Saturday, January 8, 2011

Money, air and space. October 29th, 2010

Well, this morning, we all woke up still very tired.  As you can tell.  No amount of sleep would have set us straight after yesterday, but we got what we could.


On the agenda today was the all important DC landmark, Target, followed by this all important building

This is the visitor's entrance though.


Not to worry, we got our tickets before that sign went up.  Again, tickets are free, but you must have them in hand with your time stamp to enter.

In the waiting area we got see, and climb on, a million dollars in $10 bills!!  Yup, that's exactly what you see here!


Just look at that face!  Oh my gosh.....'what I'm gonna do when I get my hands on that'......Drooling, just drooling.


You even get to sit on money here....


Well, not really, but Whirlwind was trying to get to it nonetheless.

"Greenbacks" were first printed in 1861 due to a shortage of coins during the civil war.  Green was selected since it was highly available AND highly resistant to chemical and physical changes.  And TA DA!  Cash was born!

Of course photography during the tour was super strictly prohibited, so sorry guys and gals, no photos of M-O-N-E-Y.  But boy did we see it!

The tour takes you along the money making conveyer belt from a safe distance above it all and behind some pretty thick glass of course.  It's pretty gosh darn cool!  You see all the steps, print one side, the other, add watermarks, slice, dice, inspect, wrap, pack, stack, etc.  I'm skipping a few steps to be sure, but that's the gist of it.  The inspector btw, trains for two years to earn that job.  And what does that job look like?  Well, he/she grabs one bill from each stack of oh, 100 bills?  Something like that.  He/she then holds it up to the light, looks for this that or the other and if all's good, sends it on down the road.  If not, well, the entire batch of God knows how much money is tossed.  I'm sure there's much more than meets the eye to that job, but that sure is what it looked like.

The tour also provides for some excellent entertainment.  From the the humorous guides to the humorous employees who see more money printed every day than they'll earn in a lifetime! You've gotta have some kind of something in ya to do that for a living.....At one point one of the employees held up a stack of freshly wrapped $20's.  1 million dollars worth of $20's.....He tossed it at the glass and kept gesturing for us to catch it.  Then he pretended to be making off with the money himself :-). Guess humor is one of those 'somethings' those workers have to have in order to get them through the day.  The kids LOVED that guy.  Heck, we loved him and loved playing the game right along with him.

The tour ends at the gift shop, but of course.  The cool thing here was that we got to see how tall we are in $100 notes.....That's a lot of money.....


And just a little bit of history here, this is an antique 'spider press'.  The machines today obviously look nothing like it, like I said, it's history.


We all thoroughly enjoyed our tour, especially Inventor, who is particularly in love with money in any shape or form :-).

Once out of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, we hiked over to the -


On our way over from 'the money' to 'Air 'n Space' we passed by the USDA, or, the US Department of Agriculture.  They had just wrapped up a fall fest and had piled us high with lots of goodies they were trying to unload.  Among those goodies were these notebooks that the kids just loved. They all spent the entire museum visit writing  up what they were discovering.....


If you're going to explore air and space, who better to do it with thnn your own personal aerospace engineer?!  S's old friend O came down to DC for the night to hang out with us some more and show off his stuff ;-).  Analyzer took a particular interest in him and managed to fill almost her entire notebook with his explanations as well as info taken from the displays.  By the end of that weekend she knew way way WAY more than I did about flight, space and various planes and missiles.

Correction, by the end of our first half hour she managed to accomplish that......


Oh yeah, Dad also played a role in explaining and demonstrating.  Though not an aerospace engineer, he is an engineer, and quite knowledgable and passionate about all things space, flight and science related.

Whew!  That meant I was TOTALLY off the hook in this place!  And it's a good thing too.....  ;-)


The boys, filling their notebooks in front of the first motorcycle designed, apparently, by the founder of the museum.  According to the sign anyway.


Soaking it all up.....


Now here's what I found amusing and entertaining, in an offensive kind of way.  But, it was after all the 50's.....


Yeah, make sure that ribbon is new and trimmed for Goodness sake!  Wouldn't want to see an OLD one, heaven forbid!

And this, gotta looove this....and this was in the late 60's, coming from a woman!  Yikes!


OooooK.  Moving on.

Gazing longingly into a cockpit we could not enter....I actually found this to be quite torturous for the kids.  There were so many cockpits and such that we could only look at but not touch.  It was so frustrating and a real disappointment as far as I was concerned.  It's not a very hands on place, relatively speaking, and I think out of all museums the air and space is the one that should be.


Here's one Whirlwind did manage to sneak into and get his hands on, but that's because there was no glass covering it, just a simple rail.  Ha!  Don't they know determined kids don't stay out of railed off places?!  So, he got to join these space guys (oh, are they not called space guys?!) on a mission.  That is until I finished snapping my pictures and pulled him out of there.  Gotta get the picture first, then follow the rules.  Priorities people!


O also proved to be a great form of transportation when little legs got tired.


Ahh!  On the flight deck!  Finally some gadgets, buttons and levers you could actually touch!  Even if most of them were behind those rails.  Rails again.  Who are they kidding?!


And here of course, you're friendly neighborhood Wright Brothers.  We love them.  We'll see much more of them in North Carolina, but this served as a nice intro.


And THE plane!  The ACTUAL one.


And, Whirlwind falling to pieces....Did you really think he'd make it all week without falling off his feet?  Literally.


And finally, the time had come for us to be shooed out of the museum.  It was closing.  These museums are very serious about their closing hours, and they make sure to boot you out as soon as the clock strikes 5!

But before we could leave, we must touch the rock!  The moon rock that is.  The real deal.  Of course it's been polished down by gobs of people touching its surface, but still, it was cool.


On our way back to the car, this time parked over by the 'money making building', we ran right into this particular governmental department,


Had to snap a photo of course.  More cause it was the Orville Wright Building rather than the FAA. I wonder if there's a Wilber Wright building somewhere....North Carolina was high on our list thanks to those two.

Another day in DC came to an end.  We were heading to Whole Foods, not ten minutes away, for dinner.  On these extremely full days we splurged and ate out, i.e. at Whole Foods, quite a bit.  There was just no time for no cookin'.  Too many other more important things to be doing and seeing.


Tomorrow and the next we would finally have some R&R, no touring!  Thanks to the HUGE influx of people into the city for the Jon Stewart rally.  We were staying far far away.....

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