The Postal Museum - A DC Trip

Today I went with my dad in to work again so that I'd have a chance to visit the Smithsonian Postal Museum. I have been wanting to go for ages! I'm a big fan of mail, as some of you may know. I went in with my dad around 7am-- even though he's not actually "supposed" to be there until 8. He works early and hard every day.

My dad with his coffee with a DealChicken coffee collar.

Since the museum (and pretty much everything else in DC) doesn't open until 10am, I hung out with him in the office, checking facebook, reading stuff on the internet, and updating my twitter. Oh, and i enjoyed a game of monopoly on my iPhone. Dad even talked to me about his work. His job title is pretty convoluted and vague-- something like Director of Business Systems and Data something or other. He talked about this project he's working on--

In case you're wondering, I still don't really have a clear idea of what my
dad's job is. But apparently he's in charge of the Magic Form.

Around 10:15 I left his office for the Postal Museum. I saw some pretty cool stuff on the way. I got a little lost-- or turned around, as is a bit more accurate. I used my iPhone to give me directions, but I'm not very good with maps in unfamiliar territory and the museum was in a part of DC I'd never walked to before, and I was alone. Nevertheless, I still got there and it didn't take terribly long. It was only a 20-30 minute walk. I took photos of cool things along the way since I knew I'd be in a bit more of a rush on the way back to meet my dad for lunch.

Crumbs Bake Shop
I love the European, retro feeling to the design and the warm colors!

E Street Cinema

Tasty Kabob Food Truck!

I saw a lot of food trucks in DC, including Hula Girl, Tasty Kabob, and Curbside Cupcakes.

Red Velvet Cupcakery
Seriously, the design and architecture of cupcake places just gets to me!

When I finally got to the museum it looked fantastic! Love the architecture. It's actually a lot bigger than this and the building houses more than just the museum, but here's a photo of it anyway.

Ain't it grand?

When I got inside there were all kinds of cool exhibits! There was one on the relationship between Mail and the Military.

Mail Call Exhibit

It examined the beginnings of our postal system, which was founded because our revolutionary military and leaders needed to send information. It talked about how the postal service evolved and expanded as the needs of the military and of the people changed. One of the important things to me was seeing just how special and important mail and letter-writing was to troops far from home, especially during the World Wars because soldiers were so far from home, and facing things no one had even imagined due to the creation of "total war." Before the internet and cell phones, these letters were the only lifeline they had to tell their families they were still okay. Soldiers in WWI wrote an average of about 6 letters per week!

Binding the Nation was an exhibit about how the Press and the Post held our nation together and created the bonds that really brought a young country together. Back in the day, you didn't know anything that hadn't been written on paper, you didn't know what was happening currently unless the press printed it, and you couldn't have any of that unless the post brought the information to you or somewhere you could get to it.

Newspapers were often the sole means of getting information about the world!
For more on the power, importance, and responsibility held by the Press,
check out the NEWSEUM in DC. Not free, but SO worth the money.

There was another really cool exhibit on the Pony Express, which talked about the history of the service, and separated fact from Hollywood fiction.

This is the Hollywood Fiction bit.

It was so cool hearing about the adventures that Pony Express riders actually faced. In an untamed wilderness it was up to them to stitch the two halves of the country together through mail. I know cowboys are the kind of saddle-straddling guys that most people think are bad-asses, but seriously, their biggest responsibility was moving cows. I much prefer the guys who carried messages. And yes, cows are pretty costly so it's a big deal to lose one, but to send a letter cross country with the Pony Express used to cost today's equivalent of $75. (Think about that next time you think sending letters for 44cents is too much!)

There were some other really great exhibits that I didn't photograph-- like the one on the job of mail inspector-- the people who keep the mail safe for all of us. Another on how the Postal Service has changed as transportation methods have advanced. A few exhibits were on philately, the art of stamp collecting, including Amelia Earhart's Personal collection! There was one about Airmail, another about the relationship between the post and the people in the 20th century and moving forward.

My favorite exhibit by far though, was the little video on Owney the Railway Mail Service Dog. This dog was a stray who wandered in to the Albany post office and settled in among the mailbags and made it his home.

He became their mascot and would ride on mail trucks. Once, a mail bag fell off the truck, and Owney hopped off and sat on the bag, guarding it until the truck came back. He went on trains too, with the mail! Even though trainwrecks were common back then in the 1890s, whenever Owney was on board, the train and its cargo was always safe. People from the different post offices began attaching tags to the collar his friends at the Albany Post office made him to make sure he always came home. He had hundreds of tags, all of which are in the Postal Museum. Owney is pretty much the coolest dog ever (a hotly contested title, I know). Seriously, go read about Owney the Railway Mail Service Dog!

I got a few goodies at the gift shop: an Owney Stamp Pin (I collect pins), and a recycled, water resistant, mail-themed zipper pouch that I will probably use to build my on the go mail art kit. I really loved the books in the gift shop too. Particularly this one...

I'm just so in love with mail...

On a somewhat related note, I love the mail-tasticness of Jason Mraz's Lyric Video for his song "I Won't Give Up"

After the Museum, I met up with my dad and we went to a place called Sushi Aoi. It's in a building that used to be a Greyhound Bus Station.

1101 New York Ave

Sushi Aoi has, hands down, the best Miso soup I've ever tasted. My dad and I usually get the fried oyster appetizer, but they were out, so he ordered shrimp dumplings instead. He couldn't find them on the menu in his rush to think of a new appetizer, so he ended up accidentally getting Wasabi shrimp dumplings. It was the most intense wasabi experience he'd ever had. It was HILARIOUS.

We each got our favorite meal here, which is a lunch special, and pretty much a perfect portion of food! Salmon Bento Box!

top-bottom, left-right: Salad, rice with toasted sesame seeds, gyoza dumplings,
salmon in a light teriyaki sauce with steamed carrots and broccoli,
and california rolls with wasabi and ginger.

Great museum, great food, and some awesome memories in a cool city!



  1. Smithsonian + Bento Box = Verifiably amazing day :)