A Different Sort of Sunday Drive

Washington Auto Show

Washington Auto Show

My husband convinced me to watch cars this weekend, not the animated movie ones, but the one’s under the bright lights at the 2012 Washington Auto Show.  For those interested in this event, there’s still another weekend to catch the two-story exhibited, and for those who are brought along for the ride, there’s plenty of comfortable seating, including the passenger seat of most of the cars on display.  The show features a full exhibit hall of American automakers, who certainly show signs of revival, along with a second exhibit hall of every other make and model imaginable.  Anyone car shopping can test out everything under one roof, but you won’t be able to drive it anywhere.  In fact, given the show’s location in the middle of the city, I recommend taking public transit to get there.


Brick by Brick

On this blustering weekend, we decided to spend time viewing the outdoors from indoors via a visit to the National Building Museum.  Housed in an indistinguishable building on Judiciary Square, the museum opens to all four sides, with a security guard stationed at each entrance.  Their posts are old-school metal desks, giving them little more authority than a strict teacher.  The interior opens into a spacious event area, which was being set in gold tones for a dinner that evening.  Large columns extend four stories with an outline of stone busts staring down from the eaves.  The exhibits open through glass doors on two floors, and adult ticket for $8 provides access to everything, including the current Lego exhibition.

Legos were the reason for our trip and worth the cost.  The three room display held 5-foot model skyscrapers and iconic buildings, such as the White House, each with a sign that detailed the original architect and size, along with the plastic replica size, time to design and build, and most importantly number of bricks.  My husband always judges the quality of a Lego set by the number of bricks and/or the number of figures, the latter of which was noticeably missing from the still-life structures. However, the second room was full of activity with stations of colorful Lego blocks to inspire future buildings. Legos also are abundant in the gift shop, along with other trinkets and interesting objects, as well as an impressive collection of sustainability, architecture, and graphic design books.

Other exhibits showcased the building history of the city, from famous structures, infamous neighborhoods, and the arrival of the beltway and the metro. One of the most interesting parts showed the other important bricks in building history – the original fired-brick, which is anything but singular.  As noted on the signage, bricks have come from many places and many states, including Virginia.  Now used as a veneer, the structural blocks have nostalgic associations with factories, schools, and single-family homes, which perhaps explains why we attracted to our brick-faced apartment building.  Today, we saw it salted in snow for the first time.

Stories of Evolution

Rainy weekends are perfect for curling up with a good book, and this weekend, DC residents and visitors have the best selection at the 11th National Book Festival.  The two-day event, expanded from previous years, features storytelling for children and talks from the best contemporary life, poetry, and prose writers.  It all takes place on the somewhat soggy National Mall, with tents for hourly readings and book signings.

To get there, we boarded a Metrobus driven by a soon-to-be Texas preacher, who ministered to the passengers.  During the ride, he gave instructions on how o a path in the crossroads of life. He expertly navigated the tight streets to downtown D.C., telling his life story by the time we reached the Capitol.

Entrance to the Museum of Natural HistoryWe split our Saturday between the Museum of Natural History and the author readings, first exploring the fossils in the dinosaur exhibit and then listening to the anthropological poems of Claudia Emerson.  Both were expertly curated and only slightly crowded. In the museum, the heavy traffic areas circulated around the dinosaur bones and Hope diamond, an odd contrast of what can be discovered when digging through the dirt.  At the book festival, the crowds congregated around the fiction tent, where writers shared their stories of their evolution.