Monday, May 21, 2018

The Spring Break Roadtrip, Ordinary DC Life and a NY Twist

For spring break this year, we had the brilliant idea to take a roadtrip from DC, slowly go down south and eventually visit good friends in Jacksonville, Florida. I had it all mapped out. First night – Charlottesville. That charming little college town in the gorgeous Shenandoah valley, surrounded by a many local wineries with actually good Virginia wine. We were supposed to arrive on Friday night, check in the cozy Airbnb house, tucked away in the woods, then go to a local pub and have grass-fed burgers and local brew, while Son reveled in the company of his parents. Then on Saturday, we would prance through 2 of the best wineries, and drive down to Charlotte – the modern, hip North Carolina city with fun downtown. I even sprang on a pricier hotel downtown, to be close to the action on Saturday night. Then on Sunday, we would walk its quirky streets before we went further south to Charleston to meet with our friends and continue the trip South.

Instead, this is what happened. On Friday afternoon, after coughing violently for about a week with no other symptoms, Son complained that he did not feel well. He tends to say that a lot, which can have various meanings, depending on his mood but most typically means he is tired, hungry and about to become really whiney. We gave him snacks and drove off excitedly to the Shenandoah. After driving through a million tiny roads into the woods and stopping at a creepy train crossing for over 15 minutes to wait out a seemingly endless train, we made it to a most fabulous Airbnb rental house. We left our luggage and rushed to the local pub, where we had fabulous freshly prepared pub food, the Diplomat and I sipped local brews and wines, while Son played Minecraft. We went back, and Son happily bounced about in the huge king-sized bed he had to himself, playing with an enormous stuffed pink pig left there. The next morning, he woke up, took a shower and said he felt really sick, and proceeded to fall asleep again. Mommy’s thermometer and instinct told me he wasn’t joking, and off we went to the local emergency clinic. A neat male doctor there told us that Son either has strep or pneumonia, which freaked me out. A quick test confirmed it was NOT strep, and off we were, reams of prescriptions in our hands, into the pharmacy.

Well stocked on antibiotics, fever medicine, thermometer, cough drops, and what have you, we decided to go for lunch so that Son can have a little soup before getting medicated. We ended up in a cute local favorite, which happened to have soup. Excited, I ordered one for him, and loaded the antibiotics. He gamely ate quite a few spoonfuls, took the first dose of the medicine, looked me sadly in the eyes, then turned to the still half-full soup plate and promptly barfed everything right back in it. I should tell you that I am a sympathy barfer, and it took everything out of me to keep cool. After the Diplomat gamely took the plate back, I fed the child medicine again, stopped trying to force him to eat food and went on the road to Charlotte – a 4.5 hour drive, during which we had to stop every 30 mins for him to barf some more water, until I gave up trying to make him stay hydrated. We finally made it to Charlotte, and he refused any food option we tossed at him, until I mentioned ramen noodles. It was a winner and a turning point. The next morning, the child was bouncing off the walls again, and later that day, spent 2 hours in the pool in the Charleston hotel with his buddy, while we sipped moonshine with our friends. The rest of the trip went swimmingly well but I still need to go back to Charlottesville and sample them wineries!

Life has been hectic around here with constant hosting, going out, traveling, filing taxes, drinking in the backyard with the neighbors (frequently), schlepping Son to art classes and golf and tennis lessons, and all the other joys of every day life. We just survived our very first school play with a rather incomprehensible plot, the complexity of which was exacerbated by the poor acoustics in the school gym and the fact that we did not hear much of what was going on. It had something to do with computer games, and Son and 20 girls from the elementary school sang their hearts out for 2 hours with some sort of a moral story in the end. It was fantastic, plus there were cupcakes for the cast in the end!

Last week, very close and very fabulous friends from Brazil were visiting New York and we went up to see them for the weekend. After a grueling 6 hour drive up there, we started with a wedding party at my friend’s (she owns an apartment in NY), which she was throwing for someone else. 17 glasses of champagne and a dozen macarons later, the Diplomat and I were ready to go to the hotel and pass out. We, however, have this thing about eating ramen late at night every time we go back to NY, and around 1 am decided to see if we can find a ramen place nearby. See, this is why NY will forever be my favorite city in the whole world – it was 1 am, and we were in the middle of Midtown East, and it was not a question of whether there was a ramen restaurant open anywhere in the city at that point but rather, whether there was a good one within 3 blocks of where we were. And naturally, there was – Hinomaru Lucky Cat – with the most delicious Japanese noodle bowls one can imagine on a cool spring night in Manhattan

The next evening, we decided to take our friends to a cute French bistro in West Village we had found randomly on Open Table – Le Baratin. Small, cute and cozy, Le Baratin serves classic French food and features classic cute male French waiters. What was a little unusual was the nice dance music that was going on in the background. The music was indeed so good, that after a bottle of wine and a good steak, one of our friends felt like dancing, managed to entice a few more people from the restaurant to join her in the tiny space, and soon the entire restaurant was dancing like crazy, and since the space was so small, some were dancing on top of the bar as well. Soon the owner joined us and sent us a bunch of glasses of champagne, which of course only further fueled the dancing frenzy. We left at 1 am again. Yes, I love NYC!

This past weekend, we spent a long and sunny afternoon in the Paradise Springs winery near DC. Now, I will be the first one to tell you that Northern Virginia wine is rather crappy, BUT this was an award-winning one and for a good reason – the wine was actually quite decent, plus the grounds were beautiful. Except that today, I pulled a tick out of my foot. Um, what??