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2003.07.03 handy travel accessory:

This entry is part 1 of 4 in the series DC 2003

well, the washington trip was a huge success, despite the fact that we were all really insanely tired most of the time. it seemed like we did so much walking… i'm not sure if the distances we covered were all that great, but we were on our feet and moving for what had to have been 15 or 16 hours a day.

yeah, so maybe that's an exaggeration.

anyway, we all had a great time, and we got to see a large portion of the things we'd set out to.

Day One: we get up bright and early, but not as bright or early as ben & mary, who got to the airport before six (i think) in order to check in two hours before our flight. any way you slice it, six something is way too early to be up and moving in the morning.

we did manage to get to the plane on time, and had no trouble on the flight over. we also managed to figure out how and where to catch the Amtrack that was going to take us from Baltimore to D.C.

then, trouble.

as it turns out, it's fairly easy to get distracted at 10 something in the morning, especially when you only got 3 hours sleep the night before and have a new toy in your hands. so easy, in fact, that one might be susceptible to such an unlikely thing as losing one's luggage.

once i explained the situation to the conductor (or whatever he was) he told me that it'd already been picked up and would be on its way with one of the next trains.

after waiting for a few "next trains", and with the help of several friendly Amtrack employees, we managed to track down the guy i'd spoken to, and through him, the woman who'd picked up my bag at the train station… of course, my bag had never made it onto that "next train."

more arrangements were made, and this time enough to my satisfaction that we felt comfortable leaving the glorious confines of Union Station. we proceeded on to the hotel but couldn't check in yet as we were still early, so we checked our baggage with the concierge, and started walking towards the Capitol and our scheduled appointment with a Congressman's intern.

our tour of the capitol was conducted by a two-week-old intern, who seemed to have a pretty good grasp of things anyway. after the tour, we got to go with another intern to a subcommittee hearing.

after the capitol, sara & I parted from ben & mary, and proceeded back to Union Station to retrieve my newly arrived bag. considering the events of the day, and our still fresh "vacation legs", about all we did after that was have a little dinner at the restaurant/bar off our hotel's lobby. There was some kind of company party going on, and at some point, and extremely inebriated woman comes over to ask us for a light, then proceeds to tell us all about how she likes to fuck young men, but not get involved with them. she also took it upon herself to recommend mary ditching ben and finding herself someone "better." … a here i thought we'd find no-one with any class in D.C.

alright, well, i was gonna throw this all into one big post, but it was becoming a really big post, so i'm gonna break it up. don't worry it was only a four day trip, and only three of those were really spent in D.C…. so there's only two more to go. whiny little bastards.

my major project the last several days has been getting my php based gallery scripts that i've been using on and adapted for ye olde bipolar. eventually i'll have these scripts worked to such a fine polish, that only minor modifications will be necessary for moving them to new digs… if i do it right, anyway.

well, without further ado, i give you the Washington D.C. photo gallery.

- 02:28 am - PL :: 2 Comments
categories ::  Friends - Happy/Love - Society - Travel


2003.07.04 these gobs were made for walkin':

This entry is part 2 of 4 in the series DC 2003

Day Two: for the first half of the 2nd day, we were wandering about the halls of the Pentagon, knocking on the doors of the Joint Chiefs, and getting chummy with famous newsanchors. now, we're pretty proud of the fact that we got into the Pentagon… perhaps you're not aware, but the only people allowed (generally) to tour the pentagon are school groups and members of the military. the one exception to that rule would be–you gotta know somebody. as it turns out, ben had interviewed a guy a while back who offered to "take him around" if he should "ever come to Washington." good thing ben remembers stuff like that, and good thing he's not afraid to bring it up again.

we ended up getting the five hour personalized tour, and after it was over, we were all ready to call it quits. but, rather than doing that, we decided we might as well head on over to Arlington (practically just next door, by Metro) and enjoy that while we were already out and about. We did, it was nice, it was hilly, our feet were killing us, we were tired, we went back to the hotel & took naps after.

after napping not quite sufficiently, we got up for our night-time walk through the Mall and to the White House. and walk we did.

now, i haven't mentioned yet, but our hotel was in a fairly favorable position in the greater scheme of things. two blocks from a Metro stop, four or five blocks from the white house, five or six blocks from the washington monument. nevertheless, after the pentagon and arlington visits earlier in the day, our feet weren't much more than little gobs of goo we'd stuffed in our shoes before going out again.

we found and photographed the White House (seemed smaller than i was expecting), trekked over to the washington monument, then we were going to go to the Lincoln Memorial, but decided we'd rather see Jefferson at night.


the Jefferson Memorial is a hellaciously long way from the Mall on gobs of goo.

still, we did finally make it there, and enjoyed several minutes resting on the handy benches. our day was done—it was now back towards the hotel and to bed.

- 04:49 pm - PL :: 5 Comments
categories ::  Travel


2003.07.16 five dollar, no holler:

This entry is part 3 of 4 in the series DC 2003

Day Three: today, we decided to visit the other monuments in the Mall, and to spend some time at the Air & Space Museum (this was really my only mandatory activity for the whole trip–i wasn't about to visit D.C. without going to the Air & Space Museum).

we set out from the probably somewhere in the range of 10:30 to 11:00, and proceeded to the Mall. we made it back to the Washington Monument, then made our way towards the construction zone, avoiding touring school-children, gaggles of the elderly, and middle-aged couples walking hand in hand discussing whatever it is that middle-aged hand-in-hand type couples discuss.

one end of the lawn was boarded, roped, fenced, and otherwise closed off, but there were gateways through the fencing at the crosswalks to let onto the sidewalks that lead along the reflecting pool at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial. now, if you've not been to D.C., or if you've been but have never seen the reflecting pool, let me just prepare you… it is a green festering dirty filthy mess. not nearly so "beautiful" as we may've been led to believe by the movies, photographs, and other images. that shit looks nasty, and, while i didn't walk directly along the edge of the pool, i imagine it probably stunk. it looked like it would stink. much like our society and especially our government, it looks pretty nice from far away, but once you get right up close, you can see that it's unkempt, rundown, dirty, and ugly. "reflecting" indeed.

anyway… before we made it to the Lincoln Memorial, i noticed the Korean War Veterans Memorial off to the side as we approached, so i detoured our contingent to go get a peek. i remembered ben and geoff talking about it at some point in the past, and remembered the images i'd seen from it, so i wanted to go get a real look at it. it was pretty cool, but i think this was really the point in the trip where i started wishing that i could visit these places without hundreds of other people. i couldn't "connect" with the memorial, or any of the memorials we visited, because i couldn't "disconnect" from all the people milling about.

next we went on to the Lincoln Memorial. it is huge. it was cool.

after that, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. my companions were all visibly moved by it, once we reached the other side, but once again, somehow i managed not to take it in or be effected by it. i have no immediate personal connection to that conflict, at least not through a familial loss, because though most of the male members of my extended family (who were of age) did serve in that war, they all returned.

after the Vietnam Memorial, we left the Mall and headed for the nearest Metro stop (10 blocks away or some crazy shit like that) and headed back around to the Air & Space Museum.

you've doubtless heard the old analogy of the kid in the candy store, right? well, that certainly could've been applied to me. rockets and manned space capsules and jets and… just all kinds of really cool shit.

probably my favorite of the exhibits was the Apollo moon shot exhibit, followed closely by the history of aviation exhibit. they also had the crazy ass space flight simulators or airplane simulators or whatever they were–the ones with the pneumatic chambers that shake, move, twist, and turn the little cabin that you're sitting in. i really wanted to do that, but the wait was over an hour, and we were only planning on spending 4 or so there.

the freakiest thing of the whole trip though, was when we decided to get some lunch after walking through a couple exhibits. there was a food court area in a sectioned off area of the building, and the restaurant was a combined McDonald's (ick), Boston Market, and Donato's Pizzeria. i can hardly describe the level of freakishness that this fast-food place has managed to achieve… think of a drive-through restaurant for race-car drivers, only there're no cars… think of cattle lining up to be slaughtered, and each being able to pick which particular shape of knife gets to be drawn across its throat… think of being shoved in a bright, metal & glass elevator car, going up at ridiculous speeds and having grease, meat, bread and french fries squeezed through a strainer in the ceiling above you.

ok, now think of something just a touch less freakish.

yeah. fucking packed… PACKED with people—scads, scores, gobs of people—in long lines where you first place your order with a disinterested person sitting in a bright metal chair, and then are told to go to the next person who will collect your money. then, after paying, you have to step up to the "counter" to pick up your "meal." each successive person looking like they give even less of a shit than the last, and the food you're handed, if hot, is only just barely so. hell, i'm freaking out right now just thinking about it.

so anyway, we ate the crappy food at the freaky food court, then went on back out to get some more exhibits under our belts before meeting ben & mary (who'd been sitting on a bench or in the planet-arium for most of the day).

after the Museum, we were dog tired (and still freaked out about the food court), so we went back to the hotel and crashed for a few hours, before going back out on the town for dinner.

this evening we kind of jazzed it up a bit. we walked out to this place that ben had found (we tended to leave the dining decisions to ben & mary it seemed, so we ended up eating at much more high-class establishments than i can imagine i would've picked) and checked in at the front table. there were actually two separate restaurants in the same… er… restaurant–one for the lower upper middle class, the other for the lower upper class. ben picked the one he thought was the former, and we proceeded downstairs to a nice big round table with all the accoutrements including the cloth napkins all folded and placed decoratively on the plate. we opened the fancy menus in the nice leather-bound folders, and stared aghast at the $15 asking price for a house salad. needless to say, we stared even more aghast at the $40 – $60 dollar entrees, then promptly told the waiter that there'd been a mistake and we needed to go back upstairs to the "cheap seats".

somehow, at this point, $5 for a Beam & Coke, and $15 for an entree didn't seem all that bad.

the food was good (thank god, or someone would've lost an eye or limb) and we were satisfied with our last day & night in D.C.

well, almost. sara & i decided to go back to the White House, as there was some issue of film not advancing properly in her camera the night before, and she wanted to make sure she got some night shots of the White House. we did, and we had a nice leisurely stroll through the streets of D.C., just the two of us hand-in-hand, talking about whatever it is that young hand-in-hand type couples talk about on their last night on their first vacation together.

we went back to the hotel and prepared for our early morning departure, and a day of potential chaos.

- 03:04 am - PL :: 3 Comments
categories ::  Computers/Tech - Cool Links - Drinking - Friends - Happy/Love - Indifferent - Love Life - Politics - Rants - Society - Travel - TV - Upset/Dislike


2003.08.08 cooking in style:

This entry is part 4 of 4 in the series DC 2003

jess' wedding gallery

Day Four: oh goodness, if any day on this trip were a potential candidate for some moderately successful stand-up-comedian to base an inane sitcom on, this would have been the day, or at least the morning.

so, we get up at the ass-crack of dawn, because i in my infinite wisdom neglected to remember that one of my best friends was getting married. i had received the invitation in plenty of time, but hadn't considered the need to commit the date to memory because i a) never plan things that far in advance, and b) knew that as the date approached, it would get mentioned at least once and preparations would have to start being made at some point before-hand.

so, yes, i forgot. not only did i forget, but i planned a trip out of town for that very weekend. luckily, after realizing the utterly inexcusable error i'd made, i was able to wrestle the airline (wasn't that hard, really, they were quite nice) into bumping us up to an earlier flight, but just sara & i–not our traveling companions.

anyway, back to the story at hand, which i believe left off somewhere around the dawn of a stand-up-comedian's ass-crack, or something.

we figure we're doing fine. a teeny-tiny bit behind schedule, perhaps, but still plenty of time to get to union station via the metro, which has a stop only two blocks from the hotel.

little do we know that the Metro doesn't start running until much later than 6 something AM on Sundays.

Metro's closed. We walk back to the hotel and talk to the desk clerk to explain our situation and ask for advice. luckily, another hotel customer who'd just checked out had hailed a cab, and was on her way to, of all places, the very airport we needed to get to–in Baltimore. so, we asked and were granted permission to share her cab, which ended up saving her some money, and us as well, if we'd ended up having to get our own.

disaster averted, we made it to the airport in time, boarded the plane (finally) and were headed for home.

the wedding is scheduled for 3:00pm. we arrive in Louisville around noon. after sara's mom picks us up and takes us home, i have to leave straight-away and head for the mall to pick up my un-tried-on tuxedo.

no trouble at the mall, no trouble with the tux, i realize i actually have enough time (barely) to head back to the house to kick my feet up for exactly 10 minutes before i have to leave again to make it to the wedding in time to figure out what exactly it is i'm expected to do.

i meet the puffin at home, and we chat briefly, then head out. of course, once we get there, there's still almost a full hour and a half before the ceremony begins, time that will be filled with stuffing ourselves into suits and getting pictures taken with the sun burning holes in our retinas.

that finally out of the way, we retreat inside and watch as the guests arrive. Jess finally takes a few moments to explain to me how the whole processional thing is going to work, and where i'll need to stand, and what direction i should face and whatnot. no problem, i may as well have done this a hundred times. paul & I are, after all, professional best men for hire.

the ceremony / cookoff begins. the sun is beating unmercifully down on us in our plastic shoes and thick ass black clothing. i think i sweated out more water than i typically drink in a week. no one passed out though, so that was a good thing.

the ceremony was nice, if a tad bit long winded… perhaps it just felt that way to me because the time-center of my brain was actually melting and dripping out of my right ear.

after the ceremony, the beer and wine flowed freely, and dinner was served. we (paul, sara, and I) rounded up the rest of the crew (brian & elizabeth, and jim & lori) to share a table in the main guests of honor dining room. the food was quite good, and aside from a moment where one of the employees of the reception hall told me to put away my flask (since hard liquor is against the rules), it was quite enjoyable.

after the dinner, there was a bit of socializing, sara and i went out and took several photos in the gardens, and then hooked back up with the rest of the crew to hang out and chat

most of the guests seemed to depart pretty quickly, probably at least partly because the reception was split up into a "main" room and a "other friends" room. and since the largest portion of the crowd was outside of the "main" room where the dancing was supposed to take place, i think they just decided to call it early and head home.

we stayed and hung out while brian, elizabeth, jim, and lori all drank copious amounts of wine. after a time, we decided it was about time to leave, so i had to run get my tux. the room was locked, and after getting one of the guys in charge to unlock it for me, we found that my tux wasn't in there. i was a bit concerned for a moment, but figured that john had probably picked it up. so, then i had to hunt him down.

when i finally did find him, he & his buddies were all hanging out by his (dad's?) truck, where all the remaining alcohol and other drinks had been moved, and john was offering for the stragglers to take away whatever they could carry.

after asking john about the tux and learning that his best man had taken it (as he was taking others) so that he could return them all to the rental place at the same time. since i didn't have to worry anymore, i ran off to find the drunkards (and sara) to let them know about the alcoholic bounty that was to be had from the back of a truck.

brian & jim, of course, practically sprinted as fast as their inebriated little legs would carry them.

i'm not sure how much brian made off with, but i know that jim landed at least 6 bottles of various wines, and at least one–if not two–cases of some cheap beer. jim was a happy man

finally the day was coming to a close, and sara and i retired to my house to chill out and decompress from the stressful and tiring but still enjoyable vacation.

as we decided though, the next vacation will involve a beach and very little walking/movement. unless, of course, we go to France soon to visit my sis and my soon-to-be niece or nephew

and that, my friends, is the story of my and sara's first vacation together, and our second attended wedding.

don't forget, enjoy the gallery!

- 05:54 pm - PL :: 3 Comments
categories ::  Drinking - Friends - Happy/Love - Love Life - Travel