk of the vacation was much more pleasant than either of the travelling days, but as I said, this is our trip journal, so I'm going to include the not-so-pleasant bits as part of the memories. Here we go:

I am a flying screaming-child-magnet. On the first stage of our journey to Washington D.C., from Portland to Denver, Ked and I shared our small plane with no less than five miniature sound generators, alternately mewling and bellowing their way cross-continent. The particularly shrill-voiced two-year-old was in the seat directly behind mine, an auditory treat to say the least, and other wee folk of varying sizes were stationed in close proximity thereabout. They ranged in age from infant to toddler, which added a rather orchestral effect to the experience. To our left we had the soprano saxophone blatting of an infant hunger protest, while off to the rear center right the harmonious piccolo bleat of a whiny toddler in seat-belt mutiny joined the swelling cacophonous song. At times it really was quite humorous, although we did feel awfully sorry for the small-fry and their doubtlessly suffering parents.

Ah, screaming children... this brings back memories of the flight Ked and I took home from Orlando a couple of years ago. This flight was the pinnacle (please, God, let this be true) of my distressed-child-attracting career. During the six-hour flight, the three-year-old angel directly in front of us screamed non-stop for three of them. What's more, the overwhelmed parents allowed the little terror to stand upright in her seat--facing backwards--for most of the vocal exercise, allowing us the full measure of volume from her small, but highly-developed lungs. When the child finally fell asleep from exhaustion, in her mother's arms, her haggard dam never twitched a muscle for the rest of the flight, lest she wake the tiny human bazooka and start the whole process going again.

The children on the flight to D.C. were far tamer by comparison. The toddler behind us lulled herself to sleep after a mere twenty minutes or so of aural unpleasantness. The lovely infant across the aisle briefly demanded an "in flight snack," but as mom came appropriately equipped to provide said refreshment, baby was soon happily nursing and remained quiet for the remainder of the journey. Other howlings emanated at times from locations throughout the plane, and I confess to being grateful when we arrived in Denver, but since nothing even approached the level of distress we experienced on our return from Orlando, all-in-all I'd say this flight was a success. One child even laughed with delight at the turbulence of landing, a charming sound that helped maintain some auditory balance to stage one of the trip.

Stage two, although a longer flight, was much less "stimulating." It was quite blessedly uneventful--unlike our flight home. Remind me to tell you about that part later. It was a trip!