Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: our fifth annual road trip became our first family road trip as we jettisoned our convention plans and took my son to scenic Washington DC to learn history and significance and architecture and so forth. We took a handful of photos using ye olde 35mm film when we weren’t busy corralling and entertaining the boy.
After quote-unquote “lunch” on Day Three we headed a few blocks east to visit our first Smithsonian museum. Handy trivia: any show or movie that tells you an artifact or MacGuffin is “in the Smithsonian” is fudging their verisimilitude. The Smithsonian Institute comprises nineteen museums, many but not all of which are in DC. If someone tries faking their Smithsonian familiarity like that, ask them “WHICH ONE?” and tap your foot impatiently till they either answer with credibility or embarrass themselves by answering, “Uhhhhh, the really big one.”
First in line was the National Air and Space Museum, a must for fans of space, planes, or space planes. My son, age 8, was sold on anything related to spaceflight, but iffy on the more grounded aircraft. That afternoon, we were also grateful they featured something even better than flight-worthy inventions and innovations: their gift shop had snacks.
The planes were also cool, I suppose. And science demos, much like our own Children’s Museum back home in Indianapolis. A few were different but nonetheless educational and, more importantly, fun. Remember, this was still summer vacation.
By the time we finished the Air and Space Museum, the boy was dying. He wasn’t used to so much walking — many blocks’ worth by my count. We sat outside and rested for a while, but I insisted on visiting one last museum before calling it a day. He was not happy. A few tears were shed. It took no small amount of persuading. I don’t recall resorting to bribery, because we’d already eaten all our bargaining chips. Finally, after all the minutes we could give him to recuperate in the cloudy summer afternoon, we walked north to the other side of the National Mall for one last stop: the National Museum of Natural History.
Once inside the door, he saw the one museum exhibit even more magical than space travel: DINOSAUR FOSSILS. My once-fretting son transformed before our eyes into an excitable speeding bullet aimed directly at authentic dinosaur parts, fatigue and the rest of the day forgotten in a blink.
Right around the gemstone exhibit is we began to get bored and succumb to exhaustion. We trudged back to the subway station, headed a few blocks north, and returned to the hotel. While Anne and I died in our respective beds, the boy watched cartoons and amused himself with his action figures as if nothing were wrong and we hadn’t all just spent the entire day exercising. Hours later we worked up just enough energy to go fetch another Subway supper. Repetitive, but better than lunch.
To be continued!
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