TRIP REPORT: Washington, DC, October, 1999

Dirty Sole Society Members at Air and Space Museum

Barefooters Outside the Smithsonian Museum


LOCATION: Our nation's capital, Washington, DC

TIME: All day

CONDITIONS: Warm and sunny, Temps in the 60s F

PARTICIPANTS: Elliot Adams (and his wife), Dave DiFonzo, Robert Neinast, Christopher Roat, Marian Rosenberg, Jeff P., Mike, Stan Sack, Bill Shakely

NOTE: This trip was largely organized by SBL/DSS member Bob Neinast and included Society for Barefoot Living (then known as the Dirty Sole Society) members from as far as Ohio (Bob himself) and New York state (Elliot Adams).


Read All About It

After enjoying the hospitality of fellow DSS/SBL member Marian Rosenberg, who graciously allowed me to stay at her house in MD the night before the DC tour, we awoke to a chilly morning and set out--feet bare, of course. We drove to a Metro Station but were refused entry by an adamant guard for our lack of footwear. After a noble but fruitless argument from Marian, we drove to the next Metro Station, where we boarded the train without difficulty. Upon arrival in downtown DC, we walked a few blocks and entered the Natural History Museum, where I THOUGHT we were supposed to meet the rest of the group. After waiting a half hour, we decided to explore the museum, enjoying both the soft carpet and cool marble tile floors as we perused the exhibits, from massive dinosaur skeletons to the equally massive in its own right Hope Diamond. We even spied a barefoot Neanderthal man. ;-)

Finally, we realized we had missed our meeting. Luckily, Marian was able to call her boyfriend, Jeff, who HAD met up with the rest of the group and had a handy cell phone as well. After a bit of confusion, we walked out of the Natural History museum and saw the bare soles of Bob Neinast and Marian's boyfriend. They greeted us kindly and led us back to the museum of American history, where we were SUPPOSED to meet. We greeted the rest of the group, including Dave DiFonzo, Stan Sack, Elliott Adams and his wife (shod but a good sport through it all), Bill Shakely, and Mike. We spent about a half hour sharing stories, sitting in the now warm sun outside the American History Museum. Then we decided to head into the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.

Barefooters on the National Mall

Barefoot on the Mall: Soft Grass

After a brief walk across the cool grass pedestrian mall and the gravelly paths that encircle it, we reached the Air and Space Museum. Of course, we had to stop briefly to pose for pictures and admire the Washington Monument and Capitol Building that flank both ends of the Mall. We strolled happily into the carpeted Air and Space Museum and headed straight for the cafeteria, as we had worked up a bit of an appetite through the morning. After waiting in a cafeteria style line and ordering our food (someone couldn't help noticing the "foot long" hot dog on the menu), we sat beneath a glass atrium and ate our food, chatting and enjoying the feeling of sun-warmed tile beneath our soles. After lunch, we perused the exhibits in the Air and Space Museum, from the Apollo 13 Module to the deck of an aircraft carrier. We were probably the only visitors to the museum who had the opportunity to feel the non-slip deck of the aircraft carrier beneath our soles rather than reaching down to touch it by hand. We left the museum and relaxed briefly on the steps, posing for another group picture and causing quite a few double takes and befuddled stares, as we had all day.

Barefooters at a Reflecting Pool in a Sculpture Garden

Barefoot at the Reflecting Pool


Our next destination was an outdoor sculpture garden, where we admired the various statuary, felt cool marble tile paths beneath our soles and even furtively dipped our toes in a small reflective pool while posing for more pictures. Then we headed down the streets of Washington, an uncomfortable aggregate with round pebbles cemented into the surface, toward the Jefferson Memorial. Soon, we crossed onto a smoother asphalt bike path along the riverbank and coated in gritty sand and dirt. We arrived at the Jefferson Memorial and admired the massive figure before us while again feeling cool marble tile beneath ourt feet. Outside the Memorial, the smooth tone was dusty from renovation work and we even spied another pair of bare soles. :-)

Barefooters at FDR Memorial

FDR Memorial Fountain--Perfect for Bare Feet

Next we headed for another long walk to the FDR Memorial, where we enjoyed the various sculptures and fountains and even noticed noble FDR was barefoot in one of the sculptures. The quotes etched into the marble walls of the monument were awe-inspiring and thought-provoking. A brief discussion ensued regarding the removal of FDR's cigar from an obviously cigar ready hand in one sculpture--a sad bow to political correctness over historical accuracy.

We headed back toward our starting point and tried to decide on dinner. After an attempt to find a good spot to eat was thwarted by large crowds in the dining district and difficult driving in the heart of DC, Elliott and his wife said goodbye and headed back to their hotel. The rest of us ended up at a Chinese restaurant near the Metro Station in Silver Spring, MD. where Bill had left his car. The proprietor made no mention of our 7 pair of bare soles and we ate a nice meal while our bare feet touched the slightly dusty floors. Then, we said our goodbyes and headed off in our separate directions.

So ended the DSS trip to Washington DC. It was a good time and a good way to express our freedoms by liberating our soles from the captivity of shoes in the city that is the symbol of freedom, liberty, and democracy.

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