Short version: I went out to Virginia for a business trip on Wednesday and spent the weekend hanging out with Brian, Kamun, Benny, Yee, Jason, Claire, and Charlie.
The long version (nothing to see here really, just move along, short version of this will suffice):
It started as a business trip to Richmond Virginia; and ended with a weekend spent with friends and very little sleep. The Tuesday at the start of the month came with news of a possible business trip to the Virginia office. Come Wednesday, we are told that the trip was a no go. I was out Friday, but apparently, word came down that the trip was on again – if anyone wanted to go. I wasn’t about to pass on a chance to visit Charlie. So come Monday of last week, I scrambled and got everything booked and set. I was leaving Wednesday morning.
Flight was decent, I spent the time catching up on Gundam 00, and watch as many as possible before the computer’s batteries ran out. I got through the second season, episode 20. I had 21 and 22 left. There was about an hour left in the flight. After getting on the ground, a quick call to Charlie to see how she’s doing and I learn that she’s sick with a cough and sore throat. She needs sleep, so plans to meet up along with Brian, Ka, Benny and Yee, fall through as she needs to go home and just drug herself up with some NyQuil and pass out. After getting the car, Charlie and I talk while I head over to Yee’s place. I get there and wait for Benny to show up; he has no idea I’m in town. They have a nice apartment in Tyson’s Corner. Benny shows up and not too shortly later, Brian and Ka show up. Brian is sick as well. Lovely. I’m so going to get some sort of east coast germ. We head towards a korean restaurant for dinner. A good time. we ended up sitting around and talking until about 9:30 or so before we leave and part ways.
The drive down to Richmond was about 2 hours long. I ended up calling up Jason and talking with him to keep myself awake. We discuss plans for him and Claire to come down on Friday and hang out. Brian and Ka are gracious enough to house them as well. I get into Richmond and check into my hotel. I’m dead tired, but end up chatting with ‘Tine until close to 2AM est before crashing. The new building is about 15 minutes from downtown Richmond. The building is nice. I get there and wait for the rest of the LA crew to arrive. We are set up with cubes and we get to work. I notice that a good number of the folks there spend a great amount of time chatting with one another. I message Candice and we come to the same conclusion on how things actually get done. The world we live in at Carson is the polar opposite. We are all anti social and aside from the low rumble of the air condition unit, one can hear a pin drop. The meeting is standard. We get some cool NGC camoflauged cups to bring back. We work and chat for a little longer then leave around 5pm.
I get back to the hotel, I’m staying at a different hotel from everyone else, but it’s only a 6 or so block walk to the hotel where the company party is being held. I piddle around a little and then head over to the party. It’s about a 15 minute walk. The room isn’t ready, so I sit around just waiting and chatting with a few people I know and have met from the Richmond office. Dinner isn’t what I’m expecting. I’m the only one from the Carson office, so I just stand around. A fellow Carson coworker shows up so we get some drinks and start to eat. It is buffet style, with little stations of food. There is a prime rib station, a fajita station, a mashed potato table, small appetizer table (fried crab cakes, bacon wrapped scallops, fried shrimp), a second appetizer table with some cut up baguettes, a cheese spinach dip, and some anti pasta; and last there is a dessert table with some chocolate bon bons and cheese cake in a glass where you add your own toppings. I get a call from Charlie so I head out of the loud room and just sit out side chatting with her. She’s feeling a little better from the previous day, but is still coughing. She’s running around doing a few errands. She tells me she’ll call me before going to bed so I can return and finish eating dinner and mingling with the east coast folks.
I hang out with Josh and Candice and we finish up our time at the party and leave. We head up to their rooms where Candice’s wife Kat is finishing up some work. We are being loud, so Kat kicks us out and we head across the hall to Josh’s room to check out the baby crib that came with his room. No one wanted to get in, so I step in and have a few pictures taken. After fooling around a bit, we return and Kat is done so she’s ready to head out for dinner and a night of drinking.
We take the shuttle down to the Shockoe Bottom part of downtown Richmond. Getting off we walk down the street and walk into the first Irish pub we see. The Murphy’s I had sucked, it was a little sour, so I remedied that with a Guinness. Karaoke starts up, and it’s the bad kind so we quickly finish off our drinks and leave. Kat’s dinner was a little disappointing. We head out and Josh stays behind to use the rest room. Taking the opportunity, We hid from poor Josh. Charlie calls and just as I say hello on the phone, two women are walking by and think I’m saying hello to them. Candice laughs. Josh comes out and looks around for us, we are hidden. He walks back into the karaoke minefield to find us, but come right back out. He pulls out his phone, and Candice’s iPhone lights up, we pop out and he exclaims “real mature guys!” We laugh and head down. I’m still chatting with Charlie, she recommends we go to the Tobacco Co. So we head back up. Candice, Kat, and Josh head in first while i finish chatting with Charlie. I head in and order a beer. Candice is drinking a buttery nipple. Josh and I get Irish car bombs, and Josh finishes the night with a buttery nipple as well. It’s about 10:30 and the shuttle service’s last pickup is 10:45, so we call and have them pick us up. The driver takes us to see the pail Pocahontas used to wash John Smith’s feet with, and drives us by Edgar Allen Poe’s house. He was gracious enough to drop me off at my hotel first. In the elevator, there is a really tall skinny black guy. He sweatshirt has Harlem Globetrotters on it as well as his sweatpants. I ask if he is a globetrotter, and he says yes. I ask for a picture, and he obliges.
I crash out, but wake up promptly at 7:30 in the friggin morning. The Brother’s Grimm is on USA so I watch a little while relaxing in bed and refusing to get up. I finally finish up packing and check out of the hotel around 9:30. It is snowing outside. In the garage, I see the Harlem Globetrotter’s tour bus. Cool, I wasn’t utterly drunk and I really did meet a globetrotter.
It snows the whole drive up from Richmond.
I head towards Fairfax county, but take the wrong direction on 7100. I turn back and finally reach highway 50. I pull into the exit where the Fairfax shopping mall is and head towards a building I’m guessing is where Charlie works. Driving around the parking lot, I find the only Murango and park behind it. I call up Charlie. She’s still busy as there are folks not at work and they’re just incredibly busy. But I let her know I’m there. She head down and has me drive around the block so that another co worker of her’s who’s window faces the area I parked in won’t see me pick her up. Very strange. We head over to a sandwich shop and have a quick lunch at the pack restaurant. She’s still coughing so she’s trying not to get me sick as well. We chat a bit about what to do for the next days. I’m asked a few poiant questions, but uncomfortable in the rather public atmosphere, and the fact that she has the ability to get me utterly speechless, I fumble around some kind of an answer that isn’t satisfactory. But we head out and I hand her a little gift that I had gotten a long time ago (see Mexico trip) that I was planning on giving to her during the ski trip, but never got the chance. She likes it, and immediately puts it on.
I drive her back to her office and head to the mall to just hang out until she gets off work, about 5 hours later. I pull the laptop out and finish the rest of the Gundam 00 episodes. I also surf the net a little using the mall’s free wireless. It’s annoying that it cuts out every 15 minutes or so. But the laptop starts to run low on juice so I pack it away and return it to the car. I return to the mall and walk into the William Sonoma shop. I like looking at cooking gadgets and stuff. I then spent the rest of the time wandering from spot to spot sitting and falling asleep in some areas. Ka calls when she gets off work to see what time I’ll be over at Brian’s house tonight. A half hour later, Charlie calls and she’s done. I follow her car to Yee’s apartment complex and transfer her stuff over to my car, and we head out to dinner. This will be our first official date. We head to a nice Vietnamese restaurant. Good stuff. We chat and finish the meal then head to Brian and Ka’s. While driving, we continue our little flatulence war we started in Tahoe. She’s still losing. But it’s cute that she tries. Jason and Claire will be getting in to DC around midnight, so we just headed to Brian’s.
We get there and more attempts to fart on each other are had, this time including Brian. Bad decision on her part and now it’s a game of two against one. The “okay” hand game has already begun as well on the ride up. It is still early so we head out to the local supermarket and pick up some snacks and a movie (that we never got to watch). Ka gets back and we just sort of hang out for a little while. I get a few text messages from Claire telling me she was in Delaware, then later in Baltimore, so I decide to head out to pick them up in DC. Charlie says she’ll come along so we grab Brian’s cell as we can use the gps application on it. There are a few missed turns, but we finally get down to where Jay and Claire are and pick them up. I get my first glimpse of the Capitol and see the Washington Monument and a few other landmarks.
When we get back, Brian is still awake, so we hang out for a bit watching how it’s made and Brian hands Jason some apple infused moonshine that Jason really enjoys. Charlie crashes as soon as we get in, but we end up hanging out and chatting until 3 AM. Brian shares some of his wedding pictures with Jay and Claire.
I slept in Brian’s workshop room, Jason and Claire took the top level master bedroom as it is now the guest room, and Charlie is sleeping with Ka with Brian on a mini fold out set of cushions. The workshop is a little colder than the rest of the house due to the high ceiling and lots of windows. But I do manage to get a little amount of sleep. I awake the next morning around 8:30 to noises Ka and Charlie make as they get ready to head out to their co-worker’s baby shower. Ka makes some blueberry pancakes and boils some eggs for us. Being awake, I just sit downstairs and check my email, facebook, etc. Charlie wants to check her email, so I hand over the laptop. Pete’s online, it’s like 5:50 in the bloody morning west coast time. But Charlie types in a response to Pete’s message through facebook. Then proceeds to modify my relationship status from single to married. Lovely.
They leave, and I fiddle around the computer a little longer and stretch out on the couch as the living room was warmer and the couch softer than the futon mattress I slept on, but a few minutes of an attempt, Brian comes down as well as Jason. Claire as usual is still passed out. They eat Ka’s prepared breakfast. The plan today was to meet up with the other girls over at the Vienna Metro station before heading down to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. Jay goes and wakes Claire up and we all get ready and head out. It is a cold cloudy day.
When we get into Vienna, we park and head to the metro station. Our metro ticket purchasing experience is stalled when Claire decides to push random buttons without reading what they did; so Brian needed to get some information and fill out a form for getting a 10 dollar refund. Charlie and Ka find us, and we head down and pack into the Metro. A good number of people are all dressed in green, wearing green hats, etc etc. Looks like they’re heading to some sort of a St. Patty’s days event. The train just gets more packed as we go. Lovely smells in the train too.
The trip isn’t too long, and we’re down in the Capitol Mall around 1:30 or so. It’s lightly raining outside. I finally get a chance to snap some pictures of the area.
The sculpture garden is kinda cool. There is a hot dog stand and a few of us grab some dogs as a little snack. Claire is being a dork as usual, and it’s starting to rain a little harder, so we head over to the museum.
The National Air and Space museum is pretty cool. I was always a big fan of airplanes, so given the choice of this or the Museum of Natural History, I opted for this one. Lighting was an issue, and I didn’t want to fiddle with my camera settings too much, so here are a few quick snaps. Jason has a much nicer camera and said he’ll be sending me the pictures he took. So I’ll make some updates to the main picture page when I get them.
We had a little meal of McDonald’s around 4:30, then did a little more exploring. Feeling tired, we left the museum around 5 PM, it was still raining outside, so we walked back to the metro station and waited for our train. We find seats and Charlie leans on me to take a quick nap. We are kicked off the train 2 stops prior to our destination as there was construction on one of the tracks so trains to the final destination are 20 minutes delayed. We have reservations for dinner at Peking Gourmet that night, so we were a little worried about making the reservation. I wasn’t thinking too much about it, but apparently, it is important to make the reservation on time. We finally get a second train and get back to the Vienna station.
Yee and Benny are joining us for dinner so they head over there first. We arrive and there is a crowd of people outside and inside. Folks trying to leave the restaurant cannot as everyone wants out of the cold rain. People waiting are getting kicked out. Folks without a reservation are told that they will not be seated. Interesting, I’m getting intrigued. The two Bush’s used to eat here as well. The place is famous for their Peking Duck. After about a 20 or so minute wait, we get seated. It helps that Ka and Yee know the folks that work the restaurant, and that we have a reservation. Brian orders some volcano drink, and Charlie gets a maitai.
A good time was had at the dinner. A good number of jokes were had at mine and Charlie’s expense as the two of us were the only non married folks there. But I work well when folks tease me, I dish it out just as well. Big headed Yee jokes were handed out. Little digs at Claire. It was a great time.
A little commentary about Peking Gourmet. I don’t know if it’s because it was a little built up, or I just had high expectations. Walking in and seeing nothing but white folks was a little unnerving. Sitting down and seeing the good old Chinese zodiac place mats reminded me of Chinese restaurants from when I was little. Seeing a knife and fork where chopsticks should be was a little odd too. Having to ask for chopsticks, and getting disposable wood one; more red flags. Wonton soup looked suspiciously like egg flower soup. More “white people” soup. But it had crab in it; still, this is your standard Chinese food for whitey. Most everything had a nice little dose of MSG. A few things were a little on the salty side, and a good number of the items were fried. The Peking duck was very good however. The other Asians in the establishment that I could see were not Chinese either. I usually avoid such places like the plague. However; if I were to open up my own Chinese restaurant, I would mimic this business plan and approach, as catering to white folks and their perceptions of what “real” Chinese food is like is the best way to make money in the business. This is a little more difficult in Los Angeles as the population of Chinese people is much greater than that of northern Virginia. Regardless, I enjoyed the duck and much more so, the company.
After dinner we headed back to Brian’s place. Benny and Yee said they were going to come up as well. Brian takes a wrong turn, but I’m able to correctly follow the right path; so we end up losing them for the drive back. We hit the local 7-11 in Germantown and Jason asks for two cartons of cigs for his friends in NYC. Cigarettes are just insanely taxed in NYC, so any chance he gets, he’ll get cigs out of state. The 7-11 cashier is annoyed, she cannot find cartons, so she pretty much empties her supply of camel lights with single packs whilst giving Jason the carton price. The other customers in the shop are shaking their head in disgust at the amount of packs being purchased. We leave and the cashier smiles, she’s happy to be rid of us.
We get back to the house and wind down after a long day of touristing. Benny and Yee arrive, and we all just end up hanging out in the living room watching tv and fiddling a bit on our computers. Yee falls asleep on Benny, but wakes up when pistachios are brought in; we finish half the bag. We finally crash at around 2 or so. Jay and Claire need to be at the bus stop in china town DC around 9:30 for their 10:00 departure. I get up at 7:30 and Charlie wakes up as well as she wants to come along. I get dressed and we head out. The second time into DC, I’m more familiar, and it is day time, so I don’t get lost at all. We stop by the local Starbucks for some food and see Jason and Claire off.
We head back up towards Tyson’s Corner, close to where Benny and Yee live and go grab some food. We are late, so we hurry along to the Mclean Bible Church for Sunday service. Afterward, we meet up with Brian Yee, and the five of us head over to the local Gordon Birsch for lunch. We sit around for a while before heading over to Benny and Yee’s place to so that Charlie can pick up her car, and Brian and Ka can visit with Benny and Yee.
Charlie followed me to the airport, so I dropped off the rental, and got into her car and headed towards the terminal’s hourly parking. We had a little discussion about the day’s sermon and my response runs along the same lines it has always run in our past discussions about God and spirituality. She was a bit disappointed in my response, but really, she should have expected it. She walked me to the terminal and I printed my electronic ticket and we stood for a while at the entrance to the security checkpoint before we hugged and said our goodbyes. It was a little surreal. Who knows what will happen next, but regardless of anything, I had a ton of fun over the weekend and really enjoyed my time with everyone.
I crashed out for about the first hour and a half of the flight. Then popped up my laptop to do some work and write a few things, including this post. The guy sitting next to me had a Northrop laptop, so noticing that we both had the same laptop, he figured that I was also a NGC employee. The flight wasn’t full, so the seat next on the other side of me was empty, which was helpful. It was a Boeing 777, that had arrived from Italy. The laptop lasted until the time we were told to turn off all electronics for landing; we landed about 35-40 minutes earlier than advertised. Pete and Kris picked me up and dropped me off at my car. I’m gonna need a few days to recover.
All in all, it was a very good trip. And as relationships go, things are still up in the air, so who knows what tomorrow will bring. I’m just afraid that I’ll end up closing myself up again. Always gotta protect numero uno.
All the pictures I took over the weekend, had it been sunny, I think I would have taken many more pictures. http://gamerabaenre.com/washingtondc.htm On a side note, the close up pictures of Hugo was just me playing with my camera while on the can the morning I left for DC.