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Evil Jim

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11:40 pm: Day eight: Our final hour
Mmmmm, breakfast at Johnny Rockets in the Union Station food court. Being the last day we took our time with no need to rush anymore. The Red Line north of Union was closed and the Metro Rail was offering shuttles to anyone inconvenienced by the construction work slowing everything down. This construction will put a Metro station two blocks from our motel room. During the meanwhilst, Dad & I have been walking two miles every morning to Union to take the subway to the Smithsonian. We are leaving in less than eight hours. This construction won't be finished until November. Crap!

It hasn't been that bad, tho'. We're seeing much more of the city than by taking mass transit and the morning walk feels good once we get going.

The reason we got this room is that the travel agent said ti was two blocks from said station but the Metro system map shows the dot as "under construction." Ah, well. One thing we did well this week was adapt to situations beyond our control what with the water main, getting locked out of the room and all. Anyway, on to the day!

We didn't have much planned for today so it was pretty much make-it-up-as-you-go-along. However, once we got to the mall we found that things had already been planned for us. All week we've been watching large tents being pitched on the long grassy strip between the capitol and Washington Monument. There has been less room each day as tables and chairs were brought in along with equipment to move other stuff around. The other day I finally deduced that it must be something to do with books because the tents were labeled "Sci-fi/Horror", "Mystery/Thriller", "Biography", "History" and other genres. Today we saw that it was the National Book Festival, a big one-day event and the 4th annual "celebration of books & the joy of reading."

There were a slew of award-winning authors there to talk about their work and inspirations. I only recognized a couple names and none of which I had a great need to see but I did notice that Dad's favourite author, Lawrence Block, was there so our afternoon was immediately planned. We made certain to be at the appropriate tent in time for Block and meanwhile found the Library of Congress (LOC) tent so Dad could participate in the Veterans History Project which is "a growing collection of oral histories, memoirs, & photographs of personal accounts of war experiences submitted by veterans & civilians." Dad decided not to submit anything then and there because he knew there would be more he'd want to share later on. We picked up lots of information and the LOC will send him a kit to use at home. We'll easily be able to record his stories orally with my computer and mail them a CD.

Dad wanted to get a good seat for Lawrence Block's talk and got there in time to catch the end of Peter Straub's stories about working with Stepen King. The tent quickly cleared out and we claimed two seats front row, center with no problem.

I don't have much interest in Lawrence Block and only know of him because my father won't stop talking about it whenever he reads something new. However, I enjoyed the talk a lot more than I expected and Dad even had an opportunity to talk to Block during the Q&A period.

Shortly thereafter was an autograph session at another area of the mall so while Dad went to that I walked to the Natural History Museum again to see Harrison Ford's jacket and fedora and the Star Spangled Banner one last time. While waiting in line I had plenty of time to admire the pretty girls who were lounging off to one side of the steps outside. I suppose the primary purpose of my vacation was finally abandoned when I started paying more attention to girls than sights of the city.

I didn't spend much time inside because it was so crowded. I'm glad we did much of our sightseeing during the week when there weren't such lines. On my way out I walked by the girls who were still there (now joined with reinforcements) and tipped my hat when one smiled and said "hi." After I passed one called to get my attention. When I turned again they complemented my look and asked how I held the handlebar mustache in place -- Dad says I'll never shave it off now (and he's probably going to grow one of his own soon.) One asked to take my picture and then hopped down beside me while a friend shot. I'm still not used to this kind of attention and it delights me that people like my look. Like matt_william says, I'm not afraid to be different.

Next stop was the Air-Space Museum to rephotograph Orville's pocketwatch and Wilbur's Stopwatch now that I knew how to properly use the "micro" mode on my camera. I checked out the planets exhibit since I hadn't been there yet but it was close to 5:30 and time was running out.

In my final wanderings of Air-Space two young guys suddenly stopped me and asked "Can I take your picture, man?" One stood next to me for the shot and before I knew it they were gone. Ah, my public.

I found Dad outside the Hirshhorn Museum and, having seen all the things we came to see and done all the things we came to do, decided to leave the Smithsonian and mall for the last time.

Dinner at Uno's, cab ride to room, pack, journal, etc. Our flight leaves at 9:20AM but we're getting up at six. I still need to shower.

I'm looking forward to going home and seeing all my friends again. It's been fun but, alas, it's time for me to go.

- E V I L O U T -

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