A vacation from the vacation   Leave a comment

Annapolis and Washington D.C.

Someone recently described what Lee and I are doing as a permanent vacation. I agreed at the time but that’s not really an accurate description. Most days we are so busy doing things that need to get done or actively sailing the boat that we don’t have time for vacationesque activities. The boat almost completely occupies our thoughts and discussions. That’s why, given the opportunity of free housing in Washington D.C., we elected to take the bus there for a little vacation from the boat.
My mother’s cousin Lyn works in D.C. but does not live there so she kindly let us use the basement apartment she rents from a friend. Lee and I left Pirat on a mooring in Annapolis and took a commuter bus to the capital on Wednesday morning. For me, a trip to Washington D.C. was the culmination of my museum studies. Having read, talked, and written about the Smithsonian I was thrilled to be there for the first time since middle school. I thought it was also appropriate that this trip coincided with my actual DU graduation (I think…I don’t really know the graduation date).
First on the list of museums to visit was the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI), an icon in my field of study. We spent a good part of Wednesday going through NMAI’s three main galleries and they were fabulous! It was so refreshing to walk through galleries that were up-to-date and filled with multiple indigenous perspectives. Lee and I found ourselves reading much more than we were looking at the objects. The cafeteria was awesome too, as I’d heard from friends who had visited NMAI. They had indigenous cuisine from all over the Americas.
Next came the Air and Space Museum, a stark contrast to NMAI. It was mobbed with school kids swarming around 70’s/80’s vintage exhibits on space technology. I got to talk to some museum educators who were gathering visitor feedback on ideas for a new exhibit. That was fun.
Our accommodations were a conveniently located near the metro red line and a few restaurants. Museum exhaustion eventually kicked in and it was nice to have a cool bed to sleep in.
On day 2 we finished the Air and Space Museum and plowed through the Natural History Museum. I was impressed with the updated exhibits at the Natural History museum. The ocean, mammal, and human evolution halls had all been redone well. There was also a really, really good exhibit on Inuit culture that included some really good language elements. There was an interactive touch screen where you could hear words, speak them, and see the waveform image for both. With all these great things to see how could we not stay a third day? We spent most of that third day at the American History Museum, which was more interesting than we both expected. Lee enjoyed the exhibits on technology (there were so many things he could have spent days there) and I enjoyed observing teenage museum behavior. Actually, I had been noticing some interesting teens and tweens in all the museums but by the third day there was one trend that was really getting to me.
Kids and digital cameras: Every museum we went to (except NMAI) was full or groups of kids, either from schools or families, toting their digital cameras and cell phones. They would walk, or run, up to a display case, exclaim something like “cool, what’s this?”, and take a picture. Then they ran off to the next case. No one read anything about what they were taking pictures of. I overheard all kinds of conversations about the hundreds of pictures kids had. One pair of boys ran from case to case in an American History exhibit, exclaiming at one that “this must be the first telescope!”, snapping their shots and then starting to walk away. Before they could move a man standing near them told them “actually, that’s a gatling gun.”
What’s going on here? Are kids experiencing museums through their captures digital images? It looks to me like their missing out on the content by frantically trying to capture some kind of status symbol (hundreds of pics from the Smithsonian). I really wanted to take their cameras away. Adults were taking pictures too, although not usually as frantically. It has never occurred to whips out my camera in a museum. Why would you want to take pictures through glass cases?

Unruly visitors aside, our Smithsonian excursion was a nice break from the boat. We took the bus back on Friday afternoon in time to meet Lee’s aunt Pam and uncle Ron for dinner in Annapolis. It’s great to have so many family members around to visit!
On Saturday morning we moved the boat to an anchorage up Spa Creek, away from the bustling Annapolis harbor area. We set up the bikes to run some errands. This is the ultimate place to find sailing supplies so we wanted to take advantage of that. On our way back from a trip to the grocery store, backpacks full of groceries, a mini-van taxi cab decided to pull out in front of me. I near the bottom of a significant hill, going pretty fast. The van was turning left out of a driveway. He almost turned in front of Lee, who was a ways ahead of me, but didn’t check for additional bikers after Lee passed. I’ve never been in a bike accident before. It really happened in slow motion – I think I even said “is this really happening?” out loud to myself. I had a few seconds to break and try to veer left to avoid the van but I whacked right into the left front side, bounced forward over the handle bars, and then landed on my side with my bike. The impact seemed really loud.
Lying on the pavement in the middle of the road is strange. I sort of had the wind knocked out of me but I managed to peel myself off the asphalt while the driver asked if I was ok and if he should call the police (to which I said “I don’t know!” and “Yes!). Lee turned around and was by my side in seconds. My head felt like my brain had been bounced around inside my skull and I had a few spots of road rash on my left side. Without my helmet, It would have been exponentially worse. The helmet was cracked in two places.
I ended up taking an ambulance to the ER, where we spent 6 hours waiting for a doctor who ended up over reacting a bit. He ordered X-rays of my neck, shoulder, hip, and chest, blood tests, urine tests, and a CAT scan. Well, now I can say I’ve had a CAT scan. Everything came back negative and I walked stiffly out of the hospital at 11pm or so last night.
This morning my head feels very bruised. I have a painful bruise and road rash on my bony left hip, and other spots on my shoulder and knee. What an experience. That’s something I never want to do again and I will always, always wear my helmet now!

Posted June 13, 2010 by Rachel in Uncategorized

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