“Oooooo!” you’re thinking. “The National Aquarium! I’ve heard of that! It’s supposed to be fabulous, all nestled in the Inner Harbor in Baltimore near restaurants and shops and Camden Yards and it has dolphin shows and…”
Yeah. No. We didn’t go to that one. We went to the DC location which is in the bottom floor of – I can’t make this up – the US Department of Commerce. Apparently, even the fish in DC are nerds.
In theory, the DC aquarium is way closer than the one in Baltimore and the smaller scale (and lower admission price) should make it a perfect venue for toddlers. It’s even conveniently located only a block from the metro. Not the line of the metro that’s real close to our house though. A different line. The Orange Line.
I made the determination that it would be worth while to hop in the car and drive 10 miles around the Beltway to get to an Orange Line stop that would take us directly to the aquarium. I figured changing trains with C., who was already skeptical when I told him we were going to a fishie museum, was going to be more hassle that it was worth. A good theory except that for some reason, the Beltway was crawling and the 15 minute drive took us 40. That was before the 30 minutes we needed to spend on the Orange Line.
We are a metro family five days a week and normally it’s fine. But normally we take the Red Line, or the Official Metro Line Of Maryland Commuters Who Know The Rules Of Metro. The Orange Line is the Official Line of Tourists Who All Want to Get Off At The Smithsonian Stop And Are Too Preoccupied By Looking At The Map To Make Sure They Haven’t Missed It To Be Polite To Others. And at this time of year, the tourists are all hordes of middle school students who have been unleashed from all corners of America. They come to DC to learn important lessons in history and civics like how to buy DC branded hats and sweatshirts from shady t-shirt vendors lines up outside the Air and Space Museum. Long story short, the Beltway and the metro both sucked.
The aquarium was actually lovely once we got there. Despite being located in the bowels of one of the un-sexiest government agencies, it’s a cozy, tidy little space lined with small tanks that mirror various ecosystems. There’s an aligator tank, an artificial reef tank and other tanks that represent other kinds of aquatic areas but I didn’t read about them because C. was coming close to lunch time and we needed to keep hustling before he noticed he was tired and hungry. The light was pretty bad for getting nice shots of C. and the Great Guy I Married but I got some cool ones of fish.
|Fish are pretty cool.
|Anemones (I think)
|Stripy, frondy fish
|Freaky fish with what appear to be buck-teeth
I did not get a picture of the nautilus even though I thought it was very cool-looking because there were two guys standing in front of it when I walked past. Based on the way they were dressed and the backwoods twang of their accents, I would not have been surprised to see either of them whip out a 40 once Budweiser can and use it to spit tobacco juice into. I dont know if that ultimately happened, though, because I had to flee their presence when I heard one say to the other, about the cool-looking nautilus, “I wonder how that would taste.”
All told, we probably spent about 20 (very satisfying) minutes looking at fish. This after spending about 70 minutes getting to the aquarium and about 50 getting home. But the whole adventure resulted in a 3 hour nap so I’m adding it to the win column.
Next week: a puppet show (if I can remember to buy tix in time).