Last weekend I took Friday off from work and flew to Washington, DC to meet up with my friend, A Librarian, who moved to Virginia a few months ago. It should have been a quick flight and indeed we were ahead of schedule until we got into the DC area, then an isolated thunderstorm closed down Reagan National and Baltimore airports at the exact time my plane got there.
They had us circle around for a bit, then land at Dulles and sit on the tarmac for a good while. Some people decided to get off there, but because I'd checked my suitcase, it wasn't a viable option for me. Instead, I just texted A Librarian and read the book on my Kindle app (I was making my way through The Casual Vacancy at the time).
Once I finally got to the airport and retrieved my bag, the fun began. We took the Metro into the National Mall area and walked around looking at monuments I hadn't seen since my last touristy trip to DC in high school.
It was still rather grey and rainy and I wasn't wearing the world's best walking shoes, so we didn't get too gung-ho about trying to see lots of things. We did walk up next to the Washington Memorial and down to the end of the reflecting pool to get a good look at the Lincoln Memorial from a distance.
Then we met up with some other local librarians for dinner at a lovely Argentinean restaurant. After dinner we walked back to the Metro station by way of a drug store, where I was able to purchase a package of underwear to make up for the fact that I'd forgotten to pack any. I'm a cheapskate about that kind of thing anyway, so what I ended up with was no different than most of what I have at home.
I should mention that A Librarian did a very bold thing when she moved: she sold almost everything she owned. Her parents have a load of furniture items and kitchen stuff that they'll be bringing to her eventually, but right now her house is largely empty except for a few odds and ends she's purchased since she closed on her new place. It's quite echo-y when her cats meow.
Thus, there was not a lot of incentive to stick around the house while we were awake, so we planned a full day of activities out and about for Saturday, starting with a lovely brunch on a patio in Richmond, Virginia.
We followed that up with a bit of shopping at a cute boutique next door that was having a sale, and A Librarian scored a very cool framed mirror.
Then she showed me around one of the very impressive libraries in the system where she works before driving us to the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, where we planned to spend the afternoon.
And WOW, what beautiful gardens! I took way more photos than I can possibly show here, but these are a few highlights.
We spent quite a long time exploring all the gardens and took a refreshment break about halfway through for wine on a deck overlooking the gardens. We finished up at the butterfly garden, which was absolutely lovely despite the 100°F temperature in the exhibit. I took lots of photos of the butterflies as well.
After I got a little light-headed after bending down to photograph a butterfly, I decided I'd sweated in there long enough and retreated to rehydrate.
We finished the evening with dinner at a fantastic Chinese restaurant and then went out and saw the most recent X-Men movie.
The next day my flight didn't leave until mid-afternoon, which gave us ample time to plan some more sightseeing in DC. We fueled up for the 90 minute drive with coffee and scones, then parked at Reagan National Airport and took the Metro back to the National Mall. This time our goal was to visit various Smithsonian museums.
I'm a big fan of the Natural History Museum, so we started there. I must say that I prefer to see the fascinating variety of the animal kingdom alive, but they do have a comprehensive and educationally-presented collection.
Also an insect zoo, so at least some of the exhibits were alive. Actually, they had a butterfly exhibit as well, but because it cost extra and we were butterflied up from the previous day, we passed it by.
Once we were finished there, we moved on to the National Museum of the American Indian. I'm not going to lie—that choice was guided heavily by the food options in their cafeteria, but we explored the museum after lunch and I was very impressed by the exhibits. I particularly liked the blending of contemporary Native American art with historic and prehistoric examples.
Then it was time to go back to the airport, get my luggage and head back home. We stopped for a quick drink at the airport bar after I checked my bag—perhaps not quick enough considering that they were paging me by name by the time I got to the gate area. It all worked out, though, and I had a quick flight back and got home in plenty of time to go out to dinner and watch the Game of Thrones season finale.