The end of October

Covering the past few weeks, even though that’s the last thing I want to do right now.

Friday the 15th we headed into DC for dinner at Westend Bistro for a good meal before heading over to see the folks from MST3K riff on cast will riff on War of the Insects at Lisner. Very funny, would do that again.

Cinematic Titanic

Sunday the 17th we were back in DC, this time further north. We parked at the 9:30 and walked south to Little Ethiopia. It was our first time, so we went pretty basic, lamb for me and beef for Jill. Very good, just weirded out by the texture of the injera. We skipped the opening band for ice cream (carrot cake, yum) at U Scream and wine cocktails at Dickson’s, great stuff. Of course we were there right on time for the indie-pop perfection of The New Pornographers. Happy that Neko was with them, I’ve got it hard for Crash Years right now.

New Pornographers

The next Friday was my 40th birthday. We stayed in, Jill even tried to make me cook dinner (but brought home carrot cake cheesecake). But that was ok, as the next morning we took a trip where I didn’t know the destination. First stop was Wayside Takeout in Charlottesville for fast fried chicken that was hot, juicy, crispy and perfectly seasoned. What KFC wishes it could be.

Next up we went to Starr Hill Brewery for a beer tasting and purchase of a growler of The Gift, their fabulous new winter lager. Finally we checked into the cabin at the Middleton Inn in Little Washington, and relaxed on the porch before an epic meal at the Inn at Little Washington. A fabulous meal with awesome cocktails – the Carpaccio of Herb Crusted Baby Lamb with Caesar Salad Ice Cream was superbly inventive.

Inn

The final stop of the weekend: Mom had us and Dad over for dinner, roast beef, Yorkshire Pudding and homemade carrot cake. Plus some very nice gifts – Rush Blu-Rays!

I worked some long hours to get Friday the 29th off, and we made the most of it. We flew to Madison, WI from National in the morning (only direct flight), rented a car, and stopped for a nice lunch at Smoky Jon’s #1 BBQ. We drove out to Spring Green, checked in at the House On The Rock Resort and relaxed for a bit.

Dinner was at the The Bank, where we had a really tasty meal. A lot of great cheeses, including a mac and cheese that could hold its own against the Inn at Little Washington’s. Then it was out to the House On The Rock where we entered a big tent for the Neil Gaiman reading, where he read the passage from American Gods where the characters visit the house. Here’s a good account of the reason for the weekend – I was a little bummed to miss the Stewart/Colbert rally, but you can’t beat 2nd row at a reading.

Neil

The next morning we had breakfast at the resort buffet. It was a little odd to see Neil sitting at the table next to us. We went off and toured The House On The Rock. It was a lot more fun than I was expecting, but I’m not sure if I need to go to any more attractions ever (it was like attending all of them at once). We had lunch at the only restaurant designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, the Frank Lloyd Wright Visitors Center (food was ok) then hot tubbed.

House

We went back to the House for the costume contest and party. I was The Second Coming (used during a eulogy) and Jill was one of seven Easters (that I saw). But
she looked good, enough to make the semifinals.

Jill

After the contest, we went back in the house where they had food and music (both meh). But we visited tarot readers and had fun wandering around at night (apparently the first time they’d ever had such an event). The weekend was capped off by a signing by Neil Sunday morning, and he told us a story about buying a copy of his first book (since I’d brought one to sign). An easy flight back, and that was it – until our next epic trip…

The weekend travelers

I’m back again with another summary of the past few weeks. Tuesday, September 20th Jill flew to Hartford to spend close to a week with family, so Illa and I bach’ed it for a few days. On Friday the 24th I left work early, parked at the Metro and headed over to Union Station. Purely for timing I needed to take the Acela, but I was glad I did. It’s not only the fastest train, but it was a very smooth ride and the quiet car was filled with people reading, quieter than usual. I plugged my Palm Pre into a power socket and enjoyed the included Wi-Fi on my trip up (even though this blog is blocked due to it being classified as porn for some reason).

When I got to NYC, I went straight to the subway, then 2 stops and a short walk and I arrived at the Heartland Brewery, where I sat down at a table – that happened to be occupied by Jill, her dad Bob and his brother Jerry. Jill had the black bean soup and the Buffalo chicken spring rolls and I had the chicken sandwich, plus some lovely beer on a stick.

Bob and I are both big fans of Porcupine Tree, and although I’d seen their most recent tour when we were in Florida, I wanted to see them at Radio City Music Hall since they promised it was a very special performance (and the only other one would be in London). And it was an amazing show, three sets starting with an acoustic one then two rocking ones, but all going throughout their career, going as far back as 1993.

Porcupine Tree

After the show I headed to the subway and everyone else went to the nearby parking garage. Unfortunately the next train wasn’t until 3AM. I went back to Penn Station, found a bookstore that was still open, then read until my train got there. I slept fitfully on the train, getting in to Union Station at 7, home by 8:30. There were a number of concert possibilities that Saturday including the FreeFest, but I didn’t get tickets and was tired, so I took a nap. That still meant I had time to go to Clarendon Day, see my friend Susan, as well as sets from Honor By August and Schiavone McGee (ex Fighting Gravity). I had some excellent bacon from the vendors, and made it to the Clarendon CD Cellar. Too bad you now have to pay for parking in the garage.

Schiavone McGee

Sunday I was pretty lazy, except for going out in the kayak, and taking Illa for a nice long walk. He seemed to enjoy himself. I picked up Jill at the airport that night.

Illa

The following Friday, October 1st, we were traveling once again – this time to Boston. We headed to Baltimore in mid afternoon and flew to Logan in the rain. We were staying with Sharon for the first time in her new house, and she thought she could come to the airport, but rush hour traffic was crazier than usual. It was ok – we like taking transit anyway, and Boston is a city both of us know. We got to Jamaica Plain and relaxed at Sharon’s for while before we all headed over to Cambridge.

We met Chris and Jess at The Elephant Walk, a Cambodian/French restaurant. Jill and I both liked the sound of the Prix-Fixe Menu, and both went Cambodian all the way. The Rouleaux (spring rolls) were very good, I liked my Salade Cambodgienne and she liked her Leah Chah (mussels), but the entree sealed the deal for me: Loc Lac (sautéed beef, caramelized in black pepper, garlic and mushroom soy sauce; served over shredded lettuce with a lime & black pepper dipping sauce). We hadn’t ordered the optional dessert, but they brought one anyway, and we didn’t say no: Le Péché au Chocolat – a chocolate truffle cake paired with a raspberry sauce.

We dropped Sharon off at the T, then walked over to OBERON for Cabaret. The draw for me was Amanda Palmer as the Emcee, but Jill had really enjoyed the last production we saw by the American Repertory Theater, Sleep No More. It started out strong – set at a nightclub, and we were in a nightclub, with bar service and scantily dressed ladies. The first act was good, but we’d chosen the late show in case of travel difficulties, and by the time the second act started it was well after midnight. Combine that with a depressing ending intensified by the staging, and we left not quite feeling great. That won’t keep me from seeing what they do in the future, though.

Saturday morning we slept in, then Sharon made us Belgian waffles that we ate on her porch. Then we headed up to Rockport, MA with Sharon, where we met up with all the Cannons. Most people were hungry, so we stopped in the Fish Shack Restaurant. Jill and I split a cup of chowder and a lobster roll (both superb). We spent the day wandering in and out of the shops and down to the little beach and back.

C and V

The Cannons headed home, and we moved the car, then had dinner at Brackett’s Oceanview Restaurant. We had side salads then split a fish and clam platter, very good. We’d chosen the place wisely, as it was right next to the church the concert was in. The opening act had already started, but we didn’t miss any of Antje Duvekot, who was lovely and funny as always.

The next day was a little crazy, all thanks to me. I’d wanted to fly back in the afternoon, but had found some crazy prices for flights, so when I found one I liked I’d booked it quickly. Too bad the return I booked was for November, not October. The cost of rebooking was horrendous (actually worse than buying new), and everything was expensive. The cheap route and what I chose was to fly back to Dulles in the morning using frequent flyer miles. Of course, my car was still at BWI. I told Jill I’d take the hit, so she dropped me at the Metro on her way to Old Town, and I took the subway and the bus up there. Thankfully, that’s about the stupidest thing I’ve done for travel in a while, and hopefully we’ll have good travel karma the rest of the year.

Wednesday the 6th we went to see Todd Wright at Jammin’ Java. Happily not sold out like his previous show (I know the artists like it, but there’s barely room to breathe when it is), and Linda saved us a table in the front (right next to Stuart and Mike of course). He played a lot of brand new and slightly older songs (using his iPad as lyrics cheat sheet), but they’re great, and we completed our 40×40 collection on CD. The next night was Robbie Schaefer at the Barns. Good show, ended with him off mike singing “America”.

Todder

Jill worked on Saturday the 9th and I spent time helping Dave and Hannah. I got in a kayak session before Jill got home, and made pork fajitas for dinner and we tried to catch up with a cranky DVR. Sunday we left early in the morning as Metro had shut down the Orange Line and we needed to get on in Springfield. We met my dad in Largo, then he drove us to FedEx Field. We got hot dogs and ribs for lunch, met up with Chris (a college roommate and fraternity brother) and got to see a really good football game (overtime games are fine as long as the Skins win).

Skins

After the game Dad dropped us off at the Metro; we went downtown and had dinner at Zengo. It was excellent Japanese Mexican fushion – the charred tuna tacos with guacamole were the highlight, but the pork steamed buns and duck tacos were also excellent. Jill’s went home after dinner, and I went to RFD and had a pint before going into Verizon Center.

I left early as I didn’t want to miss a minute. I’d seen Roger Waters three times before, but he’d only performed The Wall once since the initial tour in 1980, and I was eager to see it. I went to his last tour when he did all of The Dark Side of the Moon, and while I enjoyed it, let’s face facts – most of the vocals were done by David Gilmour (plus I saw both of them that year, and Gilmour just put on a better show). But The Wall’s vocals are mostly Waters, and it’s such a personal story for him, so I thought he’d really give it his all – and he did. The staging was tremendous, the technology is at a level it can support the show as a touring production. Waters really makes the whole thing his – if it was written as him having a problem with crowds, he now enjoys the adulation. And it was well deserved, the best show I’ve seen all year.

Hammer Time

Friends and family

I give. I’m just way too busy right now to even update this blog weekly. I’ll do it when I have time.

So, we start at the beginning of September. We had a couple house guests Labor Day weekend – first Meg stayed with us on Friday the 3rd, and we had the Jewells over as well and grilled steaks and veggies for dinner. Sharon was also down Friday, but was out with friends Friday. She had a wedding Saturday afternoon, but was back by the evening and Mom cam over to for dinner. This time I went to Whole Foods and picked out a buffet of foods for dinner, it was another nice night.

We celebrated our anniversary on Sunday the 5th by heading over to Clifton and eating at Trummer’s On Main. I had a tangy tuna starter, the grilled lamb and the Titanic cocktail, very nice. For dessert we both had the oreo ice cream – sounded better than it tasted.

On Labor Day we returned to Herndon for the Labor Day Festival, now with beer! The music was good and it’s always fun to do a festival with the Jewells. Afterwards we retreated to their house for pizza on the deck with all sorts of people, including Lorna and Dave.

Thursday the 9th I found out I’d been picked to see Dar Williams at the SIRIUS XM studios, so I headed out of work “early” (I’d been putting in a lot of hours and had more than enough). I got to the studio with 10 minutes to spare, and they started right on time, Dar came in with Bryn Roberts and sat down. I was up on stage right immediately to her left – it was a bit odd as I could hear her guitar and the piano, but her voice was coming out of the monitors. It was an intimate take on all her hits, very enjoyable.

Friday the 10th I went to Wolf Trap for The Return Of The King with a live orchestra. What a great movie, only the second time I’ve seen it. And the live accompaniment really adds something.

Saturday the 11th we headed up to New Jersey in the morning, had White Castle for lunch. My grandmother had passed away in July, and the service was that day. She was actually my step-grandmother, but my grandmother passed away before I was born. All my immediate family was there, and it was a fine memorial. My uncle and aunt had other obligations, and my younger cousin couldn’t stay either, but my older cousin and his family went out to dinner with us, Mom and Sharon. We had dinner at the Pompton Queen Diner, I had a nice Reuben variant.

Jeff’s wife Leanne made a crumb cake for dessert, and we were up a while chatting. The next morning we gathered for breakfast at Lox Stocked & Bageled and had bagel sandwiches – the bagels were so good we picked up an extra dozen to take home. The drive home was similar to the drive up, fairly uneventful – Delaware has completely remodeled their rest area and it’s very nice. Sunday night the pro football season started, saw the Skins eek out a close one against Dallas, then watched the VMAs (not as exciting as last year).

Friday night the 17th the Jewells picked us up and we headed over to Alexandria. We had dinner at Rustico, lots of beer samples and Jill and I split a salad and each had a pizza (the grilled for me, fried green tomato for her). Then we headed over to the Lyceum to see Red Molly. The first trio with a new member I’d see that weekend, Molly Venter had just joined the group. And it was a very good show, her songs integrated well with the existing ones (Jill loved “Happier Now”, insisted we buy her CD).

The following day I picked up the Jewells and we stopped at Popeye’s prior to getting to the Lube. It was finally time for Rush, and it was the first tour since 1994 I hadn’t seen them multiple times. I regret that a little, they were just as great as always – new song BU2B was really good, Moving Pictures start to finish was awesome (especially with the first ever live “The Camera Eye”).

Rush

Sunday we finally cleaned out the laundry room, found the rest of the books. Too bad it looks like we don’t have enough bookshelves for them. We had leftover pizza and watched the Skins lose a close one to the Texans. I took a nice long walk with Illa in the morning on the lake next to ours – he seems to like the water.

Illa

The remainder of August

I was getting back to blogging regularly, then work got crazy busy and the last thing I wanted to do at night was sit in front of a screen. So let’s catch up.

On Thursday the 12th, Jill’s mom Sue and sister Melissa came to visit. They grabbed dinner on the way home from the airport but we got to chat after they got back (and I cleaned a little more). On Friday my Mom came over and I grilled steaks and baked potatoes while Jill made a salad.

Saturday Jill took them to Old Town Alexandria for the day while I unpacked books in the library and watched “The Pacific”. That night we all went out to Clyde’s in Reston Town Center where I had a salad. We watched “The Hangover” when we got back home, absolutely hilarious. Sunday Jill took them back to BWI to catch their flight and I continued working in the library.

Us and Sue and Melissa

On Thursday the 19th, we went to Kennedy Center to see Erin McKeown play a free show at the Millennium Stage. We hadn’t seen her in a couple years and she did lots of great songs from her excellent new album. Next we headed over to KAZ Sushi Bistro to try their Restaurant Week menu. It looked good, but I saw more things I liked off of it. The miso lobster bisque was decent, but the scallop with prosciutto, crème fraîche, and chive and the short ribs were delicious, along with sake on a stick. I would have skipped dessert, but I couldn’t pass up Guinness ice cream, very refreshing.

The next night we headed out to Manassas, had dinner at Casa Chimayo (thanks, mobile Yelp!). I’d seen it for years but it looked like a dive – turns out it’s a dive with good food. The Grande Chicken Combo was good, as well as the spicy salsa while Jill enjoyed her food and margarita very much. Our second time at the Lube was to see Ke$ha and Rihanna – when we were there the week before, Jill had mentioned she’d like to go, so when 1/2 price tix became available, I grabbed them. Ke$ha was pretty fun, but Rihanna put on quite a show. Plus she had Extreme guitarist Nuno Bettencourt playing with her, and his solos were amazing.

Saturday we had a blood alcohol content study on the deck (we had discussed the night before of not being sure what it felt like when we were at the legal limit), then Sunday enjoyed some Popeye’s at Wolf Trap before seeing Great Big Sea from the front row. They gave their all, a great mix of new songs and old.

Great Big Sea

We went right back to Wolf Trap on Tuesday the 24th, this time to see Rodrigo y Gabriela bring the metal to the Filene Center with only two acoustic guitars on a cool night. Friday the 27th brought an end to our house saga as we refinanced to get rid of our ARM. Saturday we went furniture shopping in Tysons and Leesburg, then tried out Mom’s kayak (very fun) and read most of the rest of the evening. I had to work Sunday – that wasn’t as fun. In fact, a lot of work this week, which brings us to the end of August.

Jill

Barenaked Green Ladies Day

Last weekend I spent most of my time in the library, moving boxes of books in, unpacking and shelving. I wisely ran cables in so I could watch TV and caught up on most of my summer shows, and made ribs for dinner Saturday. Sunday I grilled steak, but Jill wasn’t feeling well before that and decided to bow out of seeing Barenaked Ladies that night. Luckily Linda didn’t have other plans, so she came by and we headed up to Merriweather Post Pavilion. We missed the openers, but it was kinda nice to just see them and head home. Not that they weren’t good, they were. Although it was very different without Steve – surprised they kept “Brian Wilson” or The Old Apartment” since they left out so many good ones Ed sings lead on (where was “For You”?). The new songs were good, especially “Four Seconds”, but the best part was the return of the “Barenaked Rap” to the end of the show.

BNL

There was lots more cleaning on Monday and Tuesday, then Wednesday Jill picked me up at work and we headed over to Manassas. We had dinner at Okra’s Cajun Creole in the historic downtown, shared the crawfish popcorn, then both had salads and half a po’ boy (Jill also had some red beans and rice). Afterwards we did a little used book shopping nearby, then headed over to The Lube. We arrived in the middle of AFI’s set, not bad, but the place went apesh*t for Green Day. And it well deserved – they put on an incredible show, I’d even put Billie Joe in the top 5 frontmen of his generation. And they playued every song you could possibly think of.

Green Day

Sarah and Bond

Tuesday I left work early and we headed up to Merriweather Post Pavilion for the final stop on the Lilith Fair. Both of us had been to the ’90s incarnation, and were curious to see how the predicted doom and gloom would be. Besides the event obviously not being sold out, I think it was pretty nice. We just missed Beth Orton due to traffic on the Beltway (there’s a reason weekday shows in Maryland are usually forbidden), but saw Lissie and Missy Higgins at the sidestages and perused the vendor booths (a lot more corporate sponsorship, but it wasn’t too overpowering).

Then it was time for us to go backstage. I hadn’t purchased tickets, but had put the minimum bid up for a charity auction that included a meet and greet with Sarah McLachlan. So we headed back, and waited quite a long while for the press conference to finish and for her to tape some interviews. But she took her time with everyone, and she signed and took pictures with everybody.

Sarah and us

When we were done, Sara Bareilles was almost done, and we caught her last two songs before searching for sustenance. We ended up in the 9:32 Club (the owner of the 9:30 also owns IMP, which books MPP) which I hadn’t been to before (there was usually a line or it was closed to the public). We brought in some nachos and I had a Shock Top, and we watched the start of Cat Power from a table next to the a/c. We left to see the end of her, then got shared a wrap and wandered through the other vendors.

The group I really wanted to see was Court Yard Hounds. It’s the twin sisters from the Dixie Chicks, and their sound is very much in the pop country vein of the Chicks. They only played their new songs, but I like the new album, and a guest appearance by Sarah didn’t hurt. We would have like to have stayed for Sarah and the Indigo Girls, but alas it was a school night and we left early.

Thursday we waited for the storms to cease before going over to Wolf Trap. One of the perks of donating there is a free dinner and concert, and this time it was the National Symphony Orchestra playing the music of James Bond. We had a nice dinner (can’t go wrong with an arugula and pear salad) and good conversation with the nice couple we were seated next to, then walked over to our seats where the weather was perfect (cool with just a hint of a light breeze). We stayed through the first set (which got us up to “The Spy Who Loved Me”) and while we quite enjoyed it, it was once again a school night.

Cruising

There are three separate cruises happening next year I’d love to go on. Will we go on any? Don’t know yet, but here’s what I’m drooling over:

JoCo Cruise Crazy
January 2-8, 2011
featuring Jonathan Coulton, John Hodgman, Wil Wheaton, Paul and Storm and Bill Corbett & Kevin Murphy (MST3K)

Ships and Dip
February 6-11, 2011
featuring Barenaked Ladies, Guster, Great Big Sea and Stephen Kellogg & the Sixers

Cayamo
February 13-20, 2011
featuring John Prine, Patty Griffin, Brandi Carlile, Richard Thompson, Allison Moorer, Dar Williams, Ellis Paul and Steep Canyon Rangers

July plus bonus August.

July was crazy busy for us and I never felt like I really had time to sit down and blog, so I’m doing it today. It started out with at the Pat McGee show at Wolf Trap on Jill’s birthday. I signed us up for the “VIP experience”, which included a meet and greet behind the Filene Center, no food but we picnicked with a spread from our friend Linda (who also drove us there in her son’s big truck). The show was great (and so were our seats), played some new songs, classics, and choice covers (including “Purple Rain”).

pat and us

The second part of the “experience” was an intimate show at Jammin’ Java, starting with a set from Michael Tolcher where he was joined by Pat McGee and others. Pat McGee played the songs they couldn’t fit in during the second set, and brought up plenty of guests.

I had to work the next day, but on Saturday the 3rd we headed over to Dad’s to spend the day on the bay. Patricia was there, and we all walked down the boardwalk in the afternoon and got some Maggie Moo cones. Dad made hot dogs and salad for dinner, then we sat on his dock and watched the fireworks (Illa’s least favorite part of the evening).

The next day we headed home after I made schmorgles for breakfast. We’d heard that folks on Lake Thoreau lit off fireworks on the 4th, so after grilling hamburgers for dinner, we waited for darkness. And it did not disappoint, hours of explosions and light. It was also extremely entertaining to watch the cops force people to move who pulled over on South Lakes Dr. to watch. It would have been better if we’d had a boat to go out on the lake – maybe next year.

Wednesday the 7th we headed back to Jammin’ Java as Todd Wright capped off his 40×40 project (40 songs in the 40 weeks before he turned 40, proceeds to benefit juvenile diabetes research) by playing all 40 songs. Ok, at least 10 were just part of a medley, but it was still impressive, plus I saw an old Expulsion friend.

todder

Saturday the 10th I’d thought about getting up early to try and get free John Mayer tix at the Kennedy Center, but just stayed home. The rest of the weekend we got the office/library ready to paint and Jill started on that while I unpacked the CDs and DVDs and started getting the camping equipment ready.

Friday the 16th we finally sold the old house, not too much trouble with closing. Jill had to go back to work afterwords; I celebrated solo by steaming up a pound of crab legs. Saturday we went out to the new Village at Leesburg to see emmet swimming, a full set for a block party they had. We also stopped by Home Depot for some supplies, Jill was finishing painting. Sunday I went out solo to see Inception (Jill passed), enjoyed it a lot. We had dinner at Chef Geoff’s in Tyson’s – needed to use up a Groupon. I had a lobster roll and Jill had the scallops, both tasty.

emmet

We both then worked Monday to Wednesday the next week, then headed out of town a little before midnight on Wednesday the 21st. We had toyed with going to Jill’s mom’s first, but it wasn’t the most direct route. We stopped for groceries at a Hannaford in Red Hook, NY, and got to the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival a little after they opened. The Jewells had set up our tent for us (they’d gotten their the night before), and we staked it down and set up the rest of our stuff. It was steak and martini night, and we enjoyed that and music from the surrounding camps (picking up the slack as the festival changed from 4 days to 3). Friday we woke to rain that didn’t stop until dark. That put the kibosh on my plans to see the Emerging Artists Showcase, but I still went over to the Family Stage (’cause it’s covered) to see Red Molly.

Red Molly

That night we had the second annual Lemon Tree dinner with the Loozer’s Lounge (Jill made a lemon & goat cheese salad), then saw Gandalf Murphy at the Dance Stage and nice new discovery Dala at the Main Stage. I wore a sweatshirt for about five minutes, but took it off as it was still too warm, and never wore anything besides t-shirt and shorts the rest of the time we were there (it’s usually pretty cool in the Catskills at night). I closed out the day the way it began, with Red Molly again, this time at the Budgiedome.

Saturday I’d considered heading over to the Workshop Stage, but hung out and enjoyed Daddycakes and sausage instead. It was beastly hot that day, and when I did make it over to the Main Stage for the Most Wanted Song Swap, I was kinda happy we got a brief storm ’cause it cooled things off. No more relief as we went over to see Red Molly and We’re About 9 in the Sweet Harmony workshop, but we did sit in the shade of the sound booth, and they were both superb. After we made our annual fajita dinner for us and the Jewells, we saw Red Molly once again (this time at the Main Stage), as well as some of Gandalf Murphy.

Stuart and I made another trek to the Budgiedome that night – the special guest being Abbie Gardner (from Red Molly) plus Laurie MacAllister (also from Red Molly), Pat Klink (from We’re About 9), Sam Guthridge, Robby Hecht, David Glaser, Evie Ladin, Amy Speace and Sid Selvidge. My favorite musical moment of the weekend happened then, as Robby Hecht covered my favorite song from last year, A.J. Roach’s “Chemicals”, with harmonies from Abbie and Laurie. We also saw Carolann Solebello, who’s leaving Red Molly (they’ll have a new member when we see them again in September). Sunday we stayed long enough to see the Wake Me Shake Me workshop and the Gospel Wake Up Call at the main stage before leaving.

Shantytowne

We got to Jill’s mom’s house in the afternoon and unloaded, then joined Jill’s sisters and Dominic for dinner at Opa Opa. We enjoyed some “beer on a stick” and Jill had the steak and I had the ribs, both pretty good. We had two empty growlers with us, so we filled them with our favorite beers, F-15 Double Red Rock for me, and for the Oktoberfest for Jill.

Monday the 26th we got some Dunkie’s for breakfast, then headed north to Vermont. We stopped for some light shopping in Barre and Montpelier, then wanted to get some lunch. Nothing appealed that was open, so we went all the way to Burlington and stopped at the Vermont Pub & Brewery, which we hadn’t been to before. We both ended up getting Reubens, which were excellent, and I had their “beer on a stick”, which was actually “beer in a cage” (and a good idea considering how windy it was) – my favorite was the hefe Beetlejuice.

We did a little shopping after lunch and stopped in Essex Junction to hit another yarn shop before heading back to Waterbury. Jill’s great aunt Kelley lives there with her husband John (we’d stayed with them for a skiing vacation in 2003), and they were out until early evening. Their friend Rose who was staying with them made us a nice dinner of meatloaf and sauteed spinach, then we socialized for a while. Later on we walked over to The Alchemist for a nightcap (and we had to try the beer cheese spread which paired very well with the Lightweight Ale).

Tuesday morning I was up before Jill, so I headed over to the train station to join everyone else to watch the 9:28 Amtrak train pull in, then we headed out. We stopped in White River Junction for another yarn shop, then in Whately for lunch at Tom’s for delicious hot dogs. We knew of the place from Dave, Jill’s stepdad, but found info on it at Roadfood.com, which I think will be an interesting new resource for us – we’re not just about the high end food.

We stopped in Northampton for more shopping, I picked up some CDs and shades while Jill got more yarn, then we hit Herrell’s for ice cream. Jill’s mom made us a tasty shrimp scampi for dinner, then we headed over to Jill’s sister Melissa’s house for a Pampered Chef party. It was a long presentation, and we didn’t get to stay to long after that as we were getting up early.

Wednesday we were on the road by 6:30. We decided to avoid any possible rush hour traffic and took 90 to 87, then 78 from 287 to 81 and 15. It was a pretty decent drive, only two minor slowdowns. As we approached Harrisburg we started getting hungry for lunch and went to Roadfood.com again, deciding on the Red Rabbit Drive-In. Unfortunately they are currently open only Friday-Sunday, so that was a fail. However on the way back to 81 we found a Sonic, so all was well (Om Nom Nom tots and diet cherry limeade). We even got home in time to pick up Illa that day – it was pretty hot and he got as close to the a/c as he could.

Illa

A two day work week is always fun (we usually take off the week of FRFF but Jill couldn’t get the time off), then another weekend, this time with really nice weather. I wasted most of Saturday buying a car, a 2009 Honda Civic Hybrid (deliberately spent a little more for a newer one with less miles as the eventual battery replacement will be expensive). I’d forgotten how much fun sitting in a dealership is – no wonder my last car purchase was 12 years ago (luckily I had my Palm and a good connection). When I got back home Jill took me back to get my old car, then we enjoyed some hummus and veggies outside. Later on I grilled some ribs for dinner.

Sunday the 1st I slept in later than planned and didn’t get much done before we headed up to Baltimore around 4. We parked and walked over to Little Italy. Jill had Yelped as we were driving, and we’d called Aldo’s to see if they could fit us in. They could, and we were soon seated (luckily I’d brought nearly restaurant worthy clothes). We both had salads (arugula for me, spinach for Jill), then she had fettucine with lobster and I had the lamb chops, both excellent. I wasn’t quite done and we shared their Napoleon for dessert.

We walked over to Pier Six Pavilion, found our seats, then waited for Heart to take the stage. We’d had tickets to them before but had a conflict so had sold them, and I was looking forward to the show, like all of their stuff. The show was a nice mix of the ’70s and ’80s hits, as well as some newer songs from their CD that will be released at the end of the month (the best is Hey You).

Heart

Phish, Blues Traveler, and a family dinner

Last weekend started off slow with some pizza and salad, then TV on Friday night. Jill went to bed, I was up late unpacking and moving boxes around to find stuff. Saturday I wasn’t up for too long before Stuart picked me up in the early afternoon and we headed over to Clare and Don’s where everyone was watching the US in the World Cup. We picked up Susan as it went into overtime, and headed up 95. She checked into her hotel as she’d be staying for both nights, then parked near Merriweather Post.

She headed in and we went over to the mall to get dinner (cheesesteaks sounded good), then headed back over. Even with all the people, we ran into her and some friends first. We chatted, then went off to get some Starr Hill beer before the show. Phish was better than last year at the same venue, the second set could have been transported from 1996 and we got possibly their weirdest cover ever, Neutral Milk Hotel’s “In The Aeroplane Over The Sea”:

Sunday it was nice to sleep in, then came more unpacking. We headed over to the Loudoun Summer Music Fest in the late afternoon. We had to wait in the car for a brief thunderstorm, then went in. It was more tolerable than the heat the day before. Our lifetime passes get us occasional perks like the VIP tent, where we chowed down on pasta, crab cakes and chips and guac, then watched Carbon Leaf play, mostly their regular set, but included this nice cover of Zep’s “Bron-Y-Aur Stomp”:

Blues Traveler was up next, and we went back to the chairs we’d brought for that. They played a really nice set, some of the new stuff, some classics (including the last song from Four I hadn’t heard live) and odd covers (“What I Got” and “I Want You To Want Me” with a tease of “Hell Hole”). The lady who runs the fest said she might be able to get us into the meet and greet, so we stuck around after the show and sure enough, she made it happen.

us and BT

Monday Jill was working so I worked late too, thawed some frozen stuff for dinner. But on Tuesday my family came out to our house (Sharon’s in town for a wedding, but not free on the weekend), and we gave them the tour, then took them over to Jackson’s for dinner (had to celebrate two birthdays and Father’s Day). Jill had the steak frites again, and I had the grouper fingers and chips, both good. We split the carrot cake and a shortbread with fruit for dessert, both pretty tasty. Then it was back to our house for a gift exchange, then everyone left as Jill had to get to bed for another long shift yesterday.

Incredib-Al weekend

Double Al fun this past weekend. Jill had been dealing with the movers most of Friday, and they weren’t done but they were exhausted. Plus we had plans, so they left and so did we – they still have about 10% of our stuff, including my formal clothes (this is important to the recap).

We headed straight to the Warner Theatre, got there with 10 minutes to spare before Weird Al took the stage. I’d seen his last tour, but Jill hadn’t seen him since the “Poodle Hat” tour at Kings Dominion. He was great, lots of costume changes as usual and some new videos. The new songs fit in nicely, and I especially enjoyed hearing “You Make Me” and “Good Old Days”. I should have guessed that the polka medley started with “Poker Face”, though.

Al

Since we hadn’t had time for dinner first, we tried across the street at Chef Geoff’s, but the kitchen had just closed. I remembered that Co Co Sala was open late, so we walked over there and went in. They didn’t have any tables outside, which was unfortunate as the DJ inside had it cranked pretty loud (both of us wore earplugs most of the time).

Luckily the food was good – we shared everything. We had a savory, then a sweet course. First we had the arugula salad (with a nice coffee vinaigrette), bacon mac & cheese, and an artichoke tart (our favorite, you could really taste the artichoke). We finished with a “3 course dessert experience”, the middle of which was three different chocolate dishes, small but very good.

Saturday morning the movers had said they could return, but did not (I had a feeling, but was up early just in case). Jill slept in and I started unpacking the kitchen, then we left around noon. We stopped at the Men’s Wearhouse in Potomac Yards so I could buy a suit, then we headed over to Old Town Alexandria.

We stopped at Rustico for lunch and split a spinach salad and the meatball smoked mozzarella pizza, both excellent. I sampled a number of beers, the best being Bitter and Twisted, which was neither, rather sweet and smooth. We stopped by some antique consignment shops, picked up my suit (needed the legs cuffed), then back to Old Town.

We were staying the night at the Hotel Monaco (the trip was my Christmas gift from Jill), and I’d had so little sleep I took a nap right away, sleeping until Jill woke me up at 5:30. She’d gotten a little shopping done, but it was time for dinner.

She’d carefully picked the hotel location, as it was right next to Restaurant Eve. For our second visit we again did the Tasting Room, opting again for the five course meal. For the first course I had the foie gras and Jill had the tuna, paired with the Eidos de Padrinan 2007. Second was the halibut paired with Kamptaler Terrassen 2009 for her, and the ricotta tortellini for me. I’d avoided the lobster I loved last time as it had peas and carrots with it, and of course the tortellini had peas in it. I managed to avoid most of them (and ate Jill’s tomatoes while she ate my peas).

The antelope I had for the third course was my favorite, good texture and flavor. Jill often orders squab, this time paired with Bien Nacido Vineyard 2005. For the cheese course, she had the Everona Piedmont, very nice paired with the Cade Sauvignon Blanc 2008, while I had the Tête de Moine, good but very rich (I didn’t finish). My finale was a deconstructed cheesecake, while Jill had praline doughnuts paired with the Sullin Red Malvasia 2009.

us

A very good night but not over yet – we had made late reservations at the sister speakeasy PX. We read in the hotel room until it was time, then walked over. I’d had a couple cocktails with dinner, and we had a couple more here, relaxing in the lounge area next to the bar.

The next morning we woke with time to spare, so read on the veranda until it was time to go. We drove down to Vermilion and parked, went inside and were seated mere seconds before Dad arrived. Dad and Jill both had the Corned Beef pork hash, while I was unable to resist the strawberry pancakes with rhubarb-maple syrup, everything was delicious, and it was good to catch up with Dad.

After brunch we did a little more shopping, then stopped by the credit union as Jill was not yet a member, and started the car loan process. We stopped at the Vienna Inn on the way back, split a Reuben and each had a chili dog. Neither of us wanted to face unpacking, so we went out on the deck and read, and later took Illa into the water for the first time – he likes it just fine. I made alfredo sauce to go with some premade ravioli for dinner, then picked Mom up from Dulles, as she was getting back from her big Mediterranean cruise. We didn’t get a chance to talk much since it was late, but we’re getting together next week for a big family dinner.