When we realized we’d soon be leaving the muggy, fast-paced embrace of the East Coast, we made a Virginia Bucket List that kept us well-fed, well-entertained and pretty busy overall for our last month. I won’t bore you with every item or place on the list, but here are our top three highlights.
We have been so lucky to be close to two of my friends from Peabody, Kim and Grant. Our hang-outs started with horn duets and Twilight movies and quickly progressed to baking extravaganzas and baby cuddling. Yep! Just last March, Kim and Grant had a beautiful daughter, Violet, that I have completely fallen for. Spending as much time with them was at the top of the list for me. Here she is on the last night we were all together.
We lived in the heart of American history and even though I had gone to Williamsburg with my family a few times, Joe had always been working. He wanted to experience the colonial magic, so we headed there for a hot afternoon of exploration. I’d much prefer to spend my Williamsburg days here or here, but it is pretty cool to visit this unique site.
Despite being a mere three hours away, I had not been back to Baltimore since 2004. Not acceptable! I had also never done the super touristy things in DC, like the Smithsonian, National Archives, etc. It was now or never, so we took one last trip up I-95 to relish in our nation’s capital and then headed north to Bal’more, hon, to show Joe how “the greatest city in america” rolls and to meet Miss Cora, the newest addition to friends Nat and Nicoleen!
It ended up being a pretty soggy trip with massive storms every day we were there, so I never got a chance to get out my BGCs (Big Girl Cameras), but that’s okay. We were there to soak up the attractions and enjoy our last few days of EST living — Mother Nature just took the soaking a little too literally. First on the docket, we hit up the Smithsonian’s American History Museum, a.k.a America’s Attic, which houses some of the most incredible relics from our country’s past. Most notable for me? Julia Child’s kitchen. *swoon* I was in heaven and even got a little teary-eyed, especially when I saw a jar of peanut butter that was left on her counter. ‘Atta girl, Jules.
Another swoon-worthy display housed dressed belonging to the First Ladies. I could have stared at them for hours and it took me right back to the summer before 1st or 2nd grade when I decided to type (as in, with a typewriter) up reports on each of the First Ladies. I think I was preparing myself for a life-long love affair with Jackie O.
And, speaking of Jackie, I had to say hello. Even if it was pouring rain and we were already soaked from waiting in line at the National Archives. There is something incredibly special and maybe a bit cathartic about having a place like Arlington National Cemetery to yourself. Jackie and Julia are my girls and “seeing them” both in one day was almost too much. (Read: more tears.)
Don’t worry, those tears didn’t last long since we headed to Shake Shack for dinner with good friend Margaret to close out the busy day.
And what better place to sit down than in front of a box of cupcakes? Margaret and Will met us at Georgetown Cupcakes for an afternoon pick-me-up before showing us around the neighborhood and the Kennedy Center, where Margaret works. Wonderful company and sites!
The rest of the trip was spent with Nat, Nicoleen and Cora (!) in Baltimore. Nat introduced Joe to Chaps Pit Beef, which to me looked like Arby’s on steroids, and I introduced Joe to my favorite places in Little Italy: Sabatino’s and Vaccaro’s. When you go to college in a place that has a Vaccaro’s, you don’t have the Freshman 15. You have the Freshman 30+. It’s pure pastry and gelato heaven.
Other than seeing the Willson family, showing Peabody to Joe was absolutely crucial to me. He has heard stories from these halls since we met in 2004, so it was time to show him the scene of all those crimes! Cora and Nat were excited to see it, too.
Debbie Kennison, my old boss from the Alumni Office, gave us an incredible tour of Peabody’s grandest sites and also indulged my requests to see somewhat random rooms that meant the world to me, like PL’s studio and the classroom where I auditioned to get in…13 years ago. Wow.
Until next time, East Coast! It’s been grand.