Keeping with my not-so-early-to-rise theme, I left Ben’s house around 10:30 for Bus Boy and Poet for brunch. The food was good, not great, but the espresso was nice. The atmosphere was really cool; combo coffee shop, restaurant, and book store with an open floor plan and communal tables.
I decided to bike to the National Arboretum. It was only 5 miles away, and the azaleas were in full bloom. As I love me some trees, nature, and flowers, I was all too excited. This was the first time I had ridden the Trucker without padded tights. It was noticeable, very noticeable. By the time I arrived at the arboretum I was some what sore, but knew it wasn’t going to be pleasant if I rode all day. I’m using a Brook’s Standard leather saddle; it’s a saddle, not a seat. You sit on a seat; you ride a saddle. It’s widely known that there is a break-in period with these saddles, similar to an all leather hiking boot. I hadn’t ridden in the saddle for than ten miles before I started this trip. I know better; I knew better. But I still did it. Since my legs aren’t in shape and my lungs and heart aren’t either, why not throw another painful body part in the mix. Hopefully by the end, all systems will be in shape and adequately calloused.
The azaleas were phenomenal. The hill slope was covered in all shades of red, pink, white, yellow, and orange. Some had blooms of different colors and streaking on the same plant. There were also rhododendrons. I took more than enough pictures as words don’t adequately do the blooms justice. From there I toured several other collections: the grove of state trees, Asian garden, fern valley, and lastly, the bonsais. These were the highlight of the day. Many of the bonsais were over 30 years old; the eldest was first trained in 1625!. The exhibit was part of a permanent collection that includes many of John Taka’s plants. Taka is considered the godfather of American bonsai and wrote several books on the subject. Of particular interest to me was the diversity of native plants that had been trained into miniature specimens of their mature species. The time, care, and love given to these plants is outstanding. To think that someone has kept alive a miniature pine tree for almost 400 years is extremely impressive.
From the arboretum I decided I needed a beverage, so I was off to Pizzeria Paradiso located in DuPont Circle. According to my bartender last night this is the best location. The bottle collection was fantastic, and the draft was equally as interesting. It’s at times like this when I wish I had a drinking partner. There were too many bottles I wanted to try but know that I shouldn’t because it would get expensive and I’d be wasted. I splurged on an Allagash Tiarna, an American wild ale. It was completely worth every cent; I felt decadent and selfish enjoying it alone. And yet I did, and I enjoyed the hell out of it. I consumed a couple of small plates, each one I mispronounced (I suck at Italian, and don’t have the balls to throw the hard accent in)(actually I’m pretty poor at most pronunciations). Then I headed to Churchkey, which wound up being a theme while I was in town. Churchkey and Bluejacket, each day, every day. Should have expanded my drinking net, but got sucked in for different beer events.
Upon arrival, I learned there was a Drie Fonteinen pouring event featuring Hommage, a blended lambic with raspberries and sour cherries. Although expensive (and rightfully so), I needed to try it and was thankful I did. It was glorious, sour enough to prick your palate and no residual sweetness. The raspberries and cherries were present without being excessive. I was seated next to a couple of gentlemen who were clearly taking notes and talking flavors. My curiosity was finally piqued when one of the men bought a bottle of Against the Grain’s Chris Framboise, the brewery I spend the most time at in Louisville. I asked for a photo of the man with the beer and sent it to some friends, who quickly informed me they knew him and I did too. Apparently I served him a handful of times during special events at the Grale. I introduced myself to Gene and we had a great conversation about beer and life. The world got a little smaller.
I left to meet my friend at his house, and on the way heard from a friend who hiked the Appalachian Trail with me, or rather the same year and we had a lot of fun for the weeks we hiked together. He met us at Ben’s house, we shared several beers and more stories than the others at the table wanted to hear. As the rain started, Tully (his trail name) had to ride his bike home, and I was thankful to be staying in DC one more day. Earlier in that day, the lads from County Boy had contacted me. They were coming in for SAVOR, a craft beer and food event DC hosted by the Brewers Association. As I love these boys, I decided to stay.
We (Ben being a trooper) headed to Bluejacket via the Metro. It was raining, and my guide’s sense of direction was less than on point; thus, after exiting the Metro from the wrong side, we walked more than several blocks to Bluejacket. It was glorious. Stainless, more stainless, and even more stainless. After we ordered beers, we had an interaction with a superbly intoxicated man. He was most interested in expounding on the benefit of named lineages; specifically, the fact he was the third (his name was Trey, or Tres, or Tray, or Trai) meant he had to name his next male child the fourth. I suggested Quatro but was shot down. We were eventually able to relieve ourselves of his presence and had a wonderful time imbibing with the fine people from Right Proper, who had taken a group trip to the ball park (it’s located a mere block from Bluejacket). Fortunately, for me, it rained and most decided to drink there. We joined, I judged some pasties, there was some awkward beard rubbing (awkward because I don’t have a beard to rub), and lots of drinking. We overstayed ourselves, and headed to the Metro. Unbeknownst to us the last train had ran and we were stuck holding our metro tickets at a loss. A quick Uber search and we were on our way home.