Back to Penn Quarter, where I popped into a branch of the Cowgirl Creamery -- a great place to buy fancy sandwiches, quince paste, fig and marcona almond cakes and, of course, artisanal cheeses.

Feeling fortified with dairy, I headed to the Corcoran Gallery (which was free as part of a "Summer Saturdays" promotion, which runs through August 29), where I saw a phenomenal show by groundbreaking color photographer William Eggleston.

Exiting that one, I headed into Maya Lin's new show, where I actually saw Ms. Lin (who's famous for her bluntly stunning Vietnam War Memorial wall) explaining her brainy new topographical art to a group of people which included General Wesley Clark (who is movie-star good-looking in person). I joined the tour for a while and no one seemed to mind.

The Corcoran is only a short stroll to the White House, where I encountered a protest over the recent Iranian "election"

After that chaos fix, I jumped on the Metro to the hoppin' Dupont Circle area where I visited the Phillips Collection (it's only about three blocks from the metro stop) and saw a weighty (in many ways) exhibit titled Paint Made Flesh, which had a painting of a naked guy's fat ass and back (by the uncompromising Lucien Freud) that reminded me why I only eat donuts on national holidays.

But I eat fries more often -- especially if served at the West End Bistro, Eric Ripert's DC restaurant (his more elegant Le Bernardin in NYC is my favorite seafood restaurant in the country).

Crunchy, ungreasy and sprinkled with herbes de provence and espelette (like a very mild cayenne pepper). I washed them down with this rockin', tangerine-dusted cocktail made with orange blossom gin and grapefruit juice.

Then I went back to the Northern Virginia suburbs for the grand occasion -- another member of the Benton clan will become a Buckeye in the autumn.