On his tour of the Air-Space Annex yesterday Dad heard about the Old Post Office Tower & Pavilion and reasonably priced food court therein. It was quite good and after an early lunch we took a tour of the bell tower. Bells are rung by hand and only on congressional holidays but the bell ringers do practice every thursday at seven PM so we vowed to return for dinner.
We went all the way up on the self-guided tour and saw the ten bells -- installed in the early 80's as a gift to the U.S. from Great Britain on our Bicentennial. Three stories above the bell tower is an observation deck where we could see much of the taller buildings in the mall all the way from one end to the other. Time was fast approaching noon and I asked a nearby guard if we should beware, but he disappointed me with the above news about the bells so we then descended and proceeded to the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden to begin our day of art.
The Hirshorn Museum is the big concrete donut on your maps and three stories high to boot. I found the art in there a lot more interesting and entertaining than I expected. -- I'm normally a bit skeptical about what passes for "art" these days but this trip was worth it. I took pictures of some of my favourite paintings and sculptures, including one titled "Plastic construction of noise and speed" which, I might add, is constructed of aluminum and steel on painted wood. I might also add that the title on their website is slightly different from that on the wall next to the piece. The photo really doesn't do it justice as it's 3-D and protrudes from the wall at least six inches. Besides this and others, I also have some artsy photos of my own that I'm rather proud of.
Next was the Freer Gallery but we somehow ended up at the Sackler Gallery where the only display we found looked like thousands of vacation photos from the 1960's. Very boring.
Places were about to close in a little while so we headed to the Old Post Office once again but found ourselves at Ford's Theater with enough time to spend 5 minutes in the museum below before they closed.
Dinner at the Old Post Office again and after eating I write two more post cards while Dad tried to find a way up to watch practise since the elevator appeared to be off. There wasn't and we learned that only bell pullers are only allowed up there so we exited and walked around to the front of the building to see the tower and hear the bells.
Before too long there was a siren from somewhere out in the distance and shortly thereafter we could hear the bells loud and clear. Eventually I looked down from taking photos to see police blocking all traffic north & south of Pennsylvania Avenue for no visible reason. The blocked traffic was quickly getting annoyed and since it just kept piling up we hurried along to find a cab back to the room so we wouldn't be late for the night tour.
The bus pulled right into the tiny motel turnaround and I have no idea how the driver got us out again. We went to several areas that Dad and I hadn't visited yet and drove past several that we already had. The Korean War Memorial was interesting being a wall, small pool and group of poncho-clad soldiers marching through a field while presumably enduring bad weather. It was quite eriee at night and gave Dad a mild case of the creeps. From here we walked around the side of the Lincoln memorial.
This was my favourite part of the tour. While up inside with the statue a young girl took notice of my handlebar mustache and asked if I was an artist. Delighted with the attention I said yes and explained I was a writer. She asked more questions and soon her friends (and quite attractive friends at that) had found her and joined her in asking me where I was from and if I was an artist, about my anime convention ID and my unique denim jacket. When I heard a voice off the side ask "Do have a girlfriend?" I turned to answer, "No, not yet" and saw two of the cutest blush and hurry away. Shortly thereafter my little fan club dispersed and we had to return to the tour bus. On our way down I made a point to pass the two girls that blushed to tip my hat and wish them a good night as I went on my way.
I got some good night photos at the other stops including the Jefferson Memorial and Iwo Jima statue (which is just as creepy as I feared.) I will have to carefully delete some photos to make enough room to last the rest of the week.
On the way back the driver passed right by our motel! He didn't want to turn around and go all the way back so when he stopped at another motel to drop off most of the other passengers he hailed a cab and gave us enough fare to get back... after we paid for the tour, of course.
Back at the room dad called home and I wrote this entry all in one shot. My hand is tired. It's after one. goodnite.
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