YOU. GUYS. Will you hate me if I write a novel on my vacation? I’ll try to keep it brief, but I had THE BEST vacation ever ever ever and I want to talk (write?) everyone’s ears (eyes?) off about it.
Being the classic Type A individual that I am, I usually start planning vacations months in advance. By my standards, this was about as spontaneous as a trip as I’ve ever taken. Around Easter, I thought it would be nice to go home to Michigan for my dad’s birthday, and I thought I’d just make a long weekend out of it, as my dad’s birthday was last Thursday. A couple weeks later, I called my cousin to wish him a happy birthday, and while talking, he told me his job granted him free hotel rooms. I brushed it off until he told me that sometimes he gets rooms at the Ritz, at which point this whole thing changed from being a fun idea to something I actually wanted to do 😛 I turned the idea over in my head and decided I’d take the entire week of Memorial Day off instead of that Thursday and Friday, first going to DC and then heading home.
The last time I went to DC, Sarah and I wanted to meet up, but couldn’t make it work. I found a cheap flight to Baltimore and decided instead of flying straight to DC, I’d fly into Baltimore, spend some time there, take the train to DC, spend some time there, fly to Chicago, spend the night there, then take the train home to round out my vacation.
And that’s how, about 10 hours after the worst race of my life, I found myself on an airplane, flying across the country to hang out with someone I only knew from the Internet.
Meeting Sarah was not even close to the first time I’ve met up with an online friend in real life, and while I’ve had varied results with that sort of thing in the past, Sarah and I hit it off immediately. I’m pretty sure the only times we stopped talking between the time I met her at the airport and the time she dropped me off at the train station were when we were sleeping or eating. Hahaha. (But really.)
After I got in on Saturday, we made a beeline for Kilwin’s (priorities) and then went out with Sarah’s boyfriend. I would hardly call myself an expert on Chicago’s bar/club scene, but I’ve been around the block more than once in my almost-three years here, and I have yet to find a place so perfectly tailored to what I want in a night out as The Get Down in Baltimore. Music I recognized, down-to-earth vibe, clubby atmosphere, BREAKDANCING (!!): I can usually find one of those elements at a place in Chicago, but I’ve never found all four in one place. Seriously, I want to uproot The Get Down and move it to Chicago. The best elements of Wrigley (Top 40), River North (clubby), and Bucktown (chill) all rolled into one with none of the worst elements (brotastic bros, finance dude pretension, hipster pretension, respectively). Honestly, it was one of the most fun nights out I’ve ever had.
On Sunday, we walked to Lululemon for a free yoga class. It’s been a loooooong time since I’ve taken a yoga class, and it was so nice to have a real teacher instead of an app instructing me. We grabbed bagels at THB after yoga and ate them by the harbor (with a side of EPIC sunburn. My poor skin did not know what to do with all those UV rays.). We then walked all around the harbor and up Federal Hill.
We went to the American Visionary Art Museum next, which was a lot different from any other art museum I’ve visited, but not in a bad way. It seemed to give a voice to artists whose work generally wouldn’t be displayed elsewhere, and I liked that.
This was my fourth visit to D.C. but my first visit without a pre-arranged agenda, and let me tell you, I was STOKED. I’ve never really gone on a vacation where I didn’t have to answer to anyone, and my oh my, it was fabulous, especially since I had my cousin to hang out with as well.
After I got to D.C., my cousin, my cousin’s boyfriend and I went down to the Mall to picnic before the Memorial Day parade on Constitution. We also saw the PRESIDENT (well, fine, his motorcade, but whatever. Close enough 😛 ), which wasn’t so cool to the Washingtonians but was SUPER cool to me. Miss America was in the parade itself, which was also pretty cool.
Later that day, I went up to my cousin’s to grill on their rooftop. It was whatever.
And by “whatever” I mean “oh my gosh this is insane I cannot believe this is your life.”
Tuesday was my day for myself, and I definitely made the most of it, starting my day with five miles along the Mall. I was staying at the W, which was really close to the Mall, making a run oh-so convenient.
I was far more concerned with sightseeing on this run than anything else, so I made a point of hitting up as many monuments as I could.
For lunch, I met up with Nicole at Brown Bag. Shoutout to blogging for giving me friends all around the country, making something like a Tuesday lunch date totally reasonable. (For real, though. I think it’s so cool to be able to travel and meet up with people I “know,” even if I’ve never met them before in real life.)
I then went way out of my way to Georgetown Cupcake, specifically because the last time I went to D.C., I was so bummed out I couldn’t get a cupcake since it was Lent. But it’s not Lent any more!
I then Metroed it back to the Mall to visit the Natural History Museum, which had piqued my interest on my run with its live butterfly exhibit banner. I think you normally have to pay to go in the butterfly room, but on Tuesdays it’s freeeeee! A butterfly landed on my leg while I was in the room, so now I’m a fairy princess. I’m pretty sure that’s what it means, at least.
I’m really not much of a natural history person, but I actually loved the Natural History Museum. I thought the taxidermied animals were pretty cool, plus there were lots of shinies in the gems and minerals exhibit.
The Natural History Museum is just a couple blocks from the Archives, and since I had never managed to make it to the Archives in my previous three trips, I swung by their briefly to see the Constitution, et. al. By that point in the day, though, I was zonked (according to my iPhone’s pedometer, I had walked 12 miles that day at that point), so I didn’t spend much time there.
For dinner, my cousin, my cousin’s boyfriend and I went to Busboys and Poets, which was delicious, and hit up Ted’s Bulletin for milkshakes for dessert, per Alex’s recommendation.
I only had the morning to sightsee in D.C. on Wednesday, which I spent at the National Gallery of Art. Pro tip: an hour and 15 minutes is NOT enough time for this place. I really wish I had given myself more time, because I barely scratched the surface of what it has to offer.
The original intent of this Michigan trip was to surprise my dad for his birthday, but you know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men and Bethanys. All of 90 minutes before I arrived home, my eye doctor called my home phone (even though they know my cell phone is the best way to reach me) to confirm my appointment for Friday, and of course my dad was the one to pick up the phone. ALAS. Surprise ruined 😦 But he was still happy to see me, of course, which ultimately mattered more than surprising him.
Overall, I had a fairly low key time at home, spending all of my time with my family or with my family’s TV 😛 (I didn’t actually watch that much TV – only a bit on Saturday afternoon, when it was cold and rainy outside anyway). But it was so nice to be home with everyone as opposed to being at work.
It’s back to reality for me now, and work, of course, is its usual post-vacation nightmare. But even all the current insanity doesn’t make me regret my vacation. I seriously had the greatest time.
Favorite vacation? This probably tops my list, but I did really love a family trip to Colorado when I was in high school.