There's nothing like a vacation to visit your soldier to make you appreciate this great country we live in and the things that we have been given. No, its not a perfect country. It is filled, after all, with imperfect people. But there are many things to be grateful for on this holiday, as I remember last week's visit to Maryland and the Washington DC area. Keep in mind, I am thankful for many more things than are just listed here. I'm grateful for my family back in Texas, the roof that I have over my head, and so much more. But today I highlight three things:
- Item #1: MY HUSBAND
Meet Bernie. What a stud, amiright?? Okay, I realize I am completely biased. I did marry the guy after all. But really, I am so incredibly grateful for him. He works so hard and supports me as I flounder through this process that is being an entrepreneur. Easily one of the best parts of this trip was being able to visit Arlington Cemetery with him.
The last time I visited Arlington Cemetery I was 14 years old and on a family trip. I was young, immature, and had mostly only experienced history though textbooks. Washington DC was amazing and we did lots of wonderful things, many of which I remember. Granted, I may “remember” most of those experiences through photos. But Arlington Cemetery - I felt. There are two things I remember very vividly about it: the fact that the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier takes 21 paces in each direction, and the gorgeous, giant, marble columns on the front of the home of Robert E. Lee.
Yes, yes, I am very aware that those are pretty trivial things to have “felt” at a cemetery. But I was 14 years old and for whatever reason, those are the things that were burned into my impressionable mind. I absolutely could not wait to relive both experiences.
We got to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier first, just as they were about to perform the changing of the guard ceremony. It was just as surreal as I remembered. It made me proud to live in a country that honors those who serve it so well and to be standing next to a service member made the moment that much more powerful.
He serves his country and he loves me well. I could not ask for a better partner.
As for the Robert E. Lee home, the columns were everything I had remembered as well. Somehow I had managed to forget the epic view of the capitol city down below, and all the interesting history that went along with the people who had lived and worked in the home. But those columns, mmmm, they were perfect.
Then I actually managed to get him to walk through the house with me while I took more pictures and chatted up the park ranger who knew and told all things civil war. Have I mentioned recently how patient he is?
I managed to talk him into “hiking” at Patapsco Valley State Park as well. I hate to say hiking because it wasn’t difficult, but it wasn’t a leasurly stroll either. We were not dressed for the outting but the inner boy scout shown through and he humored me.
I’d wanted to visit the state park (any of the 40,000 acres) ever since listening to the first season of Serial on podcast. Again, a weird reason to want to go to a specific place but the name of the park had stuck with me and as it’s autumn, I knew it would be gorgeous.
And gorgeous it was! It’s not like I haven’t seen pictures, we even visited Vermont last Fall, but growing up in Texas, surrounded by the constant green-brown color of live oaks, makes the changing leaves of Maryland feel like a wonderland of reds and oranges and yellows.
- Item #2: FRIENDS
I obviously went up to the DC area foremost to visit my husband who’s job had him living up there for a couple of months. But the added bonus of the trip, was visiting friends who are in the area as well who I haven’t seen in entirely too long.
Liz and I met three years ago because our husbands worked together. When we moved to Augusta, the guys agreed that my husband and I would live with them while we house-hunted. I was so intimidated at first because I had only met her in passing once, but it didn’t take long for us to realize that we both loved the world of vintage.
Before we knew it, we’d each accumulated enough of a hoard that we decided to get an antique booth together and be business partners. I can’t say that we made any money, but we didn’t loose any money, and I credit that experience as my first step into the deep waters of the entrepreneurial world.
Since she moved back up north at the beginning of the summer, she’s really figured out her way around the Baltimore area. We did many of the things we often do together - thrift shop, chat, and drink fancy cocktails.
On my last day we went to Fort McHenry. I must say, every time I visit Baltimore I find something new which which to fall in love. It may not be DC but it is certainly full of enough history and culture and art to keep me busy for a very long time.
The day was very windy and a bit overcast but the light was perfect and the fort was so beautiful it was hard to imagine the bombardment that it is famous for surviving during the war of 1812. I learned quite a bit about Francis Scott Key’s writing of our National Anthem and how it came to be recognized as such.
Several archaeological digs have been done on the fort as well which is right up my alley. I actually wanted to be an archaeologist growing up and I still think it would be such a cool profession. Sure, it’s not as old as anything that might be found on digs in Italy or Algeria or Israel, but they had some very insightful displays on what life would have been like in the 18th and 19th centuries as a solider living in a fort.
One of the most unique parts of the fort, however, was a beautiful grove of cherry trees, set up as a living memorial for those who had died at the fort. We got there just as the sun was setting, peaked through the clouds, and lit up the grove in the most splendid light.
Item #3: THE ABILITY TO TRAVEL
In my short lifetime of 26 years, I have spent more than 2 cumulative years living in Europe and visited a total of 14 countries on 3 continents. I realize that there are people out there out there who have seen way more of the world, and those who have seen way less of the world. I count every experience I’ve had to be a blessing and generally each country is filled with (mostly) fond memories.
It has been almost four years since I left the country though. I think it is part of the reason that I often harp on growing where you’re planted and finding adventure where you can. I’ve come to truly love Augusta in the 3+ years that we’ve lived here, but I certainly won’t complain about the opportunity to visit our nation’s capitol and the surrounding area.
I will never be underwhelmed by Washington DC, not just because I could never get bored, but because it truly is beautiful.
Bernie and I spent one night in the city. We’ve learned, when we go on trips, to each come up with one thing each that we really want to do, and we make those two things happen. This has turned out to be a pretty stress-free strategy to approaching a huge city with endless things to do.
I wanted to visit the National Gallery of Art and eat lunch in the adjoining sculpture garden. I have fond memories in both places and, after all, I am very much a lover of art. One of my all-time favorite paintings ever is there: a portrait of a Young Girl Reading by Jean-Honoré Fragonard. I think we spent less than 3 hours total in the museum which is really impressive for me as a tend to get easily sidetracked in a building filled with my favorite subject.
I hate being cold but I sucked it up to be able to sit outside in the sculpture garden while we ate our lunch. With the holidays coming up, there was the hustle and bustle of people out and about and workmen were putting in an ice rink. Plus we saw an albino squirrel and that’s just awesome.
There weren’t any new pieces in the garden that I could tell but I made my poor, patient husband walk around so I could look at and photograph just about every one. A sculpture gardens is a fabulous meld of art and architectural landscaping and, if done well, can be very a very pleasant place to pass an afternoon.
My husband wanted to see the Jefferson Memorial “because Bones and because [he’d] never seen it”. Sounded like a good reason to me! We’ve seen the others multiple times so we took a long walk around the pond to the memorial.
The neoclassical structure truly is stunning and was worth the blisters. We got there just as the sun was setting and the almost-full-super-moon was rising.
We finished off the day solidly with a wonderful dinner that I was more more interested in eating than documenting. But the next day we woke up to brunch (is that a verb?) in Georgetown with Patti, a wonderful friend from childhood who I haven’t seen since college.
She and her husband showed us all around the area and we finished off a fabulous visit with the most amazing honeycomb inspired tea from an adorable little cafe called Malmaison and a walk along the Potomac.
It may not be the Rhine or the Nile or the Po, but what does it matter when I’m seeing it surrounded with so much love. And so to finish, this Thanksgiving, I am thankful for my husband, my friends, and the ability to travel with them and to them. May your Thanksgiving be surrounded by as much love as mine will be.