At last, at last, at last I have some travel to recap! We hadn’t been on a “real” vacation (read: of a week or more) since 2011. There have been weekend getaways here and there, but never enough time to really get away and unplug. So this was long overdue, and I swore all vacation long that I will never let this much time go by, ever again, without getting away. It’s just too important for our family’s well-being! Prepare for a loooooooong post.
Anyway, we had a very special trip planned for this summer. My parents recently celebrated their fortieth wedding anniversary, and they wanted a trip in which we would all come together on the Outer Banks – Hatteras Island, specifically – in North Carolina. Hatteras was our favorite vacation destination when my brother and I were kids, and we went almost every year, for a week, starting when my brother was only two years old. Now I have the two-year-old, and my brother is grown and married, and it felt like such a great opportunity to come full circle. But before we get there, we have to get there! Steve and I talked about it and decided that the drive from Buffalo to North Carolina was simply too far to do in one shot with two tinies, and we had to break it up. And what better place to break up the drive than DC, our old home base? We headed down a few days before we were expected in OBX and took the opportunity to see friends and visit some of our old favorite haunts. This was the first time we had been back since we moved away two years ago, and this visit also felt long overdue.
We rolled into DC just around dinner time on Thursday evening, and lucky for us we had plans to eat at one of our very favorite DC spots – our friend Stephen’s house! Stephen lived in Switzerland for years and he makes killer fondue. Stephen was one of Steve’s co-workers in DC, and he often hosted the gang at his house for fondue nights. When Steve told him that we would be in town, he immediately suggested fondue and we, of COURSE, agreed.
This crew, more than any others, were the closest thing we had to family in DC. I know Steve loves this group so much, and I love them too. Although I didn’t work with them, they always made me feel so welcome at happy hours, dinners, and get-togethers – and that was the case with all of the other spouses and significant others, too. Between the core group of coworkers and all the husbands, wives and sig-os, we are a pretty big, loud, and I think FUN, group. People have come and gone over the years – we’ve lost one to Las Vegas, one to Seattle, and of course our family has moved too. And there are a few who are still in the DC area but have moved on to other jobs. But when we all get together, it’s as if no time has passed. I miss them so much.
Between this group and some of my other friends, there have been six babies born in DC since we left – all girls! (I joked that, had we stayed, Nugget probably would have been a girl too.) So “meeting the new baby girls” became the unofficial theme of the weekend, and I couldn’t have been more excited to both snuggle those other new babies and introduce my own little guy to some of my favorite people.
(I did snap plenty of pictures of the other little cuties, but I’m sure you will understand – I’m not sharing pictures of any kids but my own.)
On the way back from dinner we drove by some of DC’s most beautiful spots all lit up. (Please pardon the grainy snapped-from-a-moving-car pics.)
On Friday morning we woke up excited to revisit some of our favorite spots. After a quick breakfast at our hotel (we chose not to subject any of our friends – many of whom graciously offered to host us – to our noisy children this time) we headed out to Steve’s favorite place in DC – the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum!
We’ve taken Peanut here in the past, but she was just a little baby. Steve was excited to share it with her now that she can enjoy and experience more.
Nugget enjoyed checking out the people and the sights, too.
Peanut is apparently really into planes lately. Steve kept trying to steer her toward the space exploration parts of the museum, but she insisted on returning to the planes over and over. Like mother, like daughter! (Newer friends: I love airplanes – although I’m actually a nervous flier – and used to work in the airline industry.)
The Spirit of St. Louis! And an early American Airlines bird.
Peanut had a ball. She basically went insane in the museum. At one point I tried to sit her down in a group of children to listen to a story and she popped up and started running in circles and shouting “Gaga! Gaga! Gaga!” She pretty much lost the ability to speak English, ha.
After Air & Space we meandered out onto the Mall.
The Washington Monument is looking great! Last time I saw it, it was covered in scaffolding – repairs from the 2011 earthquake (that was a frightening day – I was up on the eighth floor of an office building, getting ready to defend a deposition, when the entire building started to rock; we thought it was a terrorist attack). But…
Now my beloved Capitol Dome was covered in scaffolds! Sigh. Someday I’ll get back here and see all of my favorite spots at their best.
Our next stop was my favorite museum – the National Gallery of Art!
I stopped by to visit Ginevra de Benci – the only da Vinci in the USA – and then headed straight for the French Impressionists. Monet is my absolute favorite.
Some garden inspiration? Maybe in my next house.
This is my favorite Monet painting. I had a poster version in my bedroom as a teenager.
Of course, we also visited the Degas paintings for Peanut. She loved the ballerinas.
After a busy morning, we’d earned a fabulous lunch. And there is no more fabulous lunch spot than…
Teaism! We walked over to the Penn Quarter location. I used to eat lunch at this location all. the. time. when I worked for the federal government.
Steve ordered a bento box and I had the most ridiculous tea-cured salmon sandwich ever. This thing was gigantic. Don’t ask me how, but I managed to eat the entire thing while holding a squirming baby. I also got a side of tomato-mint salad, which I will be recreating at home, and a Salty Oat cookie. I was too full for the cookie, so it went to waste – sadly. Steve sipped on a ginger limeade and I had Zhenzhou Pearls. It was all delicious.
We spent the afternoon walking around Georgetown, trying to walk off the gigantic lunch and make room for a special dinner. We did treat ourselves to some macarons, though.
(Lavender vanilla. Oh, yes.)
From Georgetown we headed to Dupont Circle – my other old work neighborhood – and puttered around while we waited for our dinner date. First we stopped by my old office and introduced Nugget to my former co-workers; it was so wonderful to see them all again. I miss them too much. Then…
When in Dupont, you must visit Kramerbooks! This was my favorite DC bookstore, and I used to eat at Afterwords, the attached cafe, quite often. (Didn’t happen on this trip, sadly. Something for next time.)
While Nugget and I wandered around checking out the offerings, Peanut and Steve parked it and read selections from the children’s section.
Finally it was time to head to dinner – at Pizzeria Paradiso!
This was our favorite DC pizza, and I haven’t found its equal anywhere. We usually frequented the Old Town Alexandria location, but the friend we were meeting requested that we meet in the city instead and so we gladly headed for the original Dupont location.
I attempted to get a picture of Peanut in front of this DC map, but she was not in the mood to cooperate. (And yes, this is all the same day, although Peanut is wearing a different outfit.)
Oh, well. Olives!
We studied the menu intently…
And ultimately decided on a Margherita pizza. (Hubby ordered a beer – I don’t know what – and I had my favorite sparkling lemonade, which I could totally drink every day.)
Even better than the pizza (which was amazing, don’t get me wrong) was the company – my best friend from law school, Carly, and her husband and new baby (girl, obviously)! I know Nugget loved snuggling up in Carly’s arms.
It was a perfect way to end a perfect day. I just wish we lived closer and could see these people and sights all the time. But we made the most of our limited time there. Coming up soon – day two of our DC fun!