Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Trip 6

Today we went to the Natural History Museum and the International Spy Museum.

The Natural History Museum is enormous. We were there for 2 hours and only got through four exhibits. That leaves at least two thirds to go. The mammals exhibit was interesting, with many stuffed specimens. The Western Culture exhibit was much more interesting. The progress of a certain culture was tracked up to the Roman times. Such things as life expectancy, diseases and technology were accounted for. But one of the more dynamic exhibits was the gem and mineral one. On display there are many famous jewels such as the Hope diamond and royal gems from various kings and queens. I wonder how much of the national deficit could be eliminated by the sale of this collection. But my favorite display was one on Pompeii and the efforts to restore it. Included was a high quality computer animation of a villa and the eruption. After taking a tour of the villa the eruption is simulated. With it’s flaming rocks this simulation would be rather difficult to distinguish between several scenes in the Return of the King. So even if we didn’t see very much of this massive building I have to give it an A.

The second place that we visited was the International Spy Museum. In it the basic principles of spying was demonstrated. From lock picking, covers and bugs to sneaking. The sneaking was demonstrated by an air-duct to crawl through. That was fine in itself except that rowdy teenagers often hammered on the sheet metal, to the annoyance of the people below. Unfortunately, most of the things demonstrated there are not applicable to anyone other than a spy, but it is very interesting all the same.

After we finished at the museums we had to go out of town to get sleeping bags. After getting lost several times (Grandpa is the one man who actually asks for directions, and guess where it gets him?) we found a Wal-Mart and returned to the hotel. But we were on the wrong side of the Potomac. I wonder what is going when we pass one bridge, then another. Grandpa pulls onto a parallel road that does not exit on to the last two bridges, so we pass those also. I remembered about an English lady who had driven deep into France before finding a place to turn around. But somehow or other (the usual Grandpa way for arriving somewhere) we got to the hotel.

To conclude this paper on this day we went to the Natural History and International Spy Museums.


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