We asked for the car to be brought round to the front, where we loaded all the stuff into it with the help of the attendant (a more helpful one this time, so we gave him a tip) and set off to search for somewhere to park, preferably a bit closer to the Metro. Fortunately the shopping plaza's parking garages are free at weekends; however, the one we parked in was still some way from the Metro so we had a bit of a walk. Once in the station I discovered that my watch was ten minutes slow so we were later than I thought, and it was about 11:30 when our train left. We also went a slightly long way round (though it meant we didn't have to change trains) so it was almost 12 when we arrived at the Smithsonian castle for brunch. We had meant to be there at 11:30 but we weren't the last in and we still had plenty of time.
Brunch in the Smithsonian castle is not cheap, but you do get a lot of variety. The problem can be in feeling hungry enough to eat all the things you fancy (and so as to feel that you got value for your $35). Anyway, I started with a traditional continental breakfast with melon and possibly some bread and/or muffins, graduating to brioche and bacon and sausages, and then I ordered a ham and cheese omelette which was created in front of me and eventually finished with some French pastries.
It was good to see people again, but sad to have to say goodbye to them as the party started to break up. I had a good mind to take Audrey away with us instead of smallclanger, but I don't think she quite looks like the picture on his passport and we could have got into trouble when checking in for the flight. :-)
From the Smithsonian we ambled slowly up to have a peek at the Whitehouse, but were slightly hindered by a St Patrick's Day parade (which, to our bewilderment, included Darth Vader and some stormtroopers). We took our obligatory photo of the said presidential residence, and another one with smallclanger asleep in the foreground, and then left to find the nearest Metro station. J was not feeling up to any more walking, so we didn't stop at Arlington Cemetery which we had intended to visit, and instead went straight back to the car and drove back to Richmond.
Unfortunately we hit the DC traffic (and the roadworks) at about 4pm, which was not the best time, and we spent rather a lot of time either stationary or moving at 5mph. This did not please smallclanger, who in any case was overdue for a nappy change, and he shouted for rather a long time until eventually bopeepsheep gave in and climbed through the car to sit on the back seat and feed him. When we finally got moving we stopped at the next rest stop (at Potomac Mills, coincidentally) and things were a lot more calm for the remainder of our journey back.