The problem with such an amazing trip is that I don't even know how to begin describing it. I spent last week in Washington, D.C. at the American Astronomical Society winter meeting. I had tremendous amounts of fun. The conference itself was impressive - over 3100 astronomers in attendance. There were many good talks and posters presented. I attended a talk by the NASA administrator - he painted a realistic picture of the future, but the budget next month is going to be very, very ugly.
In the past, I've generally attended conferences all day long and didn't explore the cities much. This time, however, I decided to follow my New Year's resolution, which is to not be such a good girl anymore. :) So I cut out of the conference in the afternoons and explored D.C. My explorations actually began the day before the conference started, when my beloved Philip and his lovely Faith took me to the National Air and Space Museum. Ah...heaven on Earth. I touched a Moon rock! And saw the Columbia module from Apollo 11! And the Wright Flyer! And the Spirit of St. Louis! I returned there again the next day when I cut out of the conference, and then I headed over to the Natural History Museum to check out the Gem and Mineral exhibit. Oh, so lovely. Especially the meteorites. Oh, the meteorites. I've never seen such a beautiful selection on display. There was a piece of Nakhla out to touch - I've touched Mars! I saw snippets of some of the other museums on the other afternoons, with my friend Kevin, and I must say that every other museum I've been to previously looks like a bad museum gift shop next to the Smithsonian museums. And the monuments and buildings are all remarkable. I took tons of pics, but they all suck compared to reality.
The socializing was excellent. Got to meet new people, including Jackie M.! Nice to see you in person. Got to catch up with the old UCLA astronomy crowd (Robert, Steve S., Suzi, Deborah, Brant). Hung out with the ASU astronomy crowd (Sam, Steve B., Paul, Kevin, Joe, Katie, Greg S., Hu, Ravi, Jason A.). Spent a lot of time, although not enough, with Philip.
As much as I was glad to come home, where Greg had a beautiful piece of azurite waiting for me from his road-trip, I was sad to leave D.C. There is still so much to explore there. I shall have to return soon.