We left early Friday morning, and after our flight, went to the Udvar-Hazy Center of the Air and Space Museum, a.k.a. the branch next to Dulles where they have the space shuttle Discovery.
I got surprisingly emotional about this! They have it set up so once you walk a little way in, you can see the front of the shuttle down a big hallway, all lit up from below in landing position. Which is beautiful. Then you go into that hall, and it's right there, and you can see the scorch marks on the tiles, which means it was actually in space and it's right there almost within arm's reach, but it's not going back into space again, and then there are the shuttles that are not on display because they never came back . . .
I just had a lot of feelings about it, okay?
This branch also has just an impressive density of aircraft and space vehicles. It could do a little better on its signs, because too often it was a little difficult to tell where to look: though the signs all had pictures, sometimes the paint schemes were different or they showed the planes at a different angle. Otherwise, it was great: I looked at space vehicles and WWII aircraft and fighter jets, and now I want to re-read Apollo 13 and Code Name Verity and some Tom Clancy book with lots of aircraft neep, none of which I am actually going to do (Apollo 13: not available electronically; Verity: wrong mood; Tom Clancy: already filled my quota for the decade or so).
Then we slowly wended our way through mid-Friday-afternoon traffic, checked in to our hotel in Baltimore's Inner Harbor, rested briefly, and headed back out for dinner with friends, which was great: good food, lots of great conversation, and no checking our watches for when we had to get back to the kids.
Saturday morning we walked down to the National Aquarium (the one in Baltimore, not the one in the basement of the Commerce Building in D.C. that Chad thought had closed). Very expensive, but excellently done: couple different reef exhibits, shark tank, dolphin show, rain forest section, and many smaller exhibits with cool and interesting fish and associated water creatures. My only problem was that I discovered that I could make myself motion-sick if I looked around too much through the glass into the water, because of the refraction.
Then we had a somewhat too-leisurely lunch at a tapas place on the water, La Tasca; I had a chicken dish that was not very interesting, but Chad's were all good, and the fried eggplant slices with cheese dipping sauce were amazing. As we ate and looked at the harbor, we tentatively decided to bring the kids down for a long-weekend type vacation early next summer: it's a short direct flight from Albany on Southwest; if we got a suite right on the harbor we could easily walk to the Aquarium, the Science Center, and some ships, all of which would be big hits; we could also drive to Udvar-Hazy and the National Zoo for changes of pace; and we know a few families in the area who have kids who might like to come along to some of those activities.
Then we went to an afternoon wedding reception, a casual party at the home of a friend who got married in the Midwest earlier in the summer; it was really good to see her and meet her husband.
Last for the vacation, we went to see The World's End, which we enjoyed; more about that anon.
So that was a really nice trip, and I'm glad we were able to do it.