It was a wonderful trip, despite the memories being slightly poisoned by what happened when we got back.
We flew to Baltimore on the 8th, picked up a rental car, then drove to Bowie, MD, where our granddaughter, Emily, lives and where we had a motel room reserved.
We spent the first weekend with Emily and felt that we bonded with her in a significant way. It was a delightful time. On Friday evening, after we arrived, we took her out to eat and talked endlessly. She loves the Baltimore Inner Harbor and the aquarium there, so we spent Saturday up there. Lots of walking around in the heat and humidity, but it was a happy time anyway. We ate dinner at the Rusty Scupper, a high-end restaurant on the Inner Harbor; she likes the place, and at the time we weren't worried about money, fortunately. (Had I known what was coming, the vacation would have been less happy.) On Sunday, the three of us went to see the new Star Trek movie. Leonore and I liked it quite a bit. Emily loved it. She said it was the best movie she'd ever seen. When I was 15, I would have agreed. Then we took her to dinner at a restaurant and talked much more. Really, it was a marvelous time for us, and Emily seemed to enjoy it greatly too.
We hope so much that she'll come out here to visit Daniel and us. Unfortunately, the idea of traveling this far without her family seems to unnerve her. We'll just mention it from time to time, avoiding pressure, and hope that eventually she'll give it a try.
After that, we drove to Leesburg, VA to spend a few days with Bob and Virginia, friends who used to live in Denver. They have an enormous house in a new development outside Leesburg. There are sprawling developments there, bedroom suburbs for DC. I'm sure it was much more charming 100 years ago, but it was beautiful to us because of the astonishing greenery and lushness. We were also in luck with the weather, which was cool and pleasant instead of the heat and humidity we dread. We spent time catching up on old times and, in my case, drinking lots of bourbon, of which Bob is an afficionado. He's enjoying being retired. He said that every day is like Saturday, and every night is like Friday night. Of course, they have that huge house and lots of money, neither of which most retired people have.
They took us into DC to show us how to get to the Metro station, etc. The four of us walked around the Mall and spent a few hours in the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. I looked at space vehicles that I had worked on in the 60s and 70s but had never actually seen before -- an odd thought. We took photos. I also saw German WWII V1 and V2 rockets, which the Germans fired at me when I was a baby in England. (When I was working at NASA in Houston in the late 60s, I ran into Werhner von Braun. I wanted to jump up and down in front of him and say, "You missed me!" But I didn't.)
The next day, Leonore and I went back to DC and the Mall by ourselves and walked for hundreds of miles. We didn't go into the museums but instead walked down the Mall, past the Washington Monument, along the tidal basin (missed the cherry blossoms by a couple of weeks), into the Jefferson Memorial (one of my favorite presidents), on to the Lincoln Memorial, then back. We had intended to include the White House, but Leonore was exhausted by that point, so we skipped it. Ate some food and then took the Metro back.
I loved downtown Washington. I had expected it to be cold and sterile, acres of marble. Instead it seemed warm and friendly. The good weather probably helped. I'd love to go back, but I suppose it would be best to avoid the middle of summer or winter.
Then we went to Bethesda and had a fine time with my old college roommate, whom I hadn't seen since about 1965. He's aged, of course, but he talks and laughs and stands the same way as long ago. We both liked his wife very much. It was a very nice visit, and I hope we'll have a chance to see them again soon. They didn't seem inclined to head west, so it will probably have to be there again. I'm so glad we were able to do that.
Then we drove to NYC to stay with Lisa, Leonore's dorm mate from Indiana U, and her husband, Andrew. We didn't go into Manhattan this time. (We did last year, when we visited Lisa and Andrew.) Instead we spent one day at the NY Botanical Gardens and the Bronx Zoo, followed by dinner in the Bronx's Little Italy section. At the Gardens, we met up with another old college friend of Leonore's, whom we hadn't seen in 45 years or thereabouts. That was a nice surprise. The next day, we went to The Cloisters. Both days, it was chilly and rainy, which Leonore and I loved. The natives bitched about it. Everything we saw was lovely. If only all of NYC were like that. The drive to La Guardia on Monday morning, through rush-hour traffic, was a fucking nightmare.
Thanks to the two-hour time difference, we got home about 2 p.m., so I was able to do the weekly grocery shopping and get ready for the next day at a leisurely pace. Then I went to work on Tuesday and got laid off.