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This is one post where I can let the pictures guide us.

After demonstrating that behind every great man is a great woman, we piled into Kavitha’s car.


We were dropped off at Rockville station, which is a station on the Red line. Here we bought SmartTrip cards, and the amount we paid depended on whether we wanted to return during the 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm peak period or not. We then boarded a train to Metro Central.


At Metro Central, we had to take the elevator down to the next floor and board the Silver-line train going to Largo Town Center. But we would get down at the Smithsonian station.


As we came out of the Smithsonian station we were intercepted by a tall gentleman who was collecting a donation for some cause worthy enough of making Philip and Sekhar annan and part with many dollars. But he gave us six caps and spoke nicely.

We walked to the beautiful red sandstone castle, the Smithsonian Information Center.


A normally demure Vino looked like the bandit queen Phoolan Devi.


Seeing a model of the layout of the area helped us get some idea of the relative position of the various places we needed to visit, like the White House and the Washington Monument.

We decided to start with the Natural History Museum.


My dad has pictures and postcards taken in this building in the early 1960s. I remember this elephant from the pictures.


May be it is just me, but I felt that the word “History” in “Natural History Museum” coupled with the devotion to the Theory of Evolution was a bit much.

The website in describing the place mentions ‘cultures of Africa’ and ‘mammalian ancestor’ in the same sentence: Whether looking at the history and cultures of Africa, describing our earliest Mammalian ancestor or primate diversity around the world, examining ancient life forms including the ever popular dinosaurs, or exploring the beauty of rare gemstones such as . . .  Would this not be something offensive to some people?  Truth can offend sometimes, but why let fallacy offend unnecessarily?

But like with most of our exposure to “science,” we have the real science woven into the non science. Real skeletons and carefully constructed models juxtaposed with a religiously held irreligious world view. The real science serves to authenticate the theoretical and even blatantly false. It is not hard to see through this, if you are even a little bit discerning.

This is a beautiful sculpture purportedly of two individuals from our primate ancestry.


The sculpture in the picture above is presented with the same authority as these possums below. Sad and dishonest though it is, for those of us who stand on firmer ground, the real science thankfully does add some real value to a visit here.

When thinking about what gifts to bring from New Zealand for my nieces and nephews in the States, I had asked my American friend Mandy Fleener, and she had suggested a long list of books and candy. But she also included possum tails from the tanner in her list. I thought it was a novel idea and did bring some tails. (While possums are loved in Australia, in New Zealand they are pests.)




I have known this whale all my life from my father’s photographs. It looks a bit time worn, don’t you think?


We had only seen the first floor of the museum, but we decided to make use of the good weather outside to see some of the monuments and the White House and return later to complete the rest of the museum if we can. (Keep in mind that the Smithsonian has 19 museums, so we would of necessity miss plenty anyway.)

We then proceeded to walk to the Circulator bus stop.

Surendar annan posing with a picture lion on the way; there is a resemblance.




This service costs just a dollar and does a round trip. You can see various monuments from the bus. This is not a hop-on-hop-off service however.


Pictures that we took from inside the bus were not the best. For example, here is one taken from the bus, of the Washington Monument, the building that you’ll find in many of our photographs.


By the time we got to Lincoln Memorial, we’d had enough and alighted.

It was past one and we were hungry. We ordered “dogs” and “sandwiches”, which we would call burgers in New Zealand, I think. The hot dog was very good; I liked the sausage inside. We must give the devil his due; they were better than the sausages/frankfurters we get in New Zealand.

We three kings of orient are . . . 



It was here that our long walk began.

These sculptures are in memory of the Korean war.  The Korean War Veterans Memorial is located near the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, DC. . . The memorial commemorates the sacrifices of the 5.8 million Americans who served in the U.S. armed services during the three-year period of the Korean War. The war was one of the most hard fought in our history. (http://www.koreanwarvetsmemorial.org/memorial)


One rare picture where the selfie stick worked for us.


It mostly doesn’t.


Stopping to take a picture.


Lincoln Memorial before us and the Washington Monument behind us.


Upholding the Lincoln Memorial.




Lincoln Memorial


The Lincoln Memorial is an American national monument built to honor the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. It is located on the western end of the National Mall in Washington, D.C., across from the Washington Monument. Wikipedia


Unfortunately, I do not think I noted where we took this photo; we were so excited that we found someone who agreed to click this picture.


Soaking in the serene surroundings as we walked.


Stopping every now and then to take a picture.


We knew the location of the White House generally, but came upon it all at once. We could not go up closer because of the security.






Again, I’m afraid, we did not bother to note or remember what we were supposed to note and remember. We came to this sculpture from behind, and my brother in laws were both worried about how decently the person on the left was clothed. My sister in laws thought that they were fussing too much and pronounced him “well dressed” enough.




The selfie stick was proving to be more of a nuisance than a help, so I set my phone up against my shoe to take this picture. It was literally a shot in the dark.



Surendar annan befriended this squirrel and its mate. The peanuts that Delta Airlines served came in handy. The thought of rabies did not come to mind.


Here I am imitating Surendar annan.




Maybe this is the closest we ever got to the Washington Monument.

The Washington Monument is an obelisk on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., built to commemorate George Washington, once commander-in-chief of the Continental Army and the first American president. Opened: February 21, 1885  Height: 555′  Wikipedia


Fighting to pay for coffee


Just right – the weather and the fellowship


Cycle rickshaws!


Back at the Natural History Museum

The Butterfly Pavilion on the second floor of this museum is well advertised. What is not readily obvious is that while the rest of the museum is free, the Butterfly Pavilion is not.

So we passed on to visit the Live Insect Zoo.

I am usually terrified of cockroaches, but for some reason, this fellow was nice to hold.  Maybe the weight and size was different. I am really not sure how this was even possible. Maybe my brain was confused because we were not on the right hemisphere of the earth.


This lovely lady, Loretta, was the lady who had the cockroaches in a jar. She also had a moth’s cocoon, which moved when we touched it.


A real Egyptian mummy!


Looking at an African elephant’s teeth with Sekhar annan who is a dentist.


To remember this occasion, I bought a pair of dice from the Gem and Mineral store in the museum.


We were tired and we had about 20 minutes at our disposal. What better way to spend the time than seated in the Sant Ocean Hall, almost mesmerised by the crystal ball lighted globe and listening to the explanation somewhat.

The Sant Ocean Hall was created in partnership with NOAA to show the ocean as a global system that is essential to all life on Earth. The exhibition refers to ocean in the singular because the ocean is one huge, interconnected body of water that spans several basins. It took five years and hundreds of people, and now the exhibit showcases the ocean’s diversity and our connection to it. (http://ocean.si.edu/sant-ocean-hall)




It’s time to head back home. This glimpse of the lighted Capitol Building is all we’ll get to see of it for now.


When we get to Metro Center (spelling this word this way does feel a bit strange), it is obviously peak time.


Back to Rockville, where Kavitha came to collect us.