Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Washington, DC + Me = A Love Affair Going Strong for Nearly 20 Years.

Washington, DC is the place that first made this small town girl fall in love with cities when I was 16. I go to DC relatively often, and each time I am reminded why I fell so hard. I was standing outside of the Foggy Bottom Metro Station this past weekend listening to a street musician, watching all of the people walk by and sitting on patios enjoying an afternoon cocktail, and it struck me once again. Cities are where it happens. People want to be in cities. And I fell in love all over again.

Vibrant scene outside the Foggy Bottom Metro stop
Last weekend we took a family vacation to DC. My husband and I are frequent DC visitors, but his family had never been.  While I generally want to spend my time in DC checking out all of the diverse neighborhoods, every few years it's fun to play tourist. We flew into Baltimore and took the Amtrak to DC. We've flown into BWI before, but this was our first experience with taking the Amtrak. It was relatively painless, and the substantial savings on the plane tickets made the extra time worth it.  Upon arriving late Thursday evening we headed to one of my favorite metro DC establishments, Ragtime, which just happens to be the favored West Virginia bar in DC. Total coincidence? 

On Friday morning we headed out to the District to get our tourist on. We saw all of the good stuff including the Washington, Lincoln, Vietnam and Korea Memorials. We went to the World War II Memorial, a personal favorite, and there was a high school band playing patriotic tunes. I was struck, as I am every time I go to that memorial, by the poignant realization of how lucky I am to take so many things for granted. There are always a number of World War II vets, many of whom are being pushed around in wheelchairs. I cry every time. The presence of the band playing "My Country 'Tis of Thee" certainly helped bring the tears.

With our cousin at the World War II Memorial
We spent Friday afternoon at the Smithsonian's Air and Space and Natural History Museums, and then we darted through rain showers to get back to the hotel. We had dinner at Ragtime again 1) because it was convenient and 2) because I love it there. My husband and I then headed to my absolute favorite DC area eatery, Bayou Bakery, for cocktails and dessert. I love everything about that place - the food, the drinks, the decor, the music. I really could not love it more.

If I could fly a plane, this is the face I would make.

I love monuments!
I got up early on Saturday morning to go for a quick run. I ran from our hotel on Courthouse in Arlington to Rosslyn. It's a beautiful run downhill toward Rosslyn. It's less fun running uphill on the way back, but I love running hills. It was the perfect way to start the day.  I followed my run by meeting up with my best friend and goddaughter at Whitlow's on Wilson in the Clarendon neighborhood for breakfast. It was great to spend some quality time with both of them; it makes my heart happy. We had to make a quick stop at my hometown running store east, Pacers, where I picked up another cute shirt. I may or may not have three Pacers shirts. It's a bit of a thing.

I headed back downtown for more tourist time at the Smithsonian's American History Museum. We walked by the White House and then headed to Arlington National Cemetery to round out the weekend's emotional experiences. Arlington is so peaceful and beautiful, and it was a stunningly gorgeous spring afternoon. If one didn't already love DC, that experience would push you over the edge.

This view is breathtaking
My husband's family is comprised of huge hockey fans, so we stopped for a beverage and to watch the end of the Detroit Red Wings Playoff game. The loss led for a need for more cocktails, so we walked back to Clarendon where I had my second Whitlow's meal of the day.

There are so many things to love about DC - the vibrant walkable neighborhoods, people everywhere, food trucks, public transit, the fact that the grass is a brilliant green and the trees are bursting with color at the end of April. I love it for all of these reasons and more. It is truly one of my happy places. I must admit that I felt a little panic all weekend at the thought of doubling down on Michigan and not ever living in DC (although I guess I'll never say never.)  No worries, DC. I will be back, and I will be back often. We've had a good thing going for nearly 20 years, and I don't see it ending any time soon.    

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