family, food, travel, walking

beer and books and spies, oh my!

Whenever asked, I always say that my favorite author is Margaret Atwood. No questions asked. Her books take up nearly an entire shelf on my bookcase all on their own. I read her novel Cat’s Eye in 8th or 9th grade although I didn’t really get into her until college and even then it was actually through her poetry and it still took me years to put together the poet with the novelist I had read years before.

As such, when I found out that she would be appearing at the National Book Festival in Washington D.C. this past weekend I had to be there. Luckily, Sissy and my bro-in-law live in the greater DC area so I was able to stay at their place and spend the weekend with them!

I arrived Friday morning and after having lunch with Sissy and BIL, we spent the day walking around Old Town Alexandria. They had this neighborhood wide scavenger hunt where you had to collect stamps from 37 stores. It was a great idea and something I’d love to see Cleveland neighborhoods adopt.

It ran all weekend long but since we were looking for something to do that afternoon anyway we decided to just complete the whole thing. Many of the stores Sissy and BIL had never been to before and after filling in the sheet, Sissy collected a swag bag full of coupons and samples from all of the stores.

Once we were finished we headed to their apartment to settle in for a bit before heading to a really sweet pizza place for dinner where I found a taste of home in the form of Great Lakes Oktoberfest.

Saturday morning, Sissy and I were up bright and early so we could make it to the Mall for the Book Fest! (And when I say “bright and early” I mean “I was awake at 5:30 for some unknown reason.” Either my sleep schedule is all outta whack or I’ve officially turned into my mother. It was all good, though, ’cause I was able to catch up on Survivor and Project Runway before Sissy was awake.)

We took the Metro in and exiting the station decided to climb the broken/stopped escalator. Being the clumsy idiot that I was, I managed to trip on the very top step and my left knee got pretty scraped up on the metal grating of the escalator so our first stop was, unfortunately, First Aid. There was some super ugly bruising right away, but it’s mostly all disappeared and while I still have some scraps the swelling has all gone away and it doesn’t really hurt anymore. Thankfully it wasn’t anything more serious as that would have been really, really unfortunate this close to my half-marathon.

So after we got my knee looked at, Sissy and I walked around the Mall trying to gain our bearings and figure the festival out.

Naturally, I had to show my Cleveland love with a shirt from the CLE Clothing Co. That would be the I Heart Cleveland Metroparks shirt. Soooooo comfy!

So, the authors all give moderated talks and then do the signings. The lines to wait for the signings start before the talks even begin and can get ridiculously long so you usually have to pick one or the other. I happen to have a super awesome sister who offered to be my place holder and wait in line while I heard Ms. Atwood speak and then I was able to come get back in line for the signings. We got there early enough that we were 12th in line and it was a good move, too, because by the time I got back from the talk there were probably close to 300 people lined up behind us! She was the big headliner and it stretched all the way across the Mall lawn to the museum on the other side of the street. She was only signing for about an hour so I don’t know how many people got through.


I was also the last person to get more than one book signed (I opted for Oryx & Crake, which is my favorite book of hers, and there’s no way I couldn’t not get The Handmaid’s Tale signed as well. I mean, hello. Also, this week is ALA’s Banned Book Week so it was fitting  timing seeing as how nearly 30 years after it’s publication, The Handmaid’s Tale is still challenged in schools across the country to this day.) 

Once the books were signed we walked around the festival for a little bit before wandering into the Natural History Museum for a hot minute (I wanted to see the Hope Diamond) before getting lunch at Chop’t, which was the most overwhelming salad restaurant ever.

Then, as if the day couldn’t possibly get any better, we went to the INTERNATIONAL SPY MUSEUM.

Oh yeah, baby, that’s right.

Not only is one of my dream jobs to be a librarian at the CIA but I actually applied for an open position once years ago. True story.

We went through the museum but we also did the interactive Operation Spy activity beforehand. Oh man oh man it was so totally awesome. Running around cracking safes and surveillance and pretending to be a spy. Like I said: so totally awesome.

By that point in the day it had started to rain so the museum made a perfect escape, although that also meant everyone else and their mother decided it was the perfect place, too, so the place was packed to the gills. Even with the crowds, the information and artifacts presented were fascinating and they had a special exhibit on Bond Villains that was pretty cool.

After a very busy Saturday, Sissy and I were hungry and ready to meet BIL for dinner. Sissy and I were exhausted after all that walking around and both of us were in bed and asleep by, like, 10pm.

Sunday morning we bummed around their apartment before a family friend came over for brunch then we packed up all my stuff, did some shopping in Old Town, and BIL and Sissy took me to the airport and I headed back to Cleveland!

It was a jam-packed weekend but oh-so-much fun and I’m so glad I was able to hang out with my sister and her husband for a few days and have a brief escape from the “real world” back home. Of course, I’m also exhausted and already looking ahead to this upcoming weekend, although it won’t all be rest as Papa G. and I will be attending a Murder Mystery Dinner at the Greater Cleveland Aquarium Saturday night.

Hmmmm. Wonder if any of my newly acquired spy training will come in handy…

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

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