Friday, September 30, 2011

Adventures in DC - Day 6

Again, for those of you just joining us, the "Adventures in DC" portion of this travel blog was originally published as an email to friends upon my return from Washington, D. C., just a couple of weeks before 9/11. We continue with...

Day 6

Friday, miracle or miracles, Harry only had to work in the morning! After a business lunch (more crab cakes for me, broiled this time…yum), we took advantage of his “time off” to go to the home of our first President, Mt. Vernon. No wonder George Washington was so reluctant to be president, with such a lovely, peaceful place to repair to. The colors he chose were absolutely atrocious, though, especially that Kelly Green dining room. What was the man thinking? Well, perhaps those were the “in” colors back then, to give him the benefit of the doubt. After all, he deserves some respect.  (And here I'm feeling especially charitable, inasmuch as I clearly remember when the "in" colors were avocado green and burnt orange. Together.)

Lest we forget, there were slaves at Mt. Vernon. While the slave quarters there were probably better than a lot of slave quarters, they were slave quarters, nonetheless. Our modern sensibilities make us wonder why otherwise decent people would have thought it was okay to own other people as property and control every aspect of their lives, buying and selling them, tearing them away from their families, submitting them to indignities and untold subjugation. One just can't wrap one's head around it, and then one realizes that there are people right here in this country today who "own" other people. Human trafficking is, unfortunately, alive and well all over the world. 

It seemed odd to see the crypt where the Washingtons are entombed, sort of out of the way and gathering dust. Dust to dust. It was just so...ordinary. Except, of course, that few of us today have the luxury of being buried on our own land (unless you count a plot at the cemetery as your own land).

There’s no back door at Mt. Vernon, by the way. You have the West Front, overlooking the lawn and the main entrance, and then you have the East Front, where one sits on the veranda and watches the boats go by on the river. Completely wonderful and relaxing. I hated to leave there, but it was closing time. We drove through Alexandria on the way back. Once again, totally charming and certainly worthy of much more than the quick look-see we were able to give it. 

We had a business dinner that night at yet another wonderful seafood place. Raw tuna appetizer, melt-in-your-mouth scallops. Why, my mouth is watering at the very thought. Seriously.

My dinner partner was a very lovely lady, Sharon, from Baltimore. But she had never heard of Wallis Warfield Simpson, the Duchess of Windsor, who was from Baltimore. Isn’t that odd? I was kind of taken aback by that. I would have thought that the duchess's fame would have died harder. 

Sharon made an observation that I thought was interesting. She said that, to her ear, people from Baltimore have a very uneducated-sounding accent. I didn’t think so at all. I thought it was very charming, and I told her so. 

Sharon’s daughter was off on a missions trip to Costa Rica with Teen Mania, an organization out of Texas. Coincidentally, one of the young people from our church was also on a Teen Mania missions trip, to South Africa. We had lots and lots to talk about, and I was disappointed when the evening came to an end.

Next up:  The place that inspired "The Star-Spangled Banner."

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