This is definitely my year of the mini break. In hindsight, it would have been a lot cheaper if I’d just picked one place and gone to it for a longer time, but instead I chose to do a lot of little trips.
The first little trip was this past weekend, when my mum and I went to Washington DC so that we could indulge our inner history nerds. Okay, it’s possible that my inner history nerd isn’t so inner, particularly if you know about my fascination with history audiobooks.
Anyway, Mum and I endured a really crappy couple of flights through the type of turbulence that leaves drinks on the ceiling of the plane and people crying and puking. Regardless, we eventually got downtown and settled into our hotel (The Embassy Row Hotel in Dupont Circle). It was great – clean, air con that worked, and great breakfasts included in the room fee.
After a quick dinner out, a trip to my favourite store (CVS), and an early night, we shlepped down to pick up the world’s cheapest rental car ($44 for two days!) so that we could go down to Charlottesville to Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s estate. We picked up the car at 8, it took til 8:15 to figure out how to use the GPS, and then we hit the road. According to Google and the GPS, it should take a hair over two hours to get to Monticello. It took us 3 hours and 45 minutes, a 3 hour stretch of stop and stop traffic broken only by a pee break and my hysteria at being unable to turn the car back on.
Side note: who came up with this idea of keyless ignitions? And who decided they should take the damn manuals out of rental cars? Let’s just say that I sweated and gnashed my teeth and cursed the people who came up with this shit before I stopped panicking enough to notice that there’s a little picture of a foot on a pedal when you hit the “on” button. Um. Apparently you need to press the brake for the gas to go on. Somewhat counterintuitive if you ask me, but whatev.
Monticello was lovely. There wasn’t enough “stuff” for mum to look at, though our tour of the garden was great, and the docent who walked us through the house was lovely. We started with an ill advised “slavery tour” of 100 or so white people and one person a wee bit less white than I am, but quickly left the group when it turned out there was nothing for us to see – it was more of a roving lecture with 100 or so sweaty people.
We stopped at the outlet mall on the way back to DC, because we have priorities.
Sunday morning we bopped out to see Mount Vernon, which is quite lovely and which has been worked on A LOT since I last went there in 2000. Interestingly, the last time I was there I went with my friend Howard, and on Sunday we hung out there together again! I’ve always enjoyed Howard – he’s an international political relations nerd with esoteric interests and lots of opinions. Fun fact: the first time I got completely and totally drunk out of my mind, it was Howard who made sure I got to bed, put the puke bucket next to it, and checked to make sure I wasn’t dead periodically. That was 20 years ago. Anyway, we caught up, and I met his lovely wife and very cute, very smart daughter. It was awesome.
On the way back to DC, we went to a mall. Because you know, we have priorities.
Monday, Mum wanted to hit the war memorials and the Canadian Embassy (because it was Canada Day) and I wanted to go to the American History Museum. Conversation between Mum and I:
K: There doesn’t seem to be any direct subway route down to the memorials. How about we take a bus tour? (Note: I thought Mum would remember the hop on hop off tour we did 13 years ago and that it goes to the memorials and the museums.)
M: How far away is it?
K: The bus is a minute away. The memorials are about a 30 minute walk.
M: Let’s walk!
Repeat that conversation for the next five stops. In the 34C heat with 100% humidity and scattered rain that provided absolutely no relief from the heat.
K: I need to sit. (Please god, put me in a taxi and take me somewhere air conditioned and shoot me)
M: Let’s walk!
I was too tired to be responsible for dinner, so I sent my mother off to find us a restaurant. My dad, when apprised of this situation, fully turned around in the car to give me the stink eye. Mum and I went to Paris once and I needed a nap so she went off to the Centre Pompidou and despite my drawing her a line on a map back to our apartment, she got lost and stopped in at every starbucks on her way home to get english directions. What was I thinking, letting her wander the streets of DC? Was I crazy? No, I reassured him, she was only a block from the hotel.
While Mum scoped out a resto, I cranked up the air conditioning and took off my pants and lay down in front of the vent, trying to cool off as much of me as possible before showering. You’d be surprised how long that took. My only saving grace was that Mum was just as red and sweaty as I was.
Yesterday, we bopped home, turbulence free. It was a lovely weekend, a great getaway, and a fun time.
Mum asked an interesting question: if you were going to do an away weekend, would you do it in Chicago or DC? Great question. I think I’d like to alternate. I have friends in DC and I know where I’m going. In Chicago the food is amazing and there’s tons of things to do that I’ve never done before. They’re both great options, I think, and I’m definitely going to plan trips to both places again in the next couple of years.
How about you? Where would you go for a long weekend?