Monday, October 28, 2013

A Denver Weekend in D.C.

The capital building sits luminously in the distance as we make our way onto the grassy field of the mall. We pick the perfect spot, line up together and wait for our cue. One...two...three...jump. We leap high in the air, creating a blur of orange and blue, before landing and quickly hopping up again, numerous times. This is the process one must take to get the perfect jumping picture. You have to try different poses and angles, make sure the light is just right. And, most important, have fun with it!

Achieving the perfect jumping shot was one of the tasks on our D.C. to-do list. The others included a beer fest, watching the Broncos at the only Denver bar in the city and, of course, spending time with each other.

I hadn't been back to D.C. since eighth grade, when I visited for a class trip. This time, I went to visit my friend Hannah who lives in Arlington with her fiancé Jason. She's getting her phd at Georgetown, and is planning to graduate in May, so I knew the opportunity to see her was running out. My friends Elise and Emily also decided to come into town, making it a mini-GC reunion.

I arrived late afternoon on Friday, followed shortly by Emily. Hannah and Elise picked us up from the airport and we headed back to Hannah's apartment. It was weird being back in D.C., because even though it had been over 15 years since I'd been back, I remembered it very vividly, at least the parts of the city I had seen. What I really looked forward to was seeing some different parts of D.C. and Arlington. When we arrived, we poured ourselves some drinks and dove right into updates on our lives, and it felt as if I'd never spent a day away from them. It was so easy to fall into the conversation, discussing intimate, important details, with no inhibitions and no risk of judgement. Something I really appreciate about these girls.

That night, we went to dinner in DuPont Circle, an historic district in northwest D.C. anchored by a large traffic circle. We took one of the bus lines (only $1) over the river to DuPont, and walked over to the Luna Grill & Diner. After a delightfully filling meal (try the Jambalaya Penne Pasta, yum!), we walked around the neighborhood to check out the bar scene. We went to Buffalo Billards, a huge sports bar with shuffleboard, pool tables, skeeball and plenty of televisions. We played a few games of shuffleboard before realizing we were some of the oldest people there, so we decided to call it a night. After all, we had a big day of drinking ahead of us.

The next morning, we took part in Jason and Hannah's Saturday morning tradition and had brunch at Brooklyn Bagel Bakery, a cute little bagel shop just up the road from their apartment. This is a clearly a neighborhood favorite, as it was packed when we arrived. We got in line, ordered our bagel sandwiches (I got the Lox, onions and eggs breakfast sandwich--delicious!) and proceeded to devour our food in near record time.

Then, I got my first experience riding the D.C. metro. Now, let me just preface this by saying that I really like Chicago's public transit system, it's efficient and convenient. But D.C.'s transit...amazing. It's so clean and spacious and very easy to use. It can pretty much get you anywhere you need to go, with the exception of a few areas--but that's similar to Chicago. We took the Orange line to Metro Central, transferred to the Red Line and took that to NoMa, home of the Snallygaster Gargantuan Beer Jamboree.

Hannah and Jason have gone to this every year since they moved to D.C., so we were happy to take part in yet another of their traditions. Snallygaster is described as "an epic day of inimitable imbibery and monstrous merriment," and I can certainly attest to that. It cost $10, which included admission and a mug. Once we had our drink tickets, we headed into the fest for a long afternoon of drinking, and it was a blast. I tried a ton of great beers (including the Game of Thrones draft), Emily and Hannah played a game of bear pong (which is basically a large-scale version of the traditional college game) and we had a crazy dance party with hundreds of other fest-goers.

Four hours later, we left the fest and headed back to Arlington, where we had a low-key evening.

Sunday, we pulled on our Broncos gear and headed out for the day. Hannah took us over the river to Georgetown and showed us the campus. It was gorgeous. Colonial-style buildings, cobblestone streets and treelined paths, bright colorful homes and a peaceful vibe. It almost made me want to move there. We walked around Georgetown, which has a great shopping district, and we gladly took advantage. Hannah took us to one of her favorite lunch spots, Tackle Box, D.C.'s first and only lobster shack. While we should have got lobster, none of us decided to go for it this time. I got the Tackle Box Meal with Blue Fish, grilled zucchini and lemon garlic aioli (highly recommend). Everything is fresh and cooked to order, and I would definitely go back again.

After lunch, we walked along the river toward the Lincoln Memorial and reflecting pool. We hung out there briefly and then made our way through the World War II Memorial, past the Washington Monument and over to the Old Post Office Building, which has been transformed into an indoor mall. But it still has the original bell tower, where you can get an unobstructed view of D.C. (at no cost) Jason was waiting for us there and we all went inside to check out the view.

After that, we headed over to the mall to knock another item off our list. It was here we took our jumping pictures. As I mentioned before, it takes a long time, and many tries, to get the perfect shot. But I think we got it.

Next up, we headed over to the last stop on the itinerary, Penn Quarter Sports Tavern, the only Denver Broncos bar in D.C. Hannah has been raving about this place forever, and, after visiting, I can certainly see why. The vibe here is immeasurable. The whole crowd performs the chants done at Mile High Stadium (Not it's official name anymore, but it will always be Mile High to me), there are Broncos shots (blue and orange), everyone is decked out in their best Broncos gear, there are free jello shots at half-time and everyone is super friendly. And even though the Broncos lost (definitely the low point of the trip), it was still a ton of fun hanging out for hours at the bar, cheering on our favorite team together.

We left the bar after midnight and made our way back to the apartment. Emily and I packed up most of our stuff since we had super early flights, and then crashed for about three hours before heading to the airport.

Washington, D.C. was definitely fun the second time around, and I would love the chance to go back and see some more of the city. Maybe check out some of the monuments again, refresh my memory a bit more. But what I really appreciated about this trip was that I got to enjoy it with my friends, even if it was only for a couple days. It's these brief moments that we'll truly cherish, because who knows how many more of them we'll get to do. More weddings are in the future, and soon kids will join the picture. But, for now, we are taking every chance we get, and living every moment to the fullest.

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