To review, I'm a big vacation planner, but some things cannot be planned for. Robert Burns said it best, "The best laid plans o' mice and men, gang aft agley."
So towards the end of our time in New York and into Philadelphia, our gang aft agley: the Tiny Goddess got sick. (Translation: "gang aft agley" = "often go astray.") A bad cold? A virus? The flu? ... Who knows? Anyway, sick is sick, and though she was very brave, we had to curtail some of our planned activities. But, somehow, it didn't completely ruin the vacation.
Our last stop was Washington, DC, to see the TG's younger brother – the Meteorologist -- and do some other activities on the side: see friends, visit the Spy Museum, have a picnic at Dumbarton Oaks, etc. (We go to DC frequently and have seen the major sites on the Mall many times.) We had to cancel all these things. Fortunately, my brother-in-law and his wife are great hosts and people, with a lovely place. The TG couldn't have picked a better place for being sick.
We wound up crashing there for three days, watching a lot of NBA playoffs. If anything could have cured the TG, it was basketball. But it was not to be. We saw the West Coast games Tivoed the next morning: an absolute miracle of modern life. Television + computer = viewer's heaven. I've hardly watched a commercial in five years. Amazing Clippers win over the Spurs!
The weather was OK, fairly cool. (The Eastern weather was ridiculous: on one of our nights in New York, it was 36 degrees with a very cold wind off the East River!) There was one really nice day in DC where we got a decent taste of spring: the cherry blossoms and the dogwoods, etc.
Here are the places we didn't go:
http://www.spymuseum.org -- The Spy Museum
http://www.doaks.org -- Dumbarton Oaks
Maybe next time in DC. Which will be soon
(At least I finished THE VILLAGE by John Strausbaugh, a very good cultural history of Greenwich Village: recommended. It was never easy to be a hipster. Alcohol and hard drugs kill. When you live on the edge, you're likely to fall off.)
But our vacation wasn't ruined; it was simply changed. And there were dozens of wonderful moments that I haven't even mentioned:
-- Having dinner with the TG before the Helen Mirren play at Chez Napoleon, a classic French bistro near the theatre district that we've been patronizing since the 1970s. And we had the same waitress almost every time. (And I almost always have the same thing: escargots, sole, chocolate mousse, with a glass or two of the Sancerre.)
-- Visiting the Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center, before the opera performance, a place where I spent hundreds of hours in my youth. There was a nice Sinatra exhibition; they're really making the most out of Frankie's centenary.
-- Taking photos of couples (with their own cameras) in Central Park.
-- Eating excellent fried shrimp in a basket at the tip of City Island in the Bronx.
-- Taking my first Uber rides: expensive but worth it. The taxi looks for you, not the other way around.
-- Excellent Italian food, wherever we ate.
-- The complimentary tea service – and "get well" card – from the hotel staff to the TG when she got sick in Philly, and we had to stay an extra day.
-- Having dinner in the West Village with two of my wonderful nieces – one with her boyfriend, one without her boyfriend.
-- Changing subways in the Union Square stop, the subway station that was "my" station at the first place I worked after college, a publisher on Fourth Avenue, where all the used bookstores to be. Only the Strand remains.
-- Having to sleep for an emergency fifteen minutes at a rest stop on the Jersey Turnpike. I was still wiped out from six hours of WOLF HALL, the previous day.
-- Finding out key things about a location in my new book and saving myself from making some silly mistakes
-- Hearing Howard Stern's interview with Robert Downey Jr., in chunks, several times. (The rental car had Sirius radio.)
I hadn't been to the city of Philadelphia in many years, not since visiting my Sculptor Friend when she went to college there, before she transferred to RISD, and I found the people of Philadelphia to be exceptionally friendly, wherever I went.
My candidate for the two greatest words in the English language? How about ... ROOM SERVICE!!
I love going on vacation, and I couldn't wait to get back home. Part of it is that I live in Paradise (the one "really nice day" in Montgomery County was like an average day in southern California), and I love my daily life, my regular routine. Part of it is that I can't wait to resume work on my novel, whose first draft is now in the home stretch.
And then the hard work really begins.