2009.10.03 Monuments, Basements and Bridesmaids

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I feel very fortunate to be traveling to Washington DC on business for several days. Stephanie and I are with two colleagues from work, LaDeanna and Don.  Don also happens to be my boss.  When I first saw Don today, it was in the men’s room at the Tulsa Airport.  His “professional hug of respect”, as he puts it, probably had something to do with the room clearing quickly.  I’m just glad I’m traveling with friendly people.

For once, we arrived at the airport over an hour before our flight left.  While standing in the check-in line, we ran into one of our 6th grade son’s teachers, Mrs. Vanderboegh.  Mrs. V has the most unique voice I have ever heard.  She speaks with a southern drawl, but with a New York City tempo.  She told us that she is organizing another trip this summer for her students.  Sounds like this June, she will take some kids to Boston.  We hope that turns into another travel blog opportunity.

Stephanie, Don and I settled down in some chairs at our gate, waiting for our plane to board, and did visiting and people watching.  Don was impressed with the lady wearing the travel pillow around her neck, covered up in a matching blanket.  Don said, “If I had a travel pillow, I would want there to be Cowboys on it.  I don’t want to look like a fool!”

The flight from Tulsa to Dallas was uneventful, but we did get to sit on the plane for a while in Dallas before the plane took off for DC, with the engines off, while the mechanics replaced a start valve on one of the engines.  Fortunately, they work fast and we were on our way in no time.

As we began our descent to Ronald Reagan National Airport, it was interesting how the view out of one side of the plane was a very dense collection of office buildings while the other side was mainly green with trees.  I was shocked to see how close our plane flew next to the Washington Monument.  At one point we looked at the window, and BANG, there it was taking up the entire view.

After a brief scare when Don could not find his luggage on the carousel, we got in line for the Shuttle.  An older man wearing a Traveler’s Aid name tag walked up to me and asked where we were going.  After telling him, he recommended the Metro or a taxicab.  Not only would those options be cheaper, we would get there much quicker.  Sold!  So, all four of us piled into a cab and we were on our way.

 

Don travels in style. With a Man-Purse. No Messenger Bag for him.

 

National Airport is in Virginia, and our cabbie drove us right down the side of the Potomac River.  It was a beautiful afternoon and there were countless people out on the trails jogging, riding bikes, rollerblading, etc.  We drove past Arlington National Cemetery, then took a bridge across the Potomac and ended up right at the base of the Washington Monument.  We’d only been here a few minutes and it is amazing how close all of these great monuments and locations are situated near each other.

The scenery on the short drive to the Woodley Park area was nothing like what we expected.  It was so green!  Lush trees and grass.  Lots of hills.  We would be driving around a corner and would pass beneath a very tall arched bridge made of stone.  Beautiful bridges were plentiful.

Our conference is at a Marriott Convention Center, but only LaDeanna is staying there.  The rest of us are staying across the street at a Bed & Breakfast, named the Woodley Park Guest House.  We walked into the foyer of the B&B and our host, Nellie, already knew all of our names.  That was a nice touch.  She set us down in the dining room and offered us coffee and pastries, which we took her up on.  After all, it would be rude to turn down a pastry.

 

Don, Stephanie and I in the dining room enjoying our coffee and pastries.

 

The Woodley Park Guest House just happened to turn up in a search when we were seeing if there were any other places to stay for the conference besides the Marriott.  The Marriott did not have great reviews, and we stumbled upon a B&B.  TripAdvisor has rated the Woodley Park Guest House as the # 2 Bed and Breakfast in Washington D.C.  Not only that, but the price was cheaper than staying at the Marriot.  Why not give it a try?

Nellie gave us a quick history of the place.  It was built in 1909 and currently has 16 guest rooms.  The current owners took over about 10 years ago and have made many improvements to the facility.  After a brief tour of the 1st floor, she took us to our rooms.  Our room is in the basement, and we do have one window that stretches from the ceiling to about eye level.  It provides a view of a fence and a sidewalk to nowhere.  The room is decorated nicely, but sparsely.  We do have our own bathroom (not all bedrooms in the house do) and it is good sized.

 

Don and Nellie. Nellie is a great host!

 

While Stephanie unpacked our suitcases, Don and I went over to the Marriott and picked up our registration packets for the conference.  We had to meet a colleague of mine to help him set up a booth in the Vendor Expo Hall.  The Expo Hall is in the basement of the Marriott, and this has me wondering about the last time I was below ground before today.  I have no idea.  Basements are not real popular in Oklahoma, but I had been in D.C. for an hour and have been in two of them.

I will say this about the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel – it has one of the most striking lobbies I have ever seen.  A white obelisk, maybe 15 – 20 feet tall stands in the middle, beneath a tall, blue domed ceiling, complete with an oculus at the top of the dome, letting in sunlight.

We quickly setup the booth and picked up Stephanie, in search of food.  It was around 5:00 or 5:30 by this time, and lucky for us, a quick walk around the corner gave us many options for dinner.  There are probably a dozen restaurants on this one block stretch of Connecticut Avenue.  We had our choice of Lebanese, Thai, Chinese, French, etc., but settled on a place that served Mediterranean dishes.  The name of our restaurant was Medaterra.

 

Had a relaxing dinner at Medeterra on Connecticut Ave.

 

I ordered the marinated olives. Mmmmmmm.

 

We chose to eat outside, as the sun was still up, and the weather was still beautiful.  No wind at all.  We had not had a meal yet, so we all ordered appetizers, entrees and drinks.  We ate, visited, people-watched and did not get in a hurry.  After finishing up, we stopped in the Manhattan Market to get some beverages to take back to the B&B.

 

This dry cleaning shop was near where we ate. What exactly is Organic Dry Cleaning

 

Back at our room, I was shocked to see that it was only 7:30.  The sun had gone down, as well as the temperature.  All of us thought that it was probably 9 or 10 pm already.  None of us are wearing watches, so we had lost all track of time.

Don, Stephanie and I took over the front porch of the B&B and solved a lot of the world’s problems over some Blue Moon and Leinenkugel.  We spent probably another several hours visiting and watching the steady stream of twenty-and-thirty-somethings walking down the sidewalk in front of us toward Connecticut Avenue.  It finally got to be too much for Stephanie and she had to know where these people were going.

 

Steve and Don on the front porch.

 

Don called it a night, and Stephanie and I set out to find what was happening in the big city.  It turns out all of these people had been going to the Metro station, which was right around the corner.  We had no interest in getting on the Metro, so we went for a walk around the area.  We found a bar (Murphy’s of DC) that had college football on and a poor sounding singer, so we went in.

We sat at the bar and struck up a conversation with a couple of guys who were from Kansas and Nebraska.  One lives in Nebraska and the other lives in Arlington, Virginia now.  The cost of living came up in the conversation and the Virginian told us that he has spent 65k in apartment rent the past three years.  Ouch!

The bar went from not very crowded, to bustling, in no time.  And this crowd was dressed to the 9s.  Turns out that there was a wedding at a hotel in the area, and they all ended up at this bar afterward.  I know this because one of the men in the group said hello to Stephanie and I, and asked if we were at the wedding.  When we told him we were not, he informed us that he was one of the bridesmaids.  Bartender, Check Please!

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