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Georgetown and National Geographic

April 15, 2013

Washington DC – Monday, April 8

I had a parking plan for this morning – I was going to time my arrival downtown for about 9:45am, past the peak of rush hour, but 15 minutes before all those parking spaces along the mall would be available. And the drive in went smoothly – I think I was in all the correct lanes at the right time! But my plan backfired – I got downtown and ALL of the parking spaces were already taken. And it wasn’t like people were just arriving and getting out of their cars – it looked like the cars had been there for a while. And the signs about not parking until after 10am are posted about every 3 spaces, yet I didn’t see any tickets either. So obviously people know more than I do about parking. I had to circle around for a while, and check the side streets and after about 20-25 minutes, I got a space at a meter. The bad thing about the meter is there are 2-hour limits, so I have to be conscious about time. I got Tula out and today we headed in yet another direction. We first walked by the White House again – like yesterday, there’s a lot of police officers standing in front of the fences, and I imagine there’s a number of secret service guys around. From there we walked down to the Georgetown and the George Washington University area. It was a bustling, enjoyable walk, and there were lots of cherry trees blossoming in that area too. There’s a lot of color everywhere! I was a few minutes late getting back to the car, and the parking officers were out on their Segways. I’ve seen a number of people on Segway tours – I’ve never been on one and don’t quite understand how they work and stay upright, but I’ve seen people of all ages and sizes on them, and it looks like a fun way to zip around – although it could be a bit of a challenge on a big crowd.

We had covered a good 5 miles on that walk, and I put some more money in the meter and left Tula in the van and went back into the Natural History museum again since I was parked nearby. On the way back, I walked through the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Gardens. I was amused by the sculpture of a large typewriter eraser, confused by a modern sculpture of a red horse (it looks nothing like a horse to me – proving again I neither understand nor appreciate modern art!), and laughed when I saw their version of The Thinker.

Then I headed out to 2 potential donation sites, and I had to drive through a lot of the city to find both of them. Once I’m actually downtown, I don’t mind driving – I expected it to be very slow, and it was, but I was also able to see some more of town by just creeping through. The first place I stopped at (finding parking isn’t quite so bad away from the monument area) was the Bread of the City food pantry. This is a large building that also offers other services to those in need, and I went inside and got a couple photos, but there were people in line in the waiting area, and the workers were all busy, so I decided to just mail in the donation – more on this place when I do that later in the week.

The next place I wanted to find was the National Geographic headquarters. I had a distinct memory of walking past that building and into its gift shop on a much earlier visit. In keeping with my desire to make a couple “national” type donations while in the national capital, I wanted to make a donation to National Geographic. I’ve always liked the organization, and have been a longtime subscriber (up until I canceled before I left on my journey!). And, as a website says, “National Geographic has been inspiring people to care about the planet since 1888. It’s one of the largets scientific and educational institutions in the world.” I had to drive to another part of town, but again, even though it was a slow process, I found the place okay, and parked. I wandered through the gift shop – it was fun to see a lot of the actual stuff that I’ve seen in their catalogs. Then I asked the gift shop people about making a donation, and they sent me out to a receptionist who handles calls and visitors for the staff (that part of the building is not open to visitors.) The receptionist pointed out the donation box, and I asked if it was okay to leave a check in there. When she realized I was making a donation a little bigger than a few dollars, she wanted to call down one of the development team people. I didn’t want her to bother them, but she insisted, and soon one of them came down. He was very nice and gracious, and told me that 100% of donations go directly toward their projects. They don’t take any percentage of donation money out for salaries or overhead expenses – there is a separate fund for those costs. So it’s a little unusual for a big non-profit company to be able to apply 100% of donations to the actual work they do. I’ll never know exactly where my donation will go, but small though it was compared to many of the ones they get, it’s nice to know it’ll help a tiny bit on one of their many projects! And the development guy stressed that donations of this size are appreciated as much as larger ones! They were very kind, and interested in my little journey. As I was leaving, he gave me a couple publications, a National Geographic pin, and a rectangular yellow pin (like the border of their magazine) like the one on his lapel! I was oddly pleased to get those 🙂

By then it was getting to be late afternoon and I headed back downtown to see if any parking spaces had opened up as people began to leave. We found a spot a few blocks away and wandered over to a monument area we hadn’t been to yet. As we were walking along a pond, I suddenly heard a splash, and turned around to see Tula in the water! It was a very warm evening, and I don’t know if she slipped in or went in on purpose! She got out right away. It was a good thing we were near the beginning of our walk. There’s quite a few ducks around and maybe she got overly curious! I saw both the Three Soldier Memorial and Vietnam Women’s Memorial (honoring military nurses) by the Vietnam Memorial. It was a pretty evening for a walk, and when Tula was dry, we called it a day.
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One Comment
  1. Frank Donahoe permalink

    We received your generous donation at Bread For The City; thank you for your support and kindness. The note attached to your check led me to your website — what a great adventure! We wish you the very best as you travel our country, explore its beauty and meet its wonderful people.

    Your friends at Bread For The City
    Washington, DC

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