Monday, March 18, 2013

Lunch in the City

I almost missed the train.  It's not like me to be late for anything, but I was overconfident in estimating how long it would take me to walk to the station.  End result: me sprinting (in a dress) across the endless Amtrak parking lot, while also holding an umbrella and still plugged into my ipod.  The platform was empty, but for one conductor.  He scanned my ticket, I boarded, and the train began to move almost immediately.

I had been expecting an empty car, but this train began its route in New Orleans, so it was full of people who'd been sleeping and farting all night, and I was a sweaty mess.  Once my heart rate returned to normal, I enjoyed the trip.  The countryside is beautiful and the view from the train is so different than that from the road.  The old farmhouses and tiny, secret communities appear to have sprung from the earth like mushrooms.

My sister Margaret met me at Union Station in Washington and we walked to her apartment for a much needed freshen up--the waistband of my tights was perilously low.  We were going to Bethesda to have lunch with our cousins, some of whom we hadn't seen in many years.

Once freshened, we plugged the address of the restaurant into Margaret's iphone and off we went.  The metro arrived one minute after we got to the platform and we congratulated each other on our superb timing.  We got off a few stops past Bethesda and knew we would have to walk nearly a mile to the restaurant but then my sister's iphone told us that we were supposed to take a bus...which was just pulling away, so we ran--again with the running--and managed to flag it down and were born away into suburban Maryland without the least idea of where we were.

My sister has lived in DC for only a few weeks (her car is still in Florida) so we were both unfamiliar with the area and the bus was turning left, and then right and taking us farther and farther away from the safety of the metro station.  Still, a red dot on my sister's phone showed us where we were and a blue dot showed us where we ought to get off so we watched the two dots converge, but we fumbled at the critical moment and the bus made another turn and deposited us on a quiet residential street that certainly did not contain a restaurant.

The iphone was suddenly useless, as it would not tell us our present position, and we had somehow become disoriented and had no idea which way to proceed to get to the restaurant.  I was certain we'd missed our stop and should retrace the bus route.  My sister thought we'd gotten off early and should forge ahead. Here we were, two adults, helpless as babies because our sophisticated technology had failed us.  If we hadn't had an iphone, this wouldn't have happened, because we would have had a map.  But nobody has maps nowadays.  We were also hampered by our inability to pronounce "Schuylkill," which was the street we wanted. Of course we realized how ludicrous our situation was and we were laughing, although in a slightly panicky way, as we tried to decide what to do, when we heard a voice behind us say, "You two are hilarious."

Who knows how much of our conversation this man had overheard, but he was able to point us in the direction of the Black Market Bistro.  We were to head back along the bus route, pick up a trail through the woods, cross the railroad tracks, and there would be the restaurant.  We made it without further incident, although laughing so hard that casual observers might have been justified to assume we were drunk.  I mean seriously, a trail through the woods? 

The lunch itself, with our beautiful cousins, was lovely.  There were eight of us altogether.  We stayed until the dining room shut down and then we still had so much to talk about we hung around in the parking lot for awhile.  It was so much fun. Our cousin drove Margaret and me back to the metro station.

Back in Charlottesville, Jon met me at the station and insisted that we go to Continental Divide for dinner.  I had bought a virtuous salad at Union Station and eaten it on the train and I was starving.  Eating in restaurants at 9:00pm is not conducive to my diet, but one does not simply turn down a chance to eat at Continental Divide.  I had a margarita while we waited for a table.  They make a bangin' margarita at Continental Divide, and we had a delicious dinner and thus a lovely conclusion to the day.


  1. One Thanksgiving, I decided I was going to try a new route to my aunt's house, only I forgot to print out the directions. Thinking that for sure I'd remember, I attempted the route from memory. We ended up 'detouring' on dirt roads with a weak signal on our technology 'pointing' the way - we avoided traffic (the goal!) and still made pretty good time, but it will be quite some time before anyone in my family allows me to wing a new route anytime soon.

    Sounds like a lovely day, other than going off-trail so to speak...

  2. What an adventure!
    Glad you made it--in the nick of time--and home again safely.

  3. Just the thought of Continental Divide makes me miss Charlottesville so much! I really need to get back soon!!

  4. I haven't been to Bethesda in a long time but it used to be nice. I have a margarita craving now, it seems.