Wednesday, April 30, 2014


At long last, a break from traveling!  Today I got to Kalispell, Montana, and all I want to do is channel my inner Elsa and sing say, "Here I'll stand, and here I'll stay".

Because NATURE!

Flathead Lake as seen coming over the pass from Polson.
A truly breathtaking view, I did a u-turn so that I could drive over the pass and see it again.
Mission Mountain Range


with Cade
story time with Kellen and Teya


Step aside, Katniss Everdeen, I can totally hit the broad side of a barn IN THE DARK.
(I think "formidable" is the word most people use to describe my bow hunting skillz.)

Seriously, what's not to love?  The weather is a perfect 70 degrees, and Ashley's house is nestled on a hillside deep in a beautiful pine forest.  The golden sunshine pours through the branches and into the house, warming the cool, pine-scented air.  It's hard to believe that they live here all the time -- it's the sort of place most people would go to on vacation!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Rapid City to Missoula

This third leg of the journey -- from Rapid City, South Dakota, to Missoula, Montana -- was the longest yet.  That was largely my own fault.  After a 16-hour slog the day before, the predicted 10-hour drive seemed like nothing.  Hey, I thought, why not relax a bit and soak up some of the local history and attractions?

The first of these attractions was Mount Rushmore.

The snow let up just in time for me to take this photo
Located just under an hour outside of Rapid City, Mount Rushmore is a random mountain in the middle of nowhere into which the likenesses of four American presidents have been carved in monumental scale:  George Washington, as the "Father of the Nation"; Thomas Jefferson, who dramatically expanded US territory through the Louisiana Purchase; Abraham Lincoln, as preserver of the Union; and Teddy Roosevelt, for his role in completing the Panama Canal.



The monument was both impressive and weird.  Impressive because of its scale and apparent permanence; weird because, seriously, of all the mountains in the United Sates, why on earth would they choose this one?  It's not even close to civilization!  The monument also struck me as a vestige of a different era.  Work began in 1927 and was completed in 1941, and it was a favorite project of influential politicians in Washington, DC.  Today, less than 100 years later, it's hard to imagine a project of this sort gaining any such support, let alone getting through any conservationist legal battles.

Speaking of conservation, the mountain is surrounded by a national park that is a refuge for mountain goats.  Some of them grazed, unphased by humans, just off the path leading to the viewing platform.

They're little and cute and I kind of want one.
After Mount Rushmore, I jumped in the car and drove through the rest of South Dakota, all of Wyoming, and into Montana.  I'd never driven that route before, and I was curious to see what it looked like.  Unfortunately, I still have no idea -- the weather was so bad (pouring rain, snow, wind gusts over 60 miles per hour), and visibility so low, that all I could see during most of that segment of the drive was the road right in front of me.  Every once in a while the clouds would lift and the rain would stop long enough for me to catch glimpses of a vast, moody, virtually uninhabited landscape.

The towns out here were few and very far between.  When I was still several hours away from Billings, Montana (the next town of any importance), I noticed that I was down to a quarter of a tank of gas.  The exit for Lodge Grass, Montana indicated that the town had a gas station, so I pulled over to fill up.  Now, as I left the freeway, I assumed that Lodge Grass was a town -- but as I approach the cluster of houses I saw that it was a "town" in the same way a few grains of sand are a "beach."

In someplace this small, I expected to find the gas station right away.  Only I didn't; only a few streets of run-down wooden houses and a general store.  I stopped at the general store:

Me:  Hi, is there a gas station in town?

Girl:  Oh, let's see, what day is it?  [looks at the calendar, then back to me, beaming] Yep! It's just across the way in that yellow building.

I went outside and looked for a yellow building.  Sure enough, on the other side of the train tracks there was a yellow barn with a twenty-year-old gas pump out front.  I was surprised that it even took credit cards.

With a full tank of gas, I continued on my way -- only I didn't go straight to Billings.  Lady had called during that monotonous stretch of highway in Wyoming and, after finding my route on her map at home, she noticed that I'd be passing right by the site of the Battle of Little Bighorn, where Custer made his famous "Last Stand" before being wiped out by the Indians.  Sounded interesting to me, so I followed the signs to a wind-swept hilltop monument to the fallen US soldiers.

To be honest, I've never really understood how to think about Custer's Last Stand.  It clearly entered the mythology of the American West as a tale of military valor, where the US Cavalry fought valiantly to the bitter end against the wicked Indians.  The monument is clearly structured on the notion that there were the good guys (Custer et al.) and the bad guys (the Indians).  Only now, with a more nuanced sense of history, and a perhaps more inclusive sense of national identity, it seems to me that there were no good guys or bad guys -- just people fighting over land and power and natural resources.  Yes, the Indians were violating the terms of the treaty with the US government by leaving their designated reservations; but they did so only after the white settlers and gold miners did the same and the US government proved unwilling and unable to uphold its end of the bargain.

It took me roughly an hour to get from Little Bighorn to Billings, and though it was still early in the evening I decided to stop for dinner.  Billings is a real town, and I knew there would be real restaurants there -- I needed a break from fast food!  Thanks to Yelp, I found a cute little cafe called Lilac right downtown.  The ambiance and menu were exactly what I was looking for -- clean and civilized and aspiring to refinement.

Spinach salad with beets and almonds
Braised short rib with gnocchi
Macaron, salted peanut ice cream, chocolate mousse

And now for a surprise:  While I was eating dinner, I received a note on Facebook from Audra, a friend from high school in Oregon.  She said she and her family were living in Billings and that if I came through I should stop and say hi.  Well, imagine that!  I hadn't seen Audra or her husband, Chris, since 1998.  Sure, I still had six hours of driving to get to Missoula, but why not stop and see them?

So I got Audra's number and address and made my way over to their little house.  I met her three children (the littlest of whom sweetly gave me a big hug, as if I were a favorite uncle) and we chatted for a while in the living room.  Just as I was about to leave, Chris came home from work, so I was able to see him for a few minutes and catch up.  Whatever else may be said about Facebook and other social media, I think that these surprise connections are wonderful.

After bidding farewell to Audra and Chris, I climbed back in the car and got serious about driving to Missoula -- after all, at this rate I wasn't going to arrive until around 1:00am!  Fortunately, I had finally driven out of the terrible weather that had blanketed the plaines.  The setting sun broke through the clouds, dazzling with light and color and promising a clear and speedy drive to Missoula and bed.


Monday, April 28, 2014

Chicago to Rapid City

For some reason I thought that spring had arrived and this trip across America would not involve white-knuckle driving through blizzards.  Maybe that's because I've been spending time in DC and Seattle, where we've already hit the second round of flowering shrubs and bulbs and most trees are basically leafed out.  Not so in these northern plaines states!

I left Chicago a little around 8am en route to Rapid City, South Dakota.  According to Google maps, the trip would take me through Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota and most of South Dakota, with an estimated arrival time somewhere between 13 and 14 hours later.  That estimate, however, turned out to be way optimistic.  BECAUSE WEATHER.

A medium rain was falling when I got on the road in Chicago.  I didn't think much of it until I saw the mess that was the freeway.  The bulk of my path through the city was against the morning rush hour traffic, with the exception of one 14 mile stretch past O'Hare airport.  Because of the rain and its related accidents, it took me more than an hour to get through those 14 miles.

"No worries," I told myself, "once I get out of the heart of the city traffic will clear up -- and presumably I'll drive out of this storm and into better weather.  It'll be a long day but nothing terrible."

That naive prediction was correct in the sense that the traffic did clear up and I was able to make pretty good time up to Madison, Wisconsin (where I stopped for breakfast at a Perkins diner, where I was served by a middle-aged woman with dirty bleached-blonde hair, fuchsia lipstick, purple eye shadow and a tendency to talk in the upper extremities of her vocal range) and across the border into Minnesota.  But there things started to change.  I never drove out of the storm; in fact, it only got worse as I went.  Minnesota is a blur of heavy fog, pouring rain and vast expanses of sodden gray fields.

More of the same in South Dakota, only the wind picked up.  A lot.  By the time I got back on the road after dinner, it was full-on sideways downpour.  Strong wind gusts buffeted my car, sometimes with such strength that they pushed me into the other lane!  The worst was passing the semi trucks.  They threw up so much spray, and the wind eddied around them so turbulently, that every time I passed a truck I felt like I was driving through one of those drive-through car-washes.  I fixed my eyes on the white strip on the side of the road to make sure I didn't blow off, and just prayed that I'd be able to keep my car under control long enough to get through to the other side.  (Now, I'm a very confident driver and not much phases me, but this was stressful and kind of scary.)

That went on for a good two hours, and then the rain turned to heavy, wet snow.  So now we not only had the wind and the spray, but also further reduced visibility (because of the way the snow reflected the headlights) plus goopy slush on the road that made changing lanes slippery and treacherous.  And then, to top it all off, my speedometer started to spaz out:  I'd be going along and all of a sudden it would just drop to zero or flail about across the dial.  Fortunately after such a long time in the car I had a pretty good feeling for the speed I was going.  Plus, by this time everyone had slowed way down, which was appropriate, and we were just feeling our way along the freeway.  Obviously this meant that I'd get to Rapid City later than expected -- I watched the expected arrival time move from 11pm to 11:30pm to after midnight.  I was tired, but with all the adrenaline there was no fear of falling asleep!

Eventually the snow thinned back out to rain and things calmed down a bit; my speedometer inexplicably returned to normal, as if nothing had ever happened.  I felt comfortable enough to pick up when Heather called, and it was comforting to have her on the phone as I went along.  Not that she would have been able to do anything if I'd ended up in the ditch, but at least I felt less alone during those last few hours -- because South Dakota is barren; just vast stretches of inky black, not even farmhouses.

At long last -- as in, 16 hours after leaving Chicago -- I finally made it to Rapid City and the hotel.  My room is warm and comfortable and -- surprise! -- on Mountain Time.  I hadn't realized I was already so far west; seeing the clock was like remembering last minute about Daylight Savings Time.  What a nice little windfall of an extra hour.  Just enough time to jot down a blog entry before climbing under the covers.  Good night!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

DC to Chicago

Day 1 of the westward migration was a success!  I made it from DC to Chicago in approximately 11.5 hours, and I didn't once end up in a ditch.  I passed through six states, ate pancakes at IHOP and raw lamb at a Michelin-starred gastropub, listened to more Christian pop music than I even knew existed, and blew the toll-booth guy's mind when he asked how much my bike cost.  Now I'm curled up in Vanessa and Steven's cozy guest room getting ready for some much needed beauty sleep (and by "beauty sleep" I mean "not on the floor").  But before I turn the lights out, a few highlights from the day:


I awoke this morning to an empty stomach and an empty fridge.   I knew I needed sustenance for my Trek Across America, so took a deep dive into one of the temples of Middle America:  IHOP.

After all, nothing says "I'm going to drive through the Midwest" like a plate of
eggs, sausage, bacon and French toast, with a side of pancakes
Thus fortified, I dropped my apartment keys at the front desk and headed westward into the wilds of . . .


Which felt very much like home.  Only I noticed, as I drove through familiar territory, just how much construction there is right now.  I mean, I could come back in six months not recognize this place!  I started to get emotional, but then the soundtrack to Thoroughly Modern Millie came on and I was all, like, "I'm a PIONEER WOMAN, pal!" and got all sassy about going someplace new (I glossed over the part about how she was leaving the Midwest and going to the big city, whereas I was leaving the big city to drive into the Midwest...).  And before I knew it I had crossed the bridge into . . .


But let's just call a spade a spade:  Maryland is basically Virginia.  Snooze.  On the other hand, by the time I got to . . .


I felt like I'd been dropped into some revivalist Christian summer camp.  Every single radio station was either piping out Christian talk radio Southern-inflected voices telling me how to get saved, or playing some awkward mix of goopy Christian pop music and commercials that were basically a cross between the NPR pledge drive and fast and testimony meeting.  It was interesting at first, from an anthropological perspective, but then I just couldn't wait to get to . . .


Which was moderately less Christian but turned out to be SUPER BORING instead.  I mean, the entire state is one long turnpike with flat farmland on either side.  And more billboards than I've ever seen for plus sized clothing.  There mud be a lot of big people in Ohio.  But there wasn't any sense in complaining, because after 300 miles of Ohio turnpike, I crossed the border into . . .


Where I discovered that Indiana was indistinguishable from Ohio, except for the fact that it smelled bad (all that heavy industry) and had a lot more of those fancy semis with race car logos all over the sides.

By this time the day was drawing to a close and I was SO ready to get out of the car.  I can't say how happy I was when finally I entered . . .


Once I was in Chicago, I knew I was nearly there.  Google maps took me right to Vanessa and Steven's cute little house, where I was able to stash my bike in the garage and my suitcase upstairs before running out for . . .


As luck would have it, neither Vanessa nor Steven was around -- Vanessa is in Florida for business, and Steven was out at dinner with some friends -- but that didn't prevent me from having a fantastic gastronomical experience worthy of Chicago's foodie reputation! Before leaving Vanessa (a fellow foodie) had sent me a list of nearby restaurants, including Longman & Eagle, a Michelin-starred gastropub that was only a few blocks away.  I walked over, not sure if I'd be able to get in, but discovered -- to my delight -- that it's no problem at all to get a table for one on a Sunday night.  (Sorry for the bad lighting!)

Amuse-bouche:  chilled turmeric and cardamom soup, with caramelized marshmallow
Lamb tartare with pickled green beans, quail egg, celeriac remoulade, brussels sprout leave
and mustard foam
Steak with emulsion of foie gras, fried parsnip strips, asparagus, baby potatoes, and
manicotti stuffed with ricotta and something else that I can't remember
Black sesame donuts, coconut tapioca, black sesame puree,
powdered coconut, coconut sorbet, and
lime & palm sugar granita with coriander and cilantro

The food was all very good, but I think the portion size was off.  I came away feeling over-full, which in my experience is uncharacteristic of the better Michelin-starred restaurants.  I'd be curious to go back with someone else -- my sense is that it would have been better to split everything roughly in half (which is what the couple next to me did; they just shared everything).

By the time I'd finished dinner, Steven had gotten back from his dinner, and so we chatted for a while about life and leaving big law firms (he made the leap about six years ago and has since become a solo practitioner).  But soon I got droopy and knew that I needed rest before another big driving day tomorrow.

And so with that, goodnight!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

JJD goes west

"The time has come," the Walrus said, "to speak of other things . . . "

In roughly five minutes Comcast will terminate my Internet access and I will spend the rest of the day getting my haircut, packing the car and celebrating one last farewell with friends.  Tomorrow morning, bright and early, I will start the drive to Seattle.  Holy cow.

Before I go, and lest the worriers among you fret, I thought I'd share my itinerary:

  • Sunday:  DC to Chicago
  • Monday:  Chicago to Rapid City, South Dakota
  • Tuesday:  Mount Rushmore!  Then on to Missoula, Montana
  • Wednesday-Thursday:  Kalispell / Glacier National Park / Grandkids!
  • Friday:  Kalispell to Seattle

It will be a long drive and probably a little boring at times, but it will be a nice bookend to my experience in DC:  Six years ago I drove from Las Vegas to DC in three days right before I began working at the firm; this time I reverse that trip, only traversing the northern tier states instead.  I remember being struck by the incredible variety of the American geography; I'm excited to see that again.

Also, this means that I'm essentially going to have a week of sitting in the car by myself.  I've got music and stuff to entertain myself, but that's a lot of free time.  If you're not working during the day (or even if you are and just want a distraction), feel free to give me a call!  As long as Verizon has a tower nearby, I'll pick up and we can discuss Americana.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Success! (or at least I won't be homeless)

When I moved from New York to DC, I gave myself two days to find a place to live.  This time around, I took a luxurious two and a half -- practically an eternity -- and I'm happy to say that, assuming all goes well with my application (fingers crossed!), I'll be moving into this building next Friday:

I'll be in a one-bedroom corner unit on the 13th floor
with high ceilings and views of downtown
The whole process went surprisingly smoothly.  The relocation package from Amazon included the services of a rental consultant who did all the legwork in finding the properties and scheduling appointments with the various leasing offices.  All I had to do was give her my criteria (walking distance to work, big windows, parking, bike storage, near a Crossfit gym and yoga studio) and then show up.

Of course, a process that runs "surprisingly smoothly" is not the same as a process that runs without its share of irritations.  Hunting for a place to live is tedious, annoying work -- not least because the majority of leasing offices are staffed by young people who are good looking and superficially engaging but deficient in attention to detail and common sense.  For example, parking is one of the core criteria that I need in a place to live.  I told the consultant that I only wanted to see properties that had parking onsite, and it was one of the first things I discussed during my visits.  So, when I finally had narrowed my selection down to a single property and began filling out the application form, imagine my surprise when the woman asked me if I would be needing parking and if so when. 

"Yes -- as you may recall from every single interaction we've had to date, I will need one parking space as soon as I move in next Friday."

"Oh.  Well, the thing is, we don't actually have parking.  I mean, we have parking, but there's a waiting list.  Until like the middle of June."

Seriously.  I'm adding leasing agent to the list of jobs that I'm going to do if this lawyering thing doesn't work out, because if this is the level of talent we're working with at these sorts of properties, then I would be a total rockstar.

But, leasing office staff notwithstanding, I think I've found a good place to live for the next six months while I look for a place to buy.  It's in a good neighborhood not far from the waterfront.  I'll be within walking distance of the office, a crossfit gym, spinning and yoga studios, the opera house and symphony hall -- and, perhaps most important, I'll be right across the street from the building that I've been stalking since I first saw it back in February:

It's full of beautiful, stylish lofts with giant windos and enough balcony for a fish pond.  I have no idea what an ordinary unit would cost (two of the penthouses are on the market for just under $2 million), but I totally want to live there.

Fortunately, on the ground floor of said coveted building is an artisanal cannoli shop:


Given that "Holy Cannoli" is one of Heather's trademark exclamations, I had to stop and try one and have a chat with the owner.  Turns out she lives in one of the lofts above and thinks that one of her neighbors might be putting her condo on the market in the next little while. (!!!) So I guess I'll be stopping by often for cannoli and to keep an eye on the real estate.  Good thing the cannolo was delicious!

Coconut cannolo


Friday, April 18, 2014

Live blogging the "pack and load" - done!

Well, after only five and a half hours, I'm happy to report that Tony, Carlos and the other guy are done with their work, my apartment is empty, I haven't died from starvation yet.  It's an Easter Miracle!

All that's left is the stuff that's going with me in the car or will be dropped off to Goodwill.

Now off to find food before coming back to clean.

Live blogging the "pack and load" - update!

Seriously people, I wasn't kidding about starving to death.  Next time I'm going to hire a company that caters its moves.

I fear this will be me before the movers are done.
(image poached from here)

I guess the real question is WHY ON EARTH DO I HAVE SO MUCH STUFF???  If I survive to move again, I swear I'll go back to my university-era philosophy, when the rule was that I couldn't own anything more than what would fit inside a single load of a Dodge minivan.

And I don't want this to come across as trying to shift the blame or anything, but I'm pretty sure my death will be on Amanda for luring me to exotic places where she knew I would meet strangers who would force me to buy all the things.

Live blogging the "pack and load"

At 8:45 this morning three burly men with incomprehensible (possibly West Indian?) accents arrived at my door with approximately 400 cardboard boxes, unlimited rolls of packing tape, and a bunch of packing blankets.  

I gave them a quick tour of the apartment and they set to work.  One guy headed into the bedroom, pulled out a radio tuned to the local Top 40 station, and hasn't been seen since.  The second guy tackled the bookcases in the living room, and is currently rapping to himself as he wraps the couch in a cocoon of plastic.  The third guy is working his way through the cupboards in the kitchen.  

Naturally I asked what I could do to help.  "Nothing," they said, "Just sit over there (indicating the chair) and relax."  

So here I am, sitting in a tranquil island of boredom amidst all the boxes, with nothing else to do but take every single Buzzfeed quiz known to man (for example, which musical theatre character am I?  why, Mary Poppins, of course; because I am "practically perfect in every way" and "would be an excellent mother"), read Internet lists of very important facts that everyone should know (such as "24 ways to really piss off a Welsh person" -- apparently they're sensitive about valleys), and try not to be alarmed by snippets of overheard conversation (such as, "hey guys, the truck won't start; I'm calling a mechanic").  

Also?  I might starve to death.  

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Don Quixote

The nice thing about having seasons tickets to the Kennedy Center's ballet season is that they make taking a ballet break so much easier.  No need to think about buying tickets or coordinating with friends while also juggling work -- or in tonight's case -- packing.  Instead, the tickets have been sitting on my counter since last fall.

Around 6:00pm I set aside whatever stack of things I was packing, made myself presentable enough to appear in public, and drove in to meet Amy at the Kennedy Center for the American Ballet Theatre's performance of Don Quixote.

We saw different dancers tonight.  They were amazing and beautiful and
repeatedly defied the laws of gravity.
It was my first time seeing this ballet, and it was really lovely.  Just enough of a Don Quixote plot to justify lots of flouncy Spanish dresses and an Iberian flavor to the music, but otherwise just a great excuse for beautiful people to dance.  It was a great way to decompress from an otherwise tedious day.
Hall of Nations
Random giant head -- part of a temporary exhibition

Organizing all the things

So my last day at the firm wasn't actually my last day as an employee of the firm, just my last working day.  Between now and the 25th I'm taking my remaining vacation days from last year and the handful of days that I've already accrued this year.

I made a point, though, before leaving, to emphasize that this would be a real vacation, not a Covington vacation -- meaning that I wouldn't be checking my emails and voicemails, nor would I be available to do any work.  The cord would be cut.

Only it hasn't been all that vacationlike!  The movers are coming tomorrow morning and, although they're going to pack and load everything, I'm not about to let them just come and throw whatever's in grabbing distance into a box.  Instead, I've spent the past two days organizing everything so that it's ready to go -- I think I'm nearly there.  

Pulling pictures off the wall . . .
consolidating my brightly colored spoils from foreign travel
and stacking bedding neatly so that it's all in the same box for easy unloading.
And of course not everything makes the cut. 
The pile destined for Goodwill is growing, and the pace of growth
only increases as time gets tighter -- man I love getting rid of stuff! 
Flower pots cleaned and ready to go
Emptying the defunct fish pond was by far the worst part of the day.
I felt like the Sorcerer's Apprentice in reverse as I shuttled pails of water between
the balcony and the bathroom.  By the end I would have welcomed
a few psychotic broomsticks.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Last day

This move is getting real, folks!  Yesterday was my last day of work at the firm.  I finished transitioning all of my projects to other lawyers and spoke with the last of my clients who needed to know.  At 5:00pm I turned on my "out of office" notice and headed down to a special farewell happy hour, where I had a chance to say goodbye to many of the good people I've worked with over the past six years.

I've moved enough times in my life to know that saying goodbye is never easy, and it certainly wasn't easy to say it yesterday.  The firm has been an enormous part of my life for six years -- I started there fresh out of law school, a baby lawyer with no idea what I was doing, and in the intervening years I've learned and grown professionally, developed lifelong friendships and a remarkable professional network, and gained a level of financial stability that I never had before -- all of which makes it possible for me to move on to the next chapter of life.  True, there were frustrations and challenges, and plenty of blood, sweat and tears along the way.  But as I looked back over the years, I felt a welling up of emotion:  gratitude for the blessings and opportunities that I've had; affection for the many good people I've known; sadness at the thought of no longer being part of the community.

The hardest person to say goodbye to was my secretary, Joanne.  She was there on day one and every day since then.  She's smart and funny and loyal, and I realized early on that she was a keeper -- even though I moved from one office to another as I got more senior, I always made sure that Joanne and I stayed assigned to each other.  When she came down to give me my last timesheet for review, I meant to tell her how much I've appreciated working with her -- but then I started to get choked up and so I made her go out into the hall and take pictures with me instead.

JJD and Joanne
Good timing, too, because right then Lynn came back from lunch and we were able to get a shot of all three of us.   Lynn is another secretary who has been there for me since the beginning.  She and Joanne shared a suite for the first couple of years that I was at the firm, and now for the past year we've been down on the 6th floor together while Joanne stayed up on 7.

The only one missing from my "secretary trifecta" is Barbara, who was out on vacation.
The farewell party was a lot of fun, and I was really touched by all the people who took time out of their busy days to stop by and see me before they went home (or back to their offices to keep working).  The extrovert part of me loves parties like that, where I'm the center of attention and can chat with everyone in the crowd.  The introvert part of me wishes I could just have a series of intimate one-on-one conversations with each of them.

By the time the party left and it was time to go back upstairs and gather my things out of my office, the melancholy of farewells had returned.  Fortunately the people who knew me well had stuck around.  Adina, who had organized the whole thing, stayed until the end and helped me close out with the restaurant.  Then I went out for sushi with Jeff and he cheered me up by discussing such important topics as which guilty-pleasure TV shows were we watching (TeenWolf, Glee) and which Broadway musicals and/or Russian composers it was important to like and/or not to like in order to be thought cool by the cognoscenti (Phantom and Tchaikovsky, respectively).   

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Perfect weekend

There will be a special place in hell reserved for people who schedule moves away from DC during the springtime.

[Er . . .  hold on . . . I'm the one who scheduled this move.  Let's start again.]

Whoever invented DC in the springtime deserves an award.  Like, an Oscar for "best pairing of city and season" or something.  Because once the dreary cold and grey of winter finally breaks, this place rocks.  The air is cool, the sun goldenly warm, and literally everywhere you look there are banks and pillows and clouds of springtime blossoms.  People cheerfully abandon their apartments and houses to run and bike and stroll and simply be outdoors.

That's what it was like here this weekend.  And because I only have two days left at the firm, I didn't need to work!  Instead, I had about as perfect a spring weekend as I could hope for:

I got up first thing and met the Bishop for an early morning bike ride.  It was my first time out since the winter, and boy did it feel good!

We didn't go all that far (only 30 miles) or all that fast (we averaged only 14 mph) but speed and distance weren't the point of the ride -- we wanted to see the cherry blossoms.  With our long, nasty winter, the cherry blossoms had been delayed by at least a week from their originally predicted peak (sorry Vanessa!).  But this week the temperatures finally broke into the 70s and the trees virtually exploded into full bloom just in time for the weekend.

The greatest concentration of cherry trees in DC is around the tidal basin and neighboring Hains Point.  Given the massive blossom-peeping crowds on the sidewalks, and the equally gridlocked traffic, we cyclists were perfectly situated to thread our way to the most scenic spots.


After the ride, I came home and planned to spend most of the day going through closets in preparation for the move.  But then Jeff came over and we had lunch at the German bakery (I am so going to miss those fresh-grilled bauernwursts!) and then stopped over at the bike shop and provided moral support as he picked out a new bike (shopping with someone else's money is always fun; and knowing you're about to move cross-country is a good way to keep from spending your own).  Shortly after Jeff left with his new toys, Amy arrived to check out some of the furniture I'm hoping to sell before we both drove into town for a barbecue at a fellow law school classmate's house on Capitol Hill.  This classmate and her husband were celebrating their birthdays -- and, it turns out, their two-day-old engagement! -- with barbecue pork, wings and other delicious picnicky items.  The food was great and for some reason nearly everyone there had some connection to Seattle, so I came away with names of people I should contact and assurances that I would like my soon-to-be home.

The good weather continued this morning.  I played hookie from church so that I could go to one last yoga class with my favorite teacher (I didn't want her to think I'd abandon her for anything less than moving to another state!) and then drove downtown to meet Jean for brunch at Founding Farmers.

Jean was one of the original Kennedy Center dream team, and we've kept in touch ever
since.  She looked beautiful in her "Amelie" dress and pumps!
I got a sausage, mushroom and spinach "scramble"
with one pancake on the side.
I was tempted to spend the rest of the post-brunch afternoon on the back of my bike -- or napping in a pool of sunshine -- but instead summoned enough sense of responsibility to tackle some of my moving-related "to dos".  I went through my closet and cupboards, throwing out trash and building my pile of things to take to Goodwill.  In the early evening Mark came to pick up my big area rug, which I decided to sell rather than schlep to Seattle with me.  (My original plan had been to sell all my furniture and then just buy everything new when I buy a place to live in Seattle.  But once I'd decided to rent for a while before buying real estate, it seemed prudent to keep at least the key pieces of furniture and avoid urban camping.)

The room feels so much smaller without the rug!  The navy blue and the giant chain
pattern really gave the room energy and made it feel bigger.
After Mark left with the rug, I got dinner from Cafe Rio and headed home to eat the spicy enchiladas and watch a few back episodes of my favorite TV shows.  As I drove through the pinky sunset, I couldn't help but feel a swell of happiness and nostalgia.  A weekend like this -- filled with warm days, good friends, delicious food, beautiful nature, and above all a sense of connectedness and home -- is representative of so much of what I have loved about this city since I first moved here nearly ten years ago.  Boy, I'm going to miss springtime in DC.