D.C. Recap

Since we're trapped in the house due to the blizzard, I came to the conclusion it was a good time to update my blog regarding the D.C. trip. After all, the snow is crawling up the ground windows now and there's no way we could get our low-to-the-ground Corolla's out of the driveway and down our short street. They've also shut down almost all businesses and even nearby Summit County has a driving ban for all non-emergency vehicles. Yes, we are truly trapped here.

The Trip
The road trip there and back wasn't too bad. For Christmas my parents had given me a new audio book called "Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer", a seven-CD set that really helped the time go by. It was a fascinating account of the events leading up to the events on April 14, 1865, the events themselves (not just Lincoln, but the Seward assassination attempt), and the 12-day manhunt for John Wilkes Booth. It seemed fitting material for our D.C. trip, and anything that helps the trip through Pennsylvania seem "fun" must be good. Though we had a heavy snow in Ohio and Pennsylvania, by the time we hit Maryland the ground was brown yet dry, and the temps were 20 degrees higher. Though the weather forecast had originally called for rain all weekend, we only ran into a light drizzle our first evening there. At times the winds were cold and piercing, but it was still warmer than Ohio. On our last two days there the temps were in the 60's, which made it difficult to leave.

The Food
In the past, we always l
eave our food options to chance. Since we've never had great luck in the D.C. area with food, this time I did a little research first. A few places we knew we'd hit, and the others we chose were by chance, but great!

Hollywood East Cafe - 25 minutes north of D.C., but easy to reach by Metro. The restaurant was rated #1 by Zagat, so when we found the location in an unassuming, slightly run-down part of town we wondered if we had the right place. We decided to take a chance, and it was worth it. The hot and sour soup met B's approval (which is impossible to do when it comes to that soup), and the egg drop soup was perfect. The main courses of sesame chicken and orange chicken were delicious, and Mai-tai's really packed a strong punch. Worth the trip, and very affordable! The best Chinese food we've had since we left Minnesota.

Ella's Wood Fired Pizza - When our Saturday plans were not working out, we headed to the Gallery Place/Chinatown area for lunch. We avoided Chinatown, since we had Chinese the night before and because we've tried our luck there before with no success. We came across a chic restaurant and decided this would be the place. The decor was hip and soothing, and the food was decent. Brad had a pasta special, I tried one of their pizzas. Good stuff, though the wait staff was a bit stiff and lacking personality.

San Antonio Bar & Grill - Saturday evening we headed to Alexandria. We were surprised to find the city quite dead, except for a very small corner of the city with a large movie theater and several chain restaurants. Wanting to avoid food we could otherwise get in Ohio, we tried this place. It was good, solid, Mexican food. I can say that when I lived in Austin, TX for two years, this is what Mexican food was. Very unassuming, but the wait staff was friendly and the food came out quick and fresh. Bueno!

The Capital Grille - We decided to hold our anniversary celebration here, and it was a fantastic choice! The ambiance was amazing, and it was right down the street from the Capital building. Definitely a place that high-powered types likely visit on a regular basis. Everything, from the wine, main course, to dessert was amazing. One of the best meals I've had - and also one of the most expensive! The staff moved like clockwork, seamlessly providing quality service; yet they were talkative and friendly. We will definitely be back.

Not worth mentioning, but will throw it out for a warning - Sunday we had lunch on the Mount Vernon grounds at the food court. Typical cafeteria-style fare. We really should have hit something on the way there. On Monday we at The Coffee Mill in Harper's Ferry, WV. The food was a step below fast food, but what made it almost unbearable was the lack of cleanliness. There was only one indoor table available, and it appeared to not have been cleaned for at least five years. The amount of crumbs, grease, and a whole bunch of questionable stuff made my appetite go away.

The Sites
D.C. is all about the sites and the history. B and I have been there many times before, so this time we attempted to do some things that we had not seen before, or at least not done recently.

By the time we arrived Friday late afternoon, we checked into our hotel in Reston, VA and then made our way to the nearest Metro station. After an hour ride we ended up at Hollywood Cafe. After our meal there we took the Metro to the Smithsonian station, where we took a cold, windy walk to the Washington Monument. We were wanting to go up into the Monument at night, but as it turns out they only do the trips from 9-5 now. Disappointed and without a camera, we still made our way from the Washington Monument to the World War II memorial, where we had a great view of the Lincoln Memorial. We had been to these places before, and it was freezing with the strong wind, so we made our way back to the Metro and called it a night. It was 11:30pm by the time we got back.

The thought was to hit the Smithsonian Museum of American History, Mount Vernon and the Jefferson Memorial during our trip. Those were the three "must dos." We saved Saturday for the History Museum, so you can imagine our complete disappointment when we learned it was closed until Summer for "renovations." What would we do now? We walked to the Washington Monument again, but of course tickets were sold out for the day. We were not about to get there at 7:30am to get them, so that was out. We got some good pictures of the Mall, the Monument and the White House. It had been a long time since I had seen the front of the White House, so we decided to walk that direction. To my surprise there were not many people there. B even got a shot of the whole house with not a single person in the photo.

We were at a loss as to what to do, so we walked to McPherson Square. We passed St. John's Episcopal Church, where Pew 54 is reserved for the sitting President (every President since James Madison, who chose the location). At McPherson Square, we realized where D.C. had moved the homeless - right there, under the roof of the McPherson Square Metro stop. It was a really sad sight to see all of the people crowded under the protective roof. There were easily 40-50 sleeping bags, most of them occupied with people. We hopped on the Metro and went to Gallery Place/Chinatown. After lunch at Ella's, we decided to head to Ford's Theatre. I go there every trip, but I just love that place. We were only two blocks away, and after listening to the audio CD's it would be interested to be back in that place again. On the way there we came across Cowgirl Creamery. It seemed so unique that we stopped in, and came out with a few cheeses. They had a wide variety of rare cheeses; you could sample any one of them. We only had a few, but only because we were still full from lunch. They only have locations in D.C. and San Francisco, but you can purchase their items on their web site as well. We're hooked!

So we continue our way to Ford's Theatre, only to find a "Closed" sign. Yes, it too was also closed for renovation. The theatre and even the museum were closed until Winter of 2009. I was heartbroken. We decided to go across the street to the house where Lincoln was carried to after he was shot, and where he died at 7:22:10am on April 15, 1865. There's not much to see in the house - the parlor, where Mary Lincoln spent most of the evening, and the "death chamber" (that's how historians refer to it), where Lincoln passed away surrounded by doctors and key advisers. We were out within 10 minutes, then it was back to wandering the streets trying to find something to do.

We came across the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, so we decided to go check that out. By this time the pain was really getting to me, and the art and sculptures were not as inspiring as we were hoping for. So we hit the road again, walking to the Capital building grounds, then to Union Station. We sat in a cafe for awhile, planning our next move. Physically I was done for the day, so we decided to take the Metro back to the car and hit Alexandria. As I mentioned earlier, the town was pretty dead, so we just had dinner and called it a day.

Sunday we dedicated our day to Mount Vernon, which was fun. Since it was a Sunday, and since I really wanted to hit the Jefferson Memorial, we drove into D.C. for the evening. After dinner we drove to the Memorial; getting a little lost along the way, but eventually finding the spot. It was a great location - the memorial was beautiful, and the views were amazing of downtown D.C. Since it was dark, it was very difficult to take photos but we managed to get a few good ones to remember our time there.

On Monday we headed home, but took a detour to Harper's Ferry, WV. This is actually an area full of rich history, from Washington/Jefferson times, John Brown's failed raid, and many Civil War battles/pass-throughs. When you were there you felt like you were going back in time, yet it was fairly deserted. Most stores were closed, except for a few shops and "restaurants." We spent a few hours there touring the sites and the land, before we made our way back home to Ohio.

The trip itself was a great time. I enjoyed every second I had with B, and hated to leave. Luckily it's a fairly quick trip (6 hours) to D.C., so I know we'll be back again. Who knows, maybe we'll end up living there some day?

I did upload some of our better photos to Picasa, my new favorite site. You'll see two slide shows here on my blog page, or you can go here.

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