After surviving the polar vortex of 2014, we were rewarded with a 57 degree day in Washington, DC. Two days earlier, Bao Bao (the 5 month old daughter of pandas Mei Xiang and Tian Tian) made her public debut. As Ashley is a huge panda lover, we made the trek down to DC to join the fans.
The line moved nicely. We first stood in a pre-line, then the regular line. We breezed past the 90 minute wait time sign, then the 60 minute wait time sign, only to stop at the 30 minute wait sign for about 10 minutes. We didn't mind that because we were fully entertained watching Tian Tian play with a blue plastic milk crate (look beyond Ashley's panda, Bialashu's shoulder). It was so so so so cute.
Then we passed that check point, only to wait 35 minutes in another holding area. Here we were entertained watching Bao Bao sleeping. Aww... panda cubs sleep up to 20 hours a day. It takes a lot of sleep to grow.
While waiting in line I noticed Ashley was not the only one to bring her stuffed panda.
Our excitement kept growing. Finally we moved to the next holding area. We were told that groups of 80 people would be allowed into the panda house at a time. Do our best not to be the 81st person. Yup, we were numbers 81-83, or the new 1, 2 and 3. Agony waiting another 10-15 minutes!!
Finally the doors opened and we were allowed inside the panda house. Where was Bao Bao, though? She was still sleeping in the exact same spot. What the panda cam failed to show us was that from our angle all we would see was the side of the wall. Don picked Ashley up and she snapped this picture of Bao Boa's shoulder (?) for us.
After standing in line for 90 minutes, and standing on our tippy toes for another 10, I was ready to do it all over again, but the zoo had already closed the line. Guess we'll drive back in the spring to try again.
The National Zoo has taken some lessons from Disney. The end of the line dumped us into a gift shop. I don't know how we left without buying a single panda item. Possibly because Ashley already has quite a large panda collection.
Afterwards, we met up with Cousin Sara and visited a bunch of other animals before driving home. We missed seeing the new tiger cub. So, another good reason to visit again.
Other DC ideas for future trips:
- Postal Museum
- Arlington Cemetery, Arlington House
- Spy Museum
- American History Museum
- Gunston Hall
- Lincoln's Summer Cottage
- Ford Museum
- National Museum of Health and Medicine (Silver Spring, MD)
- Custis-Lee Mansion
- Holocaust Museum
- White House
- Comet Ping Pong (restaurant)