One time, Andrew spoiled me. Ok... not one time... lots of times. But this particular time was in July and guess what he did? He bought us tickets to a Barcelona vs. Chelsea game. They were both touring the U.S. and so he splurged and got us ticket to the game as well as train tickets and a hotel in Washington D.C. Thats right, we rode the train (through the Appalachians) to D.C. to see my absolute favorite soccer team play against one of the teams I simply hate.
The train ride was magnificent. I tried over and over again to take a picture that would do the Appalachians some kind of justice... it was in vain. Those mountains were absolutely gorgeous and SO different than the mountains I am used to in the west. Ive never seen trees and vines like that.
We shared our train car with lots and lots of Amish people and we got to meet people and see so many things that we never have before.
At dinner one night we shared our table with a man... Hold up I have to explain this man to you. You know that show Armageddon? And the HUGE black guy on it? ... This guy was like his clone. He was one of the biggest human beings I have ever seen. His shoulders were so wide and large that when he sat down his shoulders bumped the other man that was sharing his side of the table but there was ample space between them on the actual bench. He was exceptionally quite and was staring at the ceiling though most of the meal. While the rest of us shared in casual conversation, he never said a word. The meal was almost over and I couldn't bare to let him leave without saying anything to him. Some how I opened up a conversation with him. I can't even remember how, I just know I asked him a question and when he responded I was surprised to find that he had a New York accent so thick I struggled to understand him. He told us his story. He grew up in the Bronx and got in with the wrong crowd. He decided he had to make a huge change or end up in a life he didn't really want. So, he joined the Marines. He spent the next 12 years of his life in and out of deployment serving in the middle east 5 times for a total of over 2 and a half years in Afghanistan and Iraq. When he retired from the military he got in to the oil industry and began working on big oil rigs "swinging a hammer and cussing (his fellow workers) each other out" (See he really is the Armageddon dudes clone) He explained to us that just a few days before boarding the train we were on (heading to Pennsylvania where he will spend the winter on a rig) He had sent a letter to the White House. He has spent years fighting for his military compensation and wasn't receiving any.
It was completely fascinating to listen to his story. I love that. I love when complete strangers share little pieces of their lives with me. And Im angry. Im angry and embarrassed that someone who devoted so many years to our country has been tossed aside. How often does this happen?
It was a party spending a week in D.C. Just me and Andrew (Andrews parents were So awesome and stayed with our kids) This was our first real trip away from our kids and Im not going to lie, I was a nervous wreck about leaving them but it was SO good to be able to just hang out with my best pal (AKA Andrew)
We decided that instead of renting a car, we would just take our bikes and see the sights and city that way. It. Was. So. Fun! Although it did require that we pack extremely light because we had to carry everything we had on our backs from the train station to our hotel. It was worth it though. It was so convenient and cheap and it really was just fun. I forgot how much I like biking.
D.C. was gorgeous. We saw Arlington (which was probably my favorite sight. There is SO much I didn't know about that place) We saw Lincoln, Washington, Kennedy and Einstein memorials. We went to The Smithsonian (which is actually like 15 different museums all under the same name) We went to the zoo ... which was way fun but what was even cooler was the bike ride there. I couldn't decide if I was in the Amazon or if I was in D.C. I have never seen so much green, leafy, viney stuff in my life. It was awesome! Plus the zoo had elephants so....
Barcelona had an open training session the day before the game so I made Andrew take me, of course. I think I might have enjoyed the training session even more than the game itself. It was much more personal. There were probably a couple hundred fans there (vs. 80,000 at the game.) and it was fun to see the players just hang out and show their personalities. Pique (a defender) spent a great deal of his time trying to peg people in the stands with balls. By the end of the training session about 3/4 of their balls had been lost to the crowd as a result.
The game was awesome. It was held in the Redskins stadium and was sold out. It was pretty incredible and even though the game wasn't overly serious (doesn't have anything to do with their actual record) it was fun to watch the players just enjoy playing and not stressing over a win.
Last but not least we found the best hamburgers known to man. If you ever go to D.C. and want to know how to find them, let me know ;)