East Coast – Washington, DC and environs

Baltimore is included in the commuter system which serves Washington, DC. Abandoning Amtrak for this leg of my R.A.T. (Retired American Tour), I boarded the MARC from Baltimore’s Penn Station to DC’s Union Station, changed from MARC to Metro Red then Metro Yellow to arrive at the Pentagon.  Though a partly sunny day, a nice change from weather on my trip so far, the temperature was frigid.

I was again challenged to manage luggage that didn’t work as expected.  The new suitcase I bought in Baltimore at Ross or Marshall’s (I forget which) rolled smoothly on the store’s linoleum flooring when empty, but now packed to bulging, it waddled like a duck. Clearly there was a defective wheel on this discount purchase and the sooner I could get rid of it, the happier I would be.  More on that later.

Courtney, a lovely young woman I met while working in San Diego, became one of my bosses during our time together at the job, left for grad school in Texas, returned as one of my bosses again and then, having achieved her doctorate, left to work in the DC area. Courtney had recently married Mark, a Lt Col in the Marine Corps.  I couldn’t make the wedding and we planned that I would visit while on the East Coast leg of my R.A.T.  Mark has top-secret clearance at the Pentagon. If I knew more than that, they’d have to kill me.

I texted Courtney when I surfaced from the underground Metro line and wandered around with my waddling duck and other rolling bag while shouldering my purse, awaiting instructions from Courtney.  I stood in the windy and frigid cold and attempted to take a picture with the Pentagon behind me so Courtney could have a visual of where I was and a voice shouted out “NO PICTURES!  MA’AM, THERE’S NO PICTURE TAKING!”  I about jumped out of my skin, firstly because I thought I was alone, secondly the statement was clearly a COMMAND, and thirdly when I located the body that went with the voice, he had a gun.

Courtney arrived and brought me to and through security where we met Mark.  It was my first time meeting Mark and his polite, respectful and humble manner won me over instantly. Pentagon floor plan

Mark brought us upstairs to his department Christmas party. Never mind which department–top-secret, remember? What a spread! All kinds of food, beverages, and people.  The party was held in one of the corners or points of the star.

Mark then escorted Courtney and I on an extensive tour of the Pentagon, taking us places where the public usually doesn’t go, unless personally escorted by a USMC Lt Col.  In addition to being the seat of military administration and authority, the Pentagon is a museum.  The displays were impressive, ranging from war photos and mementos to dedications about one well-known military personality or another, including their contributions to our military history and their uniforms and medals, as well as numerous other photos and displays.  I hope to do that tour again one day. (Hint, hint Courtney and Mark.)

Another imposing characteristic of the Pentagon is that it is, in effect, its own city. There are florists, dry cleaners, barber shops, jewelry and clothing stores, optician, numerous food courts, a gym and a post office.  I’m sure I’m leaving out something–there was so much to see.

Courtney and I left Mark to finish his work day.  We brought my waddling duck and other luggage to her car and then visited the 9/11 Pentagon Memorial.  We had seen the memorial while on tour from inside the chapel dedicated to the memory of those who died that day.  It was in the chapel that I picked up the card which explained the details of the memorial’s design. Thoughtfully laid out on the ground under the flight path American Airlines Flight 77 traveled as it approached the building, the memorial covers a lot of ground.  Click on the images below for an enlarged view.  To return to this page, click your browser’s back button http://pentagonmemorial.org/ 20150526_174137

We left the memorial and Fratellisheaded to an international deli near their home not too far from DC to pick up some special goodies, and met up with Mark at their home.  I was treated to dinner at Fratelli Italian Restaurant.  In spite of my best efforts to pick up the tab, Mark pulled rank and somehow trumped my plan. http://www.fratelli2.com/  Everything was delicious and we couldn’t decide so we ordered all the desserts we were interested in. Nothing wrong with 4 desserts for 3 people, right?

My visit happily coincided with the 2 week period of discounted shopping I could enjoy at Anthropologie, courtesy of my daughter’s Christmas season employment there, and the next day, Courtney and I had to shop!  We enjoyed lunch at a lovely bistro up the street from Anthropologie, shopped at Michaels for decos for my ugly sweater and returned the waddling duck suitcase.  Courtney blessed me with a suitcase she was giving up. Time would tell if my luggage woes were over. IMG_8920

Another fun coinci-dink is I was in their town at the same time as their 2nd annual Ugly Christmas Sweater party, held at Bugsy’s Pizza Restaurant and Sports Bar. http://www.bugsyspizza.com/  I’m in the back on the right raising my left hand and swearing that I will never tell of the things I saw that night.  My eyes are still burning..

The next morning Courtney brought me to Amtrak so I could continue to my next East Coast stop.  It was raining again which matched my mood–I was sad to leave.  The 2 days I visited flew by so quickly and were filled with fun and adventure.  I had a grand time!  Thanks Courtney and Mark!  You are wonderful hosts and I hope you’ll accept my company again one day.