The history of this place is quite as interesting as their concept and the story is thoroughly presented on their website. Briefly, Michael, the son, opened a used book store in Chicago, where he was studying.
Badwater Basin. This is considered to be the lowest elevation in North America and, according to some sources, in the whole Western Hemisphere (other argues there is a location in Argentina which is actually lower). The original lake dried up about 3000 years ago, but the area is occasionally flooded by the heavy rain.
The best way to start your trip through Death Valley National Park is from the south, meaning that you get off I-15 at Baker and drive north on route 127 (at Baker, do take a picture with the enormous thermometer, likely to show a high temperature on the day you are there as well).
Once you are done with the museums on the National Mall, try to spread out a bit on your museums in the capital. Here are a couple of excellent suggestions.
The first place to start when it comes to museums in Washington DC is the National Mall. Europeans will tend to think of the Mall as a gigantic shopping complex, but this is actually a strip of grass between the Capitol Hill and the George Washington Monument.