Monday, October 24, 2016

Resident Tourists: Smithsonian National Post Office Museum

I'm somewhat embarrassed to admit I had no idea there was such a Smithsonian in existence, though I suppose I shouldn't be surprised seeing that it is a government department with a detailed history worth preserving and sharing.

This was the first time Henry and I took the bus, which was a learning experience. The necessary bus stop is relatively close to our home, and the ride was short though pretty crowded. I did realize buses do not run at the frequency of the subway, which was more pronounced on our way home when we waited about 20 minutes (with looming rain storm) and then the bus was a further 15 minutes late. Bigger lesson learned was that you have to request stops--here I thought these people were making special requests to hop off...nope. We only went one stop past ours thanks to someone else needing to get off, but lesson learned. And we made it home before the clouds broke and skies poured!

Having a three-year-old who is a big fan of the mail system (so much that he dressed up as a mail carrier last Halloween), I knew an early visit was in order.

Mailboxes from around the world.
They have an interactive exhibit that allows you to design your own postage stamp and email it to yourself, though it comes through as a Cinderella stamp--"because they are beautiful, but unable to be used as a valid stamp." 
Henry's creation :)

The stamp exhibit would be a stamp collector's dream-it's the largest in the world.
As expected, the museum houses a history of transporting the mail--from the Pony Express, to stagecoaches, to rail, trucks, and air.

Several cool artifacts are kept here, including Amelia Earhart's flight suit, the Unabomber's handcuffs, and a mailbox that was across the street from the World Trade Center on September 11.

Henry's favorite exhibit was the giant semi-truck, which was part of illustrating the transportation of mail.
After a few hours of walking around, lunch was in order. Union Station, a large transportation hub with many dining options, houses the Shake Shack, which locals deem the closest burger to In 'n Out. Admittedly I was suspicious of such claims, but I enjoyed the burger and while I wouldn't say it was better than In 'n Out, it was quite tasty and Henry gobbled up his grilled cheese. And, they offer a frozen custard dessert as well as beer and wine on their menu so frankly, that wins some points against In 'n Out! I am sure we will be back when the burger cravings hit hard.

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