Tag Archives: Smithsonian

Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum – Washington D.C.

Forget the White House, forget the Star Spangled Banner, forget all the steak; the best thing about Washington D.C. is the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

Holy fuck, they have some amazing shit here!

I honestly didn’t know where to run to first!  Upon entry, you go through security, then you are PRESENTED WITH THE APOLLO LUNAR MODULE!!  THE FUCKING APOLLO LUNAR MODULE FOR GOODNESS SAKE!

3 exceptionally brave men sat in this little thing for a week, going to the moon and back!  And the yanks have it displayed in the foyer!  You gotta love that?  The module is AMAZING, seeing the re-entry burn marks on the blast shield made me feel faint with geek shock; I personally could not fit in the module if I laid across all three seats, so goodness knows how the astronauts managed it.

After regaining my composure and putting my tongue in my mouth, I staggered and looked around the little ‘square’ foyer.  There in all their glory were the X-1 (Which Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier in), the X-15 (which broke the barrier of our atmosphere before rockets went further) and Space Ship One (The future of commercial space travel?).   Next to those, the Spirit of St Louis, the first aircraft to travel non-stop over the Atlantic.

I could not take it in?  I have loved planes and space travel since I can remember, so to be confronted with Man’s greatest technological achievements was something to cherish.

Around the museum, you can go from seeing the Wright Brothers ‘Wright Flyer’ through to WW1 and the bi-planes, then sample the WW2 planes (one of my favourite parts of the museum) and then into supersonic, before breaking into the space age.  It’s like a timeline of flight.

In addition to this, you also have a fantastic and comprehensive guide to rocket technology, from the Nazi V2 right up to things like intercontinental ballistic missles and a skylab module which was amazing to see.

It’s not all big vehicles, they have space suits, moon rock, the Wright Brothers tools, Gene Kranz’s waistcoat (NASA Flight Director during the Apollo 13 triumph).  More than you could possibly hope to see, if you are as big a science geek as I am.

Look at it all!

 

Advertisements

Smithsonian National Zoological Park (Washington D.C.) – Zoolights

The Smithsonian National Zoological Park in Washington D.C. has free entry and pandas!  Therefore, it deserves some of your time if you are in the area!  (And a generous donation!).

The zoo is situated between two Metro stations, Woodley Park and Cleveland Park; much of the park is on a very steep hill, so it’s a good idea to go the extra stop to Cleveland Park and walk down through all the exhibits.

Considering it’s a free zoo, it’s a fantastic park; I particularly liked the O-line method of transportation that’s available to the Orangutan’s so that they can swing overhead between two habitats.  Very cool!

The American trail is also another great feature, I’ve never seen a spectacled bear before,  beautiful animal.  Kudos for the amazon feature as well; walking through a very humid mini jungle was an odd sensation after having been exposed to chilly weather in D.C. throughout the week.

The Panda enclosure is the big feature and quite right too!  An adult and baby panda majestically sat just in front of me whilst I was inside the centre (well, the adult sprawled out on her stomach like she’d been on a hen party the night before).  I’ve seen pandas before, but it’s always a special feeling; such a cute baby!

I deliberately stayed at the zoo until closing time for the annual Zoolights feature.  The security staff cordon off the exhibits, but leave the main walkway through the park available so that you can waltz through and enjoy the lights with Christmas music (got to love the ratpack!).

Beautiful neon lights adorn trees and are also presented in animal statue forms during the holiday season; it was quite sweet seeing busloads of excited kids disembark and run around the zoo marveling at the dazzling display.

Excellent, excellent, excellent!  Shine on, you crazy diamond.

20141215_170341 20141215_171101 20141215_173213 20141215_173219 20141215_173225 20141215_173253 20141215_173313 20141215_173349 20141215_173615 20141215_173626 20141215_120732 20141215_121103