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Wine, Donkeys and D.C.

Let’s see, where were we? It was October 9th, a grey day in Harpers Ferry, WV and Allison and I were staring at each other in the KOA parking lot mumbling swear words. We were locked out of the RV and it was still running.

IMG_3427Allison quickly landed on a solution. A while back we’d broken the window lock on the large sliding window above our dining table. If we could hoist ourselves up that high (5 feet), we could slide the window open from the outside, pop out the screen and climb in. I tried using our little 1 foot stepping stool. Getting the window open and the screen off was no problem, but hoisting isn’t one of my finer skills. I was in favor of continuing the effort on our own. You know, saving myself the embarrassment of explaining to someone why my RV is running and I’m locked outside it, but Allison wasn’t in the sparing-me-embarrassment mood, so she went in search of a ladder. I tried to plead my case one last time to her back as she marched away. Then I just lowered my head, mumbled more shits and paced around the RV.

Ali came back with the KOA guy and a ladder and insisted on going in herself. I’m not sure which bruise was bigger, the one on her shin from the window sill or the one on my ego, but at least we were back inside the RV. However, we still had the electrical problem, so we consulted Google and started making calls to several shops. Everyone was busy and offering us appointments 3 or 4 days later in the week, so after a quick consult with Meg and Brendan, we decided to just head on to the farm. Allison drove the SUV behind me being careful not to let cars get in between us. She was essentially my brake lights and turn signals, just on a 3 second delay. About an hour into the drive the brake lights started working intermittently. They flashed frantically when I used a turn signal, which is not good, but it was at least something I could use to communicate with Ali.

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Finally we arrived at the farm, safe and sound, no problems. My aunt and uncle live in Middleburg, which is in beautiful Virginia horse country, just 45 minutes from D.C. Our camp spot for the week was a little pull out with a view of the fields. Allison was so tickled to have horse neighbors, but as luck would have it, it rained pretty much every minute of every day we were there. Not very conducive to horsing around.

While we were on our way there, Brendan had talked to his horse-trailer mechanic about our problem and was able to get us an appointment the next morning at 8am. The mechanic wasn’t optimistic about being able to help. Electrical is one thing. Electrical in an RV is another. Electrical in an RV with an after-market backup camera is still another, but we had to start somewhere. Right that moment however, we needed to shift priorities. It was just 3pm and we had the Bluemont Vineyard on our agenda for the afternoon.

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Living in Santa Cruz, CA for as long as we did, we’re quite familiar with having a winery near home. We were members at Storrs Winery for years, however, their tiny tasting room is nothing compared to the Bluemont. The miles of grapes tumble down a fairly steep hill and the tasting room is atop, a large two-story building with a wrap-around porch overlooking all of the gorgeous farm-country. My aunt, mom and dad and I had dined there a few months ago when we visited for Gaelyn’s graduation so this wasn’t my first time, but it was Allison’s. The view is the best part (when it’s not fogged in), followed by their cheese and fresh warm bread, and then, their wine. (Californians count your blessings.) The three of us girls happily chatted the afternoon away.

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The next morning we peeled ourselves out of bed early and steered Lucy and the SUV to the mechanic. It was pouring rain when we dropped her off which made for a very damp demonstration of the problems. The mechanic was sure to set my expectations low. He reminded me a few times that he wasn’t an expert on electrical, but he did have a strong idea of what the problem might be so he was going to start there. Meanwhile, Allison and I headed on down the road to the nearest town to shop for good tennis shoes and socks for our Amazon job.

An hour later, we had new shoes, super puffy new socks, and Lucy was fixed for a measly $90. Turned out to be exactly what he thought, a bad wiring connector in the rear of the RV, something that was sensitive to bouncing and wiggling, which is why it had been intermittent. He just cut the wires, took the connector out of the equation, made hard connections for each wire, insulated or coated them with something I can’t remember the name of and BAM we were ready to roll. FOR $90, no less!!! Yippee!

Since it rained every day, our events for the rest of the week tended to include a lot of talking, movie-watching and wine drinking at home, but we did go out one afternoon to see Gravity in 3D. Our other two outings were to see Bogo the new baby donkey and a long day trip into Washington, D.C. I must say however, the highlight of nearly EVERY day of our visit with my aunt and uncle was the dinner meal. Brendan is amazing in the kitchen and he regaled us with several of his flagship dishes, including an extraordinary lasagna and a pizza full of fresh ingredients atop a crust that was lovingly risen and kneaded throughout the day.

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First about Bogo. Meg and Brendan’s friends who have a few acres nearby, bought a miniature donkey that turned out to be pregnant. So a few months later, Bogo came into the family. Buy One Get One Free – Bogo. They also have a feisty horse.

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Despite the Government shutdown, we had several non-government-run museum options for our visit to D.C, but we landed on the Newseum. Our plan was to eat a light lunch when we arrived, visit the museum for the afternoon, and dinner with my best high school friend, Nikki, at her place. So the intrepid trio of Meg, Ali and I drove to the subway station nearest Nikki’s house in the pouring rain, left the car there, grabbed our umbrellas and headed downtown on the Metro. For lunch, Allison had reached out to the boys at the Bitten Word (they live in the D.C. area – they write the blog she did the cooking event for) and they recommended Jaleo for Spanish tapas. Boy, was it a great recommendation.

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Tapas means small plates and they are intended to be shared by everyone at the table. Allison and I had experienced authentic tapas in Barcelona, Spain and loved it, but it was a first for Meg. I think I can safely say it will not be her last experience. The only problem was too many of the items on the menu sounded delicious, including their house sangria, so we let our ears do the picking and our light lunch turned into a feast. We were NOT to be deterred however, from our visit to the Newseum.

Memorial wall, photos of journalists who have died in pursuit of the story

Memorial wall, photos of journalists who have died in pursuit of the story

Demolished, charred, twisted piece of the radio tower from World Trade Center

Demolished, charred, twisted piece of the radio tower from World Trade Center

Me and Meg outside the Newseum in front of that day's headlines

Me and Meg outside the Newseum in front of that day’s headlines

Actual news helicopter suspended in front of the biggest TV screen

Actual news helicopter suspended in front of the biggest TV screen

This map shows the absence, in red, of freedom of the press across the world.  Ouch.

This map shows the absence, in red, of freedom of the press across the world. Ouch.

The Newseum is a must see for everyone. My aunt was especially moved by the 911 exhibit. It was hard to leave. They have a twisted, charred piece of the radio tower from the World Trade Center surrounded by the headlines from every major newspaper that following day. We were all stunned into silent awe in the Life Magazine Photo exhibit as we were encircled by all the breath-stealing, gorgeous, haunting, award-winning photos. There’s a huge display on Kennedy and his assassination, a wing on political comedy, a giant wall of head shots of journalists who have died in pursuit of a story – a memorial to their passion. There’s even a fake studio set up so that you can pretend to be a TV Journalist. I think Allison was BORN to report the news from behind a fancy desk. And there was so, so, so much more we read and learned. You must go!

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We closed the museum down that day. They kicked us out and it was probably a good thing they did, because we were already emotionally exhausted from all we’d seen and experienced. The pick me up for the evening was how much fun we had at Nikki’s house afterwards. She and her wife Lori put out an incredible meal for us, accompanied by the most amazing wine. The three of us didn’t think we’d be able to eat much after our tapas indulgence, but like pros, we three girls showed up.

So that sums our week in D.C. and it’s already our last day of work at Amazon. We didn’t quite make our goal of catching the blog up to real time before it was time to leave, but we’re so very close. We have just ONE more post that covers the 10-days of travel before we arrived in Kentucky. Not sure it will happen tomorrow, but Allison is going to give it the old college try.

Everybody – help me out here!

Gimme a “B”. “B”! Gimme an “L”. “L”! Gimme an “O”. “O”! Gimme a “G”. “G”! What’s that spell? Wait, Allison get back in here!