To our Family and Friends -- we wanted to share some of our wonderful experiences from our recent trip to Washington DC and Virginia so what follows is a bit of travel log and pictures. Some pages will be more relevant for our reenactment friends and there are separate pages linked to these for those who wish to view more pictures.

Sept 16 - 22, 2004 Washington DC - including links to special pages for textiles - weaving, dying, costuming, and crazy quilt
Sept 22-24, 2004 Mount Vernon and Alexandria Virginia, including special pages for cooking stuffs
Sept 24-28, 2004 Colonial Williamsburg with side trip to Jamestown - including links to special pages on SCA appropriate kitchens, plateware, cooking stuffs, weaving, and Georgian costume and embroidery
Sept 28-30, 2004 Ayershire Farm - shires, stables, carriages, the house, the yard, the other animals, and the countryside.

9/16 - Thursday - We decided to be nice to ourselves this trip. Work has been stressful for Will and life overly full for Robin. Arranged to be picked up by limo for the ride to the airport. It is actually about the same as a cab ride and they are much nicer and perhaps more importantly - more reliable.

The flight was unremarkable except for the fact that it was a 757 and overly full. Will had NO leg room in the new configuration. They did load a special meal for Robin and it was edible. The movie was The Alamo. We probably wouldn't have bothered to rent it, but for the costuming (which was surprisingly good) some time in the future. But for free...

Arrived DC and headed to our DC home - the St. Regis at 16th & K. Very nice - old world style hotel with a very lovely luxurious decor. All in all a nice place to call home for 6 nights. Their web page has a virtual hotel tour. In addition, we were on a special package courtesy of my new Am ex card. Let me know if you want details.

9/17 - Friday - One minor problem with breakfast - they don't understand "non diary creamer". Finally a "busboy" took it on himself and went and borrowed some soy milk from on of the employees so I could have my coffee. Needless to say I bought my own later that day.

Spent a little time with the concierge. He was wonderful! He identified several restaurants that he thought we would like and would meet my dietary needs.

Will had one request for DC - the Air and Space Museum so we headed over there after breakfast. There are no words for it. Spent the WHOLE day there visiting all the exhibits. I remember visiting when it has just opened, but there is so much more there now. There are permanent exhibits about each of the "eras" of flight and it is fascinating whether you know anything about the subject or not. There are no words. For future reference, there is now a 2nd Air and Space Museum near Dulles which houses the larger planes including the Enola Gay - next trip.

Managed to hook up with a friend from my compliance days. Dorcas runs a trade organization in which I was active for many years (it and its predecessor organizations). We met at a wonderful little restaurant recommended by the concierge - 2 Quail. It was housed in a historic Victorian walk up with each room being a dining area. Wonderful food and delightful atmosphere. Will put up with our reminiscences for part of the meal. I had the best swordfish I have ever had. Will had the quail.

As we left the restaurant, the hurricane finally caught up with us so we headed back to the hotel. Now we know what it feels like - the humidity that signals a storm.

9/18 - Saturday - Jet lag hit and we had a lazy morning. Cousin Bob came into town to join us for lunch. It was lovely to see him and catch up with family stuff.

Then off to the Natural History Museum. Wonderful display on the history of evolution. When we were children prehistoric time was defined quite differently. In addition, there were only a few dinosaurs identified. Now time has been redefined into a series of shorter eras with distinct evolutionary changes and many more dinosaurs identified. The museum did a wonderful job of showing the changes.

There was also a special exhibit on the evolution of horses. It was fascinating seeing the original animal - about 5" high evolve. They had the heads and leg bone at each stage of development.

Once we had completed the main floor it was up to the gems. While it is neat to see the Hope diamond and the rest of the fine gems, the real treat was the rooms showing crystals and gems. 2 huge rooms filled with every type of crystal imaginable from it raw state to its refined state and every stage inbetween. Yes I know rubys and saphires are essentially the same stone, but to see it in all their stages and for every other gem stone. Wow!

Another exhibit was on seismology and plate techtonics. We were watching the earthquakes in California - yes Paso Robles area - real time! Way cool.

The Mall had been set up for the grand opening of the new American Indian Museum which was scheduled for Sept 21-26. They were expecting 20,000 triball representatives for the parade of nations and exhibitions. Museum access was ticket only and we couldn't get tickets on such short notice. - next time.

Dragged ourselves back to the hotel and changed for dinner. Went to DC Coast, a well known seafood restraurant a few blocks from our hotel. Yummy food and naughty desserts!

9/19 - Sunday - I had made arrangements through Barbara Boxer's office for VIP access to the Holocaust Museum. We are members, but I was unsure about gaining access. The permanent exhibit requires a timed ticket. Little can be said about this museum except that it hits hard and is a necessary reminder that we need to find ways to stop genocide and hate crimes.

Took a breather after and walked the mall via the memorials down to the Lincoln Memorial. It was a lovely day for the walk - not to hot, muggy or windy.
Walked past the Washington Monument which is undergoing "renovation". Like many of the places in DC, it was behind barracades and one has to wonder how much of the renovation is security upgrade related all over the city.
Walked by the new WWII Memorial. It is large and I felt a bit eirily sad - like there were ghosts around it. I didn't want to walk through it.
Then off to the Vietnam Memorial. Half of the Wall was closed off for the renovation including the portion where Barry (Bob's younger brother) is listed - 2W 40. B 31 May 49 D17 Oct 71 - Captain Barry Bowman.
Walked by the other Vietnam Memorial - for those who served. It struck us as nicely done tribute, but some will call it a "token" monument.
Then onto the Lincoln Memorial. The Lincoln has always been my favorite of the DC landmarks. For me it is a place of peace and thought. It has so many levels of interaction with the visitors. I could spend hours there.

Back to the hotel to change for dinner. You can always tell the tourists from the natives in DC. The tourists wear jeans. The natives tend to dress a bit better - chinos for example and of course some variation of suit for work. I've always thought it worth "dressing" to the level of the locals as a sign of respect and have been treated well over the years as a result.

Dinner was at Kinkade's. The place was very familiar. About 10 years ago I was at a conference in DC and we went to Kinkade's for dinner. Dinner was good and the fruited anised soda bread fabulous. The waiter brought me a special "to go" plate of the bread which was to serve as my "snack" for several days. It is hard traveling with special diet considerations and being able to have the "4th " meal really helped.

9/20 - Monday. Off to the Freer Gallery and to visit one of my favorite sites on earth - the Peacock Room. My first visit to the Peacock Room was when I was 8 and it struck me then. Considering that I'm basically not a strong color room person, it is quite an anomoly that this peacock and gold room is a little bit of heaven for me. Of course the whole gallery is alway a treat with its wonderful ceramics and other Asian art. The changing but basic exhibit on ceramics really brings the vitality in color and quality of porcelain into focus.

American History Museum was a necessary stop on the tour of the Smithsonian for this costumer. Besides housing President's ladies gowns it now has Julia Child's kitchen - yes the actual kitchen from her Massachusetts home. Unfortunately you can only "look in" - see below. The online tour is excellent however, and I'm glad that I had accessed it prior to the trip. Julia Child's Kitchen ExhibitionTour online.

One bonus was the small but wonderful textile exhibit. It had items dyed with natural dyes, a section on carding and spinning wool/cotton/flax, a jacquard loom, fashion cards, and a wonderful crazy quilt.

Each of these places of course had book and souvenier stores. We were pretty good about no buying a lot of stuff. Mainly books on historic cooking and art. It was a good thing we have expandable suitcases.

Decided to make dinner easy and just walk across the street and try the restraurant there. I had no idea it was a "reknowned" one - Olive's by Todd English. It reminded me of Boulevards in San Francisco in its decor. Unfortunately they had gotten fancy in their attempt to meld flavors and failed miserably. It seems that the latest trend is to layer food - each with its own complicated flavor, on the plate. While the parts may be delicious (some were and some were not), the overall is jumbled and I find rarely works well. (my 2 cents)

9/21 - Tuesday. Had room service to ensure that we would be at the White House in time for our tour. Again arranged through Barbara Boxer's office. We followed the instructions and took nothing except room key and identification. Needless to say security is tight and anyone with more stuff had problems with entry. The tour is now totally self paced. You are given a booklet and there is a security person in each room who may have more information about the rooms you are visiting. The tour does not include the West Wing - only the "public rooms". It is really surprising how small the rooms are and how small the build really is in person. You get a very different perspective from watching the events on TV.

This was a day of extreme diversity of activity. Next up was a visit to the Folger Shakespeare Library and especially the gift shop - always a good place for odd books and reinactment bits. It was having an exhibition on Intolerance in an Age of Persecution. It was quite fascinating to see the original texts and pamphlets from the16th C.

Then off to an exhibit, my cousin Bob had mentioned at the Library of Congress. Labeled From Haven to Home, it viewed 350 years of Jewish Life in America. While the items were interesting, what interested me most was the timeline showing - Jews in America, Jewish Happenings in the World, Happenings in the US. It also included number of jews in the world and the US as different points of time.

Then back to the hotel to change for dinner and an evening out. Found a lovely plate of edible goodies for my birthday on our return. The concierge booked us a table at Equinox for dinner. Good food and an interesting approach to a "tasting" menu.

Caught a cab out to RFK Stadium to see Cirque du Soliel's Verekai. It was the best way to end my birthday and our DC portion of the trip. Yes there was a bit of a problem getting a taxi back from the stadium, but a very nice tired taxi driver took pity on us and did his good deed for the day; taking us back to our hotel and another couple to their's in Maryland.

9/22 - Wednesday
Breakfast at the hotel and packed by 10:30. Will trouped off to the car rental company and picked up our transportation for the rest of the trip.

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Photos and text copyright Robin Berry & William Ringer 2004.