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Issue #214, Epic Road Trip, July 6, 2018, Lincoln Memorial, Portrait gallery, Madamme Tussuad's Wax Museum, Washington, D.C.

July 6 2018 One final day spent in Washington, D.C. - we took a considerably longer time to get going in the morning, owing to our late arrival the night before, but my mood was the best it has been for awhile, perhaps a result of living through the crowded experience of fireworks and the 4th of July activities, and coming out the other side, so to speak.

We are now experts at negotiating the Metro system; each kid got to ‘add money’ to the cards, and making the few transfers we needed to make seemed easier. When we emerged to the streets, there were two guys playing music, one with an electric guitar, and the other playing trombone, it was quite good.

Our first step was the Lincoln Memorial, and to get there we got out at George Washington University and walked almost a mile to the grand structure; it was slightly cooler than the previous day so the kids conveyed less agony at having to actually walk on the streets.

Once at the memorial I did a 15-minute sketch, sweating inside the structure, but it flowed well and I received some nice complements, including one guy who said, “you’ve obviously drawn with a pen before”.

I think Paige took some pictures of people taking photos of me. We got back on the Metro for a short hop to the ‘gallery’ stop, which put us in the middle of Chinatown and near the portrait gallery, madame Tussaud’s, and lunch.

I suggested “Pho 88” a Vietnamese place we had seen a few days prior, and so we slipped into the cool, narrow restaurant and tried out some new food - Paige and I both had “Pho”, hers a chicken, mine a beef, which I am now regretting; and the kids got a pork sandwich and lime smoothies with strawberry ‘balls’ some of each of which I finished, too.

We quite enjoyed the wax museum, especially when Phoenix started hamming it up in front of all the replicas, beginning with many of the presidents and leading to celebrity figures. Orion got into the spirit as well, and we had a lot of laughs as they ran about gesticulating in response to the frozen poses.

It was quite well-done and lifted our spirits as we communed with artwork in a way not accessible in the art galleries - though I will note that once we got into the National Portrait Gallery and found Kehinde Wiley’s portrait of Obama, there was an extensive line forming of folks who wanted to either take a picture of it head-on, or take group photos in front of it.

I thought the painting itself was easily one of the most striking in the whole place; the contrast of Obama sitting in a field of vegetation to the other presidential portraits, often in stuffy and austere settings, was substantial; what’s more, I felt like many of the photo-snappers who were of African-American descent who deeply identified with Barack, and I watched them for awhile, patiently waiting to take their photos.

Besides this image there were many treasures in the gallery, and once again I drifted apart from the rest of the family to view things at my own pace, to see which paintings really spoke to me. Of course there was more art in the gallery that I could have possibly seen, and so the time Paige texted me about leaving I was hurriedly making my way down to the lower levels, which I hadn’t even look at; and once there found some very recent re-interpretations of Thomas Jefferson’s liaisons with Sally Hemings that spoke volumes about their relationship that is being exposed more and more; and the fantastic painting of Ben Franklin that was the basis for the image on U.S. Currency.

I found the family in the large courtyard, walking on the thin ‘sheets of water’ over concrete that are part of the floor decoration, and from here we headed back to the Metro, to the grocery store (Trader Joe’s) and got gas, and finally made it back to the Cricket, where I whipped up some mushroom-zucchini burritos, Paige drank a margarita with orange juice and I drank beer, the kids drank sodas, and we talked about how our view of slavery and society has changed with our visit to the south and east - Paige especially mentioning how this visit has made her understanding of these issues more visceral, tactile and pertinent.

metro ritual:
adding money to smart cards:
transaction cancelled

Obama’s portrait -
everyone wants to capture
something of the man

kids hamming it up
in front of the wax figures
at Madamme Tussaud’s

hard to distinguish
who is real and who is wax
at Madamme Trussaud’s

american flag
it represents our country
but made in China (Phoenix)

Dad writing haiku
can be very annoying
will not ever end (Orion)

solo/group kukai
jonathan machen