Birthday Trip

Concurrent Andy Warhol exhibits at the National Gallery and the Hirshhorn Museums in DC hatched the idea for a trip to celebrate my birthday! So last Friday, Gretchen and I headed to Manassas because we wanted to explore the quaint downtown we had seen several times on rail trips when the train stopped at the AMTRAK station. The "Fall Gallery Walk" was scheduled for Friday evening. After dinner at the Philadelphia Tavern, we walked around Old Town visiting about 10 galleries and stores hosting local artists. It was a pleasant evening but Gretchen and I had similar impressions. We both felt the crowd and the quality of the art work both fell short of what we find at Lynchburg's First Friday's.

First stop Saturday was the Udvar-Hazy Center of the Air and Space Museum at Dulles. The Center is named after a Turkish immigrant who became a pioneer in the aircraft leasing business and subsequently donated 66 million dollars to establish the museum! I am so glad he did because the Center is an amazing place; the scale of the exhibits is mind boggling. Small balloon baskets hang above large fighter planes. Tiny planes that set speed records during the twentieth century sit next to a Boeing passenger jet. It is neat to walk down an aisle and see the rapid development of engines in bi-planes of the early 1900s, or the evolution of fighter planes during WW II. Oh, there is a space shuttle in residence too! The adjacent picture reminded us of JabberJaws, the laser we borrowed from the Yates each year during sailcamp so Kelley and Katie would each have a boat to sail. We left the Museum and headed to a nearby Trader Joe's (for coffee beans) and on to the Metro stop at Vienna.

The Warhol exhibits were quite different from our knowledge of his works (think Campbell soup cans). In the National Gallery, the exhibit was called Headlines, and it focused on early works where Warhol was reproducing newspaper copy in his paintings adding his own twists. Quite interesting. The Hirshhorn exhibit called Shadows displayed for the first time all 102 paintings of a shadow in his loft that Warhol painted in striking colors with a mop. Displayed on the curved wall of the Hirshhorn (more than half way around the building), it was an impressive hanging of his work.

Saturday was a beautiful day on the Mall and we enjoyed the fall colors as we walked to the Martin Luther King Memorial. It is a dramatic monument opposite the Jefferson Memorial on the Tidal Basin. His words etched in stone that inspired so many in his day are strikingly thoughtful and relevant today!

The plan was to end our day in Washington with an early dinner before heading back to our hotel in Manassas. Our chosen restaurant was a highly rated tapas place named Jaleo. To say Jaleo is outstanding is an understatement! The menu is eclectic and we enjoyed every morsel of food and a dram or two of a fine Spanish wine. Gretchen and I reflected on how great it is to be able to enjoy a birthday dinner like this one, how blessed our lives have been, and how long a journey it has been from our roots growing up in Schuylkill Haven!

Itching to use our National Park Senior Pass at least once this year, we decided to return home via Skyline Drive. It was a beautiful day for the drive, but climbing south out of Front Royal, it quickly became apparent that winter had descended on the Blue Ridge. Snow still lined the roadway from last week's early storm and the trees had dropped their leaves. Still, Shenandoah NP is always beautiful and we were surprised and pleased to see that every parking lot was filled with the cars of hikers and cyclists enjoying the outdoors.

Thanks Gretchen for a great birthday celebration!

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