Day 34.

Day 34 - Washington, DC

Run - National Mall, Washington, DC

From the eyes of Bailee

Today we woke up earlyish to get into D.C. at 7:00 so that we could run with the manager of Potomac River Running, Bronson. He greeted us at the store and we set off on a scenic jog around the city. It was great. We got to run past the White House and all of the other historic monuments. The only downside was I died a lot from the heat and humidity. At the end, I was sweating buckets, but I decided to try to picture cold weather. Running is 99% in your brain, so I figured picturing snow on the rooftops and the feeling of ice on my skin would help. And it did. I felt cooler and faster the last mile of running. If nothing else, focusing on snowy scenes and overlapping them with my reality gave me something else to focus on.

We returned back to the store after six miles and cooled down for a bit with icey cold water bottles and air conditioning. Our group then headed out for breakfast at A Baked Joint, a charming breakfast eatery where Charlie met up with a school friend. I indulged in a baguette smothered in cream cheese, topped with prosciutto and arugula, and drizzled with a balsamic reduction. After eating, the group dispersed. Charlie planned to spend the rest of the day with his friend and Nico and Sadie both had plans to meet up with other friends.

I have no friends in D.C., so I headed off on my own. I cut through the Asian section of the city (it’s always exciting to see signs in both Chinese and English) before heading back towards the museums. My first stop was the National Museum of Natural History. I geek out majorly for museums and learning things. The Smithsonian reminded me a lot of the Museum of Nature and Science in Denver, but on a much larger scale. I strolled through a section on the oceans and quizzed myself to see how many of the hominoid skulls I could identify. Upstairs, I walked through a photo gallery of some stunning nature shots and saw unusual pieces from their vast collection including a giant geode and various pieces of pottery. I even got to see the Hope diamond, a giant blue diamond set in a necklace with a tumultuous history of changing hands before finally ending up in the museum.

After spending a couple of hours there, I moseyed over to the Hirshhorn to view some modern art. I was really excited because there was an exhibit by Ai Weiwei there. Ai Weiwei is an interesting and controversial figure in contemporary China who came up in my readings for my Chinese history class last semester and then again in a 60 minute segment I watched with my Dad. His exhibition, Trace, consisted of lego images of individuals from around the world who have been exiled, detained, or forced to seek asylum because of their beliefs, actions or affiliations. You can read more about the exhibition here. There were of course other works in Hirshhorn that I enjoyed (I blame it on my upbringing) and I even had the chance to contribute to the one titled “My Mommy is Beautiful”.

It was pouring when I exited the building. I sat in the outdoor cafe for ten minutes and ate Hershey’s kisses while I contemplated what to do for lunch. As I scrolled through my options, I realized Momofoku, a must go to restaurant, was nearby. I panicked when I realized it closed at 3:00 until dinner. It was already 2:15 and I was a 15-20 minute speed walk from the place. I set off as soon as the rain died down, almost running to get to Momofoku on time. (Note: for those who find my food descriptions tedious, skip this next part).

I was seated at a table by myself at a small corner booth. I read the menu, salivating at the idea of bao (or steamed buns for you Westerners). I ended up ordering one shiitake bao and one pork belly bao (pork belly is very traditional, and a must have when eating bao). While I waited for my food, I read a little bit of Lovecraft to pass the time. My food arrived quickly. Two bao sat nestled together on a white plate and a small bottle of ssam sauce was brought to accompany them. I tried the shiitake bao first. The mushrooms were crispy; something I haven’t encountered before. They managed to walk the line between crisp, while still managing to be slightly tender and meaty. There was a slight crunch from the cucumber and a sweetness from the hoisin sauce. The pork belly was perfectly fatty without being overly greasy. The fat jiggled and looked gelatinous, but had a smooth mouthfeel and added a juiciness to the bun. When I added the ssam sauce, it gave the buns a slightly smoky flavor that perfectly complimented the sweetness. The bun itself was delicate, slightly airy with a hint of sweetness. Overall, I think Momofoku is definitely worth the cult-like following it has obtained in food blogs.

After eating my lunch, I met up with Sadie in a coffee shop. We headed back to her Aunt’s place in Silver Spring and managed to navigate the subway together. Back home, I did an hour of yoga while she meditated. My hips have felt extremely tight the last couple of days, and I think this afternoon finally helped to loosen everything back up. Nico and Charlie arrived a couple hours later. Her Aunt made salmon for dinner that was extremely juicy and flavorful. She even got ice cream for dessert (as I told my manager at Glacier when I interviewed - I’m passionate about ice cream). We’re now retiring for the night, more running and fun tomorrow. I will dream about sleeping on a cloud of baozi. Love to you all for allowing me to share my foodie fantasies with you. Bail Whale.

Stats/facts of the day:

Miles driven: 18

Miles run: 20.9

Elevation gained (feet): 724

Speed at which Bailee sprinted by Charlie in her quest for food: 14.2 mph

Alzheimer's disease cause of death rank (US): 6th

Help find a cure by donating here: http://curealz.org/heroes/running-road-trip