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Evil Jim

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10:59 pm: Day seven: It's a gas
Dad said something today that I rather liked, "You've seen everything you wanna see, you've taken pictures of everything you want to take pictures of and you're tired enough that you'll be glad to be home." That pretty much sums up this point in our vacation. All the major points of interest have been seen to and we are at the point where we're unsure what's left for us to do in our remaining time.

Today started off early and fast paced but ended leisurely. We were out of the room sooner than usual in order to secure a tour at the Federal Bureau of Engraving and Printing. The original plan was to grab our advance tickets and return later but that policy is only in effect during peak seasons. So instead, we waited in line thirty to forty minutes for the actual tour. This put us inside shortly after noon which I remember because I checked my watch and said to dad, "About this time yesterday I was getting worried."

Just inside was a moderately sized hallway with facts and and displays on our currency and its role throughout history. I'm rather font of an armed display case there containing a two foot cube of ONE MILLION DOLLARS IN TEN DOLLAR NOTES cash in uncut, ten-dollar bills. Right out there in the open! Star notes yet. Damn showoffs.

The tour began with a seven-minute video with general facts about U.S. currency like the cash value of what they print each day ($696 million) and what percentage of it replaces older bills each year(95%).

"No photography or videography" was allowed in the printing facility and I wouldn't have taken many photos anyway. Imagine any large-scale printing operation you've seen. That's pretty much it except there's higher security. . . and a gift shop.

A narrow, claustrophobic hallway wound through rooms where we saw various stages of the printing process in action through airtight, soundproof glass panels from the second story of each room. I was a little disappointed that I couldn't smell anything, not even ink. I've been in printing facilities before and that aspect didn't feel right but I suppose it's that way for visitors comfort, among other things.

The pressmen had some fun with us. One waved around a sheet of uncut bills all excited like until he turned it over to reveal it was blank on the back. He also inflated a rubber glove and waved it at the people on tour. I like watching people who enjoy their job.

The tour ended in the gift shop, of all places, where one could purchase a bevy of bureau-based merchandise, as well as uncut dollar bills. A sheet of 32 bills costs $50. I don't know why either. Instead, I bought a bag of shredded currency, a patch for my demin jacket, some notepaper recycled from money and a lapel pin. This was my first souvenir purchase all week and I don't expect to require any more after today since this is more of an observation & exploration vacation than a shopping trip.

Out the back door of the BEP (it's just easier to spell it that way) I could see the Jefferson Memorial across the tidal basin. This time in daylight. Having all these landmarks is a big help to orientate ones self and I've learned the mall area quickly in our comings & goings. Well, except for here when I thought we were on a different side of the Washington Monument and ended up going between that and the WW II Memorial along 17th Street before we knew where we were.

Once I orientated ourselves I planned a route to the Old Post Office (again) as it was well past lunch. The route took us past the ellipse, zero mile marker and the White House, again in daylight. Lunch was very good being a gyro with fries and something like eggplant lasagna whose name I can't remember but starts with an "m". It turned out to be so much that I thought I might not finish it all but I was so hungry that it wasn't a problem. It also was enough that I haven't eaten anything for the rest of the day.

From the Old Post Office to the Air-Space Museum to check out "The Amazing and Expanding Universe" exhibit which I only had time to browse the other day. Dad enjoyed it too and I read to him a great deal because there were so many displays that caught my attention.

There were three IMAX films showing throughout the day at the theater there and Dad wanted to see To Fly for its 25 anniversary. I believe the last IMAX film I saw may have been Fantasia 2000 with Matt in Florida and it was disorienting to see such a big screen again.

The movie was great visually but suffered from occasional & unnecessary narration that spoke of man's destiny of flight and conquest over "the horizontal."

The museum closed at 5:30 just like every other place. I didn't want to return roomward yet so I suggested going to the castle garden so I could write. I thought we'd split up but as I filled out a postcard to Gail Dad had an extended pleasant conversation with a security guard and by the time he had to go it was about time for us to do the same. We Metro Railed to Union Station and this time walked the two or so miles back to the motel. I was so bushed by the end of today that I did nothing productive but doze off and play Zelda until the presidential debates came on.

Every night this week for a couple hours we've been hearing motorcycles zooming by. It's very annoying and tonight I finally went out on the balcony to watch three idiots on crotch-rockets doing wheelies right by our motel over and over again. They must like the wide stretch of empty road after the stoplight a block away because it sounds like they do it on the way there, turn around and do it again. As I stood there giving them the double deuce™ for lack of any other response I wanted to call the police, or at least throw water balloons.

Tomorrow is Saturday and our last full day in D.C. as we have to be out by 7am Sunday to catch our flight home. We don't have any set plans for the day yet but we don't need to rush any more. I probably won't find it but I would like a big, home cooked breakfast before we start. Mmmmmm, breakfast.

- E V I L O U T -

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