Family wedding perfect time to explore nation's capital
By Myra Starkey
March 10, 2015 at 10:44 p.m.
Updated March 10, 2015 at 11:34 p.m.
Last weekend, our niece, Haley, got married in Washington, D.C. The town is actually called Old Town Alexandria, which is a short metro (subway) ride across the Potomac River. To a southerner, it's all Washington, D.C.
Alexandria, Va., is a suburb of the nation's capital. It is rich in history and most of the streets are named after patriots.
Haley has lived and worked in D.C. for years, so it was only natural for her to choose that location for her wedding. She married Rick, who grew up in Boston. They met at their church and a romance was born.
Taylor and I were waiting to catch the plane from Hobby Airport in Houston last Thursday. It was beginning to get cold outside, and while we waited in the terminal for our flight, I watched the overhead television.
It was at that moment I happened to see the news story of the airplane that landed at LaGuardia in New York City. The runway was covered with ice and snow and the commercial jet nearly skidded into the river.
It's times like these when I think if God wanted me to fly, I would have wings. Taylor assured me there would be no problem with our landing or they would not let us leave.
The two-hour flight was uneventful. When we neared Washington National Airport the pilot told us they were trying to de-ice the runway so we could land. I then remembered that the airport is next to the Potomac River, and so with my extra minutes before plunging to my death, I reread the flight information in the seat pocket in front of me to make sure I knew exactly where the life vest was and how to inflate the thing.
It turned out the pilot made a perfect landing on the icy runway and I did not have to use the vest after all.
The city was covered in white. The snow was falling and already had accumulated about 6 inches.
Our hotel was in Old Town Alexandria, which is in Virginia and just south of Washington. It is quaint with brick sidewalks and cobblestone streets. Many of the structures are from the 1700s.
The shopkeepers were out shoveling their sidewalks. The city sounds were muffled by the powdery snow, and there weren't many cars or people moving about, which added to the quietness. The tree limbs were adorned with the white beauty.
I was starting to get pretty hungry as it was late evening. We asked the hotel desk clerk for a recommendation and he told us Landini's. It was downhill along the slippery street. I moved with care, figuring I might fall and break something like a hip.
At some point in my life, my mother used to say, "I could fall and break a hip." So now I'm starting to think like my mother.
I ordered mussels and clams over linguini with a spicy marinara sauce and lots of bread. The plate was piled high, and I think the waiter thought surely I would not be able to eat it all. I dug in and finished every last bite.
Taylor had delicious tender veal with mushrooms in a white wine sauce. I hated to leave knowing the frigid air and icy sidewalks awaited us for our walk back to the hotel.
We spent Friday at the National Gallery of Art. Washington, D.C., can boast of many things but their museums are spectacular. One might think of the Smithsonian, however even that is a collection of more than 10 different buildings from Natural History to Air and Space. All of the museums are free to visit. One facility we did not take time to visit was where they have a large magic show where people do tricks to make billions of dollars simply vanish each day. I think it is called The Capitol.
We got off the subway at the Archive Station, which was next to this fabulous huge stone building called The National Archives. I'm not sure, but I think this is where they store important documents such as everyone's "permanent school records."
I don't know if you ever got in trouble when you were in school. I just remember that when you did something bad the teacher or principal would always tell you that this action would become part of your permanent school record.
Once you graduate, it probably gets shipped off to The National Archives for safe keeping.
The National Gallery of Art was the most amazing art museum I have ever seen. The grand building was constructed in 1937. The paintings and sculptures date from about 1500 to the 1950s.
It is mostly traditional and by artists that are household names, such as Cassatt, Degas, Picasso, Monet, Sargent and Rembrandt. We spent about four hours there and that even seemed to be a rush. That afternoon we made a quick pass through the Smithsonian Museum of American History.
This museum has the entire kitchen from chef Julia Child's home, along with all her pots and pans.
The museum also has the 1814 Stars and Stripes that flew over Baltimore's Fort McHenry during the attack by the British. The flag measures 30 by 34 feet. This battle led Francis Scott Key to write "The Star Spangled Banner," our national anthem.
The next day, we walked around Washington to see some of the monuments and buildings, such as The White House, the World War II Memorial and the Washington Monument. This marble and granite obelisk is 554 feet tall and was completed in 1888. At the time, it was the tallest structure in the world.
Haley's wedding that evening was beautiful and she looked the part. I have known her since she was a baby, and it was amazing to see how she has grown up.
She seemed so happy and it was a joyous event to see her become Rick's wife.
The event was in the old Torpedo Factory in Alexandria. The pastor said that was appropriate for this occasion because marriages can be threatened by things that lurk below the surface, which can sink a relationship.
The following morning, we had breakfast at a corner bakery called Le Pain Quotidiem, which means everyday bread (I think). My French is a little rusty. I had the Belgium waffles with fresh berries. I ordered a latte. It arrived in a soup bowl, which I held firmly in my hands and enjoyed every bit of it.
Here is a great Belgian waffle recipe. Whipping the egg whites makes the waffles lighter and is worth the effort.
Myra Starkey lives in Victoria. Write her in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77901, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.