Her Ladyship

Notes from the gutter.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Still unclear on the concept

I've lived in DC off and on now for about nine years, which is really plenty of time to see everything that you really want to see. Not that I go off sight-seeing on weekends - not when that can cut into valuable TV and lounge-around-in-my-bathrobe time - but thanks to numerous out-of-town guests over the years, I feel like I've done most of the sight-seeing route. Except for Jefferson's house, Monticello. Yes, technically that's not DC, that's in Charlottesville and is about three hours away, but still. I'm closer to it now than I was when growing up, and, um, fun road trip? So I'd always mentally tucked that away as somewhere to check out someday.

That day finally came. Last weekend, I decided to take a couple of days off of work this week. One of them would be dedicated to sitting around in my robe - I mean, why mess with a good thing?* - but the other could be spent checking out Monticello. The Texan, forever a good sport about these sorts of things, agreed to go with me, although I wasn't entirely clear as to what we would see once we got there. Here's how I explained our trip to my sister, Dustbunny:

Her Ladyship: Yeah, so we're going down to Jefferson's house this week. I can't wait!

Dustbunny: Um, okay, why?

HL: It's supposed to be cool. Father of the Declaration of Independence and all that. Plus you can learn about all of his inventions.

DB: Like what?

HL: Um, the dumbwaiter? And the wire hanger? I don't know, get back to me after I've visited it and I can fill you in.

Well after having been there, I can tell you with great certainty that he invented the....um, still don't really know because, in the words of the ticket agent, "This never happens, but the house is closed because of some VIPs. There's some state visit going on until 5.** But you can still check out our gift shop!"

This came after a five-hour trip that included evading deluges from the sky***, dealing with a rental car whose fuel gauge only pretended to be empty, and getting lost for an hour (!) in Crystal City.

So of course we went to the gift shop, where we were faced with an innumerable number of trinkets decorated with the image of Monticello, or what I have to trust is the image of the house, as I never got to see it in-person. At least they had some decent-looking wines for sale there. Don't have to see Monticello to appreciate that!

The Texan and I have agreed that we will go back to Monticello this fall; it will give us a good excuse to go look at the trees as they change colors. Indeed, most of the pictures of Monticello in the gift shop portrayed it in the fall, so it must be nice then.

And on the way back, we decided to make lemonade out of the lemons of the day, figuring that since we had the rental car, we should try someplace out in Virginia for dinner that we normally would not go to. I remembered that the WashPost had reviewed a hotpot place a few weeks ago that was supposed to be good. The Texan and I had spent some time in Chengdu during our honeymoon where we got to enjoy some hotpot and had always wanted to have it again. Perfect chance, right? Except I forgot to mention that we arrived in DC right during rush hour traffic and had to navigate it, road construction, and yet another wild storm that made it difficult to see ten feet in front of you, much less find a restaurant tucked away in the recesses of a strip mall. But after far more time than I care to think about, we did stumble upon the restaurant (Uncle Liu's Hot Pot of Falls Church) and it was quite delicious. Then we came back home to find that we still had power, unlike 100,000 of other DC-area residents, so all's well and all that.

* Guess what I'm wearing as I type this?

** Looking at the local paper for Charlottesville, the Daily Progress, I still have no clue who was there. But they were stopping traffic all the way around Monticello with state troopers, so presumably someone fairly high-ranking? Maybe THEY can tell me what Jefferson invented.

*** I have seriously never seen such a wild storm. I woke up because lightning flashes kept going off - it was like someone was flicking a switch - and the thunder was non-stop.