windy city, part v

Our final morning began aboard the train to D.C., in our tiny roomette. Somehow, even with the cozy quarters, our tickets abandoned us, never to be seen again.

At Union Station in D.C., we were not welcome in the Amtrak lounge for sleeping-car passengers (and actually, I don’t know if they even have one there), since the final leg of our journey was booked in coach. No matter that we had literally just stepped out of a sleeping car. It is only the future that counts. This forced us to find a baggage storage facility in the station in which to keep our luggage while we toured D.C. Joshua looked at our receipt ruefully and declared it “price-gouging”.

Weeks ago, I ordered a picnic basket from Cork, an adorable wine store, tasting room, restaurant, and market. Naturally, the “basket” was a brown paper bag, but that did not detract from its charm. We took it over to the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Park, where it became painfully obvious that Cork does not do these picnic baskets very often, or has not received much feedback. No serving or eating utensils were included. Napkins were also mysteriously absent.

While chowing down, we were endlessly bothered by the presence of a particularly bold squirrel. I’ve never seen a wild animal get so close to humans without any fear. Birds that are habitually fed by tourists are close, but this squirrel beat them out. He crawled to within a foot of my shoulder on the park bench, staring at me and twitching his tale in a sinister way. It was creepy. Where’s your firearm when you need it…

One of the pieces of art in the Sculpture Park was a recreation of one of the entrances to the metro in Paris (which, for the uninformed, looks like this a lot of the time – you may recognize it), which brought back such lovely memories of our honeymoon! We got pictures of us beneath it.

Following Christopher Buckley’s advice in one of my new favorite reads, Washington Schlepped Here, we visited the East Building of the National Gallery of Art, which is considerably smaller than the West Building, and twice as interesting (it seems to me). We saw several rooms full of little French paintings, among which Eugene Louis Boudin’s “Figures on a Beach” charmed me the most, probably because it reminded me of my brother, who assuredly would go to the beach just as the figures in the painting are attired. Now that you’re mildly interested, check out the hyperlink above and take a look. 😉

The International Spy Museum of D.C. is a bit cheesy, in my humble opinion. I didn’t get into it so much…but the enormous James Bond exhibit they have is fascinating. Joshua noted that, over the course of time, the Bond villains have gone from being maniacs or lunatics bent on taking over or destroying the entire world to sadistic monopolizers and evil businessmen. Rabbi Daniel Lapin would be proud of him for noting that change in our culture’s attitude toward the more noble specimens of the business world.

Right around the corner from the Spy Museum sits Co Co. Sala, a chocolate lounge and boutique, where we enjoyed some of the most amazing food of our trip. Another post on that…

Before we knew it, it was time to board our final train, on which, wouldn’t you know it, there was yet another small child unhappily confined, this time not to her seat, but to the train car in general. Her mother’s laissez-fare attitude did not discourage her noisy antics and limber crawls beneath and above her assigned seat.

While the dim and uncaring atmosphere of the Charlotte Amtrak station did not make me feel at all glad we were home, my brother’s wide grin and uncannily bouncy demeanor (for 2:30am) certainly did. That and the bag of welcome-home goodies left on our apartment doorstep from my other siblings!

<deep and grateful sigh> Yes. Welcome home, indeed.

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