Since my first weekend in D.C. when Kate, Lindsay, and I went to the top of the George Washington Monument, we have wanted to do the paddle boats in the tidal basin. We could see people paddling around while we were in the top of the monument and we wanted to do it, too, but something always seemed to come up—it was raining, people in our group couldn’t come, we were too tired, etc. This weekend we were finally able to do it!
Early Sunday morning, eight of us walked from GW’s campus through the National Mall and toward the tidal basin in front of the Jefferson and FDR memorials. We probably should have noticed the extreme humidity while we were walking—the fact that our hair seemed to go from perfectly straight to curly during the 30-minute walk should have been indicative of the heat—but we were too excited to pay attention.
At 11:00 we divided into two groups to go paddle around the basin. We put on the hideous life jackets—I know they’re necessary—snapped a few photos and headed toward our boats. Erin, Kate, Rachael (Kate’s friend from home) and I all climbed into our boat and began paddling to the middle of the basin. We listened to music on Rachel and Erin’s cell phones and lazed along across the water.
The water was calm, dragon flies buzzed around us and there was a slight breeze. Only two other paddle boats had left the dock. We stretched out enjoying the sun, and then we started to get hot. The stuffy lifejackets were sticking to our necks, the canopy over the boat wasn’t doing much to block the sun and the novelty began to wear off. We stayed out on the water for about 40 minutes of the hour we’d paid for—we had a ton of fun, but we were ready for air conditioning.
We had planned to go to the Crime and Punishment museum after paddle boats so we hopped on the metro and headed over to Chinatown. The first night Kate and I hung out we walked by Crime and Punishment and decided we wanted to go there, but just like paddle boats, things always seemed to get in the way. I was so excited that we were finally going!
David was thrilled that the Museum air conditioning was blasting from the vents as we walked in the front door—actually, I think we were all a bit excited to cool down even as we waited in line to purchase our tickets. As is the tradition with many of D.C.’s museums, you start from the top and work your way through the exhibits to the ground level.
The museum is set up chronologically starting with punishment during medieval times. They had death masks and other strange torture devices—I was surprised I hadn’t seen more of this stuff before coming to Crime and Punishment. I’ve been to the Tower of London and Ripley’s, both of which have a lot of punishment artifacts—but a lot of what Crime and Punishment had on display was completely new and eerie to me.
From medieval crime and punishment we progressed on through the pirate section. I love pirate movies, so that was pretty neat. Did you know two of the most feared pirates were actually women who disguised themselves as men?! From pirates we moved onto western crimes with Billy the Kidd and Jesse James; it’s a bit ironic how the majority of the western exhibit was from New Mexico, my home state. We walked from exhibit to exhibit for hours reading about various crimes and looking at the punishments those criminals suffered.
The bullet-riddled car from the Bonnie and Clyde movie is an exhibit, as are various mobster death masks that were taken off bodies in the morgue from the 20s through the 50s. “America’s Most Wanted” is filmed at the Crime and Punishment Museum so we got to go through the set. On the ground floor we “watched” a crime scene and walked through a CSI lab as everything was solved—from examining the tire treads, to powder, to finger prints, to the morgue.
Our group spread apart with everyone going at their own pace, the museum wasn’t nearly as crowded as I thought it would be so we had time to do all the interactive exhibits. Ashley, Erin and I read everything, played the SWAT and car chase simulation games and even took pictures on the police motorcycle. Ashley was the only one to catch the criminal during the chase game—Erin and I both crashed in the snow. The three of us seemed to take the longest—we didn’t even leave the museum until almost 7:00.
You might be wondering what we did Saturday. I keep getting e-mails asking what I’ve been up to on the days that don’t “make the blog.” Saturday we decided to be true D.C.ists; we packed a picnic and went to the National Mall. Everyone brought something and we curled up on a blanket near the George Washington Monument and lazed around under a group of trees. It was the perfect day. Warm, but not unbearable, with people spread out everywhere—there was a group playing softball, another group playing kickball, and of course what seemed like hundreds of tourists. After eating lunch we played frisbee and lazed away the afternoon.