Okay! I think it's time to do some trip discussion! And show PICTURES! They're pretty much all from Saturday, as that was my free day, but still. Pictures! And other stuff!
I'm quickly becoming train-savvy, with all this train riding I've been doing. One thing I can recommend for anyone considering taking the train after this last trip--if it's practical, book a ride on a train that has an overnight route. We took the Silver Star route (overnight) on the way up, and the Carolinian route (not overnight) on the way back, and I gotta tell you, the Silver Star route was MUCH nicer, for several reasons. They ran on time (apparently the Carolinian is chronically late--we got home an hour later than we should have this time around), you get more space in your seat (and the seats can lay back like a lounge chair, if that's how you like to ride. The space you getb on the Carolinian is comparable to an airplane), and they were MUCH more organized. On the Carolinian they basically said, "Yeah, find a seat wherever," the result being that I had to sit in the seat in front of Eien-chan, making for a rather lonesome trip. On the Silver Star they arranged people by the number of folks traveling together and where they were going, and assigned seats, so there wasn't a fight to try and get two seats next to each other. As I said, it's not always practical (the reason why we didn't take the Silver Star back was because we wouldn't get home until 9PM and would have to bum around the station for 3 hours waiting for it to pick us up), but when it is, overnight routes are the way to go, I think. And since the price seems to be dictated by how far you travel (at least when comparing overnight to day-routes, as I imagine taking one of the trains that allows you to take your car with you would be more expensive), the price for one over the other is about the same. This has been your train information tip of the day. <3
Getting about in DC was a neat trick, weather-wise. I had kenaz with me when I was at the herbarium, and of course it decided to rain just about all week while we were there, so getting him safely there and back again was a neat trick. As much as I hate wearing ponchos, I found the ones the Smithsonian sold were pretty adequate at keeping the backpack I was carting kenaz in dry, although I looked absolutely ridiculous with it on. I was dubbed the Fearsome Turtle Warrior.
There really isn't much to tell for the majority of the trip, at least on my end. I spent most of my time in the herbarium at the Museum of Natural History, in my own little corner of the grass herbarium, measuring my heart out. As AWESOME as it is to say that I worked at the Smithsonian, and that I went into the BACK ROOMS, it's pretty monotonous work most of the time. I did have more fun than I really should going to the cafeteria to get lunch, though (they had JELLY BELLIES. I love Jelly Bellies). And in the evening, when I finished at about, oh, 7:30 or so, Eien-chan would pick me up and we'd go find dinner at someplace awesome.
One night we went to a Scandanavian place called 'Domku', and that was quite a culinary adventure. I can now say that I've had pickled herring and gravlax, both of which I actually kinda liked. I totally want to incorporate them into the Eighth Kingdom, too. I can see Anika waxing poetic about how she misses buried raw fish. XD I also tried rose petal aquavit, which grew on me after a while. <3
Another night we went to a Malaysian place that was REALLY tasty. I had pearl noodles, which are kinda like thick noodles cut up really small. Difficult to eat with chopsticks, but oh so good. And the last night we were there we went to an AWESOME place in Chinatown that had the most delicious stir-fried seafood, served up in potatoes arranged to look like a bird's next. Totally delicious!
On the subject of the last day, that's when I was able to do some exploring of DC with Eien-chan. And that's where most of the pictures come in too! We ended up going to the National Aquarium, to the Botanic Garden near the Capitol, to Chinatown, and also to Union Station (which, apparently, has an Obama store, devoted entirely to all things presidential, including life-size cardboard cutouts). The National Aquarium was neat, if small compared to, say, the Baltimore Aquarium. Each of the exhibits had specimens from a different national preserve, which I think was a neat way to arrange things.
THEN, we went to the Botanic Garden. <3 <3 <3 ( And here come the pictures! )
I'm looking forward to going back in the fall, when I go to see my cousin get hitched. <3