I had lost hope. Yet again friends and travel were an inspiration. This blog began because of time spent with friends in Michigan (Joel and Megan Walther) and the persistence of one Alexandra Sherman; this blog will continue because of time spent with friends in D.C. and southeast Virginia, and the persistence of one Alexandra Sherman.
Two weeks ago I began an epic one-month trip of traveling by train from my home in the Boston region that will ultimately take me to the Pacific Ocean. The first two weeks of the trip, up till now, have been dedicated to old friends. First I returned to Washington, D.C. to say hello to some professors of mine and spend the night with one professor’s family, and to have dinner with one Alexandra Sherman. Then I hit the tracks again to Mathews, Virginia, where one Rob Ulmer serves as pastor of two United Methodist Churches. I’m basically a brother to Rob and Maggie now, and more or less an uncle to the kids. I think. All of that was a blast and led to plenty of reflection, life changes, good conversations, motivation and career direction stuff, and good old fun. More on that after the trip.
For now I plan on focusing on the romantic side of things and writing about the trip itself. Since the better half of traveling begins now I’m starting to write again now. Plus, I had done the Boston to D.C. route at least half a dozen times already so the sights weren’t all that interesting. From D.C. to Newport News provided some interesting window-watching, but because of my Civil War travels a number of years ago I had seen most of that, as well. Thus we begin on the romance of being a writer/artist set on soaking up experience.
On Friday, March 8th, Rob and Maggie dropped me off in Richmond, another city that I had been to before because of my Civil War interest, and I proceeded to write two poems before checking in to my hotel. I guess it’s true that travel and new sights fuel the creative juices.
In the afternoon I checked in to The Berkeley Hotel, a mostly old-fashioned, fancy hotel with an old-fashioned, fancy restaurant and lounge (The Nightingale) off of the lobby. If you ever find yourself in Richmond I highly suggest the restaurant. The hotel is cool, but there’s nothing terribly special about it. The restaurant, however, offers excellent service and an incredibly diverse menu; each menu item proof of chefs’ creativity. You might have to wait a bit to be seated, since the restaurant doesn’t seem to ever be full enough for a staff member to serve as a maitre’d. Once you get past the seating prepare to be wowed.
My meal consisted of: Caesar Salad with crouton strips and caviar; stuffed grits (grits stuffed with mascarpone cheese) with green beans, spinach, and mushrooms cooked in a delicious, homemade sauce; Orange Crème Brulee with chamomile, topped with fresh fruit that perfectly complemented the custard; and a Roth Merlot. The Caesar Salad was average apart from the caviar, but the other menu items were beyond description. My entrée was presented beautifully to the point that I almost didn’t want to eat it. Other than the salad, each item was rather expensive but worth it, as long as I ate the crème brulee with small bites.
I sat in the restaurant from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on a Friday night and was still able to eat in near silence with dimmed lights. It was quite romantic and perfectly located for people-watching out on the cobbled East Cary Street. Certainly I couldn’t have asked for more.
So began the fancy extravagance of my “vision quest,” as Dr. Scott Kisker referred to it. I’m not sure I’m questing for a vision, but many visions have certainly come already anyway.