You don’t walk into the National Gallery of Art and not expect nude statues. I knew the moment above was coming and I had my camera ready. The first statue past security did not disappoint. There was this slow realization creeping across Ben’s face that the female form in front of him was completely nude and anatomically correct. At first, his eyes just got bigger. Then he quick-walked (knowing not to run in a museum by this point) around to her backside. This is where he lost it. He giggled himself silly saying, “It’s a butt!”
Yep, he’s a Kane.
Sara and Maya got lost amid Cezanne, Van Gogh, Monet, Gauguin, and others. They enjoyed the refined beauty of artistic masters. Ben and I counted butts.
I’m a Kane too, it turns out.
He easily missed half of them, but it’s hard to count while quietly giggling to tears.
We finally drove out of the heat - just in time for our first stop with AC and a pool. But really, we couldn’t have asked for better weather to explore the capital. So far it has been in the upper 70s, a light breeze, and sunny.
We are staying at the beautiful house of my cousin Melanie and her husband Josh. The have two wonderful seventh grade kids, too.
Melanie and family have been the most gracious, kind hosts imaginable. They have fed and housed us, played and chatted, guided and encouraged, and all-around made our time here the best so far on this trip.
On Saturday, they took us around the National Mall, Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Memorial, Korean Memorial, and into the Smithsonian AIr and Space Museum. There was a cultural festival happening on the mall too, so our lunch was authentic Armenian fare. So yummy.
Josh dropped us a short walk from the White House (you can’t get a car anywhere near) and waited with the car since there was no parking. The kids’ pictures are below with the White House. Sara’s pic didn’t turn out, she had her finger over the lens.
Click on any picture above to see a bigger version.
American History Museum
On Sunday, we tested our own skills navigating the city as Melanie and Josh and kids prepared for their week. We did pretty well - didn’t get lost once (thank you Google) and found parking everywhere were needed it.
We started our day at the American History Museum. I wish I had more pictures. The museum tells the story of American History though themes. Our favorite (Ben and mine, anyway) was the transportation section. Starting with early ships through the train, auto and airplane, it was a glimpse into America as it moved.
Another theme was “How did we become US?” It was amazing to me how the questions of immigration have persisted in the much same form (different peoples) throughout most of our history. Racism and Xenophobia are American themes. It was encouraging that most of the people groups who were attacked like Mexican immigrants and Muslims are today are now more or less accepted. (Racism persists, of course, but our American dialogue is not whether or not Irish and Japanese should be allowed in our country.) Bad ideas and bad arguments will keep getting replaced with good ideas good arguments.
African-American History Museum
The African-American history Museum was a powerful experience. It’s so new that we had to get tickets. It is free, but the demand is so high that you need to get time-sensitive ticket. Tickets “sell out” two months in advance. However, every morning at 6:30 they post four additional same-day tickets for each hour of the day. We got the 12:30 slot!
The beginning of the museum funnels you to the basement. It’s crowded and tight. It’s the history of the Middle Passage.
Eventually, the space opens up into the horrors of slavery. It is a heavy experience. Probably the heaviest moment, for us, came in the Jim Crow era exhibit. It was labeled “mature” and Sara went in to see and evaluate. Maya couldn’t accept the idea of being censored, and begged me to allow her to go. I relented.
Inside she she and her mom found images of lynchings, dead black men surrounded by white townsfolk posing for pictures. Posing. Smiling. The stretched necks were awful, gruesome images. The smiling whites were missing a part of their humanity.
Lest you think Montana innocent, further on, Montana was represented in Jim Crow laws.
Along this journey, I realized that my living grandma was 18 at the last reunion of civil war soldiers. This is not so long ago.
I'm not an Airstream Jedi, yet. Airstream Jedi would have sounded presumptuous, like I know what I'm doing. That couldn't be further from the truth. Padawan is a title I can hope to live up to.
Knots Per Hour
My friend Mike is building an airplane. Check it out.