Saturday, August 6, 2011

Mission #7 - Brookland/CUA Red Line August 6th

First things first - we have to confess that today's mission was rigged. We did not pick a card at random. We intentionally chose the Brookland-Catholic University station. You'll find out why soon enough.

Anyway, here's the standard picture of the sign. We also snapped a pic of the graffiti that lined the walls at this (and a few other) stations. Would you have recognized Michael Jackson?

As we came out of the station, we followed the sidewalk to Catholic University. It was pretty empty today - since it's a Saturday in the summer. There were, however, a few birds rinsing off in the fountains! We were just beginning to explore the CUA campus when we realized we were walking toward the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. If you've lived in the DC area very long, this is definitelly a place that you've heard about -so, we decided that as 20 year residents of the area we should probably, finally check it out.

We were impressed from the outside, especially by the grand entrance. We had no idea what was in store for us behind that door!

Isn't it beautiful?This is the 2nd set of pipes for the organ. There was a set just like this (maybe bigger) at the front of the church. It would've been amazing to hear this being played. Oh well.

There was all manner of mosaic paintings, stained glass windows, gold leafing and more. Every inch of the ceilings was covered with scripture or quotes of some sort.

There were statues and paintings of every Saint possible. This portrait of Mother Teresa caught our attention. It looks like a photo - maybe from when she visited the Shrine.Down in the basement (read: Crypt) was the confessional room, restrooms and this office........ we took a picture because we thought it was a great idea and we should do this to Brady's window at Jireh Place.

As it should be with every good church there was a gift shop offering the image of Christ and Mary in every possible form. =) Of course the gift shop also sold coffee items. We were real close to buying the Mystic Monk Press. Too bad we don't drink coffee!

After spending about an hour in the Shrine we decided it was time for lunch. We debated eating in the cafeteria at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception - cuz that's not something you get to do everyday! However, Brady used his magic google phone to look up a local favorite - Wings over Washington. We walked the 2 blocks over but found it to be a bit lacking.....meaning there was no where to sit and relax while we ate. So, against our better judgement, we went to a chain restaurant instead.

Brady: southern BBQ pulled pork

Joy: mesquite chicken

It was YUMMY!....and great to sit down for a few minutes.

Now that our tummies were full and we could concentrate once again - we continued our trek. We noticed almost directly across from Catholic University was Trinity University. Once again, the magic google phone told us all we needed to know. It was founded as (and still is) a college for women. That's why Brady didn't make it into this picture!

Back on the main road, Joy looked down and noticed this manhole cover. It was made in the USA, specifically Neenah, WI where our buddy Dan Servi was raised. Joy remembered him mentioning that was Neenah's "claim to fame".....and here we were witnessing a real 'live' Neenah manhole cover. A little overwhelming isn't it? Take a moment if you need....

OK - we're almost to our ultimate, not random at all, destination.....are you excited? Have you guessed it yet?

That's not it but we're close. However, we must admit that walking past Washington Hospital Center did bring back a flood of memories from 13 years ago when our daughter Daria was born there and remained in the NICU for 13 days. We took a moment to thank God for her and how healthy she is today.

Here we go........ are you ready?...........
There it is! Children's National Medical Center - the reason for this specific mission.......

We'd like you to meet Aniela Chambers. This precious baby girl was born on August 5th. Mom and Dad, Josh and Chaitra, are special friends of ours from Grace Baptist Church. Little Aniela has some heart problems so she is currently in the CICU (Cardiac Intensive Care Unit) at Children's. She is scheduled for surgery on Monday or Tuesday. If you think of it, keep her and the family in your prayers - they certainly could use it.By the way, her name means "Angel" in Polish. Isn't she beautiful?

So now you know why we rigged today's mission. Do you forgive us?

We'll get back on track with randomness next time.

Until then.......happy trails!

Mission # 6: Race for the Smithsonian: Blue/Orange line July 30, 2011

Well it had been about a zillion degrees this week but we decided to proceed with our next mission. On this mission we will attempt to see all of the Smithsonian Museums. We have about 2 hours to accomplish this so here we go......

Oh, just one disclaimer before we get started - there is no photography allowed in alot of the exhibits in these museums and no flash photography ever. Therefore, many of the pictures might be blurry since we had to force the camera into no flash mode.

First stop, the Freer and Sackler Galleries. We can't really remember which artwork was in which museum because you travel between the two via underground tunnels. It all gets a bit jumbled in your head (especially when you're traveling at warp speed through these places). We basically went in, looked quickly, found something of interest to snap a photo of, then moved onto the next building.

This was titled "Standing Buddha" - who knew you could lose that much weight just by standing up straight!

These pots were comparing earthenware to pottery (I think). One was super heavy and the other one pretty light. By the way, the sign said to please pick them up so Joy isn't breaking any laws here!

Of course there's time to pause for a shot like this of our beautiful city!

Next up - the Smithsonian Castle. There's not really much in the Castle now except information and offices but since it's the classic scene we decided we'd better not skip it!

Visitors can check the scale map of Washington, DC and
figure out what to do next.There was some construction going on around the Castle. Luckily we came upon this sign that showed Brady how to cross the sidewalk safely.

Stop #4 - The Museum of African Art. side note: we're about an hour into our adventure and have barely scratched the surface of the museums. Do you think we're gonna make it?

Very quiet, very dimly lit museum with some very intricate artwork. We only took a picture of these cool "people" for sale in the gift shop though. The clock's ticking y'know!

Museum #5 - The Hirshorn Museum. This circular museum is a favorite of our friends Nathan & Julie Siwak - they got engaged inside! There's a beautiful fountain in the courtyard too.

Photos are tricky in this one - it's dark and heavily guarded but we did manage to snap this one. Brady at "Niagara Falls". It was basically a giant screen with the falls projected onto it. We'll still never understand what makes something ART and with that title the honor of being in a Smithsonian Museum. Oh well.

Outside pictures are allowed - and if you ask us - much more fun. Here's Brady joking around with some of the gang!

Since the U.S. Capitol is technically the center of the city, we are usually able to spot it from wherever we are on a mission. When we do see it, we try to snap a picture with it - just because we can.......... or can we? This pic was kind of a fail!

Anyway, moving on to #6 - The Natioinal Air and Space Museum. (Joy's least favorite museum - always has been, always will be). This museum is the most visited of any Smithsonian so we did a quick trip in through security, found 2 favorites, tried to get out through the McDonald's, backtracked all the way back around to the enter/exit doors and got out pretty quickly! Here's what we saw in that 10 minutes.....

Brady with the Spirit of St. Louis (because he loves flying)

Joy with Charles Lindbergh (because they have the same goggles!)

Upon exiting the museum we somehow found ourselves in the middle of some kind of peace march/rally. There were drums, instruments of all sorts, was great!

"Stop the violence - keep the peace!"

What do we want? PEACE When do we want it? NOW!

After the peace march, we made it into the National Museum of the American Indian. We had only ventured into this museum once before because we thought it was pretty boring.

Joy set the camera on a big rock with the self-timer going. It's not a bad photo - just a little crooked. The museum wasn't actually as bad as we expected. The only bad part is that you have to get to the 3rd floor before seeing too many real exhibits. We certainly didn't have time for that. Here's what we saw on floor 2.
This beadwork flag was amazing. Not sure you can tell by the picture but those are words, done in beading, throughout the entire flag. Oh the skilled hands that made that - impressive!

Here's Brady doing his best "angry Indian" face - don't be messin' with him!

The entrance area of this museum is so pretty with rocks and fountains all around - a nice place for a picnic.....if only there was time!

A quick stop at the Sculpture Garden next to Joy's favorite - the antique typewriter eraser wheel. Oh those were the good ole days!

(actually this picture is out of order but we can't get it to move so....just pretend) Museum #8 - The National Gallery of Art (East and West buildings) At this point we have 20 minutes until our 2 hours is up - gonna have to move a little faster....

This is probably Brady's favorite museum. He loves to just walk through looking at all of the artwork. There are benches where he can sit and read or's so very peaceful...


Today we went into the East building, rode the escalator down a level, looked at the hand sculptures, rode the moving sidewalk to the West building, looked for a photo exhibit (that wasn't worth it) and exited out the far doors. We'll definitely have to go back and spend a bit more time in this one.

I'm pretty sure Joy could be a hand model =)

OK - this is where the typewriter sculpture goes because this is what happened next. We went through the Sculpture Garden and sat at the beautiful fountain. We had done 8 museums in 2 hours, it was hot, we were hungry......

We decided to bail on the American History and Natural History Museums. We went to get food at the Panda Cafe instead. What we ate was spicy so we finished off with Ben & Jerry's.

This Smithsonian Race was a valiant effort, too bad we didn't succeed - better luck next time!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Mission #5: Eastern Market (blue/orange) July 24, 2011

Upon returning from Myrtle Beach, we decided to use one last vacation day and go on a mission. We hopped on the subway - where we saw this GREAT advertisement - and headed to the famous Eastern Market.

We started across the street from the actual "market" where, on weekends, there is a flea market. We browsed through the stalls full of old LIFE magazines, yard art, crafts, jewelry and $5 sunglasses! (This was especially exciting since Joy had broken 2 pair at the beach).

After the sunglass purchase, we rounded the corner and came to the farmers market section. Almost every stall had samples of their peaches, berries and watermelon. Brady enjoyed his samples so much that he bought (and immediately devoured) 2 peaches.

We then wandered into the building which houses more produce as well as bakery, fresh meat and seafood stalls. It was definitely alot to take in!

Joy had pre-purchased $20 worth of lunch (via at Chicken Tortilla which was about 8 blocks away. We decided to explore the neighborhood on the way to lunch. We stopped in the street to take a picture with the U.S. Capitol in the background - you can see how well that worked out!

Near the market, Brady spotted a used bookstore. This was 3 floors CRAMMED full of books. There was little or no organization to them, which made it even more fun. We spent alot of time in there browsing. There were even books in the bathroom!

Our trek toward lunch continued as we passed the Marine barracks....not alot of activity on a Sunday morning. We were now only 2 blocks from lunch - yay!

As we approached our lunch destination, it looked VERY empty in was CLOSED. Not open on Sunday - just like Chick-Fil-A. It was a sad, sad, moment!

We saw a Quiznos and a Papa Johns but we try to dine on local neighborhood fare so..... forlorn, hot and thirsty we started the trek back toward Eastern Market.

The good news is that our 8 block walk included a "Tour of Duty" - 16 signs detailing Barracks Row Heritage Trail. We always fit a bit of history into each and every mission! It was also around this spot that Brady got to do a random act of kindness by giving two ladies directions to Union Station.

While we were walking back towards the market, bells started ringing. Joy thought it was the 12:00 signal but they just kept ringing. So we veered over 2 blocks to check it out. The bells at the episcopal church rang well over 200 times - for at least 10 minutes. Our explanation is that they continue ringing until all parishioners have left the building! =)

We FINALLY made it back to the Eastern Market where thankfully they have a food counter. We checked out the menu board and ordered 2 cheeseburgers, fries, a LARGE sweet tea and LARGE lemonade. We were even fortunate enough to find two empty seats! The best part of the meal was Joy's "oh no, Mr. Bill!" pickle!

After filling our tummies and resting in the A/C for a few minutes, we were ready to hit the train again and head home! Eastern Market is a place that we'd wanted to visit for a long time so we're thrilled to now check it off of the list!

Hopefully we're headed out again soon. Where have your travels taken you this summer?