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Note: I apologize in advance for the long post. I tried to do an LJ cut, both in the editor and by hand, and it wouldn't take either way. I already had everything typed though, so here it is anyway. Grrrr.

I've been doing a lot of traveling recently, but haven't managed to get much writing done. Earlier this month, I had a fun trip up to Virginia, DC and Maryland. The original reason for the trip was calling for the Glen Echo Friday Night Contra Dance. Added to that was some time playing tourist in DC, and then trips out to do some wine tasting. B wasn't able to travel with me this trip, because she had a big family reunion (that was announced much after I had already booked the calling gig.) It was disappointing that she didn't get to come up and see J, A and L, but I suspect that she also enjoyed the quiet time at home.

National Cathedral from the Bishop's GardenOn the way up, I stopped off in Fredericksburg to visit J, a friend from college. Friday morning, we drove up to DC, and ended up parking at National Cathedral, wandering around the gardens and having a picnic lunch. Even though it was already early October, the gardens were still beautiful and the roses, and many of the other flowers were still in full bloom. They also had some of the most impressive crops of various herbs that I've seen, including thyme with branches over an inch thick. (while most of our herb garden at home is doing well, the thyme is looking pretty spindley.) If you've never wandered around the gardens at the cathedral before, it's well worth the time. Besides the bishop's garden, there's also a beautiful wooded approach up from Saint Alban's school.

It was also my first time there since they built the new parking garage under the cathedral grounds. Coming up from the parking garage, the view from the stairwell makes for a dramatic entrance to the Cathedral grounds.

While we were there, I also got to see one of the chapels in the undercroft that I hadn't ever seen before. All of the artwork in the chapel is done in mosaic. I really wasn't crazy about the ones on the walls, but really loved the one over the altar. I suspect that part of what I liked about it (and didn't like about the others) was the choice of colors. The other mosaics were all in reds and oranges rather than the blue of this one. You can see a few more pictures from around the cathedral on my flickr account.

After visiting the cathedral, we walked down to the metro and headed downtown to meet L at the Smithsonian to go and see the Jim Henson's Fantastic World exhibit. It was an amazing exhibit of Jim Henson's work -- both muppet related and non-muppet. I don't know that I had really known about some of his non muppet related work, and I had completely forgotten that he had done the Dark Crystal (I need to see that again....along with Labyrinth. Haven't seen either of them in a really long time.

As far as the dance goeBeginners Sessions, it was my first time calling there, and I had a great time. We had a little over 200 people there, and they had two pretty good lines for the beginners session. Speaking of which, they do a fabulous job on the beginners session. It actually runs from 7:30 - 8:15, and they teach three dances and have them dancing for most of the session. It covers all of the basics -- everything that I would normally cover -- but gives them much more time of actually doing contra dances (rather than just trying to go through as many new moves as possible in 30 minutes).

I was really happy with how the dance went -- I was able to do a nice variety of dances, including getting a contra corners dance in. The music was amazing, and the dancers seemed to have a good time.

The rest of my Barboursville Ruinstime in Virginia was spent tasting and drinking wine. Lots of wine. J and I went to the Fredericksburg Wine Festival and met up with some other friends of hers. We got to taste (and buy) lots of wine. Sunday afternoon, we went out to Barboursville Winery for the Barrel tasting festival that they were doing. Before the actual wine tasting, we headed up to the ruins of the Barboursville house (designed by Jefferson) to have lunch. 

Besides the regular tasting, it was a chance to try unfinished versions of the varietals that go into their amazing Octagon blend, and then to try the 2005 Octagon to see what they all taste like together in the finished product.   We also met up with A, a friend of ours from college towards the end of our time at Barboursville, and headed over to taste more wines at Horton (right down the road).

Horton has an amazingly large wine list -- if you plan to taste everything, also plan to stay there for a while, or have a DD to carry you out to the car and drive you home. Their prices are great, though, and they have some really wonderful wines. After that, it was outside to sober up, and then back to Fredericksburg.

After all the touring and wine drinking, J and I spent the evening watching a couple of episodes of the West Wing, and the next morning, I headed home to return to the working world.




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