By Caitlin Kelly
Our first long break since March 2021, which was five days upstate.
We drove south from NY, about 4.5 hours, and treated ourselves to a stay at The Willard, which opened in 1818 — the place where Martin Luther King wrote his “I have a dream” speech and where Julia Ward Howe wrote The Battle Hymn of the Republic.
Name anyone powerful in politics here and they’ve stayed or visited — the White House is a few blocks further down Pennsylvania Avenue.
It is classic old-school elegance, and our room was large and quiet.
We arrived in time for Sunday afternoon tea. What a treat! Every table was filled with people, mostly women, dressed up in their best — one table full of women wearing THE BEST HATS.
We are terrible tourists! I am never one to rush around filling my days with seeing all the official sights.
The first day I visited a favorite shop, Goodwood, in business since 1994, an eclectic mix of clothing, accessories, lighting and furniture. A block away is a fun restaurant, Ted’s Bulletin, (the 14th Street location) where I sat at the counter for lunch — repeating both times a pleasure I discovered on my last solo visit there, in March 2020, just as COVID started destroying such simple amusements as travel and eating out.
I was advised to visit the Phillips Collection and whew! It’s now one of my favorite museums anywhere, a collection of art from Renoir and Degas and van Gogh to Rothko, Diebenkorn, Klee, Kandinsky — all set within a huge old mansion. Its courtyard is also very beautiful. The staff are really welcoming and the gift store excellent. I loved the current exhibition of work by Black artist David Driskell, whose work I had never seen.
We had a long great lunch at Le Diplomate with our dear friend and ex NYT photographer Steven Crowley.
We returned — for Jose’s birthday — to one of his old haunts, the jazz club Blues Alley, for the second show. Jose lived in D.C. for eight years as a New York Times photographer, having realized his dream of becoming a member of the White House Press Corps, covering Reagan, Bush and Clinton.
Another day, Jose got his NYT staff pal Doug Mills — too busy to meet for coffee since he covers The President and all his doings — outside the White House for a quick hello. He gave us these M and Ms candies, fresh from Air Force One.
I spent a day antiquing with a very dear friend, one of our rituals, and found a homespun coverlet in pristine condition. It was such a perfect mix of new sights and discoveries, renewing some of our oldest and deepest friendships, enjoying a luxurious hotel. The weather was perfect every day, a bit cool in the evenings and sunny and (not D.C. humid) in the daytime.
We loved our meal at Jaleo, a tapas restaurant.
I was sorry not to have seen more art, as we had planned, but it was just so good to finally see our friends — Jose also caught up with another former NYT colleague.
We then drove 90 minutes east to coastal Maryland and are in Easton for three days, off to a Maritime Museum tomorrow.
It has been a wonderful and badly needed break.
We’re ready to head home and dive back into work, refreshed,