Outside the Beltway (D.C.)

dc12Last fall we went to Alexandria, Virginia to visit some of our kids. We had been planning this trip since last (2014) Christmas. Our daughter, Jennifer, had mentioned that we hadn’t been out there for a long time and after thinking about it we realized it had actually been over five years. Had it really been that long? Yes! So, we made a decision that we would go in October and we stuck to it!

The first full day that we were there Jack and I split up and we went different directions. Jack went with Jeff (our son from Burnsville, Minnesota, who had also come to visit) and Mark (another of our sons who lived in Virginia) and they visited several museums in the area. While they were doing that, Jennifer and I went to Old Town Alexandria to browse some of the stores. We had a good time and then we all met up later to celebrate Mark’s birthday.

dc7Normally when we go see our “east coast kids” we stay around D.C. and Alexandria, but this time Jennifer and King (Jennifer’s husband) had planned an “out-of-town excursion” for us. We got up on Friday morning and took off for our trip within a trip.

Leaving the D.C. and Alexandria area seemed a little strange and exciting at the same time for us. It was nice to get out of the noise and traffic and away from the city. King drove for a while and we were admiring the countryside. Eventually we ended up at a winery in the country with lush,rolling green hills. We stopped for a while to enjoy the landscape and look around the winery.

dc5The next stop on our trip was Luray Caverns. Jennifer had told us that they were pretty amazing, but it’s the kind of thing you have to see in order to really appreciate it. The caverns are huge and very, very beautiful! We went on a tour of them and it’s unbelievable how deep and extensive they are. It’s a pretty easy walk, so I would recommend it for just about anyone. Jack and I have both been in other caverns, but nothing that we had previously seen compared to these.

dc2We had reservations for dinner and were going to be staying overnight at a bed and breakfast, so we drove a little further and checked in to the Hopkins Ordinary in Sperryville, Virginia. The Hopkins Ordinary was built around 1820 and was a roadside inn and tavern as well as a stagecoach stop. It’s been restored and is a very pretty and inviting place to stay. There were fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies waiting for us and we were invited to “have more”, so we did. The rooms were very, very nice and they have a two-story porch/balcony, so after a little walk to some local shops, we spent some time sitting and watching the world go by.

dc4Jennifer and King wanted to take us to the place they had gotten engaged, so they treated us to a very special dinner at The Inn at Little Washington. We had been looking forward to it for months and were excited to be able to go and help celebrate their upcoming anniversary. We arrived a little early for our reservation, so we took a walk around the area. It’s in a very small, quiet town and it’s also very pretty there. The weather was perfect and the fall colors were beautiful.

dc11Dinner was amazing! The restuarant was beautiful and the food was very special and unlike anything I’ve ever had before. Each course was just as wonderful as the previous one and I don’t think I can even say which food item I liked best because it was all so good. We were there for several hours and dc10we even got to go back to the kitchen and meet the chef/proprietor, Patrick O’Connell, and see how the kitchen is run in order to create such a fantastic experience for the diners. At the end of our meal, we were given a little box that was shaped like The Inn at Little Washington and was filled with chocolates and short bread cookies to take home. I saved my box to put on my Christmas tree as a wonderful memory (after eating what was inside, of course). It was definitely a special dinner and an evening that we won’t forget! If you would like, you can see more about The Inn at Little Washington on Facebook,

It was late when we got done with dinner and our tour of the kitchen, so we went back to the Hopkins Ordinary and were ready for a good night’s sleep. In the morning, we went for a little walk to a local bakery before going to breakfast. Breakfast at the B&B was delicious and it was a nice way to start our day. We gathered our things and were on our way.

dc1King took us on a scenic drive back to Alexandria. The mountains were beautiful and colorful and reminded me of home. Once when we had gotten out to look at the color in all of the trees, Jennifer found a fuzzy caterpillar that amazingly looked very much like her coat.

It’s funny, but after all of the times I had been to D.C. and Alexandria, this was the first time that we had really spent any time outside of the city. It was a nice and relaxing and between the winery, Luray Caverns, Hopkins Ordinary, The Inn at Little Washington, and the scenic drive, we got a whole new perspective of what the area is like and what there is to do outside of the D.C./Alexandria metro area.

dc9Mark was getting ready to move to Minnesota, so while King went to work on Monday morning, Jennifer, Jeff, Jack and I helped Mark pack his stuff and load it into a U-Haul. We managed to get it all done in a pretty timely manner and left Jeff and Mark to finish up. Later, we all met at Jaipur, Royal Indian Cuisine, an Indian restaurant in Fairfax, Virginia, that is one of Mark, Jennifer, and King’s favorite places to eat. We had a fun time with great food and we all got to relax and visit for a while. After dinner, Jeff and Mark took off for their long drive to Minnesota and we went back to get ready for our flight home the next morning.

It’s so nice to be able to spend time with family, see and do new things, and be able to make memories that can be enjoyed in the future. We had a great time and are so thankful that we took this trip. We’re especially grateful to Jennifer and King for the wonderful dinner and the dining experience at The Inn at Little Washington.

Remember to take time to travel when you can and enjoy your surroundings and the people you’re with wherever you are!

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