Sunday in the Park with George Washington

Sunday, December, 27
We drove to the Metro in light rain, hoping predictions were accurate for clearing later in the day. We got off at Union Station, a magnificent national hub of the Railroad heyday, beautifully restored and large enough to accommodate the Washington Monument, should anyone want to place it on its side within._BRG7963

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Now, in addition to train services, bus tour bookers, it is a mall of high-end stores and eateries, as well as a more democratic food court downstairs.

We couldn’t resist trying Crepe Lena. Despite our recent breakfast, the large chicken, cheese and salad savory crepe, split between us was just enough to fuel our next decision: to take a BigBus Tour around the loop that covers most of the DC landmarks as well as the FDR memorial, which we only half saw on our earlier trip.

The rain stopped, the sun brought 73º temps that made the upper open-air deck of the double-decker pure pleasure, and we enjoyed one witty guide giving small factoids about passing landmarks before hopping off to see the Museum of the American Indian.

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We saw a special show of paintings by Kay Walkingstick (unfortunately, cameras forbidden) whose work chronicled the artistic journey of a bi-racial woman whose family had told her to always walk tall, being Indian. Influenced by her contemporaries, but always striving to say something unique from her being, she explored silhouettes of flat color where negative and positive space could interplay, some expressing female sensuality, which later declared its preeminance within nature. She often painted diptychs of landscape realism next to personal symbolism. She expressed her very personal grief when she was widowed while teaching at Cornell University in dark diptychs of upstate landscape/abstract symbols. When she journeyed, her sketch notebooks rivaled those of generations of great painters’ European travels, and she also painted a large, sardonic book of her weariness of stereotypes and ignorance of Native Americans and their history.

The show was so profound, we chose to leave after viewing it, rather than dilute its memory with any other shows in the museum. Our daytime was limited so we hopped on another BigBus to stroll through the FDR memorial, which was festively crowded with sunny-Sunday post-Christmas crowds: probably the most kid-friendly memorial in DC

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We also saw the MLK memorial again. On an earlier visit we’d been entranced by the incised quotations, floating against dark stone in night-time spotlights. These were now surprisingly muted by ordinary sunlight. On the other hand, the massive statue of Martin Luther King Jr., sculpted by a Chinese artist who’d made him look very Heroic-Chinese style by nighttime lighting from below, was now glorious in the afternoon sun, looking far more like the man we remember. So glad we got a chance to see this site both night and day!_BRG8016

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On the return loop, we were told that the great gate to D.C.’s Chinatown was the widest single gate span in the world. From the upper deck of the bus, we watched the setting sun turn the city’s classic architecture a soft ochre, and the lights of traffic and shops began to fill from below as the day ended.

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