We tried, so hard, to start earlier this morning. And we did...kind of. We made it down to breakfast much earlier, and then we had a leisurely meal. As we were getting up to leave, Daddio remembered that we wanted to reserve a rental car for a day trip Friday. That process added more to our leisure time, but we were eventually off for the day!
First stop: Ford's Theatre. We opted for the "full package" (visit the museum, Ranger Talk in the theatre, and a visit to Petersen House (where Lincoln was taken after he was shot and later died). It was very interesting and we enjoyed reading the details of Lincoln's presidency, checking out artifacts and photos, and learning about John Wilkes Booth and his conspirators. We were sad to learn that the federal government immediately seized the theatre building and stripped it down to the shell, so the actual box had to be recreated when it became part of the National Park System. The recreation does look true to the original time period, and we were intrigued by the story of Booth entering the box and everything the ranger had to say. Walking through Petersen house was very interesting, and I wonder how much of that was true to the time period.
After spending a lot of time (and money in the gift shop!) at Ford's Theatre, we were ready for lunch! Several of my friends mentioned the cafe inside of the National Museum of the American Indian, called Mitsitam. I have been looking forward to this dining experience for a while, so we made our way down to the mall area and found the museum. We were delighted to find out that we could sample any of the food items so we could choose our foods wisely. We also learned about the sampler platters, and opted to share those. The food was wonderful! After finishing our meal, we started our tour of the museum. The top floor is dedicated to the spirituality and beliefs of the native cultures. It was very interesting, and I loved reading so much about the cultures' interdependence and respect for the earth. The second floor included 3 different areas: current day native lifestyles, an art exhibit, and an interactive area for young children. We walked around these areas and took in as much as we could. While I enjoyed the cafe and the information exhibited, I was disappointed for a couple of reasons. First of all, there were so few people touring the museum. I feel so strongly that this museum holds information that should be shared with more people, but is also incomplete. Which leads me to my second reason for disappointment. The museum is a very large building, and it felt so empty. Empty physically of people and of information about what the native people of our country have been through. It truly surprised me how many details were lacking in this museum. In retrospect, I'm glad we went and visited and saw as much as possible, but I wish I hadn't allowed myself to get so excited in anticipation of this visit. (I did purchase a cookbook at Mitsitam and cannot wait to try more authentic recipes!)
After NMAI, we headed next door to the National Air and Space Museum. Talk about a night and day experience! This museum was packed with people, touring exhibits and moving in all directions. It was actually very overwhelming! We visited an exhibit that explained the basics of flight, learned about the Wright brothers, and saw the WWII exhibit. Daddio and Sunshine also rode in a flight simulator. We didn't have a lot of time in this museum today, but will be going back tomorrow morning.
When the museum closed we headed to the Metro to hop on a train to Chinatown. Sunshine was very excited to visit her first Chinatown. When we walked out of the Metro station and she saw the ornate gate, her eyes were huge! We walked the streets a bit and saw a market with roasted ducks hanging in the window, and went into a little souvenir shop to pick up some treats for the Sunshine and her sisters. We ended our time in Chinatown with dinner at Asian Spice, recommended to us by someone at our hotel. The food was delicious!