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Posts Tagged ‘Museum of Natural History’

Back at the Museum of Natural History, we head upstairs to the exhibit called “Written in Bone.” It’s fascinating! It’s a forensic investigation of human skeletons from the 17th century, some of Jamestown colonists and some from Maryland.

See? Just like on TV

See? Just like on TV

But even more exciting, today is Forensic Friday! We get to go to the super-cool Forensic Anthropology Lab for a special demonstration. Today they’re taking a skull and doing a facial reconstruction—that thing where model a face. (You can read about it here.) It’s like being in the middle of an episode of Bones (minus the cute FBI guy, unfortunately). Mind you, the real forensic people aren’t too impressed with the TV forensic people…but that might be because they feel the lack of cute FBI guys, too. (Although it probably has more to do with the science.)

Facial Reconstruction

Facial Reconstruction


We’re all fascinated by the demonstration; I tried hard to keep my natural tendency to interview people at bay and not ask too many questions, but everyone is intrigued by the process. It’s amazing to watch.

By the time that’s over and the face is complete, it’s pert near 5 pm. We have just enough time to run down to the Fossil Café (in Dinosaur Hall) for a quick sandwich before our next event, one more floor down in the Baird Auditorium. Is it a scholarly lecture on global warming? A film about the life and times of gorillas? No! It’s The Second City! Kind of appropriate to end an afternoon looking at bones with an event designed to tickle our funny bones, isn’t it?

second-city

I saw Second City in Dallas years ago and I’m still laughing over some of their improvs. Tonight’s show features some of the best sketches, songs, and improvisations from their 50-year history plus the past year’s most delectable political scandal, cultural milestones, and public disgraces. (LOTS of material there!) It’s Jill and Paula’s first time to see them; I’m sure we’ll be replaying tonight’s show all the way home tomorrow.

It’s still early enough after the show that we have time to enjoy the Empress Lounge at our hotel, the Mandarin Oriental. They have live jazz tonight, so we plop down to enjoy The Sharón Clark Quartet and a snack. For Jill and me, that would be the CityZen Candy Bar (yes, I had this Tuesday, but it’s so worth repeating). Paula, who does not care for chocolate (though we love her despite this unfortunate disability), ends up with Grand Marnier bread pudding.

Tomorrow, we go home . . . but there’s still time for one more adventure. Meanwhile, I’m going up to enjoy my last night in this beautiful room.

Mandarin Oriental Hotel

Mandarin Oriental Hotel

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Not-too-casual Friday

Not-too-casual Fri

It’s our last full day in DC. While my virtual self will be sad to leave this fascinating city, my real self is getting mighty tired. Being in two places at once is exhausting! But never mind, there is yet more to see before we head home.

Today’s outfit is a little dressier, just because. It occurs to me that perhaps I should visit my local
Coldwater Creek and try on my virtual vacation wardrobe in person . . . nah. I can’t keep up with Jill & Paula’s outfits, too, so you’ll just have to take it on faith that they’re clothed and in their right minds. (And if you know them, that last part requires a lot of faith.)

When you walk in the door, here’s what you see. Impressive, no? And that’s just the beginning. There are creatures of all sorts, from dinosaurs to butterflies, on all sides and overhead.

African Elephant In the Rotunda

African Elephant In the Rotunda

The FossiLab, where you can watch paleontologists and trained volunteers extract fossils from rock and construct fossil casts and molds, makes me miss my nephew Josh, who had a brief but sparkling career as an archeologist (he was about 6 at the time).

But come on . . . we’re girls. I don’t care how cool the animals are—and they are—you know what I want to see: 45.52 carats of sparkling blue gorgeousness. Yep, I’m talking about the Hope Diamond. Who knew diamonds could be blue? Yellow, yes. Pink, yes. But blue? SO gorgeous. I think I need one; it would match my eyes. I’m reminded of the Sherlock Holmes’ tale of the Blue Carbuncle, another precious gem of a different color.

The Hope Diamond

The Hope Diamond

But back to the Hope Diamond: Did you know its one-time owner, Evalyn Walsh McLean, once hocked it? She was trying to raise money to pay ransom for the kidnapped Lindbergh baby. I can only imagine the look on the pawn shop owner’s face.

This little red number is rather nice, as well. Not so little, actually, the Carmen Lúcia Ruby is a 23.1-carat Burmese ruby, set in a platinum ring with diamonds. Since the Hope Diamond is blue, the Carmen Lúcia Ruby is red, and they’re both set with white diamonds, one could wear them both at the same time and be in patriotic red, white, & blue. Though perhaps that would be just a touch gaudy?

Carmen Lúcia Ruby

Carmen Lúcia Ruby

We’re not done here, but we’re thinking seafood for lunch. Maybe we’re influenced by The Sant Ocean Hall? There’s a whale suspended from the ceiling (it’s a model; no whales were harmed in the making of…) and fishies galore. Whatever the reason, we decide to repair to Johnny’s Half Shell for a little riparian refreshment.

Johnny's Half Shell

Johnny's Half Shell

Chef Ann Cashion is another James Beard Winner and the weather is nice enough we can eat on the patio—a combination made in gastronomic heaven. After dealing with the weighty matter of appetizers: spicy grilled chicken wings, easy on the spice (Jill), mixed green salad (Paula), and shrimp cocktail (me), we can sit and ponder life until our main courses arrive. Jill and Paula both choose the grilled halibut with Carolina black rice salad and red pepper oil. I decide on Chesapeake bouillabaisse (fish, shellfish, and a mini-crabcake in a rich lobster broth—yum). It’s a lovely lunch and well worth the cab ride over here…and back, because there is more to see this afternoon. And don’t worry, Vacation Rule #1 will definitely be enforced.

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