The second day in DC was much more about relaxation.  The trip had been running around and catching trains and walking to and fro, so this was a chance to unwind and relax a bit.  It included a trip to the gym, some TV, and lunch at an awesome Italian place.  It’s a regional franchise thing, and I can see why; the cost of starting a franchise is about $1 million.  Still, the food was delicious, cooked right in front of us, and definitely fresh (the plants in the pictures are grow boxes of the herbs that would be used on the food).  You were given an RFID card when you entered, and it would be waved over a reader when you ordered, with the food being added to your account that you paid upon leaving.  We pigged out on breads and pasta and a delicious goat cheese and tomato pizza, as well as cappuccinos and dessert.

The interior was pretty swanky too
The interior was pretty swanky too

 

 

Fancy places loves them some red
Fancy places loves them some red

 

 

Chinatown is much more in your face and touristy in DC as compared to Chinatown in NYC or Little Saigon in Orlando
Chinatown is much more in your face and touristy in DC as compared to Chinatown in NYC or Little Saigon in Orlando

 

 

I just like the layout and color of this storefront
I just like the layout and color of this storefront

 

 

It was also the day of the Bon Jovi concert.  We got down there pretty early, but had plenty of time to kill waiting in the long lines of every restaurant in the area.  The nice thing about the bigger cities at least is that things like venues for shows are actually right next door to other things that people use, not just in some tourist area or set to themselves with nothing for blocks away (Amway Arena) or more (House of Blues, Hard Rock).  We still got in with plenty of time, as of course they started late.  Even so, with no opening band, it was a rather short show, as they only played for about two hours, which is much less than I was expecting for such a big band and the price of tickets.  Still, it was fun, and I snagged some pics and even a video, which is really big so isn’t going to get linked in this post until it’s done loading.

Easy to tell that it was sold out though
Easy to tell that it was sold out though

 

 

And there you have it.  We got in late today, but still plenty of time to get groceries and do laundry and get various chores done.  Tomorrow is back to work, so I should probably take advantage of returning to a normal sleep schedule.

Got busy and figured it was better to enjoy the sites rather than spend the time here.  Now I was up late and accidentally slept in, thinking that it was really early and going back to bed, only to look at a clock that had read past eight.  Our room faces the interior of the hotel with no light, due to a protest at the Madison hotel next door.

The last full day in NYC involved a trip to the MoMA where my camera battery died and I’d foolishly left my spare in my bag… which is totally what I bought it for.  We also visited my Aunt in Brooklyn, where it started to drizzle, then turned into a full on downpour with strong winds about two blocks from her place.

 

OMG LEGOS!
OMG LEGOS!

 

 

YES!
YES!

 

 

YESSS!
YESSS!

The size and scope of some of the paintings in the MoMA is amazing

 

If I had a bit less willpower and a bit more bag space, all of these would be coming home with me.
If I had a bit less willpower and a bit more bag space, all of these would be coming home with me.

 

 

We went to see where Tina Fey works
We went to see where Tina Fey works

 

 

It's odd to see how the old, like St. Patrick's Cathedral, is smooshed right between the new.
It's odd to see how the old, like St. Patrick's Cathedral, is smooshed right between the new.

 

 

Best bookstore around.
Best bookstore around.

 

 

It may be dark out, but Time's Square always seems like the middle of the day with the lights and activity.
It may be dark out, but Time's Square always seems like the middle of the day with the lights and activity.

 

 

As I already mentioned on Twitter, every visit to NYC has to be completed with a trip to my favorite New York pizza place.
As I already mentioned on Twitter, every visit to NYC has to be completed with a trip to my favorite New York pizza place.

 

 

We got up early yesterday to head to Penn Station to take the Amtrak to DC.  First we had the issue of weekend construction closing up all of the stations near us.  It sucks trekking a couple dozen extra blocks when breakfast places are closed that early and you’re lugging bags and it’s below freezing out.  Finally making it, we had enough time to grab some Tim Horton’s before boarding the train.  I would generally say that it’s a good way to travel, barring the length of time and cost.  Our plane tickets to NYC were cheaper than Amtrak and we didn’t want to kill a whole day traveling, but it was perfect for about three and a half hours to DC where we got to cross through a few states and had to arrive only a few minutes before it left with no security screening.

Unfortunately, it was still cold out and we chose to sit near the back of a train car, where the door kept opening for people with cold air rushing in.  This was manageable until we stopped in Wellington and our train just lost power.  Being diesel, it could still drive, and we didn’t need power to use it, and I was not waiting 45 minutes for the next one out in the cold.  Still, it did drop the temperature in there quite a bit, and I arrived in DC numb.  Also, it’s not as scenic as you might picture.  Maybe it was because it is still winter that it was pretty blah out, or maybe it was the fact that everything was covered in trash and it seemed that every city that we passed through was directly in the crappiest, most run-down part of town.  Amtrak in Orlando runs right through scenic Winter Park.  Amtrak in Baltimore runs through an area where apparently every building was at one point on fire and never repaired.

 

This was one of the more scenic vistas.
This was one of the more scenic vistas.

 

 

The National Art Gallery had some cool stuff, nice to see when not having to run through to find one picture this time.
The National Art Gallery had some cool stuff, nice to see when not having to run through to find one picture this time.

 

 

Uhh...
Uhh...

 

 

Seriously, that guy didn't deserve that.  If she didn't want to be seen naked, she would have put her top back on before traipsing around the woods naked.
Seriously, that guy didn't deserve that. If she didn't want to be seen naked, she would have put her top back on before traipsing around the woods naked.

 

 

Daniel is trying to look thoughtful
Daniel is trying to look thoughtful

 

 

"Fine, I'll skate, but I won't be happy about it."
"Fine, I'll skate, but I won't be happy about it."

 

 

I don't see the likeness...
I don't see the likeness...

 

 

This proves that most kids are more fearless than your average adult.  I heard plenty of shrieking from women my own age while walking around.
This proves that most kids are more fearless than your average adult. I heard plenty of shrieking from women my own age while walking around.

 

Of course I took a few obligatory shots of the monuments and buildings that we passed by, but I did that last time too, so I’ll stop before I crash anyone’s browser with this.

 

Day 2 of DC ahoy!  More relaxing and random site-seeing, then Bon Jovi tonight

Less photos today, spent more time walking around and doing stuff than cataloging it.  We hit up the Natural History Museum and Central Park, after riding on several different trains in the wrong direction.  Afterward we went to Brooklyn to get lunch (amazing pizza of course), dessert (no wonder people get NY cheesecake shipped to them), and to see “Cedar Rapids”, since we’ve still not got it down South.  We wandered around more doing more random touristy things, went to Chinatown for some good eats for dinner, then up to Times Square last minute to catch another show.

Protip: buy tickets last minute.  We decided to see Addam’s Family on a whim, and bought tickets about 20 minutes before the show started.  After buying tickets, we were able to walk right in, rather than wait in the long line of people who’d purchased in advance.  We got fourth row seats for about a third the price of what they would have been if we’d bought online or in advance.  That meant maybe 20 feet from the stage, close enough to see all of Nathan Lane’s many facial expressions.  He really is a great stage actor, and the entire cast and show was hilarious.

 

Natural History Museum
Natural History Museum

 

 

This place is made of science.  And ghost people.
This place is made of science. And ghost people.

 

 

Daniel standing next to one of his ancestors
Daniel standing next to one of his ancestors

 

 

Fun fact: The chip in the upper left is from where this Sun Calendar was excavated:  accidentally, via bulldozer.
Fun fact: The chip in the upper left is from where this Sun Calendar was excavated: accidentally, via bulldozer.

 

 

Daniel, sounding like every child within earshot:  "I wanna see the dinosaurs!"
Daniel, sounding like every child within earshot: "I wanna see the dinosaurs!"

 

 

Entering the creepy caves of Central Park
Entering the creepy caves of Central Park

 

Most snow we've seen on this trip
Most snow we've seen on this trip

 

 

Two Blocks from the hotel.  Should find out what's there tonight.
Two Blocks from the hotel. Should find out what's there tonight.

 

It’s a bit gloomier looking out today, and was raining last night, so we’ll probably spend most of the time indoors.  After breakfast we’re either going to hit the Museum of Modern Art, or save it for this evening (Target Free Fridays are good for those of us that forgot our student IDs at home, despite reminding myself a dozen times beforehand.)

 

We left yesterday morning pretty darn early, just before 3 in the morning. That was the only time that our ride was able to take us, but I’d trade the hour or two of extra sleep for no parking fees. This was to almost be our downfall as the day wore on.

After boarding our flight, we were informed that the pilot wanted maintenance to check out a problem that was repaired the night before, to confirm that it was still acceptably fixed. We sat for about an hour extra, which made the gentleman sitting across the aisle need to tell everyone within earshot that he had switched from a later flight to get on this one, and now it was wasted. Beyond that, it wasn’t bad and I got a short nap in. We also got to watch the in-flight movies free due to the delay, so the timing was perfect for what must have been my sixth viewing of “The Social Network”, with the credits rolling as we were touching down at JFK.

The trip to the hotel was uneventful. Thanks to Heather’s friends and family discount, the Omni in Midtown cost about the same as the hotel a bit further away that I originally had booked. This put us smack dab in the fanciest part of town, right off the block of all of the tourist destinations, and the MoMA facing us in one direction, and 30 Rock in another. We didn’t make it out to Brooklyn to get a view of less touristy NYC, but today we will.

Near everything that we ended up doing was in walking distance, so we boarded maybe two trains the whole day. Right by the hotel, so one of the first stops: Nintendo World!

So many Pokemon!
No seriously, so many pokemon!
No seriously, so many pokemon!

 

My systems have seen worse...
My systems have seen worse...

 

Cap'n Crunch Muffin!
Cap'n Crunch Muffin!

 

This guy just walked up and started playing with this dog for a few minutes before walking away
This guy just walked up and started playing with this dog for a few minutes before walking away

 

In a sea of tall buildings, they don't seem as impressive...
In a sea of tall buildings, they don't seem as impressive...

 

Never mind, still big
Never mind, still big

 

Penzey's is relegated to a stand at Grand Central Market
Penzey's is relegated to a stand at Grand Central Market

 

Looks like heaven!
Looks like heaven!

 

Seriously, who doesn't want to check this stuff out while looking down on the ?
Seriously, who doesn't want to check this stuff out while looking down on the city?

 

Finally, a way to invite kids to your van for candy without looking creepy
Finally, a way to invite kids to your van for candy without looking creepy

 

I was tasked with taking pictures of every UPS truck that I saw.  That become impossible pretty quickly.
I was tasked with taking pictures of every UPS truck that I saw. That become impossible pretty quickly.

 

We did plenty of touristy stuff, checked out the revamped Times Square, sampled some delicious food, and I got to see my first Broadway show, “The Lion King”. After that and a few days running on almost no sleep, we got back to the hotel and I basically crashed out.

Just noticed that downloading, choosing, cropping and uploading all of the pictures has taken about 45 minutes out of my trip. Time to find some coffee and get on with Day 2!

Yesterday, it was announced that Rep. Gabby Giffords was speaking coherent, full sentences, the first such affirmation to the press since she was shot in early January.  Representative Giffords is a lucky individual in terms of survival of a gunshot wound to the head.  Not only is she still alive, but indications are that thanks to the quick actions of those around her (including her intern, Daniel Hernandez Jr.) she is expected to recover from the incident.  I anticipate the day that she is able to return to active service of our country, and look forward to hearing her take on the situation.  If I could ask a question of her, it would be what her opinion is on the examination of politicians in the media in the aftermath of her attempted assassination.

The effect that one person’s death or near-death can have is astounding.  It was with the self-immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi that revolution struck Tunisia, ousting the president of 23 years.  This in turn led to copycat revolts in several other countries, including the current Egypt riots with a call for revolution as well.  While writing this, I am watching the announcements from Liberation Square in Cairo, where it is expected that President Mubarak will also step down, ending a near 30 year run as political ruler of the country.  What this means when the military (or the apparently equally nefarious vice-president) takes control is yet to be seen, but thinking of the martyrdom of one person sparking the chain of events leading to this outcome is staggering.  Of course there were many other factors that guided the revolts, as well as factors that guided Bouazizi himself, but what would he think, were he still alive?  To witness a man who had ruled over his country unfairly for almost his entire life suddenly gone, and the events that followed around the world?  Would it affect his decisions and actions?

While Jared Lee Loughner did not end Rep. Giffords life, his attempt to do so caused reflection and debate around the country concerning what is acceptable practice in politics.  The revelation that her name was listed and marked with crosshairs (or surveyor marks, if you are so inclined to that backpedaling), on the website of Sarah Palin, calling her and others political “targets” caused a ruckus and concern over when violent sentiments in politics were going too far.  Both sides have their issues with using violent rhetoric in arguments, and hopefully reevaluation will change how fervent political supporters are in some small way.

How does it feel to think that in the act of dying you can be the catalyst for changes that you will never see?  Do you think positively that you could start something, or negatively that it would take such a drastic act to make change?

EDIT:  President Mubarak’s speech from my limited viewing appeared to be damning and condescending.  We’ll see what happens now.