Monday, October 7, 2013

Week 5, Part 2: Annapolis, Washington D.C. & New Jersey

So, at this point, we've either visited or passed through 17 states, Canada, and the District of Columbia. Whew. I'm writing this from our room in the neighborhood of Astoria in Queens, New York, a short subway ride from Manhattan. We arrived here after three restful nights with Larry's good friend Charlie, who has just recently moved from San Francisco to the Annapolis area of Maryland, to be near his daughter and grand daughter. By the time we parked in front of Charlie's house in Galesville, MD--a town of about 600 on the West River near Chesapeake Bay, I was altogether road-weary and was grateful to be able to have some downtime, which was made easier by the fact the government has shut down and the museums are not open in our nation's Capital. We also know we'll be going back to Galesville to housesit for a couple of weeks after we're in New York City, so we'll have plenty of time to explore--with the hopes that by then there will be a resolution to the differences that caused the shutdown. 

We didn't know Charlie lived, essentially, on the water, so it was really wonderful following the GPS directions and ending up turning down a long street into Galesville and ending up at the edge of the water, seeing boats docked on the pier. 

As I wrote in the previous blog, I'd opted for a night in, for rest, and to not yet brave driving alone, though I was pretty bummed about missing seeing my friend Louis and getting to meet his five-year-old daughter. I hadn't seen Louis since his wife was pregnant with their daughter. But I stayed in, wrote the blog, and wrote a fun poem for Freya, which I hastily sent to Louis so I could somehow be present for them that night. 

The next day, we went in to Annapolis, walked around old-town, went to Chick & Ruth's Delly (famous for its crabcakes and six-pound milkshakes). When we came back, I took a giant nap, and then we had a dinner at a local place. 

Saturday, we went into D.C. to see my friend Louis play with his band, Brûlée (, at Porchfest, an event in the Adams Morgan neighborhood where 33 bands played on 11 stages. We took the Metro into D.C., walking our way to the street where Brûlée was playing their jazz-infused music. It was a great event. The weather had been hot and humid, but the street was tree-lined, the people whose porch Brûlée was playing on kept the cold water and homemade cookies coming, and the four-piece band played, alternating every few songs with a band down the street, so we heard two bands and I got to visit with Louis between these tiny sets. 

Then Louis and I visited and watched the French Admirals play covers of bands like the Smiths as well as some originals. The French Admirals were equally and different in their awesomeness. They were a guitarist/singer and bass player and didn't bring a PA system so their singer was belting out the songs, making for a very intimate performance experience, while they alternated with an awesome band down the block. 

Louis and I got to catch up for about an hour while we listened to the music, and Larry and Charlie walked around listening to some other great bands. It was an awesome way to get an insider's view on the city. Loved it, the execution, and the concept--and hope that the idea will spread to a lot more cities and towns. 

We had an early night (with Charlie and Larry watching baseball playoffs while I rested), and then headed off to drive to New York City, with a stop planned to visit my dad's cousin, Allen, in Frenchtown, New Jersey. We winded our way through Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Delaware, before passing into New Jersey. Rural New Jersey is beautiful, and the fall colors were starting to come on. In Pennsylvania, Annapolis, and New Jersey we started to see older buildings. Larry kept saying, "I bet that building is 300 years old." 

The drive to Frenchtown was absolutely gorgeous. We crossed over the Delaware River on a small bridge and into enchanting rolling hills, winding our way through Western New Jersey, finally landing at Allen's house for invigorating conversation, a great dose of family history, and a good chance to get to know someone I hadn't seen since I was eight (in 1974). It was a wonderful stopover and we hope to have the chance to see him again later this month. 

Then, by 4:30, we were off to try to get into New York and our room before it was too awfully late. Though we had some Sunday night traffic (or normal New York traffic) to battle, we happily landed in New York City on Sunday night via the George Washington Bridge, my first trip over it. 

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