From Sunday to Wednesday last week we were tourists in our nation’s Capital.
We got in on Sunday morning, dropped our bags at the hotel – a Kimpton that I got at an astonishingly good price – and went off seeking breakfast. I took a picture of a building tear-down and got another one on the way out of town on Wednesday. Mark chose the Tabard Inn, and I was a little dubious, for two reasons. It seemed kind of dark, and while we were waiting to be seated, a waiter was telling the manager that someone was complaining about their food, I think the scrambled eggs that I ate happily not long afterward, because the complaint was that there was too much chives. I didn’t think there was too much chives – maybe too much cream cheese, but I ate around it.
We went to the zoo, and saw the side of a sleeping panda, and then when we could tell from the observation cameras that it was moving, we went back out and saw its face. We also saw otters playing, an elephant, and a kind of African deer with long twisty horns that shared its enclosure with a big bird. By then we were thoroughly hot and sweaty and tired, and the room was ready, so, even though I had a vague feeling that the animals were just starting to get up after their afternoon siestas, we want back to the hotel. We showered and went walking up New Hampshire for ice cream and book store browsing. We sat at Dupont Circle and ate our ice cream. We watched Game of Thrones on my laptop, comfortably in the giant King bed at the hotel. Season 7, episode 6, extra long and ends with the promise, or cliffhanger, of a zombie dragon.
On Monday we had breakfast at a Pain Quotidian, then we started at the Lincoln Monument and worked our way down the Mall to the Natural History Museum where we met Martin, had lunch in the employee cafeteria, and went and watched the eclipse through telescopes provided by the air and space museum, and also through tree leaves, acting as pinhole cameras. We went to the National Gallery, stopped at a Compass for a coffee and a cookie, and went back to the room to clean up for dinner at Farmers Fishers Bakers. It’s a sister restaurant to Founding Farmers, in a shopping mall with a Vegas-style fountain, down by the Washington Harbor in Georgetown. It was good, bigger menu, more fish, but I think like the original better. I had the catch of the day which came with roasted golden beets and grits, which were good, but not the sides the server had mentioned (that I’m wracking my brain to remember; I think it was something like maque choux corn). Toni got the Farmers fry, and it was the combo with scallops, fish, and shrimp for +$7, also good but not what she ordered, which was only shrimp. Mark had the best meal, with cioppino.
Tuesday we had to be at the Capitol for a tour by 8:45 so we didn’t have breakfast, and just quick grabbed coffee. I was having trouble with Compass; I kept ordering drinks that were too sweet, their mint cold brew and vanilla cold brew were both too sweet, but this time I got an iced latte and it was just right. After the Capitol we took the tunnel over to Library of Congress and explored there, then went to the Eastern Market for lunch. We ate giant crabcake sandwiches at a counter in the market, and I had the half/half sweet tea-lemon tea combo – which was even sweeter than the tpp-sweet coffees I’d been getting, but I was expecting it. I went back to the room to work a bit, then met Mark and Toni at the National Museum of Women in the Arts. I think my favorite piece was one of Miriam Schapiro’s etchings that copy crocheted lace, from her “anonymous was a woman” series, but I didn’t take a picture of those. I did take a bunch of pictures of the crocheted lace another woman artist stretches over (I think commercially produced) faience sculpture of animals. We wound up in a Starbucks at Dupont Circle, and got dinner reservations at Jaleo and movie tickets – for Wind River – after. We did the restaurant week multi-course tapas, and it was our best dinner in D.C. We had tomato-rubbed bread with cheese on top, garlic shrimp, patatas bravas, sauteed spinach with apple and pine nuts and raisons, an endive salad with orange wedges, a white bean salad, sausage-stuffed dates, little sausages on mashed potatoes, and both vanilla and chocolate flan. Wind River was good, but glorified violence and pushed the myth of the gallant cowboy and noble savage a bit much for me.
Wednesday was my favorite breakfast at A Baked Joint, where I breakfasted when I was in Washington in May. Then we did the building museum – where we had not-the-greatest-tour-guide, but it was fun anyhow, collected our bags, and headed for the airport.
Where I talked to a guy who was returning to Berkeley CA, after going to watch the eclipse with his son, floating in a lake in South Carolina, where it was 100%. He showed us a picture of how dark it was at 1:45, when the sun was completely covered. And he was already planning his trip to Chile for the next eclipse in 2019.
Now that’s real eclipse tourist-ing!