Laura's D.C. Dalliances

October 9-12, 1998

This is going to be a little bit different...because this was a solo trip for me, and Lee stayed home. (Tigger went with me, though. :-) )

The rec.arts.disney.parks newsgroup folk (hereafter referred to as RADP) scheduled another meet for Columbus Day weekend just like last year. I wanted to get together with some of my buddies again, so I turned in some Frequent Flyer miles and made arrangements to go. We thought that Lee would probably be able to get a work trip, but he had just been there two weeks earlier, and didn't really have a good reason to go, so he decided to stay home with the cats while I went off by myself - I'm a big girl, and besides, there were going to be plenty of people around to entertain me and try to keep me out of trouble. :-)

Friday, October 9

Lee dropped me off at the airport and I checked in. The Delta flight was direct to Washington National, but it had an intermediate stop in Dallas. (This is a familiar flight to me, since it's the one we usually take on our way to Orlando - only we get off in Dallas and change planes. :-) ) I was in row 26 of a 29 row plane...ugh. And the kid in the row behind me kicked my seat back for much of the flight...double ugh.

The plane was packed on *both* legs of the flight, so I couldn't move any further forward - but at least I had a window seat, and the kicking kid got off the plane in Dallas.

The plane arrived a little late, but Debbie K. was right there at the gate to meet me - even though she said they had changed our gate three times! Debbie is one of my RADP friends, and up until I got off the plane we had *never* met in person - though we feel like we've known each other for years. She *very* kindly had volunteered to pick me up at the airport and take me to my hotel, and then go out to dinner with me.

We got to my hotel and I checked in, and then we got a taxi over to Georgetown. We walked around for a while and chatted and then finally decided to have dinner at Pizzeria Uno, where we must have yakked for 3 hours. It was a really fun evening...I felt like I was just catching up with an old friend I hadn't seen in a while. I don't think we got back to my hotel until about 10:30, and then Debbie drove back home - we knew we'd see each other again on Sunday.

Saturday, October 10

I got up about 8:30 (still on CA time), and left the hotel about 9:00 and made my way to the McPherson Square Metro Station. I took the Metro to the Smithsonian stop, and got off and walked around the mall for a while - I was supposed to meet my friend Kathy outside the Metro stop at 10:00 and I still had some time.

The Washington Monument is closed right now for restoration...that's two years in a row that I haven't been able to go up inside it. Maybe one of these days...

Kathy arrived a little after 10:00, and we headed up to the Air and Space Museum. Kathy and her family live in Fredericksburg - we've been friends since we were in 5th grade, even though we've lived on opposite sides of the country since we were about 14.

Kathy groaned a little bit when I told her I wanted to see if we could get tickets to see the Star Wars exhibit at Air and Space, but she was a good sport. :-) Our timing was really good, and when we walked in they were just starting to give out tickets for the 11:15 viewing - we didn't even have to wait in much of a line! Before they let you into the exhibit they want you to see about a 25 minute movie on Star Wars...and to be honest, I thought the movie was the best part. They show the movie on a video monitor right on the main floor of the museum, so *anyone* can see it - you don't have to have a ticket for the exhibit.

In the movie they talk to George Lucas, the actors, and quite a few other people involved with Star Wars. It was really fascinating. I had not realized how much total control Lucas had over the movies - that he described things in detail to the artists, and then they drew what he told them. What an imagination!

After the movie we went upstairs to the gallery, which has quite a few of the Star Wars props and costumes. David Prowse, who played Darth Vader, is *really* tall...They also had some of the models of the ships - like about a 5 foot long model of the Millenium Falcon. Those were interesting. But, as I said, my favorite part was still the movie we saw beforehand.

We visited a couple of the other galleries briefly before deciding that it was lunch time. The Taste of D.C. was going on, which is kind of a street fair where different restaurants have booths and you can try all sorts of different foods. You buy tickets, and everything costs a certain number of tickets, so the booths don't actually have to deal with money at all. It's a charity event. They block off about 4 blocks of Pennsylvania Avenue and hold it in the middle of the street - in addition to the food, there's also a lot of live entertainment, and a craft fair, too.

We bought some tickets and wandered around trying to decide what we wanted to eat...a lot of things looked good! Kathy finally got a chicken taco and rice, and I got Southwestern Chicken and red beans and rice from a different place. It was very good.

After eating we went to the Natural History Museum for a while - it sure smelled like mothballs in there! Kathy is student teaching, and wanted to buy some things she could use for an upcoming unit she is teaching on geology - volcanoes, earthquakes, rocks, different stuff like that. She found a lot of neat things.

All too soon it was time for her to get back home, so we walked back to the Metro Station and said goodbye. I made a quick tour through the Hirshorn Sculpture Garden - but what intrigued me most were these purple flowers growing on the wall. :-)

Then I headed back up to the Air and Space Museum again. I knew I wouldn't have time to see everything, but wanted to try to at least take a quick tour through all of the galleries...I didn't make it, though. There's just too many interesting things to see! And all of the 5-10 minute videos they show are very informative...I saw quite a few of those. In the exhibit on the Mercury/Apollo astronauts I had to chuckle when I saw that one of the supplies they were given was shark repellant. :-)

I took the Metro back to my hotel and took a quick shower and changed, and then got back on the Metro and went to the first of the RADP events I was attending - dinner at Smithson's. There were about 18 of us there for dinner...several people I had met before, or talked to on IRC chat, but some I didn't know at all. I won a prize for being the person to have come from furthest away. :-)

It was a nice evening, and after dinner Meli and John and Deb kindly offered to drive me back to my hotel...though we got lost, since I didn't realize the way streets are numbered in D.C., and that what quadrant of the city you're in is very important. :-) But we finally made it back to the hotel.

Sunday, October 11

It was a *beautiful* day...clear and sunny, but not too warm. The RADP meet wasn't until 1:30, so I made my way to The Mall by about 9:30 and visited monuments. The Washington, of course was closed, but I walked down and visited the Vietnam Memorial, and then the Lincoln Memorial. They are doing some work inside the Lincoln Memorial, too, but at least it is still open.

Then I walked up to the Korean Veterans War Memorial, which I hadn't seen before - and in fact it isn't completed yet. The marble wall with all of the "photographs" carved into it is *really* impressive... very subtle. I heard someone say that the carving was done with lasers.

From there I walked to the FDR Memorial...I really like all the running water's a nice place to just sit and relax for a while, and I did. I decided not to walk all the way over to the Jefferson Memorial, so I made my way back up the mall past the Washington Monument, and up to Pennsylvania Avenue, where I visited the White House Visitor's Center. It was interesting seeing some of the proposed plans for the design of the White House that had been rejected.

I found the Planet Hollywood restaurant where the RADP meet was going to be, but I was still about 1.5 hours early, so I went over to the American History Museum for a while. Tigger and I played with a recombinant DNA experiment...he wanted to combine frog DNA with bacteria to make a bacteria that bounced... :-) But we ended up with a bacteria that is used to produce human insulin. I suppose in the long run it's probably more useful... :-)

After that it *was* time to go back to Planet Hollywood for the meet, and I did. There were about 30 of us there...including our Mystery Guest from Florida. (Hi Rusty! :-) ) I'd met Rusty before and was glad to see him again. We finally got all of us into the restaurant and seated and chatting with each other. Our servers were great and really got into the spirit of the meet - one of them was actually feeding Chelsea her lunch - even wiping her chin between bites. She got her revenge later, though, when *she* fed *him*. It was a lot of fun.

Tourist Mickey was in attendance, since D.C. was part of his tour around the country, and I think I got a picture of him with everyone. My camera battery died, but Meli came to my rescue - she actually had an extra one that fit my camera - Thanks, Meli!!!!

We all squeezed together for the group photo...I think the servers took pictures with 7 or 8 different cameras. :-) After that we all said our good byes - I had a great time meeting everyone, though I didn't get to visit with people as long as I would've liked.

(Here's the Picture Page for the RADP Meet.)

Meli, John, Deb W, Jim, and I drove down to the Disney Catalog outlet at Potomac Mills to see if we could find anything...5 Disney addicts, and I don't think we bought anything! :-) Hard to believe...On the way back to town we dropped Jim at National Airport so he could catch a flight back to NYC, and the four of us went back into town for dinner. We had a nice meal at an Italian restaurant near Dupont Circle, and by then we were all pretty tired. They dropped me back at my hotel again - we didn't get lost this time. :-) We all said our goodbyes...I'll see Deb W again in December, but it'll probably be longer for Meli and John...the RADP meet in D.C. next October, right, guys? :-)

I had left my hotel about 9:00 that morning and got back about 9:15 that night...a long but very full and very fun day.

Monday, October 12

Time to go home...I packed up and checked out, and caught a taxi to the nearest Metro station (with a suitcase, a bag, and a backpack, I really didn't want to walk that far...). The taxi driver didn't even offer to get out of the cab and help me with any of the bags... what a guy. I took the Metro to National Airport and got there in plenty of time for my flight - actually WAY early, because I thought the flight left 1.5 hours earlier than it did. Oh well...I was getting close to the end of Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six, so that kept me entertained.

The flight to Cincinnati was on an *ancient* 727 that still had the orange, purple and red upholstery from the '70s. Ewww...It was a nice flight, though, because the plane was only about 1/4 full, so there were lots of empty seats.

The flight from Cincinnati to San Diego wasn't so pleasant, though - the plane was full, and I was stuck in a middle seat next to Mr. Fidget - I swear the guy did NOT sit still for even 5 seconds the entire flight. He was driving me nuts. It was a relief to get into San Diego.

The trip was short, but a lot of fun, and I'm really glad I went.

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Text and photographs copyright © 1997, by Laura Gilbreath. Feel free to link to this document, but you may not redistribute it in any form without the express written consent of the copyright holder.

Laura Gilbreath,
Last updated 10/19/98