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To me…war cannot be fought without regret. In keeping with my latest visit to our Nations Capital I give you the “Three Soldiers” Commemorating the Vietnam War.

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As I mentioned we made a sudden trip to Washington, DC for the funeral of a dear friend. It wasn’t all doom and gloom and today I thought  I would share those things that brought a smile to our faces – with one exception- in the midst of a most unpleasant occasion. Bear with me there IS a photo at the end of all this…no cheating.

We needed to get from San Diego to Washington, DC within two days. My husband is a Naval Officer and as they have done time and again his command rallied to pick up the slack for him to leave on short notice. Next up the airlines. As you know they charge a premium for short notice travel. As this was not a family member there were no compassionate fares although the rep I spoke with at United tried very hard to find me a price under $2000.00. *gulp*  Perhaps only my husband would travel to represent us as that was way out of our range. I scanned www.kayak.com for a day and a half trying to find a seat that wasn’t yet sold out and had fewer than 3 connections/plane/country changes when I remembered that Southwest Airlines occasionally offers discounted military fares. Now mind you these are more than most of their published sale fares but for travel on short notice it was a big savings allowing both of us the opportunity to travel.  As it was mid-week travel we were able to get 2 seats on the same flight! A word about Southwest Airlines. I personally don’t like the no reserved seat policy but everything else is stellar. The airport check-in and in flight personnel could not be more courteous. The seats have a titch more leg room allowing this almost six-foot tall woman to sit without her knees pressed up against the seat in front, BIG thank you from me and the unnamed  person who usually has their lower back unwillingly “massaged”. The icing on the cake? The flight was early both directions!

Hotels. We originally had a reservation at the Key Bridge Marriott. Normally big Marriott fans (www.marriott.com) Yep -you guessed it – here comes the exception. The only recommendation I make about this hotel is to NOT stay there. “This is the oldest Marriott” the front desk personnel proudly informed me…*crickets* followed by first inkling of trouble … and despite the extensive facelift it had, still looks….. old. We were tired and had driven an hour from Baltimore so onward we pressed. “It was a dark and stormy night” came to mind when we got a glimpse of our room:  Very small, dark, dingy and ok not stormy but gloomy, not what we needed for the already somber occasion and this was a concierge level room!!! I shudder to think what the basic rooms are like. The worst of it was the heat. FYI on the East coast in many older buildings heat is controlled by management. What?? Yes it’s true. We learned this the hard way many years ago our first time living in a Bethesda,MD brownstone apartment.  Not something you want to hear as transplanted Californians enduring their first east coast winter! Anyway –  around 2 in the morning it became unbearable. I was sick from the heat and unable to remove any more clothing……. After repeated calls to the desk and assurances that they had turned it off and the cooling was on, it was still hot, well over 80 degrees hot. It was like we were in Bangkok not Washington, DC in February.  I will save you all the details about the rest of that awful exhausting night and cut to our hurried check out the next morning and off to the fabulous Palomar Hotel,Washington,DC for the next 2 nights. We were lucky to score an affordable rate online  (http://www.hotelpalomar-dc.com/) We are very familiar with Kimpton as they are a pet friendly upscale chain. One which we normally save for special occasions…$$  When they learned of the reason for our travel they upgraded us to a fabulous suite on the top floor, most importantly with temperature control!  It made a big difference to our mood coming back there after a long, sad, tiring day. They were very kind and accommodating and the service, decor, restaurant are wonderful!  I highly, highly recommend the hotel chain as a whole and particularly this hotel. If you have an occassion to travel to DC look them up you will not be sorry!. But don’t take my word for it…  http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g28970-d84093-Reviews-Palomar_Washington_DC_a_Kimpton_Hotel-Washington_DC_District_of_Columbia.html

Restaurants. We ate at several but two stand out. The Blue Duck Tavern (http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g28970-d622172-Reviews-Blue_Duck_Tavern-Washington_DC_District_of_Columbia.html) which has the most amazing open kitchen I have ever seen, a bit like dinner theater! The other was Clydes in Georgetown. Just what we needed when we arrived. Delicious comfort food, great cocktails ie: Diablo Mojito! and thoroughly enjoyable live music. A shout out to Shayna B who pointed us in the direction of both places! (http://www.linkedin.com/pub/shayna-brouker/11/730/301)

So ends my travelogue. Never underestimate the power of the little things and great customer service to make all the difference to any travel, but especially unexpected and undesirable travel. Please share your thoughts, ideas and suggestions for the DC area.  I am genuinely interested to hear.

A parting shot of the National mall from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Processed in NIK HD single image.

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Recently returned from a sudden and unexpected trip to Washington, DC. A dear friend of ours passed away after an all too brief battle against lymphoma. It has been a difficult weekend physically and emotionally as well as a time for reflection. I am reminded to  live each day fully, let go of anger, forgive someone,  hug your children or a friend and pause at least once a day to lift your head and really look around.

We did manage to lift our heads for a few hours and spent it walking around the city where we have lived for a combined 10 years during different tours with the Navy, and I appreciated anew the beauty of the many memorials and monuments…. This week I will share a few of these as a tribute to a wonderful man and dedicated Naval Officer.

World War ll Memorial National Mall

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