In today’s newspaper, it was reported that airlines are arriving on time more often based on a month to month comparison. The best of the bunch arrived when scheduled over 81% of the time in April. This was not the case today for Mariah and me. We left Roanoke, Virginia quite a bit later than planned this morning, blaming our demagnetized room keys for contributing to our delay. We then stopped in West Virginia en route to Charlotte, North Carolina. We had decided to enjoy a quick brunch in West Virginia since it was almost on our way and in doing so we would add another state to Mariah’s tally of visited states. On the plus side, John Denver’s “Take me Home, Country Roads” turned out to be an accurate description of West Virginia. It is gorgeous there. The brunch place we had selected in advance, “The Omelet Spot”, purported to be an iconic, delicious, storied cafe frequented by appreciative locals. It was not. Much delayed, we then slowly followed a convoluted traffic-jam-laden path to Charlotte. We arrived more than an hour late for a two hour culinary walking tour during which we were supposed to EAT DRINK and WALK leisurely through Uptown Charlotte. Instead, we scarfed, inhaled and scampered behind an apparently lovely group of people who had arrived as scheduled for the culinary tour. It wasn’t pretty. Resigned to our fate, we were last in line to take-off, […]
We spent the morning touring the somber, pristine Antietam Battlefield under sunny skies. Within minutes of returning to our car, the skies darkened and thunder cracked. We drove for nearly three hours through torrential rains and high winds to visit Monticello. At one point I may have seen the wicked witch fly by pedaling madly on her bicycle. Yup, it was that bad. When we arrived at Monticello, we were greeted by the news that all tours of Mr. Jefferson’s home were suspended because of the risks posed by the storm. Very disappointing. It has been a long time since Mariah (accompanied by her sisters) caught up with TJ.
We filled our sweltering Washington DC day today with a plethora of sights and sounds. In the morning, our extremely fine Congressman, Bill Keating, secured a behind-the-scenes FBI tour for us that included an impressive firearms demonstration and a thoughtfully presented yet gut-wrenching exhibit on the FBI’s ongoing role to combat domestic and international terrorism. Tough stuff. We visited the Phillips Museum and the National Geographic Museum in the afternoon. We hadn’t planned it in advance, but when taken together, the Phillip’s world class art collection and NatGeo’s interactive scientific exhibits offer a welcome reminder that when given the opportunity, people will ultimately embrace beauty and reason over the alternatives. Tonight was our second night staying in Maryland with Marge Walsh and her honey of a husband, Bill. Marge was our three eldest daughters’ second grade teacher beginning in the mid-1990’s. Now Mariah understands clearly why Marge is considered a semi-mythical being in our family lore. It was a full day. We’ll sleep heavy tonight and hit the road in the early morning.
Mariah and I stayed with Sarah’s very first babysitter last night. She was just eighteen, responsible, loving and kind and about to graduate from high school when Harry and I hired her in 1991 to care for our first born pink bundle so that I could return to work on Wall Street. Yesterday, she welcomed us to her beautiful new home in a bucolic area of Maryland with her husband (who first met us when he began courting her during their freshman year of college). Their two exquisite and oh-so-handsome sons joined us for breakfast. We were fascinated to hear about her exciting pediatric oncological research work at JHU and his ongoing remarkable and varied projects. It is beyond gratifying when life is good to loving, kind and hard-working people. This is as it should be. We then visited Arlington National Cemetery to visit my dad’s grave. My periodic visits to Arlington always evoke intense emotions. My father exceeded every expectation I ever had and I miss him and think of him every day. As we drove out of Arlington I shared with Mariah the following story, which she was too young to remember. It is my favorite recollection about my dad’s funeral: As you would expect – ceremonies at Arlington are somber, practiced, and formal. In recognition of my dad’s rank and service, he received full military honors during his burial service including three rifle volleys by seven riflemen, […]
About five months ago, Mariah and I ordered tickets online from the National Park Service so that we could look out of the viewing area at the top of the Washington Monument at 9 PM and see the DC night skyline. At 555 feet and 5 1/8 inches, it is still the worlds tallest freestanding stone structure. On the way into Washington, we listened to Arlo Guthrie’s “Alice’s Restauarant” (which she had never heard before). Alice was followed by Bob Dylan’s acoustic version of “This Land is Your Land”. I may or may not have heard strains of the soundtrack to House of Cards while looking at the Capital Dome. Did I mention that we found a free and legal parking space directly across the street from the monument? So – yeah. This evening was kinda perfect.
Everybody and everything in Philadelphia seemed particularly wonderful. There is something intangible about returning to where you grew up that fortifies you for whatever follows. Thank you Philly for holding safe many of my best childhood and young adult memories. Thank you Barnes Foundation for preserving your otherworldly breathtaking magnificence in your new home. Thank you Pat’s Steaks for offering 24/7 decadent sustenance since before the notation “24/7” existed. Thank you Tashan for creating Indian cuisine that raises the bar for this city’s restaurant Rennaisance. Thank you Bachelorette 2 and Bachelorette 3 for your gracious hospitality and all-encompassing deliciousness. And thank you little Jeep for putting your best face forward.
About when it started snowing last December, Mariah and I began identifying and researching the places we wanted to visit this summer. By last week we had designed an incredibly detailed and comprehensive 89 page itinerary outlining each and every day’s plan. We included the results of our research on the opening hours, addresses, hyperlinks, photographs and confirmation numbers for our reservations at dozens of accommodations and sights. So here we are a mere two days into our trip and thus far Mariah and I have essentially abandoned our itinerary in favor of spontaneous visits with good friends who happened to be in Philadelphia. Robert Burns was onto something … the best laid plans of mice and men and moms often go awry. .
In order to prevent me from singing songs from my 1960’s childhood for the next eight weeks – my daughter Sarah created a playlist for us on my iPod for each and every state through which Mariah and I would travel. A band called “Vampire Weekend” sang to us as we left Cape Cod, Ike and Tina Turner belted “Sweet Rhode Island Red”, followed by Judy Garland/Bing Crosby in Connecticut, Jay Z/Alicia Keys and Taylor Swift in New York, Bruce and more Bruce in New Jersey, and Elton John and The Andrews Sisters in Philly. This bodes well. Near the end of our first day’s travels to see our Philly-based daughters, Harry, Mariah, Jenny and I concluded our Route 95 drive with a late night meal at a classic New Jersey diner. We were joined by Chance, Catherine and Rose Van Sciver. At least, we think that is what happened. We were sleepy and they looked familiar. We arrived at last after midnight in my hometown, the City of Brotherly Love. We were were greeted by Daughterly Love. What could be better?