Now THAT’S a bookstore


Day 6 of the Grand Road trip finds me sitting in a Starbucks across the street from an Occupy D.C. rally that my hosts are active participants in.

The goals and motivations of the group are worthy and in any other situation I would be happy to particpate in some of the activities, but considering this is the only time I have ever been to Washington D.C. in over a half century of living, I can’t take the chance to allow even a portion of the week I’m here to be distracted by other causes, no matter how noble.

Today, I decided to make the trek over to the Library of Congress.  I say trek because it’s about 2.5 miles from the place I’m staying.  I think, in just the three days I’ve been in D.C., I have probably walked more than any other time in my life…even my travels in Spain (no cars) or my first SEMA convention in Las Vegas (2 million square foot convention center).  Whew, doggie!

The morning was a cold and extremely windy day, in fact perfect for a long, somewhat uphill walk.  I took a different tack with directions this time, spending a few minutes early this morning memorizing the street names and turns so that I could simply look for the spots rather than constantly glancing at the phone in permanent perplexity (is that a word?).  This seemed to work, since I arrived in almost the exact amount of time the phone predicted it would take if I were walking.

The last part of the walk was extra scenic, passing many classic Washington structures including the granddaddy, the Capitol Building.  I decided to wait until after the Library before I visited the Capitol, since I did not know how long I would or could stay in the LoC.

I joined up with the free tour of the bulding and learned of its rich history.  Staggering artistic efforts adorned the interior of the building, surely the grandest interior of any building in Washington.  A fitting gesture, I think, for a building solely devoted to the preservation and furthering of knowledge.

As you all know, I am an adorer of books.  My love of used book stores is famous (I even blogged about the one I found in Jacksonville).  But now I was in the largest used bookstore in the world!  Can there be any doubt I spent most of the day wandering, mouth agape, voraciously reading all that was available about the books and documents contained within?

I spent additional time with the tour guide after the tour and she encouraged me to come back Monday and get my Library of Congress card.  This allows you access to the famous reading rooms, from which you are permitted to read just about any book the library contains, under the inspiring domed ceiling celebrating knowledge and achievement from the finest artists and craftsmen of that era.  Long walk notwithstanding, it is a suggestion I find both compelling and hard to resist.

I have only three days left now in Washington.  If I cram in museums tomorrow (Sunday) and other sites on Tuesday, perhaps I can indeed head back to the LoC on Monday.

That would be a prestigious and enriching experience unlike any other.  Events and activities may dictate otherwise, but I will plan for that opportunity.  It’s not likely I’ll get to be in a bookstore that size ever again.

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