Alexandria to Appalachia: Virginia for the Weekend

I recently had an…eventful weekend in Virgina with my family.

After a 6:10AM train I passed through Union Station

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which is slowling going through a reno but still looking pretty good.

Just after noon I joined some friends at Sportrock Alexandria for my first foray in to rock climbing. I found it a little fun, a little scary, and very new.

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Eventually my family and I caught an early dinner at a less than impressive French restaurant in Old Town, Alexandria called Le Bergerie which, sadly, was pretty unimpressive. Our meal was rushed, in any case, because we had a 7 o’clock curtain call at the Kennedy Center.

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I have always love going to the theater there–it truly has a sense of glamour.

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Kennedy Center

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Most excitingly, we were there to see The Book of Mormon!

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Which was hilarious and amazing–definitely lived up to the hype.

After nightcaps at a Union Street and too few hours of sleep, we woke the next morning and headed West.

It has become a tradition with my sister and I to stop at the Wegmans in Warrington, Va which basically is the grocery story straight out of my dreams.

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Overly stocked, we continued our journey to Shenandoah National Park.

Which means taking Skyline Drive…

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…to stay in Skyline Resort.

Sadly, it started raining the night we arrived, and didn’t stop for 36 hours. 😦 So instead of hiking, there was a lot of napping in grim hotel rooms…

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and eating in mildly endearing dining halls.

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We did manage to fight through the storm and get off the mountain for a spell though, to see the wildly over priced ($26 a ticket) but still pretty damn cool

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and which, incase anyone was wondering, looks like this from the outside,

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and this from the inside,

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Insert a 1.5 mile tour underground led by a girl so chipper I can only assume she was moonlighting from her gig as Minnie Mouse.

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We saw what I can only assume to be the Phantom of the Opera’s organ.

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As well as a flagrant waste of money posing as a wishing well.

All in all, it was a fun destination if you happen to be in that neck of the woods. We followed our caverning with delicious sandwiches at West Main Market in the tiny, sleepy town of Luray.

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Then it was back to the lodge for a nap and perfectly satisfactory steak dinner, followed by poker, drinks, and conversation with the cousins. In the morning we drove back to Alexandria, took a brief down moment to play on our phones and lounge in the formal living room, and eventually caught a train back to New York–thus ending, my weekend in Virginia.

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Genre Book Coverage Roundup: Tuesday, June 9, 2015

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Wanderings in Writing: Episode 1

Show the Way by John-Paul Balmet
Show the Way by John-Paul Balmet

Even before she opened her yes, Lira knew she was in a forest. The air was wet, heavy, old. Darkness shrouded everything but not ominously so—enough moonlight shone through the canopy that she was not afraid. And in any case, she knew she was dreaming—that logical step that comes when one becomes aware they are in a fantastic, strange place but is not alarmed by it.

She took a step forward and the silence around her began to show it’s true nature: insects flitted, leaves rustled, creature tittered, an owl hooted. There was no wind to speak of; the air lay dense and thick around her.

In the way that things can suddenly appear in dreams where they were not before, and yet it all seems natural, the ground in front of her was now a soft incline marked with moss covered stone steps.

They led around a massive stone visage—a head, she saw, as she stepped closer, of a man: full lips, stubbed nose, bald, save the grass, ferns, and moss that covered his pate. The sculptor’s craft was rudimentary: eyelids were raised over blank, featureless eyes. The thing stood taller than her—perhaps at nine feet, though she was never a good judge of height. It lay as if fallen from some passing behemoth who wandered too far into the woods and, figuratively and literally, lost his head.

Lira giggled to herself at the image, and stopped when she felt watched. Looking up, she saw…her mind had no word. The creature was bipedal and small. It was made of wood, like a tree grown into the shape of a mischievous little boy still proud of his pot belly. Intelligent eyes shone (quite so—it was no mere moonlight reflection that made the pin dots burn in the darkness) from a gnarled and barked face that somehow did not give the impression of age. A thin mouth with wooden lips smirked at her. Thin branch arms, ending in delicate twig fingers extended from his shoulders. One hand was cocked jauntily on his hip. With the other, he reached towards her and gestured gently: come along, then.

Genre Book Roundup: Friday, June 5 – Monday, June 8

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Saturday and Sunday, January 10-11, 2015

When at a loss for where to eat saturday morning brunch, I suggested a tantalizing biscuit place a few blocks from A’s apartment that we’d walked by a bunch. This turned out to be an epically good idea. Behold, the BeeHive Oven:

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A got the Bootstrap and I got a biscuit with sausage gravy. We fell in love.

Afterwards, we braved the cold for a short jaunt around Williamsburg. First things first: hot chocolate at the starbucks on 7th.

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Which, being where it is, naturally had a special fancy “Reserve” bar for speciality drinks.

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Then it was across the street to Crossroads Trading Post for a short and fruitless hunt for some skinny white jeans–I had a White Rabbit costume in mind for the Alice in Wonderland party I’m attending next weekend. From there, we wondered over to the relatively new and definitely massive Urban Outfitters.

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The place is 4 levels of consumer’s paradise, topped with it’s very own bar and a restaurant that actually looked pretty good.

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Apparently there is a rooftop too, which was closed for the winter but that the internet tells me looks like this during the summer:

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So I am rather excited to check that out in a few months. Afterwards, we walked north to stop in at Rough Trade.

Before too long, the cold got the best of us so we headed home–but barely had time to take off our coats before heading back out to meet S for wings. Unfortunately, this happened to coincide with a big football game so our hunt was difficult (and cold). We eventually had to squeeze in at an awkward table at Williams & Bailey and shout at each other over the yelling of Patriots and Ravens fans.

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The food was adequate, though I think A was particularly fond of his chicken sandwich.

Afterwards, we parted ways from S and struggled through the frigid air back tot he warm and comforting bosom of A’s local Jackbar where I got some cider and all was right with the world.

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For the tail end of the night I made A watch Empire Records for the first time which he hated, a reaction which I am choosing to ignore because that movie is great.

Sunday morning dawned bright and early and I woke up with a plan to go see The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. A isn’t into the franchise so I set off on my own…but couldn’t resist stopping back in to BeeHive to get a biscuit and coffee to go. Having bright pink hair meant I was recognized from the day before–but I ended up having a pleasant talk with John, one of the owners. This place really is fantastic and I can’t wait to go back and try more of their menu…such as the chicken friend steak and the shrimp and grits.

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Delicious sustenance in hand (and purse) I ventured into Manhattan to Kips Bay for 144 minutes of dwarves, elves, hobbits, and men.

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All in all, I rather liked it–but then again, I just enjoy the world so much, I’d watch mostly anything Peter Jackson wanted to make in it. I mean come on…

From there I wandered to and fro, on the hunt to flesh out my costume for the Alice and Wonderland party. I went up to the Levi’s on 34th, then next door to H&M. It was there that I gave up on finding white jeans and decided to hunt for a red dress instead: screw the White Rabbit, long live the Red Queen.

I walked down broadway, making a necessary lunch pitstop at Hill Country Chicken for a tender and some mashed potatoes.

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Then after a brief stop into my office, I checked out my second H&M of the day, and tried on every single red dress they carried.

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…because why not? I ended up getting that last one, the capped sleeve sheath.

Running on fumes, I made a few more stops before heading home: Halloween Adventure, where I failed to find a reasonably priced heart crown; Gothic Renaissance, which was pretty much grown up Hot Topic combined with a ren fest leather shop; and Whole Foods, which was crowded and awful.

The night ended well though, with a relaxing glass of wine and a rewatch of one of my old favorites: The Whole Nine Yards.

– L