We had just been to Washington DC last summer, but we went back in February. Holly had another conference, and I once again tagged along.
It was a short trip. I went down on a Tuesday afternoon and returned on Friday afternoon. Holly actually had back-to-back conference and had been in Denver for another conference for a few days prior to her DC conferences. We had been apart for a few days and couldn’t wait to be reunited.
I had the choice of either going with her to Denver or to Washington. Although I would have been able to see some of my professional friends who were also in Denver for that conference, I opted for the easier and less expensive travel down to DC. I could have done both but that would have been pricey and eaten up almost all of my vacation time.
For our summer trip, we had taken the MegaBus, which was more or less fine. This time, I opted for the train which was quicker and more comfortable. As they say, you get what you pay for.
Her conference was in a different part of the city (Woodley Park) than last time (Downtown). I was somewhat familiar with Woodley Park. A conference I used to go to was in Dupont Circle. I once walked up to the zoo which is in Woodley Park, and I often went to Adams Morgan which is just to the east.
I rather enjoyed staying in Woodley Park. The hotel (Omni Shoreham) was old and charming. There were a few good eating and drinking options nearby, and it was very close to a Metro stop.
Holly and I went out looking for dinner the first night to celebrate our reunion. We stopped at the Afghan Grill to look at the posted menu and got talked into eating there by a waiter who came out when he saw us checking out the menu. We were quite pleased with our choice.
Prior to the trip, I had looked up some nearby restaurants and bars. But I also did some research when I first got to the hotel and found a place called The Gin Joint pretty much right across the street from the hotel. This was quite the find. After dinner at the Afghan Grill, we stopped by The Gin Joint (which is part of New Heights Restaurant) and were impressed with their extensive gin selection and the knowledgeable bartender. Over the course of our stay, we went to the Gin Joint three times and probably would have ended up there a fourth if we didn’t have plans our last night.
The only drawback about the location was a lack of breakfast places close enough to the hotel so that Holly had time to eat and get back to her sessions. The hotel served breakfast but at fancy hotel prices. Luckily, the one close place, Open City, was pretty good, and we went there every morning.
I kept myself well entertained while Holly was at the conference. I had a few museums on my list from the summer that I didn’t have time to get to so I had a few things in mind and added a few others along the way.
I brought two of my film cameras, my Canon Rebel EOS 2000 and my Diana F+, and I left my digital at home (other than my phone camera). The Canon still had half a roll of black and white film from our Staycation, but I was starting fresh with the Diana. The week or so before the trip, I made sure to order some new film and even thought to order a Metro card.
After breakfast the first morning, I took a short walk around the area with the Canon and made a rookie mistake of not realizing the focus was set on manual. It wasn’t noticeable while outside since it was a bit rainy and foggy, but as soon as I got inside, I realized my oversight. The outdoor pictures came out OK and even benefited from being somewhat out of focus giving them a somewhat eerie character, or so I would like to think.
On Wednesday, I went to the Renwick Gallery, which is a branch of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
Afterward, I walked down to the west end of The Mall which I hadn’t gotten to during the summer. I had been many years ago, like decades ago, so was overdue for another visit.
I went to the World War II Memorial and then to the Lincoln Memorial, which I didn’t remember having been to before. But I know I had been to the Korean Memorial and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and the Lincoln Memorial sits right between them so I can’t imagine I hadn’t been there. I also went to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial as well as the Vietnam Women’s Memorial.
I took two of my favorite photos from this trip during that walk along the mall. I was lining up a shot so that I could get a nice picture of the Lincoln Memorial and its reflection in the reflecting pool. Just as I was in a spot I liked, a plane passed by overhead so I got lucky with that timing. The other photo I really like is the one from the Vietnam Women’s Memorial. I like the composition, and I also like that the Washington Monument is in the background. I hadn’t realized that when I took the picture.
Then I walked to the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden which was on my to-see list over the summer, but I ran out of time before getting there. I was fortunate to get to see their Brand New: Art and Commodity in the 1980s exhibit. Considering I was 12-22 through the 80s, I found the exhibit to be a fascinating look at one of the decades I lived through. The exhibit featured a wide range of works from Ashley Bickerton, Jessica Diamond, Peter Halley, Jeff Koons, Joel Otterson, Richard Prince, Erika Rothenberg, Sarah Charlesworth, Haim Steinbach, Meyer Vaisman and Julia Wachtel, but I was most taken with the Barbara Kruger installation and art, the Ann Hamilton installation, and Donald Moffett’s He Kills Me.
One of the highlights of the trip was due to some fortuitous timing. After the Hirshhorn, and after a well-earned lunch, I went to the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery. I knew the new portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama had recently been released, but I hadn’t realized they were already available for public viewing. My timing was also fortunate in that, apparently, February is a great time to go to Washington DC museums since everywhere I went was far from crowded. There were only short lines for the Obama portraits.
The next day, I continued my museum visiting by going to the National Museum of the American Indian and the National Museum of African American History and Culture. When we were in Washington back in the summer, I looked into trying to get tickets for the National Museum of African American History and Culture but had no luck. But, as I mentioned, February is the time to do touristy things in DC, and I was able to get a ticket online the morning I wanted to go. Both museums were interesting, but the African American History and Culture Museum was expansive and amazing. Both were a bit dark inside for taking pictures, but I came away with a few.
That night, Holly and I went to the Library of Congress for an event sponsored by the conference she went to. I had started a new roll of film for my Canon that evening and have yet to finish it so I’ll post those pictures at a later date. (NOTE: I have since added my Library of Congress photos to a new post)
We scheduled to take the train home late Friday afternoon. We had time for breakfast (back to Open City), and I had time for more coffee and some picture taking around Adams Morgan with the Diana F+ while Holly attended the final sessions of the conference. The Diana always produces interesting artifacts, but this time, my pictures had additional distortions because the film did not wind tightly and the edges were exposed to light. I like how they turned out.
We finished our trip with a lovely lunch and a couple of beers at Tryst.
I continue to really enjoy Washington and am happy that our professional lives bring us back there on a fairly routine basis. However, we really need to just schedule a pleasure trip there so Holly and I can enjoy all these things together.
Unless something unexpected comes up, our next trip will be to California for a wedding in July.
You can see all of my Washington DC photos in my Flickr album.
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