Met a friend and her delightfully punky son at the Smithsonian Portrait Gallery last weekend. There was beer. There was space for a crazed toddler with a full nappy to terrorize tourists. There was amazing art. Not all at the same time, though, but parts were concurrent.
After our parley, I gave her a hug and the sweet imp a kiss and exited the museum. I strolled past the Spy Museum even though it was drizzling. My hair didn’t care and it wasn’t too cold. I walked past the Shake Shack to my jalopy, which was expertly parked across the street from that cement monstrosity also known as F.B.I. headquarters.
I foolishly did a u-turn (“Srsly, Doc! Have you no shame?” you ask. “Right in front of the heat?”) so I could circle the block to Pennsylvania Avenue. I drove away from the White House–that’s about six blocks in the other direction.
Instead I went left and passed the Department of Justice and the Archives. My whip wheeled past originals of our nation’s founding documents like the Declaration of Independence, The Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. They are just there.
Next on the right is the Federal Trade Commission. I have no idea what they do, but they have an amazing stone statue of a beefy guy trying to tame an even beefier horse. I love this sculpture.
I drive by the Canadian embassy guarded by Mounties on the left and on my right is the National Gallery of Art. The West wing has those beautiful Monets as well as the bronze cast and canvas ballerinas of Degas. Crossing 4th St, I pass the East Wing of the Gallery where they hang the red and black triangles balanced on the Calder mobile.
Where Pennsylvania Ave merges with Constitution, I see the sometimes infamous U.S. District Court. It’s infamous when there are are dozens of reporters with their satellite sticks jutting in the air like a field of unwelcome windmills in Nantucket Sound.
If I look straight ahead, which really is the right thing to do since I’m driving, I see The Capitol. I’m grateful that it sits at the end of Pennsylvania Avenue because I get to drive and walk by it all the time–even now as it’s covered in scaffolding. It makes me feel so patriotic, so American. Like somehow I’m a founding father. It’s one of the best sites in our beautiful city.
On this trip as I jogged left onto Louisiana Avenue, I see three round blue orbs. The helmets on top of Capitol Police motorcycle cops. All three bikes have sidecars, too. I never see passengers in the police sidecars. Never. There are, however, covers on them. I imagine that they have an arsenal, like Detective Billy Rosewood from Beverly Hills Cop, underneath those hoods. The three follow Louisana Ave to North Cap Street, then they peel off towards the trains at Union Station.
I went up a a few streets then made a right on H Street, behind the station. I took the arched bridge across the tracks. At the end of the bridge is this crazy set of accidents waiting to happen where the new trolley will cross into traffic. The street cars aren’t starting up until next week. No street cars; no accidents; so no traffic jam. Not today.
I made a left at Sixth Street, NE. This is the corner for the new Whole Foods.
As I head up Brentwood Road to home, I can see the blue dome and spire of the Shrine. The same Basilica that Justice Scalia was laid to rest the day before and that we walked to for Easter Mass that time Baby Bear was two and his pants fell down around his ankles as he was walking to the pew. He was likely singing, too.
Welcome to my town. This Sunday drive was all of twenty minutes (including the 5 minutes in the market). Yup. This is where I live.