Bucket List

Independence Day

Every year, I spend the 4th of July in a different way… I have spent it at the beach, I have spent it at an apartment, I have spent it with friends, I have spent it just with Andrew. I have spent it at the bars, I have spent it running. When i first started my job, I heard that you could watch the fireworks from the 7th floor balcony (across from the Washington Monument). I was stoked. I signed in about 10 people and we watched the fireworks and it was amazing. It wasn’t crowded; at that time they only opened it to the folks in my immediate office. Since that fateful evening, when leaving to go home became such a massive ordeal because of the numbers of people on the National Mall, I swore I wouldn’t go back to see the fireworks.

Then I started dating Andrew. Things change when you start dating your soulmate. Promises that you made yourself may not stay the same; case in point. I hate eggs. HATE. I used to love them, then I got really sick of them and hated them. Enter Andrew. Within two weeks of dating Andrew, I was trying eggs again- now I enjoy nothing more than a big breakfast sandwich on a Saturday. Anyway, back to fireworks downtown. Andrew had never been to see them that close, so of course, we had to do it. We had over some friends of ours, we dined, we had a few beers, we headed into the city. It was totally worth it. Here’s the view pre-fireworks:

Then the fireworks came… We showed up 2 hours before the fireworks started so we could have a great view, and it paid off. Here are some of the top photos of the evening:

As you might imagine, the fireworks caused QUITE a bit of smoke. Here’s a picture that doesn’t quite do it justice, but gives you an idea:

After the show ended, we knew the crowds would be insane and they were… so, instead of heading towards the metro, we did what any sane person might do; we headed to the bar for a drink to wait out the lines. Did it ever pay off! Check out this AMAZING view of the moon and the capital (taken around 13th and Pennsylvania Ave NW).

Beautiful, right? What a great night. So, it turned from me sort of loathing going into the city, to me loving that we went into the city. What made it even more awesome was the loud and boisterous round of applause that erupted from the National Mall when the fireworks ended. It’s still amazing to me that literally, thousands of people will travel from near and far to hang out on the mall and share in 15 minutes of fireworks around the national monuments. For at least those 15 minutes, a huge number of people were content and I’d say that’s pretty awesome. Happy Fourth, everyone!

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Epic Flagaversary Weekend- Part III: Sunday

As they say, all good things must come to an end… at least for now! Sunday was our last day of festivities and it was really only a half day of festivities, before heading back to DC to assess storm damage, go grocery shopping, pick up the pup from boarding, and try to muster up some strength to go back to work :). Although Sunday was our last day, it was a great day!

We slept in until about 9:30AM which was awesome. We filled up the jacuzzi tub and jumped in– catching up the news while in a half sleep, dreading going back to the “real world” but happy that we were able to spend such an amazing weekend road-tripping and exploring.

We packed up shop, checked out of the hotel, and headed off for DINOSAUR LAND! It is this really awesome place that opened in the 60s- it has life size replicas of dinosaurs and some not-so dinosaurs (there’s a giant non-life size Cobra and a King Kong). The guy who we talked to in the gift shop said that his great grandfather had opened it and then he showed us a brochure from the 70s with a picture of his then in her 20s Aunt. Pretty cool. We were able to meet up with our friend, Bridget, and her two kids. What a great place to catch up and run around posing with Dinosaurs.

 

There were two dinosaurs of note that were my favorite:

1. Tacosaurus (ok not really a TACO-saurus, but Andrew made one out of this guy’s name and it was awesome).

 

2. Ankylosaurus! As in Ankylosing?! Spondylitis?!? Did my back arthritis, Ankylosing Spondylitis, get named after a dinosaur? No wonder I love them so much! Sadly, AS was not named because of a dinosaur but rather because “Ankyl” is greek for stiff and unmovable… still a cool coincidence :).

 

 

 

After Dino Land, we headed to Pack’s Ice Cream Stand/Truck, per the recommendation of the guy in the gift shop. Delicious. Frozen. Custard. Fro-real! It was so tasty; between the group of us we had raspberry custard, chocolate/vanilla custard, Mint chocolate chip milkshake, and a birthday cake sundae. Yum!!! After custard, we said goodbye to the Wagners and headed back east towards DC.

We spent the drive back thinking about the previous 2.5 days. How amazing; we had been in 5 states (Virginia, DC, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia). We had gone camping (sort of), we had seen Dave Matthews Band in concert, we had watched an impending lightening storm from the Hershey Park stadium, we had toured the infamous Falling Water house, we had chilled in a jacuzzi tub in a hotel room that had no cable/internet/phones because of the storm, we had gone to the drive in movies and seen a double feature, we had toured replica life-size dinosaurs, and we had dined on delicious custard out of a tiny stand the size of a pick-up truck. Just awesome. Absolutely awesome. This was by far the most amazing and awesome anniversary I have ever celebrated. A huge thanks goes out to Andrew for doing all the planning and setting up and surprising. Guess it’s my turn next year… time to start brainstorming!

If you missed the previous two days, check them out here:
Epic Flagaversary Weekend- Part II: Saturday
Epic Flagaversary Weekend- Part I: Friday

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Epic Flagaversary Weekend- Part II: Saturday

Windows in Fallingwater!

So, as you read in Part I of the epic flagaversary weekend recap, we spent the first day checking out an awesome state park, rocking out to a DMB concert in Hershey park, dodging insane lightening bolts, and sleeping in the car for 3 hours in a rest stop along the highway. Awesome. No, really. It was such an amazing day and so much crazy awesome fantastic-ness!

But, onto Day#2! We arose in our car around 4:00AM and drove back to the campsite. We wrung out our camping gear, collapsed our tent, packed up the car, and used the camp bathroom to splash water on our faces and wake up. As we were leaving the park, we saw the sun rising over the lake- gorgeous. Absolutely gorgeous. We then hightailed it out to Fallingwater, the infamous home which is perched atop a waterfall and was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. It was about a 2.5 hour drive and we had to be there around 8:00AM for the first in-depth tour. What an insanely cool place.  It was just so neat. The grounds were beautiful, the house was breathtaking and the water looked refreshing :).

On the in-depth tour, we were able to tour the servants quarters, the main house (all floors), and the guest house perched just above on a hill. Stone floors, stone walls, tons of windows all opening outward, and stairs leading down to the river from the great room (no joke!). One of the coolest parts of the house (to me) was that there were several natural boulders on the stream which were just incorporated into the house. Part of one boulder was in a wall in the servants’ kitchen while the other side of it made up the fireplace hearth in the great room. Amazing. The entire place was just breathtaking! If you ever get a chance to go, definitely take the in-depth tour.

Stairs to the water!

The Great Room

Spring fed Pool

Boulder in the wall

Once we finished up at Fallingwater (around 11:30 or so) we had about a 3-3.5 hour drive to get to our next stop (Stephens City, VA). We had two more activities planned for the day- a hike/kayak activity and then a double-feature drive-in movie. We drove for a bit and realized that if we tried to complete the hike and kayak, we would never make it through the movies. We were e.x.h.a.u.s.t.e.d. . So, we made the call and decided to reschedule hiking/kayaking for its own weekend we could do a longer hike and kayak and more relaxing (and we wouldn’t be asleep). We grabbed lunch out and arrived at the hotel around 2:30PM. Thus brings us to the next surprise: HOT TUB JACUZZI NEXT TO THE BED!

What a great idea!

This little sweet thang was not only an awesome idea but the most relaxing and wonderful thing to see and feel after 24 hours of hard pushing. We filled up the tub, turned on the jets, and hopped in. The storm that I talked about in the last post? Well, it had knocked out the cable, internet, and phones at the hotel, so we had some nice relaxing conversation and reflection on the weekend. Then we went to bed! We slept from about 3:30 until 6:00 and then got up and set off for the next surprise: Drive in Movies!

This is the closest drive-in movie theater to our place- it’s in Stephens City, VA and what’s even better- it was literally a 5 minute drive from the hotel to the movie theater. We lined up with the other vehicles around 6:30PM and waited for the gates to open at 7:00PM. We got in and got a fantastic spot (man people got there early!). Since the movies didn’t start until 9:00PM (you need it to be dark!) we set up our camping chairs, bought some food from the snack stand so we could support this family-owned piece of awesome, and then sat down and relaxed. The double feature we chose was Disney/Pixar’s new movie, Brave followed by The Avengers. Awesome! We had a great night and then headed back to the hotel; we hopped in bed around 2:00AM (movies ended around 1:30AM, another late night!)

What a great day! Stay tuned for Epic Flagaversary Weekend- Part III: Sunday!

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The Mansion on O Street

One of the places to visit on our 2012 Bucket List was the Mansion on O Street. Luckily, when Andrew’s friends came into town, along with getting try out the Wafle Shop and Pork Barrel BBQ, we were also able to knock off Great Falls National Park AND the Mansion on O Street! This post is dedicated to the Mansion on O Street. For $5 and a phone call, you can land yourself a self-guided tour reservation at the Mansion on O Street. It’s not always open to the public but on Sundays you can always get in to check out the scene.

First off, we didn’t get up as early as we had hoped so we didn’t get to have breakfast before we went, instead we arrived and rang the door bell (like you do at mansions) and we were ushered into the foyer where we were immediately surrounded by the smells of hundreds of foods (seriously). Apparently on Sundays they also have a big brunch. We asked how much it cost- $65 a person. No thank you. It looked good but I don’t know if it looked that good. We waited for our whole party to arrive and then the woman of the house came and chatted with us.

The mansion is about 4 townhouses put together, four floors, and full of “stuff.” That’s the best way to describe it. Everything but the guitars is for sale in the mansion- everything. Furniture, dolls, clothes, carpets, paintings, glassware, posters, lights/lamps, pool tabes, juke boxes, beds, etc. We began our self-guided tour in the “log cabin.” This was probably my (Meghan’s) favorite room in the mansion. Log cabin walls, a fire place, comfy couches, two stories, a big bed with wool blankets, etc.

The rest of the mansion had a variety of different themed rooms. You were to abide by the signage (there are folks who actually stay here as a hotel so if a sign says do not enter it’s because someone is staying there). There are also hidden doors and rooms– of the 34 we found maybe 4? Needless to say we’ll have to go back. It is definitely worth the trip just to experience it– but it really is like a giant flea market mansion. The bathrooms are super impressive with giant jacuzzi tubs and see through walls and what not.

All in all a fun excursion and not bad for $5.

 

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Waffle/Wafle Shop– Knocking em’ off the Bucket List

Waffle-Wafle Shop- Arlandria, VA
Check out that bad boy to the right. Looks pretty tasty, right? That’s the Desayuno Tipico- served up fresh at the Waffle Shop in Arlandria, VA. The great thing about this somewhat-sketchy restaurant in a somewhat-sketchy neighborhood on the Northern end of Del Ray, is that the restaurant spells “waffle” in two different ways on the same side of the building. Fantastic.

When you walk into this restaurant, you’ll see a bar with backless stools that have pain chipping off them. There’s a small grill, two waffle irons, some cans of soda, and a couple loaves of white bread on the shelf behind the counter. There are two or three employees hanging out, wiping down the grill and checking on the one or two other folks in the joint. The bar probably sits a max of 20 people. We sat down and one of the employees walked over with a big smile, welcoming us, and hanging us each a menu.

The menu ranges from greek food to mexican dishes to philly cheese steaks to waffles and ice cream or waffles and chicken. They’ve got scrapple, bacon, sausage, hot dogs, grits, eggs, toast, etc. We spent $38 for the four of us. We got: 3 coffees, 1 diet coke, 8 eggs, 3 waffles, scrapple, ice cream, bacon, a hot dog, onion/peppers/tomato, black beans, rice, and plantains. Not to shabby.

The desayuno tipico consists of the following: eggs, hot dog, veggies, black beans, rice, and plantains. DELICIOUS!

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Pork Barrel BBQ

Pork Barrel BBQ. Del Ray, VA

Yesterday, we went to Pork Barrel BBQ for dinner with two of Andrew’s friends, Josh and Dani. Pork Barrel BBQ was one of the restaurants on our 2012 Restaurant Bucket List! It was delicious. In the image at right you will see all the food that we purchased for the four of us. The total came to $53 and it included: 1lb. pulled pork, 1lb. brisket, 1/2 rack of ribs, two sides of mac n’ cheese, one side of collard greens, and one side of Texas caviar (white bread was free). For those of you who don’t know, Texas caviar is a black eyed pea salsa-esque dish– it has onions and peppers and spices in it. Absolutely scrumptious!

You order the meal at the register, sort of cafeteria style. You wait for your number to be called and pick up your tray of dishes. Along with that, you can order sodas or non-alcoholic drinks. Any beers, wines, or cocktails get ordered at the bar. The strangest part of the meal? There are no plates. You simply get a piece of butcher paper to put down on the table and you fork your food onto to it to eat off of…  Each table also has there 3 house made sauces- a mustard bbq, an original bbq, and a sweet bbq. Meghan thought the sweet bbq was the tastiest.

Pros: great microbrew selection and cool pole-style tap; not crowded, local and tasty grub

Cons: the brisket was pretty fatty ( but Meghan is also not a brisket fan to begin with)

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