Sunday, October 2, 2011

Hannah takes the train to DC to visit Amy and go to the Smithsonian

We made it to DC to visit Amy on what might have been the last nice day of the year.  Friday started out sunny and low 70s--perfect!! By the end of the day, clouds had commandeered the sky, and the wind was picking up. It's been cold and cloudy and depressingly fall-ish ever since, and as a result, we have spent the entire weekend on the couch or in bed. I don't think DC was that exhausting, but having it coincide with the changing of the seasons really did a number on us, particularly me.

We managed to make it to Penn Station in time to catch the 9:05 commuter train to Union Station where we found Amy sipping a smoothie and staring blankly at a wall of mugs from outside a tourist store.  For some reason she sensed people, but instead of thinking it was us, she assumed it was some strange family so she kept her gaze fixed on the mugs until Hannah was close enough to grab her legs, and she finally had to look at us.  She jumped a few feet up and then smiled in relief.

After hugs and a pit stop, we hopped on the metro and rode it to the National Mall.  Of course, we couldn't walk through without snapping some touristy pics of Hannah and Amy in front of the Washington Monument...

...and another in front of the Capital Building.

Then we set off in the direction of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Amy had been wanting to take Hannah to a Smithsonian for a long time and decided on the History one because Hannah has been very in to dinosaurs lately.  All week we'd been telling Hannah the plan so that when she woke up on Friday morning, she kept saying, "See Amy. See dinosaurs.  So excited!"

An elephant in the main lobby started the visit off right for Hannah.

Amy was worried that Hannah would either be overwhelmed at the sheer size of the dinosaurs, or underwhelmed because they're just skeletons. I think she fell somewhere in the middle, not quite grasping the concept of the skeletons, but intrigued regardless. That said, the dinosaurs didn't end up being the highlight of the day, but we'll get to the highlights later.

After lunch Amy took Hannah to the museum gift shop and let her pick out a belated birthday present.  Hannah picked out a soft, blue triceratops, and then her and Amy put on these dinosaur headdresses, and I went all mamarazzi on them.

After the gift shop, Amy remembered that there's a kid's discovery room so we headed there to inspect sea shells, beetles, toys from around the world, and this alligator (crocodile??).  Hannah kept pushing down its nose and saying "Close mouth!"

Then came the first highlight of the trip: the Butterfly Pavilion. They've got this pavilion set up on the second floor in the insect hall that's full of all kinds of beautiful butterflies that fly around freely. For $6, you can hang out with the butterflies for as long as you want.  Hannah held on to her own ticket, and after letting the person at the door rip the stub, she sought out a butterfly and offered it her ticket.

Shortly after we entered, a lady walked in with the two mesh baskets you see in the pic above each with a few newly emerged butterflies that they released while we were there.  The attendant used a kitchen brush to pick up a butterfly and then handed it to us for closer inspection.

Hannah really wanted to hold a butterfly so I sat her down on the wall and told her that if she sat very still, maybe one would land on her, and one almost did, but it was aiming for her forehead so she flinched and it flew off.

Then this beautiful emerald butterfly landed on my leg, which was not exactly what Hannah was hoping for, but was close enough.

After the butterflies, we took Hannah to see her first movie on the big screen! It was an IMAX 3D movie called Born to be Wild, and it was awesome!!!  When the opening credits started coming at her, Hannah threw her head back against the seat and sat there, mouth agape for a few minutes until she adjusted.  Later, when leaves and trees looked really close to us, Hannah tried to grab them and then held up her stuffed dinosaur to let it munch on the leaves.  Watching Hannah watch the movie was as much fun as watching the movie!

After the movie we hailed a cab and headed back to Amy's apartment to rest.  I'm bummed that I forgot to take pics there....I guess we'll just have to go back!!

Amy lives in a beautiful part of the city right near a giant park with a really fun playground.  After a quick rest, we walked to the playground and after played for about half an hour, before heading back to Union Station to hop aboard the 4:20 train.  The clouds had rolled over while we were at Amy's, and the wind had picked up.  Hannah put on her jacket, and I wished for mine.  Fall snuck up on us, but lucky for us it had waited until the end of our visit.

There were a lot of firsts for Hannah on that trip: first train ride (as a means of transportation and not just as a ride at a museum), first metro ride, first visit to DC, first visit to a Smithsonian, first movie--not to mention it being an IMAX 3D movie--first cab ride.....Big day for the little Banana.

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