Baltimore to Washington DC - 26th of August
So we set off from Baltimore, bidding our Johns Hopkins hosts goodbye with barely a judder of a still-engaged handbrake. The ride to DC was only a short one, barely taller than 5”5. Nah it was like an hour.
Reaching the city limits, Bristow eloquently conveyed to me, “we’re gonna see the bloody White House soon,” “heck yes!” I confirmed in the exclamatory, though possibly more swearily. Parking up on some Avenue in front of a Smithsonian, we grabbed our rain jackets - it looked a bit overcast, oh what an understatement - and headed up to find a coffee place to rest and contact Nate. Cosi was the place, and our guide soon met us there, wearing his vintage Fish kit no less!
- As I write this, sat in an Alabama gas station forecourt, I have just seen my first bona fide redneck. Pickup truck, huge suspension, cut off sleeves, sweat soaked back, huge beard, loud engine. Great! -
Nate showed us around DC a little bit, the monument was impressive if cordoned off and we threw discs in front of the White House, being careful not to throw over the fence and breach national security.
“Um, Mr President, can we have our frisbee back?”
Then, what can only be described as the Great Sky Gods all coming together as one and to drown Washington DC with their deific rainfall, happened. It pissed it down, really really pissed it down. So we hid under a tree and put out myriad electronic devices into ziploc bags. A shame we had none for ourselves, but at least the rain was warm. Ish.
From Barack’s place, we went to the Smithsonian American History Museum
(not totally sure that’s the name but you get it), and rather disrespectfully couldn’t stop giggling at things. Things such as a small piece of timber that was labelled “Please Touch Me,” Things such as a depression-era “puppet,” which frankly should have been salted and burned long ago. There were lots of other things in there too, namely a large stuffed bison, so at this point, a short musing from my co-host:
+++ D’you think, if they skinned the bison, and the only place you could touch the bison was its bum, do you think people would do it? Like, “no please, feel free, you get a real feeling for what this animal was like in real life. Oh, that barrier? Don’t worry, there’s a patch there you can touch.” I just wonder what would happen in that situation… I would love to see the dynamics, you know, parents, kids. “But I wanna to touch the bison daddy!” “Um…” —-
In passing the National Archive, we asked Nate what sort of items it might contain, to which he replied something to the effect of, “I dunno, a lot of old shit,” which seemed pretty descriptive to me, so we skipped that one.
Taking a little while to find our host’s house - and asking someone directions who seemingly was unaware even of what planet she was on - we met Daniel and his girlfriend Cavanaugh (please forgive me if the spelling leaves something to be desired).
Both Daniel and Cavanaugh are involved in the political sphere, like most DC residents. Daniel in fact works for an NGO that, I think, acts as a kind of human rights watchdog for North Korea. Although I’m sure that isn’t the full story. He had a bunch of magazines full essentially of North Korean propaganda, which I found fascinating and was cheeky enough to ask for spares. However they belong to Daniel’s office so I took some images instead.
Our hosts recommended an Ethiopian restaurant a fifteen minute walk away so off we trotted, in the wrong direction, and half an hour later we were ordering a vegetarian sharer in a very romantic little alcove for two. The food really was amazing, I can’t remember any names but it was spicy and you ate it without cutlery. Couldn’t have felt more at home.
Our waitress, when she saw Bristow’s phone case - a GameBoy design - asked if it were an actual GameBoy, which caused us to wonder whether an anti-handheld-console policy operated there. I asked our waitress next time she came round, but she was another waitress who looked a lot like the first. Turns out the place is staffed by four sisters. How nice!
We returned to Daniel’s place quite late and he was kind enough to show us the view from the roof: the Capitol building and Washington Monument directly behind. A picturesque way to end the evening.