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Published: June 10th 2017
Geo: 25.1663, -80.3785
Fleeting along somewhere in Virginia, rocking gently in our sleeper roomette #4 on train 91, the Silver Star, bound from Washington, D.C. to Miami, Bill and I are on winter break from school, on an adventure to visit my dear friends, Elrose and Sue, who during cold weather months live in Key Largo, Florida. Last night we tried to sleep in the business class car on train 67, heading south from Boston to DC, but Amtrak had replaced the lovely, comfortable business class seats with the regular cattle car seats, just leaving more legroom, and they kept the lights shining brightly all night, so it was uncomfortable, impossible to sleep, and COLD. Knowing how easily I get chilly, Bill had thoughtfully packed a blanket for me, so I used my coat as a pillow and covered myself, head to toe, with the blanket. This did horrible things to my hair, but the blanket blocked the light and kept me warmer. But still sleep was elusive.
Arriving in DC before 6:30AM on a Saturday morning, it was still dark, and we were in the middle of a stunning snow squall. I thought we had left the snow in Maine! Surprising reality check. Plus, on Saturdays apparently the Union Station Metro stop doesn't open until maybe after 7AM; the workers were less than pleasant and incommunicative on this little piece of information, and no one else seemed to know. So we spent some time checking our emails in the Amtrak lounge, stored our bags, and finally set out to play in DC as daylight was just breaking through, having free time until our 3PM train left this afternoon.
We encountered even more surprisingly rough winter weather when we left the Metro at the Smithsonian stop; in a wind-driven bitingly cold snowstorm I was trying to orient myself to where we could find Teaism or Native Foods for breakfast (two good places to eat in DC, although there so many other of my favorite restaurants!), but it is one thing to enjoy walking in the District in spring or autumn, and a totally different, disorienting experience on a punishingly cold winter's day -- with snow falling and blowing sideways, the brutal wind was so strong. Sad to say, we found that Native Foods had closed, but Teaism was as warm and delightful as ever.
After fortifying ourselves with tempeh and spinach and exotic mushrooms we headed off to the National Gallery of Art with time enough to enjoy two docent tours, one of highlights of the general collection, and one of 17th century life. I love these tours; I expect I could live happily in DC listening and learning about art just in this one gallery alone for a month or two. (I also felt that way about an art museum I visited in Jaipur, India. I would love to have at least a month studying artwork there! There were centuries old works that looked as vibrant as if they were created a day ago. I wanted to touch them, but of course this was not allowed nor even possible, as most works had coverings on them to keep them safe from people like me.) I am always amazed at what all there is to enjoy and learn in this world! One lifetime doesn't seem to be enough.
But finally, by Sunday evening, we left our little room on the train in Miami, and saw our delightful friends coming to meet us at the station. Joyful reunion! We have three days to enjoy their company --and the Keys-- before heading back north, to winter, but just seeing Sue and Elrose again brought summer into my heart. With them we had truly escaped to the warm.
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