I recently spent a a couple of days in Washington DC. It is one of my favorite cities and a nearly equal distance away from Boston and Beckley, West Virginia where my best friend Theresa lives. We try to get together at least once a year. We both came by train, eight hour trips. The ride along the coast of Connecticut is one of the nicest parts of the trip where the tracks go along the water for some distance.

We spent a day in the National Achives researching families. Theresa’s mother came from Croatia and my great-grandparents from Scotland. Several years ago I went to the Archives and found census records and other documentation that I photo copied. This time we discovered that most of what we were looking for is already available from home on our own computers. Familysearch.org is free and has lots of documents that can be downloaded. Ancestry.com allows free searches but a membership allows access to nearly all the material available on line.

My big discovery was the Last Will and Testament of my fifth great-grandfather, Elijah Look. My family is from Michigan so I was always interested in the fact that my ancestors had once lived on Martha’s Vineyard. His grandfather, Thomas, was born in Lynn, Massachusetts in 1646. It is hard for me to imagine what his life would have been like. I haven’t been able to find records that might tell when the family migrated to the US.

One of the newer museums in DC, opened in 2004, is the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian. It covers native populations of both North and South America and has fascinating exhibits of the many cultures. The exterior of the building is striking from every direction. It is close to the Capitol and the Botanical Garden.

Spectacular exterior of the American Indian Museum

                                  Spectacular exterior of the American Indian Museum

 Night time view!

                  Night time view!

The Mitsitam Native Foods Cafe in the museum is interesting and original. It features indigenous food from the Western Hemisphere. Five different stations reflect food from each region. Northwest Coastal has Cedar-plank Roasted salmon with side dishes that use ingredients from the area. Great Plains features Smoked Bison Loin with Huckleberry Reduction and Wild Rice and Watercress Salad. Northern Woodlands serves Maple Brined Turkey and Roasted Sunchoke, Quince and Wild Onion Dressing. South America, and Meso America are the other areas. I had a taco made with chicken simmered with plantains and a salad of jicama and chayote. All good and new to me. Theresa opted for turkey with wild mushroom roasted yellow beets.

In the Botanical Garden. It's still too early for many blooms.

                                                                                                                                          In the Botanical Garden. It’s still too early for many blooms.