Despite timing my trip to DC to skirt the worst of the NY and Baltimore/DC traffic, I still managed to hit two hours of the lovely stuff.
Still, I made it to John's house some time after nine, and I was pleasantly surprised to find him at home. He was supposed to be in Dallas, but flight delays mucked up his plans, leaving us an extra day to catch up.
Our first lunch, at Rockland's BBQ.
John has a new toy coming, so we took a little time to rearrange his garage to make some space. That meant juggling the 7 Ducatis and his 66 mustang, the latter needing to be rolled out and back in again.
With the mustang tucked away in the back, and plans to downsize the bike collection, J's new toy should just squeeze in.
There were other reasons I was stopping in DC. I needed to get into the Swiss Embassy to update some files for the kids and Alexe, and renew my passport. I stayed until Monday morning hoping the embassy might have that small town culture of helping out someone on a tight schedule. A dozen years ago a nice gentleman I met at the embassy during a party kindly took my old passport at the party and sent me my new one later the next week.
Suffice to say, the current Swiss Embassy culture does not have that friendly flex.
The other reason was to make a stop at Ikea for kitchen counter tops. We saw these several months back, and being easily $2k less than other sources for solid wood counters, we had planned to pick them up at some point. By the time I made it to the DC Ikea, the line had been discontinued. I ended up getting one remaindered piece at that Ikea, but the second size, and 8 ft long piece, was only available at the Virginia location, 1.5 traffic jammed hours away.
John and I did that second Ikea trip on Saturday morning, before heading north of the city to climb a mountain.
The name of this mountain is escaping me, (feel free to add it in a comment John,) but the infrastructure, all the way near the top, was impressive. These steps were on one of the many approaches to the summit, but they represented a ton of work.
This section of a trail was laid stone.
The views from the top, the changing terrain, the wildlife, and the great conversation made for a very pleasant afternoon of hiking in the rain. If we had worn better shoes, and brought a little water with us, it would have been perfect.
We scooted back to the city and cleaned up in time to have dinner at Two Amys with John's new lady friend. A beautiful, accomplished, intelligent, and self confident woman, muslim-american, who I very much enjoyed getting to know, and quizzing on why she had decided John was for her.
Sunday we headed to Mt Vernon, somewhere I managed to never visit while living in and around DC.
This pecan tree is beautiful, the largest I've ever seen, sitting right at the corner of the main house.
While the house wasn't quite this big when he inherited it, at 22 George Washington was handed this spot:
Overlooking this section of the Potomac, with something like 5,000 acres. I'm not sure how much of the 4 different farms and over 300 slaves came with the place or if he built the rest up over time, but it generates all sorts of mixed emotions.
On our way back to Two Amys for a second dinner, (I had been too distracted the previous night with John's lady friend to really focus on the amazing pizza,) we stopped to visit Eliza and her new pup at her new apartment, just west of Georgetown. I'm very fond of my sister-in-law.
The next morning, after striking out with the vice-consul, I hit the road headed home.
Being more than a little family-sick,I pushed through the 16.5 hours of driving in one day, rolled into Water Valley, and found a very snoozy set of kids at the BTC, after midnight, with their mama just finishing a special publisher-request to make and ship 125 half pints of watermelon lemonade for a book fair.
We all made it the three blocks home, and fell into bed.