Month: June 2004

June 7, 2004
Having planned to get out early today, I found myself still drinking tea and playing the guitar at 11am. What the heck, I am on holiday. So rather than go down to the mall my guidebook recommended, in distant Springfield, I head to the smaller but closer mall at White Flint, just 3 stops on the metro. Food first (of course) – I find a (supposedly) Texan barbecue in the food court, and order a pulled pork sandwich. This is served like a burger, in a bun, but instead of burger there is the pulled pork – think of shredded crispy duck, but with barbecued pork, and you will get the idea. Full of flavour, and very nice.The guy serving catches my accent, and I explain I am touring. As one of my side-dishes he does me a small sampler plate of the other meats there for me to try – a piece a chicken, a piece of beef etc, all in a little dab of their sauce. Yum.The mall is fun, I spend some time in Borders, but don’t buy any books – anything I buy, I will have to carry home to the UK. I do note some interesting titles, for ordering when I get back, and treat myself to a lemon fruit smoothy.I can’t resist the men’s department at Bloomingdales, and after some assistance in working out that a US XXL *is* the same as a UK XXL, I pick up some nice polos and T-shirts.When I leave, it is not yet 4pm, so I head into town for Union Station shops for some shoe shopping, as the solitary pair I brought with me are walking out the room when I take them off. This time I am prepared, and have established my correct US shoe size; only to discover the shoes I like are in German sizes, which I don’t know. So we measure the appendage and discover I am 47. For once, I *am* younger than my shoe size!Head back to Rockville for a restful evening, and dinner with Gary and Sheryl.

June 6, 2004
The Smithsonian has opened a new air and space museum out by Dulles airport – the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. Gary and Sheryl haven’t seen it yet, so we drive out there.

There is already a “National Air and Space Museum” on the Mall, in Washington itself, but they have only the space there for 10% of the available exhibits. The new centre has space, and then some more – a giant hanger big enough to take their latest acquisition – an Air France Concorde – sideways. Other exhibits include the Enola Gay, a Blackbird, and a Space Shuttle.

June 5, 2004
Went to the Washington Folk Festival, with Gary and Sheryl. Despite being a rainy day, there were still a good number of people venturing out to this event. First up for us was The Chromatics, who sang a mixture of original songs, with a heavy science bias, and covers. The whole set was terrific, but most impressive was their acapellla rendition of the Beach Boy’s “Good Vibrations”. It really had to be heard to be believed.

June 4, 2004
Stayed in Rockville in the morning, working on the input interface for this journal, and putting in some guitar practice on Gary and Sheryl’s guitars. I am travelling without my own guitar, as with the increased airport security, I thought it was easier not to load myself down.I was sure that Gary and Sheryl’s guitars would be fine, but I am always nervous about performing on someone else’s instrument. Any fears I had were ungrounded, as all the guitars were great, and Crystal also has an Eko 12-string, just like mine.I headed into town for lunchtime, stopping off at Friendship Heights. My guide book had told me there was a mall there, but it was more of a size of a UK shopping centre than what I think of as an American mall. However there was a food court there, for lunch, and a T-Mobile outlet, so I could get a prepaid sim for my phone. The guy there took time to explain that it was an expensive option if I only needed it for a month. I then told him what calls would have cost me if I used my UK Vodafone account – £1.50 per minute, even for calls within the local area. He then relaxed, and sold me the account.Then into town, and another wander around, arriving at the National Museum of Natural History. This is really an amazing place, particularly the Mammals exhibit.It had been trying to rain earlier, and when I emerged from the museum, it was raining hard. I took the Metro to Chinatown, and found a restaurant recommended in my guidebook. Tony Cheungs has a seafood restaurant and a Mongolian barbecue. I went for the latter. Although it was “all you can eat”, it also came a vegetable sidedish, rice, and sesame rolls, not to mention a large pot of tea, which was very welcome. As a result, I only needed 2 trips to the barbecue.I was planning to try and attend the WSFA fan meet, but by this time, I was wet and tired, so I made my way back to Gary and Sheryl’s for a quiet evening and bed.

June 3, 2004
Got up at a leisurely rate, logged on to home to check email and post to filk_uk. Took bus/metro into Washington – first stop Union Square to collect my Amtrak rail pass and tickets for my travels later in the month.The guy who served me was very pleasant, but admitted he was in training, so didn’t know what to do with the emailed confirmation I had received from buying my pass online, while still in the UK. A supervisor was called and it was soon sorted. However, both trainee and supervisor were amazed at the travelling I was going to do: Buffalo/Depew, Boston/South, New York, Philadelphia, New York and Washington, all in fifteen days. I think it was the doubleback to NY that threw them. If travel agents think it’s a long way, maybe I have underestimated the travelling, even though it looks ok on the schedule.Lunch in a Union Station restaurant, called America. Yes, it really was my first meal in America.Afterwards, I intended to head down to Constitutional Ave, and from there to the Mall, but found myself heading in the opposite direction when I reached the US Capitol building, so went with the flow and did the tour of the Library of Congressinstead.While there, I visited the Gershwin and Bob Hope exhibitions, and plan to return at a later date for the Churchill and American treasures exhibitions. On a whim, I applied for and received a Library of Congress reader’s card. If next week is anything like today (scorching hot) I can happily spend a day in there. If not, it is still another decent photo-id, and something to remember the day with.After the LoC, I made my way to Metro Central looking for some shops. Again, I may have walked the wrong way, as I didn’t see what I expected, but soon stumbled across a Border’s bookshop, for a sitdown and an iced tea. I realised that it is almost 6pm, and so I call Gary and Sheryl, and leave a message for them, so they don’t wait for me to eat. Having done that, there seems no point in rushing back in the commuter period, so I wander down for my first view of the White House. Sat for a while in the Ellipse, a large area of grass, where various groups were playing softball and catch, with the White House in the background. Grabbed a large (and tasty) pretzel from a cart, walking back to the metro station. I then pass McDonalds, and decide to try a burger to see if they are better in their home country than in the UK.They aren’t.Arrive back at Gary and Sheryl’s, and chat for a while, but they are quite busy with con preparations and I am really exhausted, so I hit the sack.

June 2, 2004
Arrived early at Heathrow for my flight, which allowed me to change my seat reservation to a wing seat – a single seat, with no sharing of armrests, and more legroom than even I need.Flight was uneventful – caught Scoobydo 2, and half wished that I hadn’t. We arrived early, but then had to wait for the luggage claim – Gary was there waiting for me when I came out, and we met up without problems.Arrived back at Gary and Sheryl’s place, and deliberately stayed up until 10pm Washington time – both to be a little sociable, but mainly to force myself into a good sleep pattern early on.