Astral Nomads

One man, one woman, one rabbit......traveling with the stars.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Astral Nomads Do DC

For today's adventure, we decided to take a train from Frederick, Maryland to Washington DC. Since the MARC Brunswick line to/from Frederick is strictly a commuter line, there are only three trains in and three trains out and they only run Monday through Friday. That meant that the latest train in that we could take was 7.10am. Since Frederick is a little than 20 miles by car from Hagerstown, that meant we were up at 5.00am and on the road by 5.45am. It was cold and I had to scrape my car windows free of frost with my Borders Reward card. Frankly, it's the only moment of value that that card has ever provided me.

The train left on time and, while coursing through the darkened woods and passed frosted cornfields filled with grazing deer, the sense of being in a story by Tolstoy began to filter through my mind. At one point we passed a rocky glen filled with trees in muted autumn colors through which drifted mists from a small mountain lake. Perfect. After about an hour and a half journey, the train arrived at Washington's magnificent Union Station.

As we were leaving the station, Wendy was stopped and interviewed by a Japanese television crew that was getting opinions off the street regarding yesterday's mid-term elections. She looked fantastic and gave a damn good account of herself. I hope to find it on youtube some day. At the very least, I expect her to become a Japanese TV icon. Wendy-San rocks!

From Union Station, we walked to the Washington Monument, which was our number priority for this short day trip because, while we have both been to Washington multiple times, neither of us has ever been in the Washington Monument. The ticketing scheme there is a little bizarre. The tickets are free and are given out, marked for a given half-hour period, at a small stone kiosk down the knoll about 200 yards from the monument. I asked the ticket agent for 2 tickets and he slide open a transfer box (like they use in banks) and just stared at me. Since the tickets were free, I was confused so I asked "Am I supposed to put something in there?" He just looked at me and said "No, you are supposed to take the tickets". I was standing so close that I did see the tickets against the back wall of the transfer box.

We waited almost an hour with our 10.30 ticket and at 10.17, they still hadn't taken all of the 10.00 ticket holders. At 10.37, they announced that the elevator had broken down and it would take at least another hour before they would know if the elevator would be running again at all that day, so we decided to bag our initial attempt at the Washington Monument. Astral Nomads, denied!

We grabbed a quick bite to eat at the Museum of American History and then headed over to the National Gallery of Art. There was a couple of interesting special exhibits there: Prints of Edvard Munch and Pre-Raphaelite Painting and photography. The Munch exhibit showed how Munch would evolve a lithograph by adding color and texture until he got the effect he was after. Best Munch quote from the exhibit materials "The angels over my crib were Sickness, Insanity, and Death." Ha! Now I understand The Scream. The Pre-Raphaelite exhibit was light on painting and heavy on photography, lots of Julia Margaret Cameron and some Charles Dodgson (better known as Lewis Carroll) whose penchant for photographing children is well known.

Since we did not want to leave Otis alone in his pet carrier for too long, we caught a 3.50 train back to Frederick. Should have left him alone longer. The little pest keeps trying to bite my power cord.


(Wendy's photos to follow in the next post. I know that's the main attraction but she's still uploading)


  1. hey man, I enjoy the text. It gives great context to the photos. otis sure does have a sweet tooth for cords!

  2. dude the boarders rewards card!! laughed out loud...mine has been just as useless...was great in theory when i signed up!

  3. @Head: Makes a great ice scraper, "Ah tell you what". Ha!