alexandria 2.0

We just returned from our second trip this summer to Old Town, and it was well worth the two days in the car with a toddler. Alexandria has become a ‘happy place,’ of sorts, for me these last couple years. It’s a destination I associate with motherhood, as I started joining Andrew on his trips just before and during pregnancy; my favorite thing to do while we’re in town is hit the 529 Kids Consign store, sometimes more than once. Alexandria a place I can see old friends, like Betsy and Phil, and my parents. The hotel in which we stay each time is now familiar, the eateries are exciting, and the outdoor spaces are full of energy for both young and old.

In May, we took Maelle on her first road trip to Old Town after beginning potty training. It was exhausting, but otherwise a success. This time, we have a few more months under our belt and she did very well, both in the car and while we were out and about.

We arrived in time for dinner, and we checked out Emmy Squared, a new pizza place that replaced the old pizza place we loved. We ate outside, which was nice after spending most of the day in the car. We split a pizza and a bottle of red wine, and it was glorious.

My mom came into town one day to visit, and we hit the consignment store (again!) and the playground. Maelle loves climbing and the twisty slides. On our walk back we popped into Lululemon so I could get a pair of running shorts (I’d decided I NEEDED to run while on this trip–more on that later.) and mom surprised me by getting two water-bottle holders, one for me and one for her! I love mine and can’t wait to use it. I really like large water bottles, but they are so inconvenient to lug around! I use acrylic straw cups at home, but they don’t really ‘travel’ well.

That evening, we met up with an old college friend, Phil, and his wife, Jen. They’re not new to DC, but they did recently buy a place in Old Town, complete with an airbnb on the lower level. It was interesting to hear what it’s like to be a ‘superhost’ and I got to take a tour after dinner since it wasn’t being rented out. It’s fantastic, and even dog-friendly! Phil and Jen have two sweet (four-legged) girls named Lily and Tess who they adore.

Washington DC is home to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, and we decided to give it a go one day. Surprisingly, I don’t think I’ve ever been! It was a short drive from Old Town, and while it’s free to enter, you do have to pay to park. The $30 we spent was well worth saving more than hour (each way!) on the Metro.

We’re on a bit of a zoo-kick; we just visited the Buffalo Zoo for the first time, and we already have plans to go again with friends this week!

Shortly after arriving, we were SHOCKED to see a giant orangutang climbing across some cables suspended above. He was hairy and reminded me of the ‘Sasquatch’ from Harry and the Hendersons–does anyone remember that movie?? It was a childhood favorite, but I’m pretty sure Andrew and I gave it a try in the last few years and couldn’t even make it more than a few minutes.

Anyway, a few minutes later, more orangutangs started climbing along the cables, including what appeared to be a mama and her baby. I soon realized these cables spanned enclosures, separated by a public walkway. They were literally climbing just 25 feet directly above us!

I literally could have left the zoo after seeing that and been completely satisfied. It was incredible.

Thinking we might not have time (or energy) to see everything, we tried to hit the animals we don’t have at home, like the elephant. We caught one taking a dip in the pool!

It was a long, hot day, but we were able to see quite a few animals, including cheetahs, pandas, seals and even a vulture. I’d gone on a run that morning, and got to spend some time to myself during nap. I grabbed a lavender latte (new to me and oh. so. good.), hit Paper Source for stationery and South Block for a smoothie (we had Auntie Anne’s pretzel dogs for lunch at the zoo, so my body needed a little fruit and veggies). It was a delicious, and well deserved, break.

That evening we ate at Virtue Feed and Grain–always a winner–and then spent some time playing down by the water.

Alexandria is like an ‘upscale’ East Aurora, and being there feels a bit like home, without a looming to-do list or chores around the house. We get to spend lots of time outside–eating, walking and playing–without coming back to a messy house. A few days there is good for my soul.

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