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DC, day 7: 25 June 2007

Started: 2007-07-22 19:23:52

Submitted: 2007-07-22 19:38:06

Visibility: World-readable

0740 MDT 2 July 2007

On Monday morning, 25 June, our last day in Washington, Kiesa and I managed to pack our bags and dropped them at the front desk for safe keeping while we headed out into the city. (Kiesa brought an extra suitcase -- my Rick Steves Europe bag -- in the event that she ended up with large quantities of convention schwag. What she didn't realize was that collecting schwag was a full-time job, which didn't work with her real plan to investigate integrated library system vendors.)

We stopped for coffee at Caribou Coffee (which was mobbed with office workers on Monday morning) and took the red line from Farragut North to Union Station, the best Metro stop to reach the Hart Senate Office Building, where we found the office of Colorado's junior Senator, Ken Salazar. It was 10:10 EDT, and I thought we were early for our 10:30 tour, but it turned out that we had remembered it wrong -- our tour really started at 10:00. Fortunately for us, there was a group of rural Colorado teachers coming for a tour at 10:30, so we tagged along, after dumping my Nalgene of its evil tap water.

We took the elevator down to from the seventh floor to the basement, where we walked to the Russel Senate Office Building and queued for the tram to the capitol with hundreds of other people on their own staff-led tours. After having our bags searched (my empty Nalgene almost didn't make it through, until I pointed out it was in fact empty), we hopped onto the underground tram for the short trip to the north wing of the capitol.

The capitol was fascinating -- paintings and sculptures and history, including the Apollo 11 moon landing in the great moments in American history hall, and the Wright Flyer at Kitty Hawk in the rotunda itself, both of which I photographed for Willy's enjoyment. We also saw Jack Swigert's statue, given to the capitol by Colorado, and the old Supreme Court chamber.

By the time we emerged from the Capitol Building, it was almost noon and neither of us had enough energy to do anything. We had Senate gallery tickets, but the list of things we could take in was tiny and disallowed most of the contents of my tourist bag -- even note-talking was prohibited. We found a bench on the south side of the capitol and sat; Kiesa red and I documented earlier days in the trip. After an hour, it started to think about raining, so we headed by the front steps of the capitol, overlooking the National Mall, and photographed each other to prove we were really there. We visited the National Botanic Gardens and declared ourselves to be done with tourism; we were ready to go home. (This was not unlike the way we felt on Wednesday in London; this suggests that the optimal vacation is either five days long or incorporates designated vacation-from-vacation time.) We took the Metro to Dupont Circle and walked to Cafe Luna, a small restaurant with a random assortment of food with an alcove counting down the days remaining in Bush's presidency.

After eating, we walked the rest of the way to Whole Foods, where Kiesa tried to figure out how she could get cream cheese for a bagel through airport security; the answer: a little sample cup like one would use for salad dressing.

1710 MDT 2 July 2007

After Whole Foods, we picked up our bags at our hotel, around the corner, and walked to the nearest Metro stop. (No stop was especially handy; there were three, on two different lines, each about seven blocks away.) We took the blue line to Ronald Reagan National Airport; I ended the trip with exactly five cents on my Farecard. Kiesa didn't do quite as well; she ended up with ninety cents on one and less than a dollar on another.

We shuffled the contents of our bags, optimizing in favor of what we could carry onto an airplane instead of what we wanted to carry around town while playing tourist, and checked in for our flight. Since we didn't exercise the option to check in online, or even pick our seats, we ended up across the aisle from each other. (This may have been karmic retribution for not trading seats with a couple on our outbound flight in the same situation -- though trading would have meant not sitting adjacent to each other.)

I half-watched CNN in front of our departure gate and waited for our plane to arrive from Denver. On the plane, both Kiesa and I opted to pay US$5 for DirecTV in our seat-back LCD screens. I amused myself by catching up on news after a week on vacation on CNN Headline News before switching to SciFi in search of something interesting; I ended up watching the last two episodes of Star Trek: Enterprise, which were amusing, but possibly only because I was a captive audience. We left DCA to the south, so we didn't have to bank sharply to the left after takeoff to avoid restricted airspace above Washington. Coming into Denver, we had to avoid thunderstorms around the airport, so we swung south and west, above Pueblo, and entered the approach patterns from the south-west. We landed from the north on 17R; as we were coming down, I saw a Southwest 737 on final approach to 17L out of the left window, as if it were flying in formation.

Our descent into Denver was bumpy (as would be expected on a hot summer afternoon with hot air rising off uneven patches of ground with a thunderstorm in the vicinity), so I expected a sharp landing but instead enjoyed one of the gentlest landings I've felt in recent history.

On the ground, I took the train to Concourse B so I could complain again about the lousy new music and also look at the duplicate Jack Swigert statue, standing at the top of the escalators on the north side of the concourse. I photographed the statue and headed back to baggage claim, where I found Kiesa. Once we claimed our luggage, we took the shuttle to shuttle parking and found Yoda in the fading light as a dust storm raged around us.

Our cats were glad to see us on our return.

Whoa! Now we can always know exactly where we are at every
moment...and still have no clue what is going on.
- Willy, upon learning about Ted's GPS acquisition, 11 November 2003