I do not often travel alone with Kate other than to Eastman or the grocery store, but those do not count. This past weekend was one of the rare times we left behind Bruce and Carmen the dog and spent four nights together away from home.
We flew to Washington, DC — although technically we flew to Baltimore, MD (BWI, to use precise airport-speak) — Thursday midday, 23 June. We caught the B30 express bus to the furthermost NE station of the Metro green line and took the train to our hotel at L’Enfant Plaza where we enjoyed a somewhat obstructed view of the Washington Monument from our 12th floor room and an outdoor pool on a terrace-like plaza with which we shared our lofty floor. Kate very much enjoyed the pool and I enjoyed the deck chairs with my mitten knitting (more on knitting and cookies tomorrow, I promise).
We were in DC for the International Young Artist Piano Competition (26th annual) in which Kate was one of six finalists in level 4, the 13-14 year-old level. On Friday, the 24th, Kate was scheduled for a five minute warm-up on the competition piano (a Steinway in Ward Recital Hall at Catholic University of America, seen above in first righthand photo) at 11:40. Her level’s finals were scheduled for 5:30. So we made a day of it after sleeping in a bit and a leisurely breakfast, and found our way there via the green and red lines.
After her five minutes we asked some students where a good place for lunch would be and were steered away from big boxes to Colonel Brooks’ Tavern nearby. If I knew that student’s name (she was rather insistent that we walk in the opposite direction from Quiznos) I’d friend her for life on Facebook. We ate there again on Sunday, we liked it that much.
Kate’s real warm-up was in a practice room at the University. After some work she changed into her concert-wear and warmed up some more. And then we waited. Due to a problem with the piano during a previous series of competitors Kate’s level was delayed until 6. By the fault of her last name she was first on the program which is her preferred place to be. Poor Mr. Zhang played last. The six competitors are flanked by the three judges above. We listened to them all and they all gave outstanding performances, including Kate.
When the judges called us back in they announced that everyone had won something and awarded three honorable mentions, and 1st, 2nd and 3rd prizes as well as the best performance of the required Chinese piece. Kate won an honorable mention.
We took the red and green lines back to our hotel and ate dinner at 8:30 p.m. and fell into bed. Saturday we woke early and bought milk, coffee and blueberry muffins from the hotel lobby Starbucks and walked to the US Holocaust Museum. We arrived at 8:20, joined the already formed line to await passes for a 10 a.m. admission and enjoyed our picnic breakfast.
Visiting the museum was Kate’s idea. She read Elie Wiesel’s Night this past year and studied that particularly difficult portion of world history in school. We also recently watched The Boy in the Striped Pajamas and so she was ready for some of the sobering truths that museum presents so honestly and reverently. I’m very glad we were able to visit it together.
Afterward we walked around the Lincoln end of the National Mall (I have an inordinate fondness for Lincoln and that over-sized memorial) and visited the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial and the WWII Memorial before heading back to the hotel pool.
Sunday we visited the Washington National Cathedral where a simple stone window bench caught my eye amidst all the splendor. We listened to an inspiring sermon and joyous music and then wended our way over to the University, via bus and Metro with a brief hotel stop, for the final awards ceremony and concert. After all that, the pool one last time, dinner and sleep and an early breakfast before train to bus to flight home.
I’ve been recovering ever since. Mostly from lack of sleep and anxiety about missing trains to buses to planes, but also I’ve been playing catch-up with work and recovering from the reminder of our 2006 loss of the thrill of city-life and access to excellent public transportation. All that, and now I have to cook to eat and feed the people with whom I live! I could get used to daily restaurant eating if I had unlimited funds.