Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Crime and Punishment

Time to move on. I liked staying at Assateague, but the big city calls. It is on to the Headquarters of the Free World – Washington D.C. Well, perhaps that is overstating it a bit, but it was a nice turn of phrase. A pleasant drive – the road took me back into Delaware again and then into Maryland. I was on what they call the East Coast of Maryland which means I had to cross the Bay Bridge. This bridge is 4 ½ miles long – a twin span. It was huge and very old.

Picture from the web:

It seemed to go on forever

Washington DC is very urban, hence there are no really great choices as far as RV parks go in the area. That said, I am at an extremely expensive RV park ($58 after discounts) in College Park called Cherry Hill Park. It actually is rather an amazing place. They have 400 sites, it is huge. They make it very easy to get into D.C. A Metrobus comes right to the park which takes you to the subway which takes you into town. It takes about an hour travel time, but it is super convenient. This park also has a one mile nature trail which winds through the woods around the park. Great place to walk Miko. The cons are that it is right in the middle of several freeways, so there is a noise factor. Have you ever noticed that freeway noise is sort of like the crash of waves? It gets to be sort of a white noise after a while.

I bought a metro pass which allows me to take the bus and subway and headed into town. Most of the other people who left the park with me were heading to the Smithsonian museums or the Washington Mall. Not me. I had some really cool things planned.

First up was the Museum of Crime and Punishment. Today was it's last day of being open – they had lost their lease and were looking for a new place. When you first get started touring the museum, it starts of chronological – we are back in the Middle Ages and there are all sorts of exhibits of various torture devices. I must admit, at this point I was questioning my decision to go to this museum. As I went further into the museum, it became more and more fascinating.
Thumbscrews, Leg Irons, Head Cage (in case you needed to poke eyes out or something)

After the medieval exhibit, it started talking about crimes that happened in the colonial period of America. There was an understanding that if crimes were not punished severely enough, God would bring down all sorts of wrath.

After the colonial period, there was a section about pirates which talked, among other things, about how and why their various interpretations of the Jolly Roger flag was flown. There was also a section on women pirates who could be just as blood thirsty as their male counterpoints.

The exhibits proceeded on in chronological order, through prohibition with Dillinger, Pretty Boy Floyd and Bonnie and Clyde. On to current day (or at least the last thirty/forty years) with Manson, Dahmer, Gacy.
Car used in the movie Bonnie and Clyde, complete with bullet holes

The museum was not all about crime – it was also about law enforcement – how law enforcement worked to keep crime in check. There were exhibits about various prisons( Sing Sing, Attica etc), different types of carrying out death penalties (electric chair, lethal injections) and there was a forensics lab where they had a mannequin laid out with different wounds, talking about how medical examiners would take a crime case and decode it.
Al Capone's Cell - quite a difference from everybody else's cell

The second museum was the International Spy Museum. When you entered this museum, you had to pick a prepared cover story and memorize it. Through out the whole exhibit, you would be asked questions and they would try to trip you up to break your cover.

This museum had all sorts of spy gadgets. I almost felt like I was in a Great Smart episode. There were all sorts of camera apparatus – shoe cameras, lapel cameras. We had huge exhibits of all the different types of bugs. There was an exhibit where you could put headphones on and listen to ongoing conversations happening in different parts of the museums. All sorts of exhibits – everything you needed to know to be a spy.

The special exhibition was about all the James Bond villains over the years. It made me want to got and watch every single James Bond movie (in order) again. They had lots of film clips and the parphenalia from the films. They also asked you to decide if some of the gadgets were fact or fiction.

The museums were very interactive – lots of buttons to push, lots of video to watch. Very enjoyable day.

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