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My trip to Washington DC


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Ranitidine was going to be in Baltimore Thursday night for a Mets-Orioles game, and had the idea that I should go to Washington the next day, where he would meet me for a weekend away from home. Before the game, he visited the Babe Ruth house, the National Aquarium and Obrycki's. I haven't taken the train much in recent years and was shocked at the cost, but also by how pleasant the trip was, with comfortable airplane-type seats (with more legroom) and arrival and departures as promised by the schedule. We met up on arrival at Union Station, having been on the same train, but in different cars. If both of us had our cell phones turned on, we would have been able to meet right on the train.

 

Both of us, over the years, have been to Washington many times in the past, for business or demonstrations, etc, but there were still many sites one or the other hadn't seen and wanted to. Ranitidine immediately took off for the Supreme Court. I headed for the hotel, since I wanted to get rid of my suitcase. We stayed in the Hotel Lombardy, a charming converted apartment house in Foggy Bottom, three blocks from a Metro station and within walking distance of DuPont Circle and Georgetown. I strolled around the neighborhood a bit. I immediately saw that the Arts Club of Washington was next door to the hotel, in a beautiful and significant Federal period house. The club was actually closed for a program and luncheon for members, but allowed me to poke my head in and look around a bit.

 

We walked from the hotel to the State Department for our tour of the Diplomatic Reception Rooms. Even though it's necessary to reserve a space on the tour in advance and there are stringent and annoying security measures in place, the rooms are a must for anyone at all interested in American 18th century decorative arts. The rooms themselves, of course, are not original, but were designed in the 1960s to house a collection (yet to be be completed) of the finest work of American craftsman and cabinetmakers of the early Federal period. They are breathtaking and I found the 45-minute tour much too short.

 

We decided to take a roundabout walk back to the hotel and joined the hordes at the Lincoln Memorial, then walked the length of the reflecting pool past the surprisingly moving Korean War Memorial, a larger than life size squad of soldiers in full battle dress, and the much colder and banal World War II Memorial (although by that time, just looking at the fountain in the middle of all that white marble was refreshing.)

 

Dinner was, simple American food at Old Ebbitt Grill, an enormous space decorated with items from some of the restaurants earlier incarnations. I had Wellfleet oysters and a very nice, plump crabcake served on roasted vegetables. Ranitidine had an assortment of oysters followed by liver and bacon and onions that he liked a lot. His dessert, a strawberry-rhubarb cobbler, was so sweet you couldn't taste the fruit.

 

Saturday was rainy, so rather than go to Georgetown as we had originally planned to do that day, we decided to spend a bit more time indoors and save Georgetown for Sunday, even though that would mean missing one of the historic houses that we (mistakenly, it turned out) thought was closed on Sunday. The hotel lent me a nice, big umbrella. We walked down Pennsylvania Avenue, past the White House and noted that limiting the avenue to foot traffic, while an annoying and paranoid security measure, did have the unexpected result of making the walk very pleasant. We looked around the historic Hotel Willard, which Ranitidine had stayed in a couple of time before it fell into disuse. It has since enjoyed a spectacular restoration and revival. We looked at the buildings in the Federal Triangle (the last gasp of classical revival in this country) and ended up at the National Archives. This is primarily a storage and research facility, but it also displays the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights in a magnificent rotunda, as well as a version of the Magna Carta dating from 1297 nearby. Other significant documents are on display in a semi-circle of cases on either side of the big three, with interesting and informative labels. The line to get in stretched around the block. Ranitidine asked one of the security guards how long he thought the wait might be. The guard pointed us to a faraway door and said to tell them at that entry that Officer Johnson said it was all right to let us in! When I asked him to what we owed this kindness, he said, "You've paid your dues." Ranitidine trantlated that as "it's the gray hair."

 

On to Ford's Theater to get the free, but timed, admission tickets. We chose the simple walk-through at 4 p.m., the last admission time of the day, rather than the ranger-led tour, confident that we already knew the story. This gave us some for lunch (sandwiches at Cowgirl Creamery -- Fra Mani salumi, etc. for Ranitidine; mozzarella, tomato and pesto for me) and a visit to the National Building Museum, one of the most spectacular buildings in the city.

 

After Ford's Theater, we stopped by the Smithsonian American Art Museum and enjoyed an exhibit of WPA paintings.

 

Dinner at Hank's Oyster Bar, where the Wellfleet Oysters were excellent, but, even if they were not quite as good or as expertly shucked as those at Old Ebbitt Grill. My main course of scallops was negatively affected by the bits of candied bacon and croutons made from the same cottony bread on the table. The scallops, alone, were good and plentiful for the price. Ranitidine started with barbecued oysters, which he had hoped would be like those in Marin County, but weren't, and followed those with black tagliatelle. Hank's Oyster Bar doesn't serve dessert, but brings some coarsely chopped semi-sweet chocolate (Callebaut?) for a sweet nibble.

 

We walked on Massachusetts Avenue and looked at some of the embassies on our way back to the hotel.

 

On Sunday, we went to Georgetown and spent the day taking a self-guided walking tour and resting our feet for an hour on a canal boat ride on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal. We didn't realize until it was too late that the historic house, Tudor Place, was open on Sunday, so that will have to wait until the next visit. I had wanted to see the Flesh Made Paint exhibit at the Phillips, but the logistics didn't work out.

 

Washington is much quieter than New York, a fact that was brought home very loudly and vividly as we exited Penn Station into noise, hustle and bustle. Despite all the changes in the past twenty or so years, my impression is that Washington remains very much a southern city, slower, politer and greener. Or, maybe it was the magnolias.

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That was a fun read.

 

I enjoyed DC a lot on 2 recent trips there. I wish I'd tagged along more on S's annual October convention pilgrimages.

 

It's not a true Southern city, but there's definitely more of a Southern influence to the pace & the attitudes.

 

You're right about the cost of the train. OTOH I expect I'll qualify for Amtrak miles rewards long before I qualify for anything on an airline.

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That was a fun read.

 

I enjoyed DC a lot on 2 recent trips there. I wish I'd tagged along more on S's annual October convention pilgrimages.

 

It's not a true Southern city, but there's definitely more of a Southern influence to the pace & the attitudes.

 

You're right about the cost of the train. OTOH I expect I'll qualify for Amtrak miles rewards long before I qualify for anything on an airline.

 

The southern influence on food still shows up, too, in terms of sweetness.

 

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Lippy left out a rather important point: On our way to the waiting room in Union Station Sunday evening, who do we see but Glyn Johnson, just arrived for a day at the NIH in Silver Spring.

those NIH junkets are legendary. they spend the entire day playing dungeons and dragons and rock, paper, scissors, spock, lizard instead of curing cancer

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Lippy left out a rather important point: On our way to the waiting room in Union Station Sunday evening, who do we see but Glyn Johnson, just arrived for a day at the NIH in Silver Spring.

those NIH junkets are legendary. they spend the entire day playing dungeons and dragons and rock, paper, scissors, spock, lizard instead of curing cancer

actually i think g. j. found a 'cure for cancer' vial on level 4 after killing three goblins with a firebolt.

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We're missing a essential part of the trip - Ranitidine, what do you think of Camden Yards? :lol:

 

Despite K-Rod's blown save, it was delightful. Well laid out, not nearly as noisy a scoreboard as at Citi, right downtown. A three-minute walk from the hotel Gabe and I stayed at, with two bars for apres game food and drink just across the street. We were also blessed with a perfect night for baseball while NYC was being inundated. Also, they have real bars at the ballpark and actually sell cocktails in the stands.

 

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Lippy left out a rather important point: On our way to the waiting room in Union Station Sunday evening, who do we see but Glyn Johnson, just arrived for a day at the NIH in Silver Spring.
Unless you know something that I don't, the NIH campus is in Bethesda not Silver Spring.

Yours,

Silver Spring Resident and Office Drone

 

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