Sunday, September 30, 2007

Friday - Sunday

Day 7-
Sunday, September 30, 2007

Happy Sabbath! I love the Sabbath. It is such a day of renewal and rest. Another day to fill the soul.

Neal and I were able to get down to the metro in good time and were familiar with the Metro enough that we felt fairly confident in getting to church without incident, especially since I called the chapel yesterday and got a voice on the other end who was able to give me directions to the building. "You get off at the Frienshipheights station, go away from the construction, opposite Bloomingdale and up Western 1 block." That sounded easy enough! Well we surfaced from the Friendshipheights metro stop and couldn't find Western Avenue anywhere! So we started walking and still couldn't find it. We were standing in the middle of a block when a taxi had to stop because of a red light and I motioned for him to roll his window down and asked him where Western Avenue was. He said two blocks the other direction! So we were off again. Just as we approached Western Avenue, we hear the taxi driver who I had asked about Western Avenue next to us asking us where we wanted to go on Western and when I said, "the LDS church," he said, "I don't know where that is," and drove off. We think he was looking for a fare. True to the voice on the phone at the chapel, the building was 1 block away, one very long block away! But we made it before the opening song and prayer. It was a real pretty older chapel.

On our way up to church as we approached Western Avenue we noticed a second "Friendshipheights" metro station. We thought "what?" So on our way home from church we decided to take this closer metro station down to the train and see where it took us. When we got down to the train we noticed there was a sign saying "Jennifer Ave left - Western Ave right".
Quote for the day: "Each new Metro stop brings a new experience."

Day 6 -
Saturday, September 29, 2007

Apparently Friday completely wore the two of us out because we slept in till 7:30! Tomorrow we will definitely have to set an alarm. It took us a while to actually get going and out the door, but we soon were off to take in a session in the Washington DC temple! We felt more confident this morning finding our way around on Metro, but when we had to transfer to the bus, the attendant in the booth didn't understand us and we couldn't understand him, so we were on our own. We managed to find the right bus stop and were soon on our way. Neal was smart and thought to tell the bus driver the stop where we needed off. The driver actually missed our stop but we noticed it as we passed so the driver let is off in the middle of the block and there were no sidewalks so we were pretty much trudging through the weeds and dirt! I'm sure we looked pretty funny to the natives! But I kept telling myself that no one here knows me and they will never see me again! So on we trudged and we soon found the temple. It was so nice to be in the temple, to be in a familiar place albeit a strange building and to feel the peace that is within the walls of any temple! Ahhhhh, a most rejuvenating couple of hours! Soon it was time to leave the walls of safety and enter the chaos of life. But the walk back to the bus station was shorter and we soon found ourselves on our way back to Bethesda!

Back at our hotel we made a quick change into comfortable clothes and headed to Safeway to get some much needed personal items, something to eat Sunday after meetings, and some much craved fresh fruit! Then it was off to the zoo. Back to the metro. Interesting bit about the metro is that it runs underground for the most part which means you have to get under ground to catch the trains. So there is this LONG escalator that takes you down. It is quite impressive!

The Zoo was fun but we didn't see many animals. Here again, did Portland spoil me? We did get to see the Giant Panda's and that was Neal's whole purpose in going.

Upon returning home we ran downtown, got some Baja Fresh and Haagen-Dazs,and came back to eat in the hotel room so Shara could listen to the General Relief Society Broadcast. What a feast physically and spiritually!

We are finding the people here very friendly. Riding the bus from the temple we sat next to a real young family - mother, father and 5 month old baby. You know me, I can't sit next to a baby without saying hi! I talked Mom a bit and was surprised when she got off the bus before us and said good-bye. Then walking back from the zoo to catch our train we found the people friendly and soon found ourselves in a short conversation with another small family. Good to feel among friends!

Question for the day – “does a brown belt go with black pants?”

Day 5-
Friday, September 28, 2007

We checked out of our stinky hotel around 11:30 this morning, checked our bags in the front desk and caught a quick lunch at Vie de France, a cute little cafe right next to the hotel that is open only for lunch. We returned back to the hotel to get our bags and I about fell over when Neal actually tipped the bellhop. She was this sweet little ol’ African-American woman who looked like she should have someone waiting on her instead of the other way around. Then it was a quick ride to the Amtrak station. I’m beginning to think that I just must live in the most beautiful place on earth because here again I found the Richmond Amtrak station pale in comparison to the station in Salem.

We should have taken longer for lunch because we soon found ourselves with a 2-½ hour wait for our departure time. So we pulled out a couple of old Sudoku puzzles to do and soon found that our 2-½ hour wait quickly turned into a 4-½ hour wait! Once on the train it was such a gorgeous ride! And the ride was true to schedule and took only 2 hours! Oh, another shocker at the Amtrak station is Neal actually tipped our taxi driver! Oh my, twice in one day! Anyone who knows how Neal hates to tip will know what a wonder that was!!!

Upon arriving in Washington D.C., we found ourselves totally unprepared for the chaos of Union Station! We weren’t in Kansas anymore. You could lose yourself there in a heartbeat without even trying! But we found our way through the maze, got our luggage and made it to the metro line and survived. Well, almost. Remember the incident Shara had with her hotel key? Well, that same magnetic closure in her purse wiped out the magnetic strip on our metro passes! So we had to go to the gate and they had to write on our passes the date they would expire and so we now use either the “emergency” gate or the “free” gate. I just hope we don’t have any hassles the rest of the week.

Neal’s impression of the Amtrak depot as you just pull into Union Station is that of a Charles Dickens’s book, much like a dungeon. When he said that I immediately thought of “Oliver Twist”. It was kind of creepy down there. You half expected to see rats running all over, not an inviting place to be sure!

Riding the metro was our next nervous event of the day. We weren’t sure just how we were going to be able to manage our luggage and ourselves and make it on to the subway in one piece. Well, we did and the end of the line for us stops right at our hotel! Couldn’t ask for more than that!

And our hotel room is wonderful. We have a KING size bed! I think we need a ladder to get up into it though. After checking in to our room we walked a few blocks away and had a quick bite at The Austin Grill. It was an interesting walk to and from our restaurant. So many families among the partiers! The neighborhood had the feel of nightlife, but to see families with small kids gave it an interesting atmosphere. Neal said it felt like Disneyland with all the families.

Riding Amtrak!

View of DC from window of Amtrak!

Surfacing from the depths of the Amtrak sewer pit!

Union Station

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Day 4

The highlight for today was a run to the Capitol for a tour on Neal's lunch hour. We thought we were supposed to wait for the tour guide since that is what every one else was doing, and were told it would only take 45 minutes for the tour. Well, we got this very sweet Mrs. Allen who was out tour guide and who really knew her history of Virginia and was really interesting to listen to, but when Neal only had an hour and it looked like this tour was going to take about twice as long as indicated, we ditched the guide with only 10 minutes to spare and did the "self-guided, see what you can see in 3 minutes" tour and finished up on our own! I have to say there is something for standing on the same ground our forefathers lived, fought and died on. Gives one the feeling of standing in a sacred and holy place.

I think we are both ready to end our stay in Richmond and move on to Washington D.C. We've learned there are a lot of places to eat lunch right around our hotel but dinner is another story. There are a lot of places to eat in Shockoe Slip if you like the night life and drinking! So tonight we ended up back at Quisno's for a not so good sandwich! We were both craving ice cream for dessert and found the closest place to get some was about a mile away! Bummer.

Before dinner we took the "Canal Walk." It was cute, very short and somewhat stinky! It looked like they might be working on it to expand it. I hope they clean it up, too! It could be a really nice place to take a stroll if they just clean it up and expand it a bit. Maybe the waterfronts in Salem and Portland have spoiled me! At least those two don't stink!

Oh, Shara did learn that you can't keep your hotel key in a pocket in your purse that is next to a magnetic closure! She wiped out two keys before she realized why her key wouldn't let her into her room!

So, as we get ready to end our time in Richmond, we will take with us memories of walking the Capitol building and grounds, walking the quant Shockoe Slip with cobbled streets, the cutest bell tower outside our hotel, and sleeping in a double bed reminiscent of starting out 30 years ago. And we will say good by to our stinky room, Richmond's nightlife, and our double bed!

Canal walk

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Day 3

Today started out without incident - the alarm most certainly did go off this morning. It did not go off yesterday or I would have heard that annoying sound!

Today was a quiet day in the hotel room for me, Shara. I spent the day listening to BYU-TV via the internet. It was so nice to just relax and listen to some uplifting talks. My favorite talk was by sister Barbara Thompson the new General Relief Society Second Counselor given at this years Women's Conference. I laughed and cried through the entire talk! Good for the soul.

After Neal's classes ended for the day we walked down "Shockoe Slip," a tree-lined cobble stone street and had dinner at Peking Pavilion. The dinner was good, but way too much for us to eat by ourselves, made us wish Alicia and Randy were there to share it with us. Neal had his usual Sweet & Sour chicken and I tried some thing called Mu Shu Pork (if I remember right!) It was shredded pork with scallions, mushrooms and cabbage served with flour pancakes and plum sauce. I asked the server if the pancakes were like American pancakes or if they were different. He said they were "Chinese pancakes" but didn't offer any further explanation. When my dinner came I found that the pancakes turned out to be none other than tortillas! So apparently I was to put my Mu Shu Pork in a tortilla with some plum sauce and roll it up to eat which I did, only omitting the plum sauce cause I wasn't real wild about that.

Shockoe Slip

After dinner we took a walk up to the State Capitol, toured the grounds and took a lot of pictures. With every picture I took Neal said "you need to blog that, you need to blog that!" I'm not going to bore you with the 1,300 picture I took of the Capitol (just an estimate of course!) but I will share a few of my favorite and say good night for now!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Day 2

Today didn't start as early as yesterday by a long shot! In fact it almost started too late. We both slept throught the alarm. Actually I don't remember hearing the alarm go off. I woke up at 7:30 wondering what that bright light was outside our window. When I got up to see what was causing such a bright light Neal kept asking me what time it was. Since I didn't have my glasses on I couldn't see anything so I kept saying "I can't see anything!" Besides, the clock was right next to his face! When I opened the curtains I found that the bright light was the sun and I then asked Neal what time it was! To say the least, Neal had to hurry and shower and run to his conference. I think he was able to only find a few crumbs for his breakfast on his rush in to the conference! I hope the alarm goes off tomorrow morning!

Not much happened today. I spent the day mostly in the hotel room arranging our luggage, listening to a little BYU tv over the internet, reading a little (yes Alicia I started "Poisonwood Bible"), crocheted a bit and looked out the window a lot! Neal and I took a short walk this evening over to the State Capitol. We are only three short blocks away. We are hoping to spend more time walking the grounds tomorrow evening.

I'm not much impressed with our room. It is okay, but it smells funny. But the view makes up for the smell cause we look right out at the State Capitol building! How gorgeous is that!!!!! And they do have a cute little bell tower right outside.

I guess that is it for today.
Talk to you again tomorrow!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Day 1

The journey begins~

Our day started at 2:30 this morning which meant we had about 4 1/2 hours of sleep, very reminiscent of our days as ordinance workers.

The ride to PDX was very uneventful and check in was a breeze and we were soon on our way.
Observation - Blueberry breakfast cheesecake tastes heavenly inflight!

Our flight to JFK was to be about 5 hours, but we our arrival was delayed 30 minutes due to "VIP traffic." Hmmm, I wonder who that could be! Sure enough President Bush had flown in and out of JFK and messed everything up. We didn't like JFK much. It was dirty and ugly. But just as JFK was dirty, ugly and unpleasant, the people were colorful, and kind and friendly. I wish I could have taken pictures of all the different cultures and nationalities and recorded the different languages and accents. This was my kind of Disneyland! I was in awe and wonder of the people. Reminded me of Loui Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World"

As we were sitting in JFK waiting for our flight to Richmond, we were amazed at the speed in which they were getting the flights back up after the "VIP" delays. That is until we boarded our flight (which was on time by the way) and had to wait an hour or so on the tarmack for take off! After waiting for 30 minutes or so we were informed that we were 30 or 40 in line for take off! At least the terminal was clearing out!

Observation - I've always had a fear of places I've never been, you know those preconceived ideas we get in our heads. Sitting in JFK I almost forgot I wasn't home and noticed that people are people no matter where you are!

We will say good night for today!
Here are a few pics from today.

I'ts all about being a cheesy tourist, isn't it!

Just a few of the interesting people we were able to capture on camera!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

September 23, 2007

Once upon a time there were two very weathered spoons who decided they would spread their wings, step out of their internet comfort zone and enter the world of THE BLOG!

These two very weathered spoons are sure you will find the coming "postings" very entertaining as they come to learn this new world of blogging.

So, welcome to the TWOWEATHEREDSPOONS blog!