RAL was very kind to lend us his house for the night. In order to get there, though, we had to provide our California DLs and wait while they ran our numbers in the military system. We are definitely in the system now. No easy way to get off the grid now!
This morning, we woke up to traffic. If it wasn’t for all the lush greenery on the side of the road, I could have sworn we were back in L.A. SO MUCH TRAFFIC to get to DC. So, by the time we got to the city, it was lunch time. So, we had to eat where Bill Cosby eats for free: Ben’s Chili Bowl. The chili is a no-beans chili seasoned with a secret mix of Trinidad spices. But, I thought the chili was meh on its own. It really shines when paired with their half-smoke (a sausage, served like a hot dog). We ordered three chili half-smokes with everything on it (as in, with mustard and onions). I also ordered chili fries so I could isolate the chili by itself.
It was good, but like all things unhealthy, you feel disgusting after. It might be psychological, but I swear I still smell like chili and onions. By our friend, Tom’s, recommendation, we ordered a vanilla milkshake with the food. That was a good idea because the chili packed some heat in it. Overall, good place to grab a quick lunch with, and I see why Mr. Jell-O Puddin’ likes it, but I won’t personally be craving it. Then again, we’ve had an abundance of all-meat-and-no-veggies for the past week and a half.
Next, to the Hill! Actually, we drove to the Union Station and parked our car indoors, for once. The heat in the city was unbearable! And, it wasn’t even 100 degrees outside! Montego tolerated it quite well. I felt like a True Blood vampire ready to explode into disgustingly bloddy pieces. The Union Station was a short walk to Capitol Hill. I languidly trotted next to Robin, jumping from one shady tree to the next. Once we arrived there, we encountered news reporters camped along one shady corner of the grass area. We took a couple of shots from the safety of some trees.
After a few minutes, we decided to walk over to the Supreme Court building. At that point, any protesters that picketed that morning were gone. What was left were more reporters camped along the sidewalk doing something, I dunno what. There weren’t any talking heads that looked familiar to us, so we went inside. The information booth said there was a Courtroom Lecture in 20 minutes, so we walked up and took some shots in front of the door of the actual courtroom, then fell in line behind people waiting to attend the lecture. The 2nd floor, where the courtroom was located, was lined with busts of past Chief Justices who have served. It was kind of weird to see. It was almost like walking down the Stations of the Cross art depictions you see in Catholic churches.
The lecture itself broadly discussed the flow of the Supreme Court: what happens during oral arguments, what happens when decisions are read, and how long it takes for Justices to announce their decisions. The lecturer also touched on the historic decision made today, Affordable Healthcare Act, and why people knew the announcement was going to be made today (today was their last day to announce decisions for the October-to-October term). At this point, I was just dorkifying over the whole thing and nodding my head to everything she said, like I was greeting a long assembly line of Japanese people. (Sorry if that was offensive.) The lecturer did say that we could obtain a free copy of decisions announced today downstairs. So, after the lecture, off we went! I felt like an uber Trekkie in a Star Trek convention.
The decision today was, obviously, so popular that they ran out of copies of Justice Robert’s majority opinion. But, luckily, while we loitered around, Robin spotted a copy room dude who was wheeling one Xerox box towards the Public Information Office (where they provide free copies of that day’s opinions). So, we bee-lined behind him and got ourselves a copy of the Healthcare Act opinion. Yay!
Next, we walked back to Capitol Hill, where we saw a crowd gathered around the West Entrance/Exit of the building. We got there just in time as Democratic House of Representatives started walking down the stairs. People got real excited (half of the people there were interns, by the way) when House Speaker Pelosi, in her cream-colored pantsuit, walked out with a couple of her aides. Since I’m small, I wiggled my way to the front of the crowd and was ready to snap a picture of her with my phone–then my phone slipped out of my hand and missed my shot. Of course. Because, only I would get a primo view and then not capture it for proof.
We later found out that most of the Democrats had walked out when the Republic members of the House of Representatives were voting on whether to censure (hold in contempt) Eric Holder for his gun-running probe. We had fortuitously witnessed Pelosi (and a bunch of Democrats) walk-out as a show of her refusal to vote on the issue.
As soon as she reached the sidewalk, she was swarmed by reporters. So, we watched the whole theatrics play out from the comforts of a shady spot by the trees. Once we were over it, we decided to seek out the Natural History Museum. It was a long walk, and I was seriously lagging behind Montego at this point. My 1L of water was warm, so it was no longer providing temporary respite from the heat. We came across a large water fountain by the National Art Gallery, so we stopped for an iced lemonade break under a bench with some shade. There were a lot of people there wading in the fountain, and the guards didn’t care that they were wading (there were signs all around the area saying wading was prohibited). We caught these girl scouts who decided to screw the sign and dip their little feet into what I assume was cool water. One of them was clearly an over-achiever:
After, I felt like I was going to live again, we prodded on to the Natural History Museum. Once on its steps, we saw a sign for “TitanoBoa,” purportedly the largest snake ever found in the world. Obviously, I had to see it. I mean, how else am I ever going to get over snakes, right? It turns out, the exhibit was a showcase of vertebras of the snake, found in Colombia. The pièce de résistance was a life-like reconstruction of what the boa constrictor would have looked like when it was alive. It was massive. I froze in fear, then I had to keep saying out loud that it was fake. Why did they have recreate the gross, scaly, skin of the snake too? Couldn’t they just make some clay reconstruction? Geez! But, Montego thought I did well, all things considered. We stood there for a good minute, minute and a half before walking away, and I didn’t hyperventilate or pass out. Yeah! One small step for TheRose-kind!
The Natural History Museum ended being our last stop. At that point, we had walked so much in sweltering heat, that we said “fuck it” to the rest of the city. We decided to head out. There was still traffic, but it was starting to ease up. Thank goodness!
We decided to stop in Baltimore, MD for a late dinner. We found this mom and pop crab shack place via Yelp. They are apparently known for their steamed crabs and shrimp. Since Maryland is known for their crabs, Montego ordered two of ’em. I contented myself with some shrimp. I don’t know why I don’t have an intolerance for shrimp, whereas, its other shelled counterparts give me near-death. Anyway, I felt bad for Montego because extracting morsels of those crabs took forever. The meat was cold by the time he got any substantial portion out. Overall, we would have enjoyed it more if the food had been peeled and de-shelled already. Too much damn work for such little reward. It was affordable, though, so we didn’t mind. I thought the seasoning on the shrimp was a little too salty, but Montego loved what little meat he got out of it. He said the crabmeat was sweet. I ordered a side of curly fries to supplant for the absence of abundance of meat. We loved the vibe, though. We got in just as they were about to close, they let us in anyway. They are local, family-owned, and welcoming. We recommend it–just, next time, order more crabs.
Overall, I call today a day of great timing.