Washington D.C.

Friday, December 18th 2015

We left Euclid around 6:00 AM for a weekend trip to celebrate the wedding of my youngest cousin Julia.  We squeezed six and lots of luggage into the Pilot somehow and had an easy drive to DC in our continued freaky warm weather we have been having.  We arrived at the always awesome Hotel Harrington around 1:00.  Patty P arranged over 8 rooms for all of us for the weekend.  We quickly settled ourselves into our luxurious accommodations and quickly found ourselves at Gordon Biersch – a nice German pub where the great beer made up for the seemingly absence of service.  Connor texted us while we were eating as he just arrived in town via the train so he joined us as well.  We then spent the next several hours bopping around the mall enjoying the sunny weather and the sites of DC.  We went to the National Archives and took a quick peak at the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution; walked through the outdoor sculpture garden; Walked over to the botanical gardens that were decked out for Christmas with lots of poinsettias, trains and Christmas trees and a quick trip into the National History Smithsonian checking out some exhibits and the Hope Diamond.  I love D.C. We wandered back to the hotel for a rest.  Everyone else arrived during the afternoon and we visited and had a beer before getting ready to go out.  We used Uber for the first time Ubering over to Alexandria for the Rehearsal Dinner at Gadsby’s Tavern in Old Town Alexandria – an old Inn built in 1752. Cool place.  It was great to meet up with our Davis cousins and their children who we haven’t seen in a long time.  Cocktail hour was fantastic with platters of fresh oysters, raw clams and beautiful shrimp.  The kids went downstairs for dinner and we were invited to the rehearsal dinner in the upstairs room where we had a great dinner and multiple toasts to the bride and groom.  After dinner we went down to the pub downstairs and met up with all the kids and had a few more drinks.  We ubered back to D.C. and I gathered the brave troops for a midnight monument stroll.  It was a clear, crisp moonlit night.  Perfect time for a walk to the Washington monument, WW2 monument and then the beautiful Lincoln Memorial – sitting on the steps taking it all in.  We didn’t get back until after 2:00 AM.  A long, great day.

Getting primed with some good German beer
In front of the National Archives
posing at the outdoor sculpture garden
skating rink at the sculpture garden
the rotunda of the capital was under scaffolding which was pretty cool to see
The Botanical Gardens were beautiful. Full of poinsettias and models of D.C. monuments made out of natural materials.
Happy to be here at Christmas time
cool pink ones
the always impressive lobby of the Natural History Museum
the Innkeeper of the Gadsby tavern calling everyone to dinner
Les Grandes Dames
Wally toasting the happy couple
nighttime is the best time to explore DC
finding OHIO at WW2 monument
late night selfie with Abe
the best spot

Saturday, December 19th, 2016

Slept in after staying up too late and drinking too much.  Wandered around downtown trying to find somewhere to eat and then finally found the au bon pain we were looking for and had coffee and chocolate croissants along with the Gail clan.  We all then tromped over to the American Smithsonian museum and wandered for about an hour checking out the first ladies, Julia Child’s kitchen, Dorothy’s ruby slippers and other American artifacts.  We then walked across the mall heading to the Jefferson Memorial – my favorite.  We hung out there for awhile and then Claire, Sean and Grace headed back downtown as they were meeting Stephanie and Traber for lunch and we joined the Gails in continuing to walk around the Tidal Basin walking through the FDR monument and the MLK monument.  The FDR is different in the cold weather with all the fountains turned off.  The MLK monument was very powerful in the clear blue sky.  We headed back downtown walking in front of the White House checking out the Christmas trees and then had lunch at a sandwich shop before heading back to HH for a much needed rest before the evening festivities.  We Ubered back to Old Town to the Torpedo Factory where the wedding and reception took place.  It was great to see everyone all dressed up and excited for the wedding.  The wedding was great and Julia was beautiful of course.  This is the second non religious wedding we have been to this year and they both were very meaningful and personal.  Cocktail hour was upstairs in the gallery where there was also a New Orleans Jazz trio playing.  Great venue.  The reception back down stairs was beautiful with really great food: short ribs, Brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes.  All excellent.  Wally gave a great toast as well as both the maid of honor and best man.   A great wedding.  The band didn’t start up until late but I think every single person danced the entire rest of the evening.  The band was great and it was fun fun fun.  We somehow managed to Uber back downtown with only one small Claire mishap and quickly crashed completely exhausted.

Saturday morning squad in front of the American History Museum
a poor confused cherry tree blooming in late December
I think the Jefferson Memorial is the most impressive one
The Gail men taking it all in
one more
Claire and Sean
nice spot
…and the other angle
Sophia and Emily
words at the FDR monument… so true in todays crazy ass times
lined up

a mountain of hope
what a beautiful day
another great spot
cousins all dressed up
cocktail hour jazz
another cousin pose
all smiles all night
dance dance dance
dance dance dance

Sunday, December 20th, 2016

I must admit I don’t remember much of Sunday.  I know I got up and found a Starbucks around the corner.  Courtney and I went for a quick 45 minute walk around the mall and  we left the hotel around 10:00 or so and stopped and had a really bad rest stop late breakfast somewhere and had an uneventful drive back to CLE.  A great weekend and a great start to Julia and Hampton’s married lives.  CHEERS.

one of the really old Smithsonian buildings that hopefully will be rehabbed one of these days

Washington DC June, 2012

Thursday, 6.7.2012

Left home at 5:30 and had an easy drive to DC.  We decided to go to Arlington Cemetary on the way into the city as Courtney has never been there and I haven’t been there since I was a kid.  We got there at 11:30.  We walked around for about an hour and 1/2 checking out the changing of the guard, Lee’s house, the Kennedy graves and everything else.  It was a beautiful sunny day and nice to walk around after being in the car all morning.  It is a sobering place to walk around but the grounds and views are meticulous and beautiful.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
outdoor ampitheatre
beautiful day
amazing place
courtney at the top of the hill
view of DC. the property used to be the property of Robert E Lee up until the end of the Civil War.

After touring the cemetary we easily drove downtown and checked into the lovely Hotel Harrington.  Patty P was very generous and we had two suites for just the three of us.  Very nice.  After checking in and parking the car we went to a sandwich place down the street and split a salad and a sandwich.  We were hungry.  After lunch we walked a few blocks to the Smithsonian Portrait and American Art Museum which we have never been to before.  The museum is the old U.S. patent office and they recently redid the atrium with a unique roof.  It is a beautiful spot.  The Cleveland Museum of Art is doing something similar in their current renovations.  I hope it looks as nice as this does.  We explored the museum for about an hour looking mostly at the portraits.  You could easily spend hours and hours.   The third floor of the museum was particularly interesting as the main lobby was beautiful full of old woodwork, stained glass windows and ornate tiles.  It used to be the exhibition hall of the patent office where they displayed the original cotton gin and things like that.  There was a terrible fire in the early 20th century that gutted the building.  Also on the third floor is the Lincoln Gallery that was the location of Abraham Lincoln’s inaugural ball – it was the largest room in the city at that time, and is now a contemporary american gallery that has beautifully been redone.  Very contemporary, bright, and full of interesting stuff.  We both enjoyed the museum and wish we could have stayed longer but we were due to meet Jack back at the hotel.

the courtyard in the middle of the museum.
very cool roof
exhibition hall on the third floor
lincoln gallery
loved the furniture
interesting artwork
stopped for a cupcake on the way back to the hotel

We met Jack at the hotel with all his stuff.  He was living in a hostel for the past couple of days as his lease ended at the end of May.  We hopped on the Metro and went to Dupont Circle.  We had tickets for the Phillips Collection as Thursday evenings they have jazz in the galleries, cash bars and appetizers and a new Jasper Johns exhibit just opened that week also.  We sat in the courtyard when we first got there and had a cocktail and caught up with Jack.  We then checked out the Jasper Johns exhibition – not too exciting – and then toured the rest of the museum.  On the first floor of the old mansion they had a jazz trio playing, some food and another bar.  We got some more beer, and something to eat and did some people watching.  Everyone is so young in DC.  We went out to a dinner nearby at Firefly – here – and then back to the Hotel Harrington around 10:00.  We were tired as we started at 5:00 AM.

relaxing in the courtyard
bar in the garden
jazz in the galleries
happy to be with Jack
the place to be
down to the metro

Friday, 6.8.2012

Courtney and I got up early, let Jack sleep in and went for a walk around the mall.  We walked toward the Capital, going up to the front checking out the pool in front, the big Grant statue and then walking around the balcony on the capital.  It was another beautiful day and the crowds weren’t out yet so it was nice.  We walked around the botanical gardens, the american indian museum and then back to the Harrington via the mall and 11th street.  After getting Jack up and getting dressed we headed to au bon pain for breakfast and then out for the day.

grant statue in front of capital
a beautiful morning for a walk
outside the botanical gardens
yeay coffee
native american indian museum
interesting architecture
love the caladiums

After breakfast we walked to the Renwick art museum which is just north of the White House.  It was the first art museum build in DC in the late 1800s.  It was originally the Corcoran art gallery which grew out of the space and built a new larger building a couple blocks south.  It is a small, intimate museum with great rooms and interesting art work.  I liked the large gallery that was set up like the large European art museums with paintings hung all over the place.  After spending about an hour in the museum we decided to walk to Georgetown as it was such a nice day.  Probably about a two mile walk or so.  We checked out a couple of stores in Georgetown, sat down by the waterfront and had a nice lunch.  We took the Metro back, still a long walk to the Metro stop though, and took a siesta for an hour or so.  Around 5:00 Courtney and I went to the National Gallery sculpture garden as they were having Friday Jazz in the park.  There were hundreds and hundreds of people there enjoying the music, the sun and the $18 pitchers of beer and sangria.  Again, it’s amazing how many mid 20 year olds there are.  It was fun to people watch and drink cold beer.  We went back to the hotel around 6:30 to freshen up for our dinner at Graffiato which was fun.  After dinner we walked down to the mall to walk around.  Courtney couldn’t find a bathroom so she walked back to the hotel but Jack and I walked around the Washington monument and the WW2 monument before going back.

Rewick gallery
Game Fish
hanging out on the Georgetown riverfront
our spot in front of the metal tree for friday jazz in the garden
washington monument at dusk
world war two monument fountains at night
creepy part 2

Saturday, 6.9.2012

We got up early as we wanted to leave early and drive to Charlottesville for the morning.  We packed up and were out at around 8:00 or so and had to navigate out of the city the hard way as there was some sort of race going on and all the streets were blocked off. We made it out with not too much trouble and had a nice drive through Virginia.  It took us about two and a half hours to get to Monticello.  At Monticello we got our tickets and checked out a couple of the exhibits at the museum while we waited for our house tour to begin.  I vaguely vaguely remember being there as a child.  It was very interesting to go through the house and hear the history.  Compared to Mt. Vernon, where we visted a few years ago, Monticello was much more sophisticated.  After touring the house we walked around the stables, kitchens and gardens.  The vegetable gardens terraces into the side of the hill were impressive.  I’m jealous of their warmer climate where they can grow so many things.  After spending about an hour and 1/2 at Monticello we drove to Charlottesville, just a few miles down the road.  We had lunch at a nice burger place and then walked around UVA for about an hour.  I’ve never been there before.  The main quad is pretty amazing with all the little rooms, columns and different buildings.  It must cost a fortune to keep it going and going as a university.  Much of it was under construction when were there.  We walked around and checked out some of the gardens in the back of the buildings that were all connected.  Very cool. There was a wedding going on in one of the gardens also.  We hit the road around 2:30 or so and drove all the way to Cleveland.  It took us 8 hours.  Nice trip where we packed a lot of stuff into just three days.

another beautiful day
admiring the view
check out the rosemary!
love the teepee for the beans
…and tomatoes
looking at the view from the little room by the garden
contemplating the columns
serpentine walls in the gardens

EatOut: Washington DC, 2012

Courtney and I went on a quick trip to DC on Thursday to pick up Jack and we went out to eat at some good places.

Thursday, 6/7/12; Firefly

After an action packed day we ended up in Dupont Circle where I made a reservation at Firefly after looking through Open Table reviews.  It turned out to be a good pick.  We had a dinner reservation for 7:30 but still had to wait 20 minutes for a table as the place was hopping. It was a beautiful evening and everyone was out.  After having a beer at the bar we eventually made it to our table.  For firsts, Jack had a bowl of matzah ball soup and Courtney and I split a plate of shrimp and grits.  The shrimp and grits were great – creamy and cheesey. I don’t think I have ever had grits before… I like them.  For seconds Jack had a plate of sausage and greens, Courtney had a vegetable casserole of braised endive, asian mushrooms and other veggies over polenta and I had a soft shell crab.  All were good.  The soft shell crab was a work of art.  I wish I would have taken a picture.  It tasted as good as it looked – crispy, chewy and just a little bit spicy.  One of the best dishes I have had in a long time.  We skipped dessert and had ice cream at a place a few blocks down the street.

the check came in a jelly jar lit up by fireflies.

Friday, 6/8/12; Pizza Paradiso

After walking and walking and walking we stopped for lunch at Pizza Paradiso in Georgetown.  Courtney was happy and officially declared it vacation as she had a peroni on draft for lunch.  We split a big salad of greens, white beans and artichokes and ordered two big pizzas…a margarita and one with pepperoni.  The margarita was the best…it always is.  The pizzas were very good; crust nice and crispy and charred, chewy in the center, with fresh mozarella and just a small amount of sauce.  Just the way we like it.  Again, a good place to be.

courtney happy to be on vacation

Friday, 6/8/12; Graffiato

I made a reservation at Graffiato about three or four weeks ago once we knew for sure when we were going.  Graffiato is Top Chef contestant Mike Isabella’s restauraunt in China Town and is a hot ticket.  It reminds me a lot of Cleveland’s Lola but a lot more casual.  Everything is small plates and we tried a lot of good stuff.  We split six plates: red and yellow beats with a citrus sauce; flatbread with pepperoni sauce; a platter of six different cheeses that we chose; hangar steak with a green sauce served with little chunks of deep fried polenta (mmmmmm); pecorino tortellini with peas, pea tendrils and mint;  and salmon served over a bean puree with arthichokes and capers.  All were excellent.  We split three desserts: chocolate cake with salted caramel gelato; blood orange cheesecake with passion fruit sauce; and a serving of mango sorbet.  Again, all were excellent.


Washington D.C. 3/24-3/6/12

Saturday, March 24th, 2012

Jack is doing his first co-op in Washington D.C. so I drove him down and spent a few days in D.C.  We woke up at 6:00 AM on Saturday and were on the road by 6:30.  It rained the WHOLE way to D.C. but we still made it there in around 6 hours.  Jack’s friend Andrew came to Cleveland the night before from Chicago. He is also doing a co-op in D.C. and hitched a ride with us. We dropped Andrew in Silver Spring, MD and then drove to downtown DC where we were staying in the always lovely Hotel Harrington.  Our room was ready and we had a room on the top floor in the corner with a nice view.  We dropped our stuff off and went to the National Building Museum just a few blocks away.

 Lo and behold there was some sort of kid festival going on and there were a million kids running around.  The building was built around the Civil War and has a huge open atrium with humongous columns filling it.  This is where all the kids were but we were still able to check it out.  We decided to buy admission and check out some of the exhibits.  The exhibit on plans for building monuments and museums that never got built was very interesting as well as the original plans for the famous ones and the competing drawings that didn’t make it  There was also a cool exhibition of lego buildings and the gift shop had lots of cool stuff.  We then trucked down a few blocks to the mall in pretty steady rain and went to the modern wing of the National Gallery.  I don’t think I have been in there since I was a kid so it was fun to explore.

Oh Well, Mel Bochner, 2010

We didn’t check out too many of the galleries, just walked around the galleries and admiring the I.M. Pei
architecture.  One exhibit that we did enjoy was an exhibition by Mel Bochner that were all large paintings of synonyms. They were really interesting.  We walked through the underground tunnel that connects the modern to the traditional National Gallery and then went out through the mall side and walked towards the Washington monument.  It was pouring rain out and pretty lousy out so we walked back to the hotel to take a rest before going out for dinner.  There was a large demonstration going on on the mall but we couldn’t for the life of use figure out what they were demonstrating for or against.  (Not a very effective demonstration) We looked it up later on and it was something about atheists / secularists etc…lots of crazies.  After resting our weary feet for a few and watching NCAA we metroed it up to U street to have dinner with Stephanie Maxwell.  Details here.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

in front of new workplace

We left the hotel around 9:15 and headed to Capital Hill neighborhood to check out where Jack will be working and then meeting my Aunt Ellen and Uncle Wally for brunch. Jack’s firm is an easy two blocks from the Metro and is in a nice neighborhood.

eastern market interior

We met Ellen and Walt just around the block at Matchbox.  After brunch we walked around with Ellen and Walt around the Eastern Market.  Not as nice as the West Side Market but nice, and they had a lot of stuff outside which was nice.

flower market at eastern market

Said goodbye to Ellen and Wally and then decided to go to the tidal basin as the cherry blossoms were still out.  We took a weird way there which ended up being the scenic route as well but eventually made it there.  It had been raining for the past 24 hours so most of the blossoms had just fallen off.  It was pretty cool as there was pink confetti blossoms over everything.

confetti cherry blossoms
jack 1/2 way around the basin

We walked around the whole basin: Jefferson Memorial, FDR Memorial and the new MLK memorial which was cool to see.  It was nicer than I thought it would be and quite moving.

artsy jefferson memorial columns
jefferson memorial interior
jack contemplating the dome
jack at fdr monument
mlk memorial

We walked back to downtown and did a bit of shopping at the Macy’s and got back to the hotel around 2:30 to rest for awhile and watch NCAA basketball.  We got motivated again around 4:00 and metroed to Dupont Circle to go to the Phillips Collection and have dinner.  The Phillips collection is an art museum in the family’s old mansion.  It was really great and reminded me of the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum in Boston and the Frick Collection in NYC, two favorites.

George Breitner
Henri Evenepoel

The exhibition that was going on looked at when photography first started in the later 19th century and how some of the post impressionists used photography in their paintings.  It was very interesting.  We haven’t heard of most of the artists and especially enjoyed the works by George Breitner and Henri Evenepoel.  We were in the museum for probably about 1 1/2 hours and bought some things in their giftshop as well.  It was FINALLY turning into a nice day outside so we walked around the Dupont circle neighborhood for awhile looking at the nice row houses and their gardens.  We went to dinner at Hank’s oyster bar that I read about and had good reviews.  See food blog for details.  It was funny watching people as we were eating dinner outside on their patio as it was a very gay neighborhood and there seemed to be  a kickball tournament somewhere close bye as all these young guys in short shorts and striped socks kept walking by.  After dinner we were tired and Jack’s first day at work was tomorrow so we metroed back to home sweet hotel harrington.

going down into dupont circle metro station

Monday, March 26, 2012

Up early, packed and checked out by 7:00.  Had breakfast at Au Bon Pain and walked with Jack to Metro and said goodbye for two and half months as he was off to his first day of work.  I spent a few hours walking around as it was a beautiful morning with a bright blue sky.  I walked down to the mall and walked to the ww2 memorial, walked down to the Lincoln Memorial passing the Korea monument.  Then went to the Viet Nam memorial and then took the long route back to the hotel past the White House.  The most amazing thing was I was the only one at all the memorials.  They are usually thronged with tourists and and as it was early in the morning I was all by myself.  It was really great and so much nicer.  The Viet Nam memorial was especially moving walking by it with no one around, no noise and the thousands of names with the sun reflecting off off them.  I also have failed to mention that  I just got a new iphone and all of these pictures are from that phone.  I have been getting better at figuring it out and I think the pictures from this morning are especially good.

ww2 memorial
korean war memorial
lincoln memorial columns
lincoln memorial column base
lincoln memorial
lincoln memorial looking at capital
viet nam memorial statue
viet nam memorial statue
viet nam memorial
washington monument from viet nam memorial

You have to admit that it is pretty amazing that there aren’t ANY people, let alone asian tourists, in any of these pictures!  And I am quite impressed with the camera on my new iphone.   I made it out of downtown DC without any wrong turns all by myself which is so impressive I must say.  The ride home was easy, blue sky and loud music the whole way.  I decided to make a pit stop at the Pittsburg IKEA on the way home and was happy to discover that it is not out of the way at all for future reference.