Thursday night I arrived in Washington D.C., at Union Station, around midnight. My dad met me at the terminal, and we drove from there to our hotel in Chantilly, VA. I’m still getting used to the idea of doing things in more than one state on a given day. The west is really big you guys.
Woke up the next morning and drove with my dad to the National Reconnaissance Office headquarters, basically the guys who build spy satellites. It was their “All-American Family Day” – kids running around among bouncy castles in front of large government buildings, surrounded by 10-foot fences with barbed wire. We went inside some of the buildings, and looked at old cold-war satellite footage, satellite parts, etc.
It was fascinating. I also very much enjoyed the chance to hang out with my dad. Lunch was $15 for overcooked burgers.
Three parts of the exhibits really stood out to me. First – I got to touch an actual Enigma machine. Like, one from WWII that had been used to encode messages.
The second was an exhibit on Satellite materials, with various golden alloys and molybdenum meshes, each with a tiny blue “declassified” sticker.
The third was a satellite picture of a concentration camp from the holocaust. Black and white; grainy. It was marked with tiny letters and arrows on the photograph, “gas chambers”, “prisoners en route to chamber”. I wanted to reach through time and space and help them.
We left the NRO and drove around the campus for a bit. My dad doesn’t work for the NRO – he works for a contractor to the government, but he was able to attend their picnic. I don’t have any pictures – they make you leave your phone at the door. I do have this brochure, though:
We went from there to the Air and Space Museum near Dulles Airport in D.C.. Wandered the floor for a while. Apparently I forgot to save all of the pictures properly, so, text only?
I have this one of a UNIVAC computer:
Old computers are cool. They had the Enola Gay at the museum. Not just any B-29, but the B-29. A piece of history there (albeit a controversial one). I sent a pic to a bunch of people, including Mike, who happens to be Japanese, and then wondered if that was appropriate. I hope I didn’t offend anyone.
The Discovery shuttle was there as well, which was super cool, especially seeing the ceramic heat tiles, all marked up from re-entering the atmosphere. I wanted to play some Kerbal Space Program or maybe Artemis.
Like I said, I forgot to save the pictures properly.
Oh, I have one picture of my dad in front of the Air and Space Museum!
We went up in that observation tower for a while or so and watched planes take off from Dulles.
My dad had to drop off a badge at the NRO building, so he dropped me off at Target, where I bought the first season of Adventure Time, a DVD-Burner/Blu-Ray Player, and the new album by The XX (it was on sale – cheaper than buying it online!). Stopped by the hotel for a quick rest, then
My dad got a cider and I got a wheat beer, but the server mixed them up when she delivered them, and I didn’t notice until my beer tasted really really weird. We chatted about my upcoming wedding (probably in about a year), and associated plans.
Then we went to see Now You See Me, which was not particularly deep, but enjoyable and certainly fun. Here’s me right afterward:
Went home afterward and tried to watch Adventure Time with my dad, but ended up watching it on my own because the new Blu-Ray player wouldn’t cooperate for an hour.
I was going to rush and put the next day in here as well, but it deserves its own time, so I’ll catch that up tomorrow.