Day 18 - From Swamp to Swamp (to Swamp)

So, the final day and some 12 or so hours to kill before the late flight. Ethan has found some places to visit which may be of interest but may also conceivably just be box-ticking exercises aimed at getting another State in (Maryland). He was keen to go to Baltimore, but I have seen the Wire and was having no part of that. This must have done for Baltimore what Deliverance did for Tallulah Falls!

Instead we headed out of the Washington swamp into the Maryland wetlands and Battle Creek Cypress Swamp. Interesting sort of place, containing lots of "trees with knees" - apparently these help the trees to breathe:

Trees with knees

Ethan spotted this one which looked as though the trees had gone beyond just breathing and were giving a rock horns salute to the world

Rock Horns

From here we had a trip to the coast penciled in, to catch a glimpse of Chesapeake Bay. Now, generally speaking, I am happy to have a good walk and experience tells me that Ethan will usually find a car park within a few hundred yards of what he wants to see, so imagine my surprise when the beach (such as it was) turned out to be a 4 mile round trip, through another swamp in 85 degree heat, wearing the clothes that we intended to fly in. I suspect my usual bonhomie may have become a little frayed. Still, the 20mx5m strip of beach seemed to have attracted 30 or 40 other intrepid fools. But at least we saw Chesapeake Bay (tick!).

Swamp 3 of the day

Yes, that's it - but the interesting part is closed!

Having sweated our way back to the car, we headed off towards Dulles airport and another geek treat inside a real life version of Top Trumps. I have no idea why the Dulles branch of the Smithsonian isn't better advertised, but it has some great exhibits.

The undisputed Top trump of aircraft from my spotty, nerdy youth - the Blackbird (fastest, highest flying, most expensive...). Possibly the coolest plane ever made:

The coolest plane ever made?

But wait, there is the space shuttle discovery too!

... Unless you count this

There was a Concorde, but let's move on to the Enola Gay. Looked nice and shiny. Can't help but wonder if it's been polished up ready to be recommissioned and sent over to North Korea...

Sombre purpose but catchy tune.

... and does anyone remember a lunatic skydiving from a balloon at the edge of space? Yep, that's here too...

Hard to express just how much geeking out was going on here!

Sadly, all geek things must come to an end and we eventually had to draw a line under the trip and head to the airport proper. Ethan received the parting gift of having his bag rummaged through by Homeland Security.

Parting Gift

Not quite as welcoming as mints on a pillow. We were trying to think what might have triggered the search and all we can think of is that maybe the foam Atlanta Braves tomahawk turned up on the x-ray. Of course, rummaging through they will have found his fine collection of souvenir tat and will no doubt have been in awe at the level of dedication that he brings to tourism.

US. Done.

(For now...)