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DC, day 4: 22 June 2007

Started: 2007-07-22 16:48:24

Submitted: 2007-07-22 17:00:22

Visibility: World-readable

1815 EDT 24 June 2007

On Friday, we needed to change hotels to one closer to the ALA convention center; this also provided the clean line between what we were paying for our vacation and what Kiesa's employer will reimburse her for. We ended up at a hotel many blocks from the nearest Metro station, which meant dragging our bags down the often-bumpy sidewalks once we took the Blue Line to McPherson Square. Despite arriving before noon, we were able to check in and drop our bags in our room on the eighth floor.

Kiesa had a few hours before she needed to start doing convention stuff (which was the reason we came to DC in the first place), so we took off on our own. I checked the timetables I had transcribed in my little black book (serving as both trip journal and random-note receptacle) and decided I had just enough time to get to Rosslyn station to catch the bus to Dulles. I headed back to the Metro stop and took the blue line back under the Potomac River to Rosslyn station, then figured out where to catch the 5A Metrobus to Dulles. While waiting for the bus, I read the local copy of The Onion which I picked up for free outside of the Metro stop.

The bus was almost full, which shouldn't really surprise anyone who understands that the 5A bus is the most obvious and cheapest form of mass transit connecting to Washington's largest airport. (Insert rail link to Dulles rant here.)

When the bus reached Dulles, I had nine minutes to locate the VRTA bus to the Dulles Annex. This was easier said than done; I walked up and down the ground transportation curb without finding any indication where the bus would pick me up. I eventually returned to the curb where the Metrobus dropped me off and serendipitously saw the VRTA Dulles-to-Dulles bus pull up.

Fifty cents and a few minutes later, I arrived at the National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. I took the elevator up to the observation deck, which wasn't as interesting as I hoped, but I did get to see the southern end of Dulles airport. I called and left a message for Willy wishing him a happy solstice; I was a day late. The air traffic control exhibit a level down wasn't as interesting as I hoped either, but the body of the museum didn't disappoint: more aircraft and spacecraft than I could count, including the reason everyone wanted to build the Dulles center in the first place: The Enterprise, the first (non-orbital) Space Shuttle, used for atmospheric glide testing.

1200 EDT 25 June 2007

I spent several hours wandering around the Udvar-Hazy Center's unfilled hangar, starting with the space hangar and working my way into the aviation hangar. When I had seen all the planes, spacecraft, and artifacts in sufficient detail, I dropped by the museum store (but wasn't sufficiently inspired to buy anything) and caught the VRTA bus back to Dulles Airport. I ended up in the out-of-phase cycle of the return-trip busses; I had to wait more than half an hour for the bus back to Rosslyn Station. I was hungry, having not yet eaten lunch at 15:30. I found a Starbucks in the mobbed baggage claim and bought a cookie, which had the convenient side effect of giving me correct change for the 5A Metrobus when it eventually arrived at 16:05. The ride back to Arlington was crowded and contained at least one librarian (she had an OCLC bag). We got stuck in traffic in full view of the Orange Line tracks in the highway median.

Back in Arlington, I headed for a Chipotle I saw a block away from Rosslyn Station but headed back to the Metro when Kiesa called and arranged a rendezvous for supper. I took the Metro into Washington and met Kiesa at Dupont Circle for a hike up 18th into Adams Morgan in search of interesting-looking restaurants. I was running low on energy when we located an Indian restaurant.

We walked back to our hotel; neither the restaurant nor our hotel were sufficiently close to a Metro stop to make the trip worthwhile. We headed out again to the convention center for the premier of The Hollywood Librarian, a documentary about librarians and libraries that included footage of librarians in movies. It was interesting, though somewhat scattered; it didn't seem to flow from topic to topic and spent more time congratulating itself on how great it was that there was a documentary about librarians.

The most obvious way back to our hotel from the convention center went down Mass Ave, though Thomas Circle, which seemed to take three times as long to traverse on foot that it should have, since the pedestrian signals were short and out-of-phase in such a way to prevent optimal travel. Kiesa went as far as to label Washington as one of the most inconvenient cities for pedestrian travel.

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