We took our leave of Shepherdstown and made our way back to Hagerstown. Bob and Kelly dropped us off at the Hotel. I stayed up until 1:30 watching MTV. Then I drifted off to sleep...
...only to be awakened at 5:30 by loud music from the neighboring room. Apparently the jerkwad in that room had decided to turn on the Country Music Channel (Country's answer to MTV) at maximum volume. I was instantly awake. The yowling voice and whining slide guitar instantly set my nerves on edge. I thought of banging on the wall to get the guy to turn down the music, but knew I wouldn't be able to get back to sleep. So I pulled on some clothes, grabbed my key, and headed out for a walk. This hotel was on the outskirts of town. This wasn't an area with sidewalks, but rather of buildings by the side of the freeway, separated by large parking lots. I crossed a couple of parking lots. Saw that IBM had some sort of business office in Hagerstown. (Why?) Saw that walking any further than a couple of parking lots was going to involve either clambering through ditches or else walking on the freeway. Decided to head back.
By the time I got back to my room, the guy in the next room had turned down his TV. Perhaps because when he heard my door close as I set out on my walk, he figured that he might be in trouble. I don't know. I spent the morning watching MTV and reading back issues of the New Yorker.
I made a note that I should buy an album by Dionne Ferris (sp?) when I got back to Berkeley--but I wasn't able to find her album. Perhaps because I probably spelled her name wrong when taking notes. Why take notes when you're watching MTV after just four hours of sleep? You know the notes won't make any sense when you read them the next day. I was pretty out of it though. After breakfast, Bob & Kelly picked us up at the hotel. We were going back to their house for one last visit, and to pick up the rental car we'd left there last night. Along the way, Bob pointed out one street that had many distinctive stoops. They lent the street, claimed Bob, a certain Baltimore-like atmosphere. Since I'd never been to Baltimore, I kept my mouth shut.
Upon getting back to the house, a fair amount of conversation ensued. However, it was all about that mechanical calculator, and I fudged this travelog to make it look like all of that conversation took place on the first night because I didn't want to break up the discussion into two places. So as far as you're concerned, My family and I next found our way in the car on the way to Washington, D.C.
Do not let yourself get talked into being the navigator on a trip through Georgetown and Washington, D.C. after just four hours of sleep. My mom said that she still thought I would do a better job than she would. Okay, so out of the two wrong turns we made, only one of them was my fault. Still, I think I was out of my league.
In Georgetown, Harvard has a sort of combination museum-garden called Dumbarton Oaks. The gardens were pretty, with lots of different sorts of displays. There was a hillside with a lot of forsythia, the first hint I had that this Veruca Salt song was actually named for something real. (Did I mention I'm not to hep to these plant things?)
I enjoyed the museum more. There was art from a range of times and places: Greece, Rome, Egypt, the Near East, from 4000BC to 600 AD and beyond. There was a display of Pre-Columbian South & Central American art. The art was neat, and so was the space: it was broken up into eight circular rooms, each of which had a paraboloid ceiling. The ceiling shape made it so that you could talk quietly and your voice would bounce off the ceiling a couple of times and down to a point immediately across the room. So that was fun. And much easier to describe with words than the art itself. How can I verbally describe stone rattlesnakes, jadeite were-jaguar masks? There was some Coptic art. This was new to me--from a period of Egyptian history later than that which I studied. Actually, Egyptian art was pretty European then. There were some silver candleholders that were more of interest for the writing upon them than for artistic merit. And the writing was in Roman characters.
As I was looking at an ornate hearth (I get the impression this museum used to be a mansion.), the guard thought I was looking at the painting above the mantle. He let me know that the painting was an old aerial view of the gardens outside. Which was nice of him, except that it was pretty obvious. I smiled. He took this as encouragement, and made small talk, a task which was obviously very difficult for him. So he was having difficulties, and I ended up extricating myself from this conversation that neither one of us really wanted to be in.
Washington D.C. ...
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