back in the USA, again

After some deliberation I decided to bring the sweater I was currently knitting instead of starting a smaller project like a sock. This backfired, as I promptly left the nearly-finished sweater body on the plane. (“Promptly” is the wrong word, actually, given the intervening 16 hours of travel.) Other than that, which I didn’t discover until that evening, we got from Taipei to Washington DC without incident. We spent some time in the afternoon with my uncle and my parents, who had come down to see us, and left just after dinner to get some sleep and begin catching up from jetlag. We slept in the next morning, then spent some time cleaning up my uncle’s apartment. (Right before he went into the hospital for his surgery, the water heater was leaking, and the plumbers apparently ripped the shelves out of that closet, literally, and threw all of its contents on the spare room floor.) Then we went out for brunch to Clyde’s in Chevy Chase with a travel theme: model airplanes hanging from the ceiling and a Jaguar and a Morgan downstairs in the car room.

Afterwards, we dropped off the relatives, and Ted read for a bit while I walked down to a bead store and a bookstore in Dupont circle. Beadazzled is a nice store; I was able to get almost everything I wanted, but prices are high. Unfortunately they were sold out of cup burrs (used to round the end of a wire) which was the one thing I wanted that sould have saved me money, by letting me make instead of buying earwires.

There’s an odd rolling cab strike going on in DC: they’re striking on Monday this week, Tuesday next week, and so on. We’d been planning to go to the Udvar-Hazy extension of the Air & Space Museum, out at Dulles Airport, but changed our plans because we wouldn’t have gotten back in time to give my parents a ride to their train. Taking a bus to the station would have involved a but too much walking for Dad. Once again, virtue was its own reward; our Plan B for the day was to go up the Washington Monument, because Ted hadn’t been, and to the new Museum of the American Indian. The Monument was completely free of crowds and there was no waiting, for once, and the Museum was wonderful. It’s a bit out of place, in a way; I understand why it’s on the Mall and I sympathize with the desire to show how central and important the American Indian experience is to America overall. But just in terms of the museum itself, it would have been more at home on a grassy plain overlooking trees and water. We weren’t impressed with the building at a distance; it looked brown and industrial when viewed from the other end of the Mall. As we got closer, though, we could see the curves of the building and the layering meant to evoke a sandstone cliff. There’s landscaping around it, and the inside is shaped around a central courtyard, all very reminiscent of the Mesa Verde cliff dwellings. The exhibits are extremely well-done, and throughout the museum it’s stressed that this is intended to redress the histories that have all been written from an outside perspective.

Today has been a significant day all around, with Chinese New year, Mardi Gras / Carnival, and Super Tesday in the American primary elections all coinciding, but we didn’t do much but drive. We visited Uncle Larry again to say goodbye (and take out another load of trash) then hit the road. We stopped first at the airport to see if my knitting had been found. No luck. The drive south was longer than Ted had expected, about six hours, but very easy to navigate. Our first stop is Mooresville, where there’s a small airport right by a large lake There doesn’t seem to be rowing on this lake yet, but there is some nearby and they’re trying to get access to row on the lake. We’d thought mooresville would be a small town, but it turns out to be the home of the North Carolina Auro Racing Museum, along with lots of racing shops. There are six or eight hotels right at the highway exit, but it took us four tries to find a room for two nights. We knew we were really in the south because the woman at the hotel desk had only one upper tooth. (My theory is that people loose just as many teeth in the Northern states, but are more likely to have false ones put in o it’s not obvious. The corollary is that this may be why barbeque, where meat is cooked forever until it’s very soft, and pulled pork, which is served pre-shredded, are popular around here.)

As much as I enjoy being able to walk to shops and restaurants, I did enjoy getting to drive up to one this evening, with a wide variety of American foods: steaks, dinner salads with meat, chili, and so on. I think my ideal would be to live in the center of a town where I could walk to the basics, but to be on the edge of that center where driving out to the big-box stores would also be convenient. With, of course, rowing and an airpark nearby.

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