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farewell tour: dc

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The parents were able to drag themselves out of bed a little earlier on day 2, so we headed downtown. I don’t drive downtown (unless I get stuck on a bridge), so we headed to the metro, and rode the train in to the metro center.

We bought tickets on a hop-on-hop-off bus, then rode it around to the Capitol. We walked around to the back side to get to the Library of Congress, as the dad wanted to see it on the recommendation from a friend. Visiting the nation’s library doesn’t sound terribly exciting, especially if you don’t plan to check out any books, but the building is quite impressive.

Besides all the architecture, mosaic work, and artwork, there are several exhibits. We got a chance to see the most influential American books, maps (they used to think California was an island!), and Jefferson’s original collection. I’ve been to Monticello, it’s hard to imagine how Jefferson fit all those books in his library. Perhaps Mrs. Jefferson really made the book donation …

For lunch, we made a stop at the American Indian Museum cafe and ate food from the great plains: indian tacos and a buffalo burger. Overpriced, yes, but at least the food there has a fun theme to it!

We tried to hop back on the bus, but waited for 30 minutes for a bus that was too full for us. And our 30 new friends. 10 minutes later they sent us an empty bus for us all, but it was frustrating, as time was ticking! We had things to see!

We rode the bus around for the rest of the tour, and got all the city highlights. We jumped on the green loop to tour georgetown and other non-mall areas, but that was a mistake. We did get the see the National Cathedral covered with scaffolding to fix the earthquake damage, but the traffic was bad and the driver drove as fast as he could in clear stretches to stay on schedule. It was quite a bumpy ride, I had difficulty staying in my seat. I would have reported the driver to the company, but he mentioned that he was leaving the job in 3 days, so perhaps he had already been reported.

Before heading home, we hit the gift shops at the Spy Museum and the Crime Museum. They are both excellent museums, but there are only so many hours in the day. But, you know, there’s always time for shopping! The dad picked up an NCIS hat for himself, and a few other trinkets.

We walked to the metro, rode the metro to the car, and took the car home, where we filled the husband in on our day. (It was so much fun! There was no working! We just spent bunches of your money!)

Dinner was Cheeburger, a local burger joint that we won’t have in Texas. The dad had a salmon burger, which he was a little disappointed in because he lives in the Pacific Northwest. Where if you order a salmon burger for dinner, that salmon was swimming in the river that morning. I had my standard BLT, the husband his standard semi-serious burger, and the mom had a tiny classic burger. The waitress forgot to put the husband’s order in, however, so he got to sit and watch us eat our yummy food. The manager comped his burger, though, so that sort of made up for the fact that he had to scarf his burger down when it finally arrived.

All in all, an exhausting day, but that’s what being a tourist is all about!

On account of all the jet lag, the parents slept in on their first full day in town. I had a leisurely morning, and figured I should let them sleep on account of they were on vacation and all.

Since we got a late start, we headed to Harper’s Ferry, since it’s a short drive. We stopped at a fabric store in Purcelville on the way. Because the mom has discovered the internet, y’all! And she found out you can find fabric stores on it! I found a book to buy in case, you know, I ever take up sewing like I keep thinking I might.

We made it Harper’s Ferry, and took the Park Ranger tour, and learned all about the Civil War Battle of Harper’s Ferry. Having grown up in the Pacific Northwest, I always got a very different perspective of the Civil War than is presented in the more southerly parts of the country. It is a little strange to hear about the genius and bravery and courage of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. And the ineptitude of the Union forces. I suppose in moving to Texas, I will have to get used to it. Not in a ‘the South will rise again’ kind of way, but a Southern pride sort of way.

It was an excellent tour, done by a Park Ranger who looked all of 18 years old. He really knew his stuff, though, and there weren’t any questions that stumped him. I would recommend the tour for anyone, no matter what side of the country they happen to fall on.

After the tour, we took the bus down to the lower town, where they’ve reconstructed many of the buildings and put in exhibits. We learned all about John Brown, as well as the history of industry and flooding and whatnot. We ate a ridiculously overpriced lunch on High Street, but it kept us from starving to death. Which, as we all know, Americans are at very high risk of.

We made it home in good time, and the parents watched the traffic in the opposite direction with surprise. But that’s how you get it all! A big house AND a job! You live in West Virginia, but work in the DC area. And then you sit. in. traffic. But we were moving in the opposite direction, so there were no hurdles in our way.

The husband and I treated the parents to none other than tater tot casserole. I don’t know if they were impressed or not, but it was much yummier than the chewy steaks we’d had the night before.

farewell tour

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A week before the husband decided we should move, the parents decided they should visit. Alaska had just opened up a non-stop flight from Portland to DC, and, at least to start off with, they were offering really low fares. And so a trip was booked.

Since I quit my job and all, that freed up some serious time for sight-seeing! And also since I’m leaving this place I have lived for the last 10 years, I made sure to take my parents to all my favorite places … oh, and maybe a thing or two they might have been interested in. 🙂

On account of having driven my car to Texas, I rented a car for the parents’ visit. And since I picked it up at 8 pm, they were all out of the small suv class of vehicle that I had reserved. So would I like to take a nicer car? Like a fully loaded Ford Edge? At no extra cost? Darn tootin, I would!

So, I picked up the parents at DCA during the evening rush hour and managed to stay out of DC! While this may sound like an easy task, let me assure you, it is not. There are a multitude of major intersections in the Alexandria/Arlington area, and it is easy to accidentally get yourself on a bridge into DC. I lived in Arlington for 6 months. I hate the Arlington Memorial bridge. You’d think it’d be easy to, um, oh, NOT DRIVE ON ANY BRIDGES. And to stay in Virginia. But it can be a tricky task, what with 395 and 66 and 50 and the GW Parkway and 1 and 110 all merging and splitting and exiting on the left sometimes and on the right sometimes.

But, anyway, I got the parents home without taking a detour through DC. I drove all expert-like, just like someone who has, oh, maybe lived here for 10 years.

And to celebrate, we went out to the sister’s favorite ‘DC’ restaurant: Logan’s. It was a bust, though, as the bread was overcooked, and all our steaks were from a rather tough batch of beef. In general, Logan’s serves the best $10 steak around, but from our meal, the parents certainly weren’t convinced. But, the mom had fun throwing peanut shells on the floor, so I suppose maybe it wasn’t a complete loss.

As I was cleaning up around the house last night, I realized I could only find 2 of the 3 house keys that I had copied. I looked all over the kitchen and laundry room, in drawers, on the floor, under the new microwave, and came up empty.

Immediately, I thought of the parade of strangers I’ve had in the house: 2 Best Buy delivery guys, 3 cable guys, and an A/C repairman. I had been storing the copies on the uber-secure open countertop.

None of the guys had seemed shady, but I started to doubt my judge of character. Plus, if all ‘bad guys’ seemed shady, we’d sure have an easier time avoiding trouble.

In the daylight, I am rational. I am fearless. I will go toe-to-toe with most any challenge. But once the sun goes down – I become very aware of just what a little girl I am, and suddenly overwhelming danger lurks around every corner. Locked inside the safety of my house, I am fine, but the possibility that somebody else had a key was enough to drive me to panic.

The husband tried to talk me down from my ledge over the phone, but I was having none of it. I packed up my stuff, and drove down the street to check in to the La Quinta.

Once I got checked in, I called the husband back, and he asked me if I had checked all my pockets. Hmmm, my, um pockets? Why no, I hadn’t checked any of my pockets …

Most of my pockets were outside in the car, so I decided to check in the morning. I enjoyed my sleep in a real bed, in a hotel room that was nicely air conditioned.

Sure enough, this morning I found the last key in my yester-yester-pants. It was such a relief! Nobody wants to chop me up in little pieces! Or steal my Dynex!

I guess Texans really are nice people, after all.

As often happens when you have two different services set up for the same day, the cable guy and the A/C guy showed up at the same time. The A/C guy quickly diagnosed the problem, and put in a quick fix (“should” last 24 hours, so at least it’ll get me through the night) and promised to come back tomorrow with the right parts. And the landlord sent him! So I don’t have to pay him! I guess renting does have its perks.

The cable guy found all the rest of my channels, so now I have the full complement of 208 ESPNs and 8517 movie channels. The husband will be so happy! Now the TiVo can tape all the shows here while we are in transit. Good thing we have two TiVos!

The cable guys arrived late to their 5-6 pm install, which was unfortunate, as I had wanted to touch base with one of the husband’s friends after the install was over. Suffice it to say, that didn’t happen.

The cable guys were in and out of the house, and even up in the attic, so I didn’t think anything of it when it got hotter and hotter in the house. I just figured it the A/C couldn’t keep up with all the open doors.

The cable guys left just after 10 pm (with partially installed cable … but at least there’s internet!), and the thermostat said it was 80 degrees in the house. I was a little worried, but hoped that it would cool down as the night went on.

I woke up at 2 am, still to a too warm house. I checked the breakers in the garage, they were all on, but none of them were labeled A/C. Not having a flashlight – and not wanting to be mistaken for a hoodlum – I opted to not check the outside breakers in the middle of the night. I turned the A/C off, in case I had managed to freeze up the air conditioner during the cable install.

In the morning, I turned the A/C back on, and checked on the outdoor unit. It wasn’t running. So I checked the outdoor breakers, and sure enough, the A/C breaker was off. So I turned it back on. And then I heard an awful buzzing noise. Coming from the A/C unit. Which still didn’t have a running fan. So off went the A/C again.

So, here I am, waiting for the A/C guy, as well as the cable guy (again), in a sweltering house. It just started pouring down rain, so hopefully that will cool things down. And not, um, keep the A/C guy from his job of making me a happy camper again.

I had entirely too much trouble locating the appliance accessories I needed. Thankfully, the delivery and installation process went much more smoothly.

The delivery guys called before hand, and they showed up right at the beginning of their delivery window. They were a little concerned that they had the wrong washer and dryer, as we didn’t buy a matching set. I assured them that we did that on purpose, as we picked out the Consumer Reports recommended machines, and those typically don’t come in a matching pair.

I showed the installer guy all the parts I had bought the day before, and he pointed out that I had purchased a 4-prong RANGE power cord. Not a dryer power cord. WTH?! (To the dad: that means ‘what the heck.’) What’s with appliances not coming with, oh, um power cords? Ranges, too? I had been so excited to finally find a 4-prong power cord (there were 3-prong guys everywhere), that I grabbed the first one I saw. Which apparently was for a range.

Luckily, as the husband likes to point out, I’m purty. So the installer guy had pity on me and threw in the right power cord. For free! Yay! Being a girl doesn’t always suck!

They had the machines installed in no time, and gave me the quick run-down on how the new-fangled machines worked. They set them both to do a short cycle, then told me they’d be good to go once they finished.

So I did what anybody would do if they had just bought a new washer and dryer: I ran out and bought something to wash and dry!!

I found the nearest Kohl’s, as they carry my favoritest towels. And I made sure they were on sale – there’s no reason to buy those towels at full price when they go 40% or 50% off every other week.

There was a Sears on the way, so I returned the extra washer hoses. And also a Best Buy, so I returned the range power cord.

I bought the towels to, um, you know, furnish the guest bathroom? Since we’ll soon be having regular guests! And then some jeans. Because I live in the land of the deep fried butter now!

I ran a load of towels, followed by a comforter, a load of jeans, and a load of darks. Everything seemed to work! I kept forgetting to close the detergent tray in the washer, but there’s a pause button on the washer that halts the load and unlocks the door, so I was able to remedy the situation. I’m not sure what happens if you don’t notice that you forget – I hope that it figures it out for you and halts the load. I am pretty sure that I will find out at some point. 🙂

The best part is, the washer and dryer both play a happy little tune when the load is done! So you can pretend that laundry is a joy and not a drudgery. We’ll see how long that trick works.

I dropped the sister off at the airport in the morning, giving her plenty of time to make it through any amped up 9/11 security. And then I had the day to myself, to accomplish one thing: buy hoses, a vent, and a power cord for the washer and dryer that were being delivered the next day.

The first Best Buy I stopped at had none of the things I needed, but they directed me to a store that would have them. I put in a major shopping effort at the Target next door (I bought at least one of everything), and unloaded it all at home before venturing out again.

I found the next Best Buy, but all they had was the dryer vent. So I bought that. And then they directed me to another Best Buy.

I had asked the husband to research me a microwave, and he found one. I passed a Sears before I found the next Best Buy, so I stopped in and picked up the microwave. And also washing machine hoses, since they had them in stock.

I found the Best Buy, and they had 4-prong power cords, so I picked one up. And also washer hoses, just to be on the safe side. In case Best Buy hoses are different than Sears hoses.

Mission accomplished! Or so I thought …

The sister had one day of fun before she had to head back home, so we went downtown to see the Alamo and the River Walk. She wanted to see the Alamo because, come on! It’s the Alamo! And the River Walk because of something about Cloak and Dagger. Which makes me wonder, why has she even seen that movie?? She was born in 1990. I’ve seen the movie about a thousand times because it was somebody’s favorite (maybe b2?), but I don’t even remember anything about it.

Even though my new home is in the boonies, we made it downtown and found a place to park in less than 30 minutes. Yay for 70 mile an hour speed limits through the heart of a city! Unless you don’t know where you’re going, then good luck to you. Just keep moving!

We wandered through the Alamo, and I recounted the story as best as I could remember. William B. Travis! Santa Anna! All the women and children hiding in one room! Nobody came to help! Everybody died! But, they slowed the Mexicans down long enough for Sam Houston to get into place and then he wiped out Santa Anna! Texas independence!!

It was early, so the river walk was pretty dead, but we found a place to eat lunch. The sister doesn’t like Mexican food, but I doubt whether she’s ever had Tex-mex. The parents were raised on Arizonan-mex, which is not the same kind of food you find in Texas at all. For one thing, Tex-mex isn’t ever a man-vs-food style heat challenge like Sonoran food often is. And another thing, Tex-mex includes chili! As someone who grew up with Sonoran-mex, that’s just blasphemous and silly. But, it is what it is. And, it’s yummy!

So, suffice it to say, we ate at the Rainforest Cafe. Because what says San Antonio like the Rainforest Cafe?! We were seated by the animatronic pandas, and decided to split the chicken parmesan. Which worked out well, as we are both tiny people with tiny appetites. Ok, so she’s a tiny person, I’m just a small one. 🙂 And I never get to split anything!

Given the fact that the Rainforest Cafe isn’t an Italian place, the chicken parmesan was surprisingly good. And we still didn’t clean our split plates! I was closer than the sister, as I’ve got 6 inches and 40 pounds on her, but it was still more food than I could eat. And I can put down an 8″ Deli like nobody’s business, so it was definitely a generous portion. No wonder America is fat.

After lunch, we hit the mall to do some shopping, and caught Batman at the IMAX theater. I had already seen it (duh), but the sister hadn’t, and she doesn’t live near any IMAX screens. So Batman it was! She liked it better than the husband did, but she, too, was bothered by the Ra’s al Ghul story not adding up. Because she reads comics. All of them. While I am conversant with many of the major characters in the major comics, she actually reads the things. It sure does make a geek girl proud. /sniff

We grabbed some Yummi Japanese on the way home, and the sister introduced me to Ramune. Which is just soda in a glass bottle. With a marble in it. And also tamago. Not only does my sister out-nerd me, she out-japaneses me, despite the fact that I have the Japanese name. Just goes to show, you can’t judge a book by it’s cover.

After our gyoza and sushi, we slept in the new house on air mattresses that Amazon left on the front porch for us. Despite the fact that they are 4-in-1 mattresses, they clearly only have 3 configurations: 2 twins, 1 twin, or 1 king. I guess maybe math isn’t a requirement for marketing majors?

A few months back, the husband decided we should move to Texas. After some thought, I decided I was up to the adventure. I married a Texan; I knew the day would come when I, too, would become a Texan. I’m pretty sure it’s in the marriage vows.

And so ensued a whirlwind of activity: renting out our house, finding a rental home, finding jobs … I thought it was all supposed to be hard, but everything fell into place without too much effort. Moving is easy y’all! I think I’ll do it more often!

To get my car to our new home, we decided I’d drive down early and take care of logistics (internet and cable, really … the husband might just die without internet and cable). But I didn’t want to drive for 26 hours all by myself, so I flew my sister out. She couldn’t take a whole week off (ah, the shackles of adulthood), but she managed a long weekend for a ‘road trip’. Little did she know it was less a road trip and more just a whole lot of driving.

I quit my job early in the afternoon, hopped in the car, picked up my sister, and we were off! We managed to beat DC traffic and had ourselves a looooong drive through Virginia.

At the recommendation of a few coworkers, we stopped just shy of the Tennessee border, and called it a night. The Virginia side of the border is supposedly ‘nicer’ than the Tennessee side; I had to laugh when I looked out our hotel window and found a lumber yard. Admittedly, it was a clean and orderly lumber yard, but I was promised mansions and golf courses!

Day two took us through Tennessee, with a quick stop in Nashville for lunch (and a t-shirt), and another stop in Memphis for another t-shirt. Both Nashville and Memphis seem like happenin’ places, I’d like to go back sometime and spend more than 30 minutes there.

We stopped just past Little Rock, and the sister decided to have a swim. I had forgotten a bathing suit, so she risked the dangers all by her lonesome, and managed to not get kidnapped by hill folk. The hill folk were a bit odd (“there was a guy in the hot tub … wearing a trucker hat “), but were apparently friendly enough. They told my sister they’d “see her later,” which left her hoping they meant at breakfast the next morning. And me hoping it was just an expression that they said without thinking of the meaning behind it.

We did manage to get out of town the next morning without incident, and made it to Texas. We drove through the husband’s home town and ate some really terrible barbecue because the good place was closed. Chicken Express would have been a much better choice.

Later that night we made it to our destination, and picked up some Rudy’s. This time the sister was impressed – brisket, sliced white bread, and cream corn – and decided that Texas barbecue doesn’t suck. Which is a good thing, otherwise the husband would have had to disown her. I’m pretty sure that was in the wedding vows, too.

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