Big City Syndrome or Near Death on the Red Line

On our last day in DC we crammed in a lot of stuff.   We walked from the Lincoln Memorial all the way back to the National Museum of Art, with museum stops in between.  That’s the full length of the Mall and then some.

Pretty good for an almost 8 year old and a pleasantly plump, 50 year old who has had three foot surgeries. Bashert is disgustingly in love with walking, so she was in heaven.

Bashert also loves the challenge and excitement of the big city.

She weaves in, out and through busy crowds and streets like a pro.  Yoda and I work hard to keep up.

Bashert admits that the city brings out the serious Big City Syndrome in her. Her mother was pure Alabama, but her father, aside from being first generation American, was born and raised in Brownsville, Brooklyn, New York.

Now on this final, active day, we finally had to make a line change on the Metro.  The station where we picked up the subway wasn’t the line we needed, so we mapped out the train switch we would have to make.  Two stops and we would hop from the Green line to the Red line.

No big deal.  We get on; we get off; we get on.  Piece of cake, right?

Enter the Big City soul of Bashert.

We all got off the Green Line train fine.  We located the escalator to the lower level where we were to catch the next train.  Yoda was exuberant to find it in working order, so that we didn’t have to walk down as we had in other stations.

Just as we hit the bottom of the escalator, the Red Line train pulled into the station.  Bashert switched into Big City mode and began to run for the train.

Recall, if you will, from the first few lines of this blog – an 8 year old and an out of shape 50 year old with a bad foot – I do not run well and Yoda was beginning to panic with the speed and activity about.

Bashert hopped into the last car of the train and got a seat.  I grabbed Yoda’s hand and started to run. He immediately plowed into the stomach of a passenger exiting the car.  He halted in his tracks and began to cry. I heard the warning bells going off that the door was about to close.

I’m not quite sure what possessed me to do the next thing.  Idiocy of the highest order definitely played a part.

I shoved my leg in the path of the closing door.

The doors continued to press inward and there I was hung in the literal balance of one foot in the train, the other in the station.  Visions began to swim through my brain.

I was either going to be careening through the underground of the city plastered against the skin of the train, fingernails dug into it’s metal sides or I was going to be dragged along, head butting every jutting support that came along in true slapstick form.

My next flash was that I was going to lose my leg. There I would be floundering on the platform gushing blood from my severed femoral artery, while onlookers screamed, “NINE-ONE-ONE, NINE-ONE-ONE!”.  Those doors don’t play.

Next day’s headline: “Tourist killed in Metro Accident, Inquiry to Follow”.  People would shake their heads and say what a tragedy to go on a family vacation and lose your life.

My last horrifying thought was that I was going to be pushed into the train by another late passenger only to look back and see Yoda left standing on the platform all alone. Oh, no that would not do at all.

Just when that sickening thought popped in, a man grabbed the other door and helped shove it back against the ever so polite, recorded voice that was admonishing us to clear the doorway area because the doors are closing. No kidding.

Yoda was still frozen in place, so I yelled in my ‘listen to me now’ Mom voice for him to jump in the car.  He moved on that one.

The gentleman and I followed quickly behind.  The doors slid shut.

Yoda sat in Bashert’s lap and I plopped down next to them, sweat pouring.

Bashert said she couldn’t believe I had done that.  Me either.

I had all the money, the subway tickets, both phones and Yoda.  I could have easily waited for the next train 6 minutes down the line. Why in the ever loving universe did I do it?

Big City Syndrome.

Its not a pretty thing on small town people.

I think our vacation ended at just the right time.

The Butterfly House

In the Museum of Natural History there is the Butterfly House.

It is a small exhibit.  Its on the second floor of the Museum of Natural History just after the insect zoo.

It took a lot for Bashert and Yoda to make it through there.

We saw the Butterflies advertised outside, but didn’t know we would have to pay to get in, after all it is one of the Smithsonian museums.  But it has been 12 years since Bashert and I have been to visit so we found some things had definitely changed.

At first we said no, but Yoda asked really nicely and since we were ostensibly in DC to give him the experience, we caved and said yes.  Bashert wasn’t happy with the wait time or the somewhat surly distraction of the ticket girl, but we forged ahead.

We busied ourselves in line by looking at the freaky array of caterpillar and butterfly species on display.  We had to give that up because even that was a bit much for the other two.  Nature can be mightily strange.

Our time finally arrived to enter the realm of the butterflies.

After the obligatory be careful speech, the door was opened and we stepped into a cool spray of mist.  Beyond that were about six or seven separate little raised garden areas and a multitude of butterflies of all shapes, sizes and colours.

We couldn’t help but smile.

Everywhere we looked there was a butterfly either flying about or warming themselves on the garden flowers with slow waves.

Wings that seemed to be dull camouflage would open up to be the deepest midnight blue I had ever seen.  There were red, orange, yellow, blue and mosaic butterflies.  There were wings that swooped in like hourglasses and other that were shaped like sails on tall ships.


We were for a time transported away from everything but the beauty in that small room.

Yoda was thrilled when one landed on him.  At first he was a bit nervous, but then settled quickly and said that the butterflies must really like him.

Bashert ended up supporting a few herself.  One on her arm, one on her head and another took a liking to her camera.

A lovely blue one took up residence on my back for a little while.

There is nothing quite like being a perch for such a delicate and fragile thing.

It was kind of sad when it was our turn to move on.  The smiles that we had stuck on our faces as we stepped out more than paid the price of admission. Funny how small things can make such a difference sometimes.

Maybe the cranky ticket girl should spend a few minutes in the actual exhibit.  It would sure do her heart good.

Pole Dancing on the DC Metro

I don’t know if I’ve seen Yoda this excited since he was anticipating his first ride on the ‘train’ at the Riverbanks Zoo.

From the moment he found out that we would be riding the Metro, he was practically vibrating.  This was icing on the cake for our visit to DC.

When we got on the red line toward the Chinatown, Yoda was overjoyed to find out that he could stand in the aisle and hang on to the support pole.  The swaying and inertia was great source of entertainment for him, us and 30 or so other passengers, as we were treated to a 20 minute pole dance.

When we finally stepped up into the light of day on the Mall after that long, vertical rise from the subway depths, Yoda squealed with delight.  “We’re in Washington, DeeeeeCeeeee!”.   Again, our kid is not the Disney Magic Kingdom type.

We briefly toured the National Portrait Gallery.  It had been recommended that we see the ‘electric wall’, that Yoda would get a kick out if, so we felt a bit obligated to seek it out. Don’t go see it if you are prone to seizures.

Next order of business was to find the Spy Museum.

After a couple of prerequisite wrong turns, we found it – taking up an entire block.

We toured the museum.  I’d tell you about it, but then I’d have to kill you.  I’ll just tease you a bit and let you know that Yoda loved crawling through the air shaft and the gift store.

The Spy Museum is located in the Chinatown area.  Neither Bashert nor I in all the visits made up here have ever been to Chinatown, so we took this opportunity.

We ate at a place recommended by the DC for Kids guide, The New Big Wong.  What happened to the Old Big Wong, we didn’t want to know.

This could have been a real gastronomic adventure, but we were tired, hungry and feeling very American by this point.  Lo Mien and Sesame Chicken it was, albeit it was true, freshly cooked Chinese Lo Mien and Sesame Chicken.

I was fascinated by the Chinese family that came in and was seated next to us.  They ordered what we were afraid to.  When the dishes came there was a plate full of what looked like still moving squid and another with vegetables I couldn’t quite identify.

When we finished our meal and I mean finished, we walked about Chinatown for a bit.

Lots of restaurants.  Lots of trinket booths.  Beautiful colours and ornamentation.

Yoda and I were transfixed by one restaurant that had a viewing window where we could watch some dim sum being made.  It was also pretty cool that they had the ducks with the heads still on and complete squid soaking in water.  This was the real deal.

Bashert stood back from that one.

After being on the road for several hours that morning, spending time at Echo Park and then making this trip into the city, we were pretty beat.  It was time to head back to Bashert’s cousin’s house where we are being hosted.

The ride back was filled with chatter and Yoda seeing if he could hear conversations around him with his new spy phone.  Bashert and I felt a bit more like the ‘going’ portion of Norman Rockwell’s painting, Coming and Going.

Day one of our DeeeeeCeeeee visit was complete.