DC + Virginia + Maryland

On October 8, 2016, we arrived in our nation’s capital after a long and rainy drive from Delaware. Because we needed to avoid the toll roads, the drive took us through many side streets in heavily trafficked Baltimore.

We arrived at Uncle Bobby’s pad in Capital Hill and he made us feel right at home. We got settled in, his partner David came over, then we walked to the Eastern Market. First, we passed through Lincoln Park.

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We took in all the sights and listened to Uncle Bobby and David talk about the different stores and street vendors.  For a light lunch, we stopped in to seventhHILL for a small wood-fired pizza. We ordered the “Lincoln Park” which was topped with artichokes, rosemary, mozzarella, zucchini, mushrooms. The toppings were tasty, especially the marinated artichoke hearts. All in all it was a good pizza, but the bottom was a bit too burnt for our liking.

Next, Uncle Bobby and David walked us to the bus stop that would take us to Nationals ballpark to watch our Dodgers take on the Nats for game 2 of the NLDS. We get to the park early so we can scope it out.

When game time was approaching we found it odd that the stadium wasn’t full. We saw people leaving and some of the smaller entrance gates were being closed. Niner pulled up the ESPN app and that’s how we found out that the game was being postponed due to rain. This confused us greatly considering it wasn’t raining very much. Oh well.

We then headed back to Uncle Bobby’s. We chatted for a while and then headed out to dinner. David made us a reservation for a restaurant called Purple Patch where they offer “Filipino classics and American fare.” To start we ordered the lumpia, which were perfectly fried and flavorful. To drink Niner ordered a Vienna Lager from Devil’s Backbone Brewery in Virginia. It was really nice and had a great toasted grain flavor! Then we went family style on several of their main dishes. We especially enjoyed the pancit and chicken adobo. For dessert we all shared an order of the ube bread pudding with ube ice cream which was the perfect way to end the meal. After dinner we visited the FDR and MLK memorials, both beautiful even at night. Then we went home for some much-needed sleep.

The next morning DB and I slept in and then we headed to the Eastern Market area and had some coffee with a yummy pastries at a little spot called Radici. Then we headed back to Nationals ballpark to finally see our Dodgers. It was a really good game, even though we lost it was great to be at a different stadium to cheer on our boys in blue for a playoff game. It was pretty cool to be wearing our Dodger gear in a sea of red National’s fans.

We made our way back to Uncle Bobby’s and he was making dinner for all of us. He put out a nice spread of appetizers like veggies and dip with fancy crackers. He has a thing for vintage cocktails and he shook us up some drinks with an Italian liqueur called Cynar which is made of artichokes. Niner was very skeptical, but the drink was good and had a classic boozy taste to it. (If you want to know more about the cocktail and/or Cynar check out this informational blog post Niner found. For dinner, Uncle Bobby served up his famous meatloaf. It was so nice to have a home cooked meal! It was well overdue… the last one we had was in Peoria, IL with our friend Natalie and her family. After dinner Uncle Bobby turned on his TV and we all watched the presidential debate, which was, let’s say, interesting. Then we called it a night.

The next day was jammed with activities! Uncle Bobby walked us to the Library of Congress and we were lucky enough to be there on a day where they allowed the public into usually restricted areas. We got to spend some time in the massive catalog area, which was pretty cool. We also visited the Jefferson’s book collection and Niner was super impressed by the fact that her favorite philosopher’s work (Baruch Spinoza) was there.

Then Uncle walked us over to the US Capital building. He went back home, and we went on the guided tour. The tour was amazing! We highly recommend it. Afterwards we were super hungry and on the advice of David, we had lunch at the capital cafeteria.

Our next bit of sightseeing took place at the Supreme Court building and then we did a tour at the US Botanical Garden. We took the volunteer-lead guided tour which was really educational. One of the trees the guide pointed out was a pawpaw tree. Niner got super excited because this pawpaw was something she knew of from a song she sang in her elementary school choir, but had never seen one. Niner even started singing the song and the volunteer joined in! Turns out the pawpaw is like a tropical fruit, that is native to North America, but is not found on the west coast. The volunteer fondly described pawpaws as one of her favorite fruits.

Next, we went to the Smithsonian Air Museum and we were there until they closed.

We then made our way to Hank’s Oyster Bar to meet up with David and Uncle Bobby. The four of us enjoyed the happy hour food and drink specials at the bar.

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All of us made our way back to Uncle Bobby’s place and we bid him farewell as he was leaving early in the morning for a trip to Oregon. Even though he was going to be out of town, he invited us to stay for as long as we wanted so we could do more exploring.

The next morning when we woke up, Uncle Bobby already left. The two of us drove to Mount Vernon in Virginia (our 36th state) to visit George Washington’s land. The property is beautiful and full of history. So much takes place there… farming, raising of heritage livestock, and we just happened to be there for the building of a vintage canoe.

After our long day at Mount Vernon we were famished and found a little Korean BBQ place called Kimchi House in Alexandria, VA. It has great reviews on yelp, so we were really excited to have some quality Korean food as it had been ages since we had some. Unfortunately, we were not impressed. The service was unfriendly and slow even though the place was nearly empty on a Tuesday night. We ordered some spicy BBQ chicken and it was okay. The banchan (the cold side dishes served with a Korean meal) was mediocre. Not much variety and was lacking in flavor. However, the kimchi was great, which is good because it is their namesake.

We then made our way back to our “home” for the week and relaxed for the rest of the evening.

The next day we made our way to the state of Maryland (State 37 of our trip). We drove to Annapolis and our first order of business was lunch. We went to a charming place called Galway Bay Irish Restaurant and Pub. Crabcakes are a must in Maryland and we were not going to miss out on that, so we ordered “Ms. Peggy’s Crabcakes” which was a fantastic dish! We also got the Vegetarian Boxty which is a potato pancake filled with mushrooms, garlic, peppers, tomato sauce, and cheese. DB was feeling daring and she decided to order their seasonal egg nog cocktail, which she enjoyed, but was not able to finish.

After our satisfying lunch we walked around the cute residential area to the city dock. DB has a thing for cute doors with wreaths on them. Then we made our way to the First State House.

Next, we walked to the Naval Academy. We made it there too late to take a tour, but we were able to watch an informational video and spend some time and money in the gift shop. After we were finished walking around the academy’s grounds we got in Becky and we headed back to DC.

The next destination was the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery where we really enjoyed all of the artwork.

For dinner we met up with a friend of ours who had moved to DC from Los Angeles a couple years back. She suggested Vapiano which is a unique place with salads, pasta, pizza. Each person is issued a card, you go to the various stations and get your customized food, and then the food is billed to your card. When you are finished eating, you take the card to the front and you are charged for all that you ordered. It was really cool because it makes it the bill uncomplicated if you are in a group. We ordered a pasta and a salad, and they were both super fresh and tasty. Unfortunately, we don’t remember what the names of the items we ordered.

IMG_1942For dessert we headed to DB’s favorite place, the Milk Bar. Naturally, she got their signature cereal milk™ soft serve. Niner went for a float made with orange soda and the soft serve. Our friend got a couple of their delicious cookies. Thankfully it wasn’t too cold out and we sat at one of the patio areas facing the sidewalk just outside. Since we hadn’t seen each other in a long time we sat there for quite a while to catch up. When it came time to call it a night we walked our friend to her condo complex and bid her farewell.

 

The next day, October 13th, we made the most of our final moments in DC and did lots of exploring. Our first stop was the Jefferson Memorial.

For lunch we made it by foot to the legendary Maine Avenue Fish market.  Niner had this place on her radar after watching an episode of Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations. We had a hard time ordering… the menus at the various stands were not straight forward. Most items are sold per pound and it was difficult to tell what was what and who was working where. Eventually, we figured it out and had a variety of seafood delights to eat at the covered patio with stand-up tables right off the water.

Our next order of business was to visit the Washington Memorial and of course the Lincoln Memorial.

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We then made our way to the cool neighborhood on 14th Street which is full of hipster eateries and funky/trendy stores. DB was craving some guacamole (as usual) and thankfully, El Centro D.F. did not disappoint.

Finally, we made our way to National’s ballpark to witness the final game of the NLDS to watch our Dodgers make it to the next round of the postseason. It was a fantastic game and to watch our hero, Clayton Kershaw, get the save with the strike out to win the game was just extra awesome!

The next morning, we slept in and took advantage of doing laundry before we bid DC a fond farewell. Our next destination was Virginia, “Mother of Presidents.” Even though we already spent a bit of time there, we decided that the 36th state of our epic road trip required more of our attention.