Saturday, October 24, 2009

Rain, you will not defeat us

Perseverance is an admirable quality.  Without it, imagine how different the world would be.  No vaccines for life-threatening illnesses - the research scientists would grow frustrated with the squeaking of lab rats and simply throw in the towel.  No America - no spark for Columbus that drove him across the vast ocean, and he simply settled with Europe, perhaps exclaiming, "meh, seems big enough."  No microwave burritos...oh my gosh, maybe even no microwaves.  It couldn't have been easy to figure that out.  Thank you, persevering innovators and intrepid explorers, for making the world a better place.  Even if it has eventually led to the creation of a Microwave and Small Appliances Task Force.

Well, I'm happy to report that while constant rain, occasional bursts of chilling wind, water-permeated extremities, and squishy shoes may prevent others from completing their quest, the spirit of sister weekend is strong, and a task that could only have been accomplished on one particular day last weekend was successfully checked off the list.  Ok, ok, we didn't invent anything mind-blowing, or even invent anything at all, but it was an exploration of sorts - tour of the U.S. Capitol!  You see, sissy drove up to D.C. last weekend, and one of her requested items was touring the Capitol.  Since it's not open for tours on Sunday and we couldn't have made it in time on Friday, it left Saturday only for this particular item.  Unfortunately that Saturday dawned (does a day actually "dawn" if you never see the sun?  Seriously, rain ALL day - it never stopped) damp and chilly, but we were determined to make the best of it and check this Capitol tour off the list.  In need of carb-loading and an energizing dose of sugar, we made a stop at Dunkin' Donuts, a mere two blocks away from home base, before setting out on the longer leg of our journey.  There are few days that coffee and a pink-frosted donut with sprinkles won't improve.

With umbrellas and steaming beverages in hand, we set off for the epicenter of our nation's awesomeness (perhaps a touch arrogant on the "awesomeness" bit, but I promise you do get all these warm American fuzzies when you watch the opening film of your Capitol tour), which is about a mile away from donut central.  Now, I'm not sure what compelled me to skip the rain boots, because I have a rather awesome pair that some dear friends bestowed up on me Christmas of last year in anticipation of my move to this city of walking in whatever weather.  It might have been because I hadn't had coffee yet and therefore wasn't thinking especially clearly.  At any rate, the ill-advised tennis shoes were starting to get a little squishy.  And proceeded to get a little squisher as we kept going.  And then there were damp jean-leg bottoms and frizzy hair and chilled hands and a general dampness about...everything.  But you know what?  Minimal lines at the Capitol!!  Woohoo, bright spot on that squishy day! 

Now, I'd already done the tour when Diana and Trinity came to town, but I think anyone who does this multiple times will only learn more from it and very likely have a different experience each time based on (1) who your tour guide is and (2) what may or may not be open when you walk through.  This time around, we had Roger, a very meticulous and rather entertaining older gentleman who obviously adores his job, and he walked us through the Capitol with a smile and a story at every turn.  We also made it to a part of the Capitol that isn't always open for tours (still not sure what the determining factor is as to whether it's open - I'm just going to go with dumb luck) - a quick viewing of the original cornerstone of the Capitol, laid by George Washington, as well as the old Supreme Court chamber located on the Senate side of the Capitol that still has quite a few of the original furnishings.  What a fascinating building.  Unfortunately, my camera battery died somewhere in the middle of all of that (still working with the old camera at that point and not the fancy new one - oops on my part when ordering the right card of memory card, blerg), and my backup battery wasn't actually charged, and Amanda had forgotten her camera, so...we just took pictures with our minds.  Sorry we can't share those with you.

After the tour we hoped to track down some of the famous (in its own little way) Senate bean soup to warm us up before heading back out into the rainy blah, which unfortunately is not available in the Capitol cafeteria.  It looks like you actually need to have security access to the Senate restaurant to enjoy it, so we trekked a couple of soggy blocks over to Tortilla Coast, which I knew from past experience would provide us with passable Tex-Mex.  Plus it was close.  And conveniently located right by the Capitol South Metro stop to take us on the next leg of our journey, which was one stop over to Eastern Market for some food gazing and cute stuff shopping before checking in at Molly Malone's for Texas Tech football with fellow alumni.  We made it to halftime at the bar before our rain-logged, chilled selves decided it was in our best interest to hustle home in time for the second half and some dry clothes and feet.  A big shout-out to Comcast for coming through with online coverage of the game when the ABC & ESPN families deemed us not worthy of regional coverage on the East Coast...which I can't really blame them for, but it is little frustrating not being able to keep up with the Red Raiders due to geographic constraints.  Thanks, Comcast!

With the rain still coming down and showing no sign of relenting, we opted for a quiet night in with Thai food delivery and a baking adventure (yes, a baking adventure - that's just what we do.  "Let's see what happens!" is our motto for the kitchen) that was rather time and labor intensive.  However, Fuji apple spice cake with cream cheese frosting is freakin' delicious and well worth the effort.  Happy early birthday to me, candles and all!

Sunday dawned (again, not sure if it actually "dawned" with no actual appearance by the sun) slightly more promising than Saturday in that there were no actual drops falling from the sky.  Huzzah!  I'd also like to mention that aforementioned cake + coffee for breakfast also gets the day off to a good start.  We embraced the slightly chilly day and headed off to the zoo to see which creatures would embrace the slightly chilly day, knowing we could seek refuge in the various indoor habitats along the way.  It was actually a pretty successful endeavor!  Lots o' animal sighting, minimal screaming children, beautiful autumn leaves....AND NO RAIN!  Thank goodness.  Some of our favorites:

Pandas contentedly munching on bamboo.  So adorable, even if you have to remember that they do go a little bonkers sometimes and attack.

The golden lion tamarin, a rather speedy little monkey with crazy orange hair.  It reminded me quite a bit of the crazy orange hair we spotted all over Germany.  Just look at that little face!

The giant kitties who looked like they wanted to eat us.  Roar!

And human creatures!  At the "zoo," not the "zo" as this photo may indicate.  Oops.

If you'd like to check out all of the photo goodness from the weekend, click on over here.  Mom, I tossed in some fall foliage shots for you!  Trees occur naturally here - it's pretty cool when you come from West Texas.

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