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Women in Washington

Linda Kelley Freivalds in Washington, DC

May 2017

At the Fenced off White House

  • My trip really started upon boarding plane -- also on board Rep. Keith Ellison and Mpls Fed Chair Neel Kashkari both in jeans and sitting in coach!
  • I met my childhood friend, Leslie Briggs, at National Airport. Leslie and I had not seen each other from her wedding day in 1968 until two years ago when we attended our 50th high school class reunion. We spent a few days in Boston and had a wonderful time -- it was like we had always been close! Our birthdays are four days apart and we decided to spend our 70th on a "girls" holiday together and chose Washington, DC as it is so beautiful in the spring (well anytime actually).
  • What a welcome trip it was. John and I took a cross country drive vacation to Santa Fe in April to see Carol and Steve (my sister and brother-in law) where John determined we needed to go through Boise City, NM and the absolute bottom of the earth Elkhart, OK. And, yes, we did spend a night in Dodge City, KS where we got out of Dodge as fast as we could the next morning. Three thousand miles driving in nine days with John always managing to have me drive through the most congested stretches -- okay, he was navigating!   The trip was great but lots and lots of open road.
  • Now you can understand why I chose a DC where I would not have to drive and could enjoy the vision of John happily working our land in Orono.
  • Upon leaving the airport, we managed to purchase our Metro farecards to get us to our hotel. Since I lived in DC for 30 years, I chose Dupont Circle because it is so central in the city. What I had forgotten was how difficult it is to get oriented from a circle intersecting all the lettered and numbered streets!
  • But by the next morning we were all set. We mastered the in and outs of Dupont Circle (sort of), found Starbucks (we could see it from out hotel room) and then we were on our way.
  • It was beautiful, a warm and sunny day, and Leslie (a gifted photographer) wanted to see monuments and send photos to her grandkids. So off we headed (via Metro) to the Mall. We started at the Washington Monument, went west to the new(ish) WWII Memorial which is very impressive and elegant, then on to the Lincoln and Vietnam Memorials where we looked for the name of one of our classmates. Then back east to the Capitol, Supreme Court and Library of Congress and on to the refurbished Union Station (oh, if the Amtrak trains would only be as lovely as the station) to catch the Metro back to Dupont Circle.
  • When Leslie and I were in Boston two years ago we walked for hours each day but this set a new record - 6 1/2 hours!!!
  • We had dinner that evening at Il Pesce -- a wonderful little French restaurant. They don't have a printed menu as the menu varies daily depending upon what is fresh in the markets. May is soft shell crab season in Chesapeake Bay and Leslie had never eaten a soft crab. They were wonderful -- very lightly breaded and fried with an eggplant, onion and pomegranate sauce. And then Leslie said why not dessert -- a warm chocolate tart with sea salt -- but we were very conservative and split it. With all the walking we really did not need to be worrying about calories!
  • Next day we did the museums, National Gallery of Art (Mellon) and East Wing. What a juxtaposition from the traditional to contemporary.   Also, stopped at the National Portrait Gallery where they we getting ready for a reception (invitation only and we weren't on the list) to celebrate the 100th anniversary of John F. Kennedy's birth. Now, for us, reaching 70 doesn't seem so old, but JFK being born 100 years ago -- that makes me feel old.
  • And we did make it to Kramerbooks and Kramerbooks Cafe. The place is amazing -- one of the last truly great bookstores in America. The food in the cafe is very good -- great hamburgers -- and for a Minnesotan to be able to eat outside in the warmth and sunshine in early May is a great treat.
  • The next two evenings we went to the theatre. We saw E. L. Doctorow's "Ragtime" at Ford's Theatre and then Neil Simon's "Brighton Beach Memoirs" at the DCJCCC (that's the DC Jewish Community Center) -- no we didn't make it to the Kennedy Center. Interestingly, both plays were set in different eras in New York City, but both were hauntingly alike in the issues of race, poverty and family -- I guess some things are just universal.
  • Thursday we just had time for a morning walk before heading to the airport so we wandered over to Embassy Row. Such magnificent buildings -- at least most of them. The Embassy of Venezuela looked like the grass hadn't been mowed this year and the building needed a lot of work but I guess with all their issues, embassy maintenance in foreign countries is not their top priority.   And of course, we checked out the Latvian Embassy -- I mean I am married to Janis Freivalds (now John) who was born in Latvia.
  • So time to head home. One of the nicest things about going on a trip is knowing you're going home. But what a wonderful trip -- just think, two childhood friends don't see each other for almost 50 years and we find out we still have this incredible connection! Leslie, thank you, you're great!!!