Thursday, August 13, 2009

Lovely Ladies In DC

My "Philly in a Day" trip was followed immediately with a drive to Old Town Alexandria, where I had more business to conduct. Another opportunity to explore a town I've never been to, and to hook up with another Chi Omega Sorority sister or two. So, my handy assistant and I (my daughter Taryn) traveled with Walter and Claire Klages, the research team for our mutual client, Northern Virginia's, Loudoun County. I am so glad the Focus Group for that night was in Old Town Alexandria, because it was a charming old walking city a stone's throw from DC. It also gave me another VA town to compare Loudoun's quaint towns and villages to. The Morrison House, another Kimpton hotel, was delightful... and again I had a better room than Walter (wink wink). The only surprise was the fact that VA doesn't allow alcohol to be given away, so the free wine hour in the lobby that is Kimpton's signature, was not permitted. :(

This girl is not dull, so the day after my work assignment, I stayed for an extra day to rendezvous with my dear friend Patty Fitzsimmons. She is a beauty of a lady, always has been - and it was so great to see her after 20 years. How do we let time escape us like that? I will never forget the beautiful rendition of Amazing Grace she sang at my wedding.

Patty played tour guide (see a pattern? if not, refer back to Philly in a Day post) for us, and whisked us off to DC, where we met sorority sister Chris Pellerin and her adorable daughter Emily at the Old Ebbit Grill. Chris is an influential lobbyist, with offices basically across the street from the White House. I was so thankful she took a few hours out of her work day to lunch with us and show us her office digs. Between these two DC experts, we were able to get a great overview of the city, and a few inside stories as well.

Unfortunately, our one day visit did not afford us time to go into some of the famous landmarks, like the Washington Monument and the Capitol, but believe me, we will plan another visit to this impressive city. It is really hard to describe how awesome it is to see all these monumental buildings side-by-side - from the Treasury, to the National Library, to the Pentagon. Just wow.

We went for a walk through the grand Willard Hotel, where Reverend Martin Luther King Jr wrote his speech "I Have a Dream", and Julia Ward Howe penned the "Battle Hymn of the Republic." We imbibed in a delicious Mojito at the hotel's illustrious Round Robin Bar, where Confederate spies were said to conspire against the Union.

I'm going to have to say, little Emily stole the show that day for me with this little interaction between she and my daughter in front of the White House:

Taryn: "You see that house there, Emily. Do you know whose house it is?"
Emily: "No, whose?"
Taryn: "President Obama's."
Emily looks perplexed.
Taryn: "He lives in there."
Emily: "No he doesn't."
Taryn: "He does, that's his house."
Emily: "Nuh uh, he lives inside the TV."

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Philly in a Day

Shortly after our cross country trip (3 days in fact), I once again boarded a plane. With 3 focus groups planned in 3 cities over 3 days, there was no rest for the weary. I took my daughter along, who turned out to be our official assistant during the business trip. It also was a great way to expose her to a couple cities we haven't yet been to.

After our first FG in Jersey, we took the couple hour drive to Philly for FG #2. Since these research events take place in the evenings, I had an opportunity for a quick visit with my college roomie Jennifer Waite Hawes. She graciously toured Taryn and I through historic downtown Philly.

In case you ever wondered what you can see in 3 hours in Philly, it goes like this...

We parked under the new National Constitution Center, which houses the U.S. Constitution and 160,000 sq ft of exhibits surrounding the historical 4 page document. We did not enter the museum, but I heard there is a hall of life-size bronze figures of the constitution's signers. Next, we wandered through the adjacent Independence Visitors Center and received some tips on a quick tour of Old City.

We strolled on down to the Liberty Bell. Even though it measures 14' in diameter, for some reason I expected it to be bigger. Regardless, it is housed in a lovely new building that is light and airy with great photos and historical documents displayed throughout. It also happens to be free to enter the exhibit, which can be a quick pass through or you can linger a little longer.

On the far end of Independence Mall stands Independence Hall, the infamous location where the Declaration of Independence was adopted and the U.S. Constitution was penned. Manned by National Park Rangers, we wandered the grounds and found our way to Ben Franklin's former home site and print shop. Here, I purchased a printed scroll for the husband-and-wife business friends I was traveling with. It said, "Keep your eyes wide open before marriage, and half shut after."

There is so much more to see in Philly that we didn't have time for, but I was able to get a sense of the spirit of our Nation's founders in this original American city.

Jen was such a good sport whisking us around Philly on a toasty summer day, and we toasted to old times and good friends at a sidewalk cafe. The special of the house, a fruity vodka cocktail, was a refreshing end to a lovely afternoon. Thanks, Jen!