Friday, June 3, 2011

Memorial Day Weekend in Washington, DC

Following my own advice in the previous post to "change things up a bit", I decided to have three full days in DC. It wasn't until after all plans were made that I realized it would be Memorial Day weekend. I keep my calendar on a spreadsheet, combining my "engagements" with a "to do" type list; but, it doesn't contain the holidays. So, when I started planning this several weeks ago, the holiday had not popped into my consciousness, but it turned out to be a great time to go. There were lots of things happening and many tourists. The weather even cooperated! It was a great time to be there.

The husband (Jim) of my deceased cousin (Cissy) had several times invited my mother and me to come up and visit him and his son Justin. I told him that there was no way my mother could make the trip but that I would really like to come sometime. He suggested "the sooner the better" before it gets too hot. We had talked about it in April but that didn't pan out from my end, so we gave it another shot in May, which turned out to be the perfect time. I flew into National Airport on Thursday afternoon and was met by Anthony, a friend of Jim's, since Jim was working. Jim then took Friday off and our sightseeing began in earnest! We covered so much territory that it was mind boggling, beginning with a private tour of the Capitol. I had contacted Senator Graham's office about a tour of the White House, but could not arrange it as there wasn't enough time for full background checks. So, they asked if I'd be interested in a tour of the Capitol. That sounded good to me, though I really didn't know what to expect.....thinking they would group us with others and send us on our way. We arrived at his office at the appointed time and, as it turns out, one of his staffers took us (just Jim and me) on a private tour. We couldn't believe it and it was great. As luck would have it, we actually got to go into the Appropriations Committee's meeting room - even the staffer had not been in before. We were looking through a window into the room and a lady walked by and asked if we'd like to go inside, so we did!

The photos above are only a small sampling of what we saw.  The full album can be linked to below or from Photo Albums shown in the panel. We saw much more than can be covered here, and then only scratched the surface. Suffice it to say that we saw as much as we could see of:
  • The Library of Congress - absolutely beautiful inside.
  • The Capitol (private tour by Reese from Senator Graham's office)
  • The National Postal Museum - fun to see and housed in another beautiful building (the old Post Office).
  • The National Gallery (with exhibits of Metsu, Gauguin and Caneletto, as well as collections of Monet, Matisse, Picasso and many, many others.  So many great pieces in one place!
  • The Holocaust Museum - Stark, sobering, eerily quiet throughout.  Totally incomprehensibly as to how inhumane human beings are capable of being to one another......even now.
  • The Hirshhorn Sculpture Gallery (outside) - we had the perfect day for it.
  • Another outdoor gallery with modern art.  People were collecting there for a weekly jazz concert through the summer.
  • The National Museum of American History, including a great exhibit on Julia Child.  Everyone was enjoying clips from her cooking show.  We also saw the Inaugural gowns of the First Ladies and the (huge) flag from Ft. McHenry about which the Star Spangled Banner was written.
I'm sure I've forgotten something, but all of those things were covered on Friday and Saturday.  On Sunday we took a boat trip to Mt. Vernon, which was a little slower paced and thoroughly enjoyable.  There was so much to see, but one of my favorite parts was Lady Washington.  She was in a little cottage and just talked to those who stopped in, answered questions, etc.  She was so knowledgeable and had such a charming manner......I could have listened for hours.  We started and ended our boat tour at Harbourside Resort.  Once back, we had our final dinner at Fiorella's.  It was a nice way to end a totally enjoyable visit.

The above mentioned tours were only the day portion of the itenerary.  Jim had planned a play a night.
  • Friday was Old Times by Harold Pinter by the Shakespeare Theatre Company, followed by a delicious vegetarian meal at Carmines.
  • Saturday we saw Venus in Fur by David Ives at the Studio Theatre.  The subject matter was a bit risque but it was quite humorous and very enjoyable, with masterful actors.
  • Sunday we went to Columbia, MD to Toby's Dinner Theatre for Happy Days, which was totally delightful.  It started with a huge buffet dinner, after which the center area was cleared for theater in the round.  The waiters doubled as the actors, and they were excellent as both.  During the intermission they serviced the tables in costume (our waiter was Arnold, much better looking than the original!)....and the mechanics of it all was very impressive......a first rate show!
Needless to say, I had a fabulous time and had forgotten how energizing and exciting it is to be someplace new and exciting.  After telling my neighbor all we did, she said she didn't think she could do it I think I may owe Jim and Anthony an apology for running them ragged!  My walking seems to really be paying off as I had plenty of energy and stamina.  There was one day when my feet really hurt but, other than that, my legs, breathing and stamina let me go with ease.

The weekend was not without incident.  On the way to the airport, three warning lights came on in my car.  I was almost to I-95 and turned around and stopped by the Toyota dealership (almost home again!).  I went into the service office and said, "HELP, I'm on my way to the airport!"  The guy came out, checked the lights, tightened my gas cap, and told me the lights should go off (they didn't).  I could go on to the airport and if they didn't go off, I could stop in when I returned and they would reset the computer.  Upon my return, the lights were still on and I could tell that it just was not driving right.  So, the following day I went back and an ignition coil and two other "recommended" jobs were done to the tune of $500.  Please keep your fingers crossed that the problem is fixed and my car will go on forever!!

I also came home to an injured kitty.  My guess is that Mama Mia and Chloe had been into it and Chloe was having a lot of trouble walking, limping on one of her back legs.  They got into a fight the night I got back and I broke it up quickly, but it was so brief that I think this must have happened while I was away.  So, my first morning back, I took her to the vet (followed that afternoon by my car service).  He didn't think anything was broken but there is something torn that needs time to heal, without her jumping, etc.  So, she  is pretty much confined to a crate for 10-14 days.  Once Mama Mia gets settled for a long sleep, I close her off and let Chloe out of the crate to move around a little.  So far all is going well (Chloe has accepted the crate well.  I think she knows she's safe there), but I'm concerned about leaving them now.  The only real option I have is to close Mama Mia in my bedroom, bathroom and closets (where she usually sleeps away the day anyway), so that there will be no more fights when I'm away.  So, there's been excitement here too, but not the enjoyable kind.  Am hoping things have settled now.

If you're a glutton for punishment, you can see all my many photos HERE.  It was a wonderful weekend and I'm so glad I shatter my inertia and went.  A special thanks to Jim, Justin, Anthony and Diva for showing me a fantastic time.  It was unforgettable.