Today I wrapped up my class, took my examination (scored a 92%) and had the rest of the day free. I decided to head to the Udvar-Hazy center, the Smithsonian Air and Space museum that is located outside of DC, near Dulles airport. It is an absolutely striking facility, very, very nice. They are still in the process of acquiring, restoring, and displaying a lot of the displays, and they have lots of room for more in the future, but it is an excellent start. The engine display was really neat, I love seeing so many rotary engines.
There are a lot more military aircraft in this display than in the main facility on the mall, so parts of it I sort of rushed through. I am much more into Golden Age flight displays (1930s-1940s) so the Vietnam and later displays, while I can appreciate them, are not a large focus for me. The early helicopter area was pretty intriguing, and the fabric winged planes from WWI and before were simply awesome. The early WWII and before planes were definitely my favorites though, hands down. I think that there are more of those planes downtown, but it was still very much worth the trip. Seeing the rocketry displays and the USS Enterprise (a test shuttle that was used for descent testing in the 70s) was pretty cool. I think that they will be moving this shuttle and replacing it with the true orbiter that they will be receiving in a few years. Very cool setup.
I realized I was starving, and heading to the food area of the museum. Lucky me, the ONLY food vendor on site was McDonalds. The museum is free, but the parking cost $15, and I was ready to leave, so I was essentially forced to eat McDonalds. Not very good... bleh! I finished checking out the displays, and then headed up to the observation tower that overlooks the Dulles runways. Very neat to see the planes almost level with you a ways before they touch down. I made my way back down, and finally located the restoration hangar. There was a boatplane, a Japanese WWII plane, and an American WWII plane being restored. The guys that work down there are both very talented and very lucky to have such cool jobs.
After spending about 3 hours in the museum, I headed back to my hotel to relax, take a nap, and see if I could find a show in the DC area. The music scene here is either VERY underground (I could find no more than 15 shows listed for the night on any website) or very dead. Nothing seemed cool to me, so after talking to Karen, I took her suggestion and found a local theatre. I found the Cinema Arts (http://www.cinemaartstheatre.com) in Fairfax, which is an independent theatre. After watching a few trailers, I decided to see "Everything Must Go," a Will Ferrel movie that was in limited release (apparently the idea of a somewhat serious movie with Will Ferrel playing a alcoholic is not very popular). Happy with my decision, and deciding to go to the 9:40 showing, I crashed out for a few hours and woke up about 45 seconds before my alarm went off. Took a shower, etc, etc, and jumped in the car (Kia Soul, still digging it!).
I knew that I wanted to check out the Fairfax area, and I knew that there was a lot of food choices in that area as well. I popped into the West side of town, knowing that the theatre was on the East end of town. I decided to follow "the strip" until something caught my eye. I drove past several things that looked delicious, but nothing jumped out until just before I got to the theatre. There was a small strip mall that had a Vietnamese noodle shop, Guatemalan and Mexican restaurant, a Russian grocery, and an Indian restaurant. I thought that the Russian place might have meals also, but they did not. I debated between the Pho and Indian joints, and ended up going with Indian. It was a very pretty restaurant called Curry Mantra (http://www.dccurrymantra.com). I decided to go with the daily special, which was Kashmiri Kofta. Kofta is a meat mixture formed into balls (meatballs) and served in a sauce. Kashmiri Kofta is a hard boiled egg that has been packed inside of ground and spiced meat, and then is cooked in a sauce. The sauce was a brown sauce that I didn't think I was going to like, but it had nuts (cashews and possibly something else as well) and was really tasty when mixed with the rice or egg. The kofta themselves were very good, a bizarre balance that worked. The eggs were pretty strong, and the meat was pretty mild and balanced it out well. The meat was interesting as it was very mild, but had a hot undertone on it that was very welcome. I had samosas, and while they were far from the best I've ever had, they were Samosas, so of course they went down great!
By the time I was finished with my meal, I realized that I was almost an hour early for the movie. I decided to go buy my ticket, in the event that the movie was sold out. That was not a problem, as only 10 people saw the show, but better safe than sorry. I walked around the half indoors, half outdoors mall, and window shopped at the hobby shop. They had a lot of cool things, RC cars, RC go-carts, RC flight toys, trains, rockets, and more. I went back to the car to listen to music for a little while longer, and then headed back in. The snack bar had a large selection of goodies, and they also had an GOOD deal on a snack pack. $3.25 gets you a 12 ounce drink, a candy bar, and a small popcorn. It's all served in this tray that makes me think it's designed for kids, but, eh, whatever. The next "deal" was like $9.00. The movie itself was pretty good, but I don't want to give much away. It was an interesting role for Will Ferrel, and I'm glad he was in it. Saw a completely different side of him, and I liked it.
Headed back to the hotel and ended up watching Dual Survival on Discovery until about 1:00am.
Pictures from today: http://s290.photobucket.com/albums/ll256/sandalscout/DC%202011/Friday%20-%20Day%207/