Another spectacular day of weather in the 70s, bright sunshine. We took the metro to Foggy Bottom and walked an easy 15 minutes to Georgetown (so there is a metro there, sort of) where we met up with the grandsons and their parents at a friendly little cafe called Feta and then went to a pretty playground Rose Park Tot lot. I had a surprisingly easy 15 minute scenic walk to DuPont circle for a working lunch at Sette Osteria with my literary agent (who just happens to be based here, as fate would have it.) and a quick browse and purchase at Kramers, which used to be Kramer Books and afterwards in the 80s.
I had no idea DuPont circle was so close to Georgetown but then I’ve never really gotten a handle on the lay of the land in DC, despite my many visit. From the playground I walked on a path through a ribbon of a park high above rock creek parkway. Later in Georgetown we stopped along the wharf for an overpriced ice cream cone at the Hershey’s shop. This area of Washington never seems like dc to me, which I don’t associate with waterfront and boats, although the Wharf development by Navy Yard also has both.
On our walk back to the metro we bumped into a friend of Noah’s who stayed with us in iowa (while volunteering during the caucuses) so we stopped to chat. DC felt like a small town. very Des Moines, and gave me hope that this can happen in places like Chicago. Dinner was at Carmine’s – two long tables and maybe 30-40 people, mostly family and heaping platters of pasta, clams, meatballs etc.
Noah and I wandered into the bakery Souk on 8th Street just south of Eastern Market (and our Airbnb) at 6:30 pm and found out it had just closed for the day, but we ended up leaving with a bag full of baked goods, two muffins, a jalapeño biscuit, a cinnamon bun, a scone…all free although we practically begged the guy there to let us pay. What a nice welcome to Washington DC. We will definitely try to return as paying customers.
Dinner was at a Cambodia/Taiwanese restaurant Maketto on H street with an unusual decor/vibe – a large display of designer sneakers which apparently they also sell – and delicious food, not much of which I recognized, although we have been to Cambodia. The steamed pork buns were the best I’ve had, very soft and savory. The crisp scallion pancakes were perhaps my favorite item. The fried chicken served on crisp toast reminded us of Japanese Chicken Katsu and some greens ( book Choi) had unusual additions of olives and dried anchovies. We ate out side in a courtyard in the rear with high brick walls briskly painted with manga style illustrations. Fun vibe and delicious food. Lovely walking in this pretty old neighborhood, Capitol Hill, with flowers in full bloom, tulips, azaleas, dogwood, lilacs, redbuds, flowering crabs, a riot of colors pink, purple, red, yellow, orange, white and lots of green. A sight for sore eyes, as was Noah!
My busted foot has opened up a new world of Washington DC by bike (which is easier on my foot than walking). Noah was a great tour guide, eager to show us his discoveries in and around Capitol Hill, his favorite houses, alleys, parks, hidden bike trails and even more hidden breweries.
After a good bagel brunch for Mother’s Day with takeout from Call Your Mother, in the Barracks area (near a cocktail bar called Betsy), we set off peddling to Union Market, which seems to have exploded with neighboring high rise developments since I was last there a few years ago. We took the MBT (metropolitan branch trail) through an urban landscape that I would not have pegged as DC had I seen it in photos alone. Next stop Navy Yard and more glass and steel high rises near the Nats ballpark but Noah took us to Bardo biergarten, a surprisingly rustic and bohemian outdoor spot, vaguely reminiscent of a homeless encampment on the riverbank, scattered with worn diner booths and rough wood plank tables in a wooded area. It felt like a lost world, beside the gleaming developments.
Dinner was takeout upscale Indian from Rasika. (The spinach chat was especially delicious.) This morning we picked up pricy but delicious sandwiches with precious names (Pippa, Hermione) at a nearby corner shop Wine & Butter Cafe, which beat the Subway fare available on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
The weather gradually cleared and we had blue sunny skies punctuated by the occasional slow moving dark cloud filled with showers and wind, nothing that kept us from bike riding all over with Noah. We started the morning at Eastern Market which is a block away from our well-situated and well-appointed Airbnb on 8th street near Independence (Noah’s street.) I fell for a delicious French pastry I’d never heard of, a kouign-amann ( “queen a-man) “a cross between a croissant and a palmier, with layer after layer of buttery, flaky pastry on the inside, yet caramelized with ever-so-slightly-burnt sugar on the outside,” according to Wikipedia.
We rode in Noah’s lovely CapitolHill neighborhood, admiring the spring blossoms and old architecture. How strange to have the US Capitol as part of your neighborhood. I couldn’t help but think about the Trump rioters and the Shanksville 9/11 heroes as we passed that august building, now surrounded by a black fence and concrete Jersey barriers. So many threats. Next we glided onto the mall, past the smithsonian museums, the Washington monument and American U. college graduates in their robes posing by the Lincoln Memorial. We rode onto the Jefferson Memorial, covered in scaffolding and looked across the water at the MLK Memorial. We rode around Hains Point or some such which has a golf course and then over to the Wharf development that felt very un- DC, with high rises and trendy restaurants along the riverfront. We had Cuban coffee at Colada Cuban cafe.
After biking,dirck and I drove to Georgetown for a quick stop and purchase st the Allbirds (shoes) store, not far from a good burger place we got food from our first night called Good stuff Eatery. Dinner Was take out from a Chinese Korean place in Noah’s neighborhood called Chi Ko.
Within walking distance of the trendy Los Angeles neighborhood of Los Feliz, this tiny park normally draws crowds for art classes and Friday wine tastings. But now visitors come for ambles around the landscape and architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s first and only L.A. opus, Hollyhock House, commissioned in the 1920s by oil heiress Aline Barnsdall. In 2019 the home and seven other Wright-designed buildings in the United States were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Step into history and nature on these surprising summertime strolls in Los Angeles, Chicago, and Washington, D.C.
IN A SPRING and summer of coronavirus lockdowns and travel slowdowns, our usual modes of escape—planes, trains, cruise ships—have become fraught with health, ethical, and even legal perils. Suddenly, flying to see relatives in Arizona or Amsterdam or hopping a train to New York City for the weekend have become major life choices instead of simple vacation whims. And many types of trips (cruises, vacations to Europe for Americans) aren’t even possible during this Summer of Corona.
It’s no wonder that people from Paris to Pittsburgh have turned to their own two feet—and places in their own backyards—to get out and see the world. In the U.S., depending on where you live, that might mean hiking in a nearby state park, running on a local beach, or just strolling through deserted downtowns.
Still, with so many people getting outdoors, many popular paths and parks are overrun. These writers, in three cities across America, found unusual, less-traveled places to walk. Here’s how they got out of the house—and out of their heads.
Steep, secret staircases in Los Angeles
An introvert, I welcomed the stillness of quarantine. Yet, after months of being homebound with my sweet-tempered cat in Long Beach, California, I missed the outdoors. Apparently, so did thousands of equally stir-crazy Angelenos who, once spring stay-at-home orders lifted, poured out onto beach paths and hiking trails.
It was hard to avoid crowds, but I had an ace up my sweatshirt sleeves. All over Los Angeles, cement or wood outdoor stairways are sandwiched between apartment complexes and tucked away in unassuming neighborhoods. Dating back to the 1920s and 1930s, these pedestrian byways were incorporated into new residential developments built around light-rail lines and trolley systems.
“The stairs were erected when the city started expanding into the hilly neighborhoods of Echo Park, Silver Lake, Mount Washington, and Highland Park,” says Charles Fleming, who wrote the book Secret Stairs: A Walking Guide to the Historic Staircases of Los Angeles. “People moving into the hills often didn’t have cars, so, they needed an efficient way to get down to the Pacific Electric Railway trolley system, the markets, and the schools.”
While the trolleys were dismantled in the ’40s and ’50s, the stairs remained. Fleming’s book documents more than 275 of them, each with distinct views and quirks. In hip Silver Lake, where street art flourishes, the Murray Stairway is painted to resemble piano keys and the Micheltorena Stairs bear rainbow stripes. Nearby, The Music Box Stairs and Three Stooges Stairs have silver-screen pasts: starring roles in Laurel and Hardy’s 1932 Music Box and the Stooges’ 1941 An Ache in Every Stake, respectively. Both movies feature the hijinks of delivering heavy objects—a piano and blocks of ice—up the outlandishly steep steps.
One morning during quarantine, I headed to one of the oldest—and most challenging—set of stairs in the city. The view from the bottom of the Eldred Street Stairs alarmed me with its 33.3 grade, which rises and dips like a roller-coaster track. Located in Los Angeles’s Mount Washington neighborhood, it’s the steepest street in California, beating San Francisco’s famed Filbert Street by 1.8 percent.
I took a deep breath and started climbing, my movements comically slow as I steadily gained 219 feet in elevation during the short 0.1-mile hike to the top. Sweat trickled down my forehead, and I had to take frequent breaks to catch my breath. I spied 1920s Craftsman bungalows, preposterously built along the hill. How did early inhabitants drive up to their garages, presumably in Model Ts? The street felt nearly vertical.
The journey was likely even more arduous for residents on Cross Avenue, who had to scale an additional 196 steps up a wooden staircase past the peak of Eldred Street to get home. At the bottom of the Eldred Stairs, legs quivering, I considered turning back. But the mystery of the foliage-shrouded climb ahead beckoned.
Ascending the deserted stairs felt like stepping into the past. I imagined some silent film hero tipping his straw boater hat as I passed. But I was alone, joined only by Monarch butterflies and playful sparrows who darted among the blue morning glories and overgrown weeds peeking through the stair railings.
I finally reached the top, popping out onto a narrow residential street with a scenic overlook. I soaked in the cool breeze, plus spectacular views of craggy Mount Baldy and the San Gabriel Mountains. I was done for the day, but that first outing inspired me to conquer other climbs: the Mattachine Steps in Silver Lake, dedicated to Harry Hay, founder of the Mattachine Society, one of the earliest LGBTQ rights group in the U.S. Next on my list: an Echo Park trek that leads to Angelino Heights, a late 19th-century neighborhood dotted with Victorian and Queen Anne mansions that seem popped out of a storybook.
During the pandemic, I’ve dreamt of time traveling to life after the crisis or to the glorious before times. Venturing up these old stairways is, in a way, like journeying into a bygone Los Angeles. It’s been just the escape I needed. —Rachel Ng
Down by the river in Chicago
Ordinarily, the glassy expanse of Chicago’s Lake Michigan attracts both photo ops and crowds of people who walk, bike, run, or sun themselves along the shore. But when this spring’s COVID-19 shutdowns closed the lakefront, I found a different watery escape: strolling the connected parks and paths along the North Branch of the Chicago River.
The multi-forked, 156-mile river winds from Lake Michigan through a series of other waterways that finally connect with the Mississippi River. Historically, the Chicago River has been a route for both indigenous people and European settlers, allowing Chicago to flourish as a major industrial city. But for me, during this pandemic, trails along the river have transformed into a secret world where I can get my nose out of my phone and into nature. Well, at least for a couple of miles a couple of times a week.
All it takes to get to my hideaway? A quick turn into what I think of as my personal portal: a cut in the railing of the Belmont Avenue Bridge near my home in the Avondale neighborhood. Just west of Western Avenue, I leave the busy road and zigzag down a concrete ramp to the meandering asphalt trail along the river.
The murky green water to my left, I walk through a thicket of trees and step inside a corner of Richard Clark Park called The Garden. Even during the pandemic, this hidden dirt-bike park was semi full of excited kids whooping and whipping their wheels over multiple mounds of soil, twisting and turning in an exhilarating escape from confinement. My 12-year-old nephew was often among them.
In the Garden, happy screams echo through the trees, a diversion from my doomscrolling on Twitter before I continue on my walks. And the land the bikes roll on has a long history of fun: it’s the site of the former Riverview Park. The legendary amusement park operated wooden roller coasters and toboggan rides from 1904 to 1967 under the slogan “laugh your troubles away.”
As I walk north on the trail, a contemporary grey stone building rises like a series of undulating waves. It’s the WMS Boathouse, designed by local architectural star Jeanne Gang, opened in 2013 as part of the city’s ongoing efforts to revitalize the riverfront. Gang used her trademark crisp engineering and green infrastructure elements (rain gardens, porous concrete that helps store and filter river water) to make a structure that’s both a design and environmental win.
RELATED: GARDEN CEMETERIES WERE AMONG AMERICA’S FIRST URBAN PARKS
GREEN-WOOD, NEW YORK CITY
Founded in 1838 as one of America’s first garden cemeteries, Green-Wood later inspired the creation of Central and Prospect Parks. In its early days, it was a major national tourist attraction
… Read MorePHOTOGRAPH BY TODD HEISLER, THE NEW YORK TIMES/REDUX
SPRING GROVE CEMETERY, CINCINNATI
A recurrent cholera epidemic motivated the Cincinnati Horticultural Society to create Spring Grove Cemetery in 1844. Inspired by garden cemeteries both in Paris and along the East
… Read MorePHOTOGRAPH BY MEDLEY OF PHOTOGRAPHY, ALAMY STOCK PHOTO
EVERGREEN CEMETERY, PORTLAND (ME)
One of Portland’s largest publicly owned open spaces, the 239-acre Evergreen Cemetery is renowned for its wooded hiking trails and peaceful ponds. Points of interest include an Egyptian revival–style tomb, a mausoleum styled after a Greek temple, and an English Gothic revival chapel.
PHOTOGRAPH BY DANITA DELIMONT, ALAMY STOCK PHOTO
LAUREL HILL CEMETERY, PHILADELPHIA
Fed up with the crowded state of Philadelphia’s church graveyards, a Quaker helped establish Laurel Hill on a former estate north of the city. With scenic views of the Schuylkill River and
… Read MorePHOTOGRAPH BY LITTLE NY, GETTY IMAGES
MOUNTAIN VIEW CEMETERY, OAKLAND
Renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted drew inspiration from Parisian monuments, English gardens, and American Transcendentalism when designing this 223-acre
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BONAVENTURE CEMETERY, SAVANNAH
With its centuries-old gravestones tucked beneath live oaks dripping with Spanish moss, it’s no wonder Bonaventure is hailed as one of Savannah’s highlights. Made more famous by
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CONGRESSIONAL CEMETERY, WASHINGTON, D.C.
Fifty years before Arlington National Cemetery was created, Congressional Cemetery became America’s first national burial ground. Situated in Capitol Hill, it was the chosen resting
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HOLLYWOOD FOREVER CEMETERY, LOS ANGELES
Home to Hollywood luminaries including Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney, and Douglas Fairbanks, Hollywood Forever has been a cultural center in Los Angeles since its gates opened in
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GLENWOOD CEMETERY, HOUSTON
Designed around several ravines leading to Buffalo Bayou, Glenwood Cemetery offers a unique, rolling landscape in the midst of sprawling Houston. Though built in a rural section of the city in 1872, it now sits in the heart of Houston with impressive vistas of the skyline.
PHOTOGRAPH BY JON SHAPLEY, HOUSTON CHRONICLE/AP IMAGES
OAKLAND CEMETERY, ATLANTA
What began in 1850 as a modest, six-acre burial ground for the young town of Atlanta has grown into a 48-acre historical highlight in the city. Oakland fell into a period of disrepair in
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In other summers, I’d rent a canoe outside the boathouse, or peek inside at the rowers who train here. Though the building is quiet this year (rentals and programs are on hold for now), the structure’s serene, zigzaggy roof still soothes me, a reminder that tough times, like flowing water, eventually move on.
Just beyond, my running shoes hit Riverview Bridge, a new concrete path that gently climbs 18 feet above the river. The slither of concrete with rusty steel tooth-like railings is popular with runners and bikers. Me, I slow down to a saunter high above the water, surveying the tops of surrounding trees, imagining I’m far from home before I turn around.
The bridge connects to an old path in California Park, where it ends. For now, at least. Work is underway for more legs of what urban planners aim to make one contiguous river trail. In these long, repetitive days, even small developments—like an extension of my secret world—feel like hope. —Kate Silver
Graveyard rambles in Washington, D.C.
During the pandemic, I‘ve been strolling amid hundreds of people, none of them wearing masks. But don’t COVID shame me: they’re all buried six feet under in historic Washington, D.C. cemeteries, so I’m not worried about social distancing.
My adopted hometown is famously rich in green spaces—Rock Creek Park, a ribbon of grass, trees, and water; the monument- and museum-studded National Mall. But during months of lockdown, my usual paths were jammed with runners and walkers, many unmasked and going about their sweaty, potentially germ-spreading business like it was 2019.
So my husband Callan and I retreated to cemeteries for walks that were often, well, deathly quiet. Our ambles started in March in Glenwood Cemetery, a still-active burial ground in the northeast quadrant of the city near Catholic University.
We came seeking exercise and a look at the grave of Reginald Wycliffe Geare, an early 20th-century architect infamous locally for designing D.C.’s Knickerbocker Theatre. It collapsed in a blizzard in 1922, killing 98 people. Geare also drew up the plans for our 1920 townhouse, which seems to weather storms OK, so we wanted to pay tribute.
On laps around Glenwood’s rolling acerage, Callan and I discovered more than Geare’s simple, flat stone. In spring, cotton candy-pink cherry blossoms backdropped weathered, grouchy stone cherubs. On Memorial Day, we witnessed a funeral procession where brightly dressed mourners on motorcycles provided a bittersweet foil to the dark hearse they followed.
Each time we dropped by, greeted by a swarm of life-sized, trumpet-playing stone angels, we’d discover more evidence of life and death’s rich pageant: a clutch of early 20th-century Greek immigrants in a family plot; recent, silk flower-decked tombstones engraved with Ethiopian surnames, a sign of D.C.’s large immigrant population. And just last week, my genealogist husband discovered two distant relatives were interred there under an expansive elm, an Ancestry.com data point made real.
I cop to morbidly scanning headstones for 1918 or 1919 passings (Spanish flu?). But I mostly consider these strolls a pleasant revival of the 19th-century cemetery movement holding that graveyards should be like public parks, gathering places where well-dressed Victorian crowds held picnics, concerts, or even horse races.
“Back then, if you had distinguished out-of-town guests, you’d take them to see the gravesites of local worthies and show off the sculptures,” says Keith Eggener, a graveyard historian, architecture professor at the University of Oregon, and author of the book Cemeteries. “They became so popular, people started to lead tours of them and write guidebooks.”
Those boneyard guides would’ve had a lot to talk about at the Georgetown nabe’s shaded, creek-side Oak Hill Cemetery, which I turned to for one-on-one, six-feet-apart strolls with girlfriends as D.C. rolled from crisp spring to boggy, hot summer. Amid tombs dating back to the 1850s, the steep stone steps and winding paths worked out both my calves and sense of mortality.
Civil war officers, sea captains, and other notables are buried amid the towering oaks. Abraham Lincoln’s son Willie’s body was temporarily interred here in a cliffside masoleum in 1862, inspiring George Saunders’ recent graveyard novel, Lincoln in the Bardo. And legendary Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee’s remains are entombed here behind a metal sculpture of a tree.
One June day, as I turned to leave the graveyard, I saw a spotted baby deer peeking out from behind a grizzled Victorian gravestone, all bright eyes and shaky legs. The lush, secluded surroundings seemed to make Bambi—like me—feel very alive indeed. —Jennifer Barger
Los Angeles-based writer Rachel Ng hopes to be fit enough to walk the Great Wall of China someday. Follow her on Instagram.
Kate Silver is a Chicago-based travel, business, and health writer—and walking enthusiast. Follow her on Instagram.
A day later…still in DC. Turns out the pop-up storm on Wednesday eve while I was at National Airport screwed up flights and now I am flying to…Chicago. (I was going to Chicago on Saturday morning. Post-storm on Wednesday, I couldn’t get another flight to Des Moines until Friday p.m. so I decided to fly early to Chicago Thursday and went back to the DC hotel Wednesday night, where D was staying one more night. Of course later I found out I could have gotten to DSM very late Wednesday because my connecting flight from St. Louis was delayed in departing…earlier in the night it was first delayed and then back on time just as I was planning to leave DC, meaning I would have missed my connection. Mine was one of many sob stories. Lots of airport confusion.)
From last night: It’s pouring outside the floor to ceiling windows of National Airport so hoping my Southwest flight is not delayed. I spent much of my day at the elegant Library of Congress, where I met with a very nice and interesting archivist who specializes in women’s manuscripts. I walked around the imposing and ornate library feeling a bit intimidated, which I think is the idea, and visited an exhibit comparing British and American suffragettes. Also heard a short lecture on the topic presented by the archivist I later interviewed.
We ended up walking through a long underground tunnel to the Dunkin’ Donuts in the bowels of the Madison Building. Quite the contrast with the above ground library. Felt like I was in the guts of the place.
It was blazing hot when I left around 3 pm and I hadn’t eaten lunch so I went to the cafe in the American Indian museum, which had slim pickings’ but I got some vegetarian chili and fry bread and enjoyed the view of running water over stones out the window.
I made a mistake en route to the airport, by taking the blue line Metro from L’enfant Plaza, which was 13 stops/28 minutes vs 4 stops/14 minutes on the Yellow line. Fortunately I had plenty of time. The sky appears to be clearing!
The National Portrait Gallery knew what I was looking for…
Thanks to a Washington Post story about good dining options near the National Mall (and, as it happens, the Holiday Inn Capital, where we are bunking), I ended up at the chic coffee bar in the lobby of the Hirshhorn, drinking an Americano over ice (it’s blazing hot here) and eavesdropping on a docent greeting a large group of very cute summer campers visiting the museum. Kids also were entranced by a kid-size talking robot holding an iPad that greeted them in the lobby. Kids young and teen tapped prompts on the iPad that allowed them to, among other things, take a selfie with the robot. Very interactive.
I ended up wandering a bit around the museum, which I haven’t been to in years and enjoyed the contemporary art including an installation by a Thai artist rirkrit tiravanija, that includes black and white protest murals covering the four walls of a boxy room with hot plates on a table in the middle of the room where word has it red, yellow and green curry are served on some days. Not sure what the message is but again, interactive.
On to the National Portrait Gallery to see the Obama portraits but there was so much more to see there too. I ended up on a docent-led highlights tour full of great information about the grand building’s history and the portraits of presidents and famous Americans through the years. The building is also home to the National Museum of American Art which has a broad collection of art through the ages and a spectacular atrium with a cafe. Thoroughly enjoyed my visit.
Dirck had early release from work so he joined me for lunch at the Red Apron, which specializes in cured meats. We had a good charcuterie board and excellent fries cooked in duck fat, followed a few hours later by refreshing fruit (rhubarb!) sorbet at nearby Pitango.
After lots of walking in the heat, a plunge in the hotel’s rooftop pool was great, even with the tepid water temp. Next stop Adams Morgan for middle eastern fare at Mama Ayesha’s with Noah, Rachel and Laurie and a drink at a little cafe called Tryst. We walked thru the shabby chic Line Hotel, a revived 1912 former Neoclassical church with high columns, that seems to be more bars than hotel. ￼(“The 220 guest rooms are located in a contextual addition behind the original building,” as one report put it.)
Despite indications to the contrary, we easily entered the fantastic new (to us) National Museum of African American History and Culture on a Monday in June at 11:30 am. So glad. I had found getting passes via the museum ‘s website frustrating. At 6:30 am on the dot I tried to get same day online passes, with no luck. I tried again at 9:30 am and they were still unavailable so we walked over to the museum at 11:30 and a nice young greeter showed us how to get passes and we were in (even though walk-ins technically can’t get in until 1 pm.)
As warned, the museum is hard to do in a day. There is so much to see. We were there for 3.5 hours and saw maybe half. Our visit included lunch of fried chicken at the museum cafeteria-style restaurant. We did the history part first, which starts underground and rises up 2 more floors. It was packed with people, especially the early bits and apparently cramped and claustrophobic by design. I would have liked to spend more time in the 1950 ‘s exhibits and onward because that’s the history I like best, I think because I lived it and, as a result, it’s fascinating to see how it is chronicled and depicted.
There were several moving moments but what made me cry quietly was the procession we took past Emmet Till’s casket with the devastating photos of his grief-stricken, furious and brave mother. One of the most memorable sites from a drive around the Mississippi countryside with Dirck was the old storefront, now abandoned and covered with vines, on a country road where young Emmet got into trouble, allegedly, that led to his murder.
It was also very moving to see the history exhibit end with Obama’s inauguration, all the more so given the poisonous climate cultivated by his shockingly race-baiting successor in the White House. It will be interesting to see what the museum makes of the Trump Administration. Shame.
The fountain in the National Gallery Sculpture Park, after getting ice tea at the pavilion cafe
After lunch at the museum, we went to the culture exhibit on the top floor, which was my favorite area because I love “black” music, tv, movies, art and pop culture. I could have spent another hour there but my back was starting to ache.
I have been to civil rights museums/memorials/landmarks (in Memphis, Birmingham, Money, Mississippi) music museums highlighting black musicians (stax records and sun records in Memphis; Motown in Detroit; Jazz in Davenport Iowa and the Rock n roll hall of fame in Cleveland; the blues museum in clarksdale, Ms.) I’ve even been on the new plantation in NOLA that focuses entirely on slavery. So I have seen some of the artifacts and displays found at the new DC museum. But the difference is seeing it all together in one place, and what a place. The building is very striking inside and out, with fantastic art, artifacts, displays and city views. I also felt like a minority, which is an unusual experience and probably good to have. The place felt like it belonged to African-Americans and I am guessing (or hoping) they feel a real sense of belonging and pride there. I didn’t feel unwelcome but it’s not my place or my story.
Sisters in The Palisades
Last night, Noah and I had good innovative Indian food at Rasika West. I later discovered a Rasika nearer to our hotel, the conveniently located holiday inn Capital near the national air and space museum on the National Mall. The hotel also has a rooftop outdoor pool with a view of the US Capitol. Not Cayuga Lake but good place to cool off.
Plunged right into the thick of things here, soon after arriving in DC, by joining a gathering next to the impenetrable-looking White House to protest the current occupant’s harsh treatment of asylum seekers and migrants at the southern border, including the separation of children from their families and their placement in detention camps. The lights for Liberty rally wasn’t the Women’s March but a decent turnout and some good signs and impassioned speeches. Will it have any impact?
Noah, Rachel and I went to a nearby Peruvian restaurant, Pisco Y Nazca, for an excellent late night meal (causa sampler, ceviche, arroz con mariscos, aji de gallina) sitting outside in the still somewhat steamy weather.
My sister has moved to a lovely house in the Palisades, a leafy neighborhood on the Potomac just north of Georgetown and west (I think) of Arlington, Va. Whole different orientation to the city (and required Uber…no metro.) We went over to Rachel and Noah’s apt in Columbia Heights and for light lunch (bun) at a nearby Vietnamese restaurant, Pho Viet, then tried to find a shady street in the soupy heat to walk down in the pretty mount pleasant neighborhood, with big brick houses, row house with porches and crepe myrtle trees in riotous color (all shades of red and purple). We stopped at a trendy bakery/cafe/bar called Elle and then Uber pooled (with no extra passengers) back to The Palisades.
On a hit and humid Sunday we walked about 15 minutes to the Palisades farmers market which had heirloom tomatoes, blueberries, raspberries and pastries for our brunch and dinner, with two of our former campaign worker/lodgers. Fun!
Well this is weird and kind of nice but it won’t be happening for some time. My southwest flight from DC was almost direct to dsm. the plane stopped at Chicago’s midway airport but is the same plane going to dsm. Never done that before. And sadly won’t again because Southwest is replacing its Des Moines-Chicago flights with dsm-st. Louis flights. Oh well. I will miss the affordable flights to Chicago and to midway (goodbye Manny’s corned beef too) but one good thing: it appears that there will be Sunday flights to DC from dsm via St. Louis (there weren’t any via Chicag0.)
Two more good meals in DC, last night at graffiato, the top chef personality mike Isabella’s inventive Italian small plates and pizza joint near gallery Place. And tonight superb crab cakes at legal seafood in Reagan national airport. Plane is filling up again so signing off.