Wednesday, May 05, 2004

....What You Can Do Today (or Part 2 of the Washington Trip)

Another big surprise for me was how obviously proud I was being about being a Canadian. While I was in DC, I made a point of wearing my Keith's IPA "Those who like it, like it alot" tee shirt. I actually had one guy come up to me and say "That's the BEST beer in the world, man. Can't wait to get back to Canada," much to my delight.

While I was there, I couldn't stop talking about how great Canada was and how much cooler everything is here. I couldn't help myself! I probably made all the Americans within earshot want to beat on me a little bit. I didn't even take a break on hockey. Tara (a Leafs fan) and I (a Sens fan) found a little pub in Arlington that was playing Game 6 of their series. We made it just in time to catch the overtime period, and we weren't the only canucks there enjoying the game. I was the only Sens fan, mind you, but whatever. It felt a little weird being the only guy in the place cheering when Ottawa won. I guess that's how it feels to be a Sens fan in Toronto, these days.

I also went to Washington DC hoping to catch a little live music, or at the very least some dancing. And once again, my roots started showing again. We ended up seeing Sarah Harmer with Hayden at the world-famous Birchmere nightclub in Alexandria, and it was a GREAT place to see a show. Even though the acts wore maple leafs on their shoulders, this place was all American (if you ever go, try the meatloaf, it's wicked-rad). It was nice to see two of our lesser known (but completely awesome) musicians are making a name for themselves in the States. I'd say there were two hundred people or so in the bar, but I wonder how many of them were ex-patriots trying to build a life south of the border?

Sarah and Hayden played a great show. Hayden opened as a one-man act, playing a good selection of old and NEW (yes, brand-NEW!) songs, peppered liberally with his trademark dry wit and off-kilter, mock-profound statements on life. We learned that Hayden gets thrown off by people clapping while he plays (yet he encourages it and is disappointed if no one claps), has a cat who disappears every spring for six days who lived in the house when he moved in, and that there will be a new release from him in May (whoo!). Even more amazing, Hayden had an album out two years ago named "Skyscraper National Park," and I didn't even know about it. I'm a bad, bad little fanboy.

Sarah was great too, but we found out she's an avid Leafs fan. That didn't work so good for me. Good thing she has an achingly beautiful voice and a charming Kingston attitude to make up for it. I think she was a little surprised when she talked about her hometown and two people in the front row started shouting and hooting at her.

Other high points:

Don't miss the International Spy Museum, which was one of the most fascinating and unique museums I've ever been in. Get a good look at some real, operationally-used spy gadgets disguised as ordinary things like lighters and shoes that would make James Bond look like an amateur. There was a single-shot gun disguised as a cigarette on display (and they had that back in the 50's!). Boggles the mind what they might be able to do now.

And hey, when you're done at the National Air and Space Museum downtown, catch the shuttle out to the Udvar-Hazy Center near Dulles. It's a long way out, but so worth it. I got a good look at the space shuttle Enterprise, an SR-71 Blackbird spy plane, a Concorde, and the Enola Gay (the B-29 that dropped at Hiroshima), just to name a few things. There are hundreds of planes and spacecraft there, you can easily make a day of it.

The best monument in town was the FDR memorial, which was classy, extensive, and provoked the most thought and discussion of any of the ones that we visited (including the Vietnam War Memorial, believe it or not). It's divided into four rooms, one for each of his terms as president, with sculptures and waterfalls throughout. Be careful to avoid useless, dumber than cement high school teachers who are guiding their students through it and permanently ruining their appreciation of history and politics.

Crispy Juicy! But I already told you about that, didn't I? I washed it all down with this vile soft-drink concoction called Inca Kola, which I, in my naivity, thought was an authentically El Salvadoran soda. Imagine my shock when I turned it over and saw it was made by Coca-Cola. I can only compare its taste to a mix of corn syrup and cream soda. It was also yellow. One can was enough for me.

Arizona Iced Tea for 99 cents! That's crazy talk, even if it was in American currency!

Big Xtra's from McDonalds are called Big N' Tasty's in the US! It was just like that Vincent and Jules conversation in Pulp Fiction.

I learned that the subway isn't really a subway in Washington. It's a Metro. It took me three days to get that right.

And of course, my host Tara, who put up with my wide-eyed wonder and my Canadian suburbanite values all weekend long. Thanks for a great time, Tara! I owe you one!


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