Hot Air Balloons, Lieutenant Dan, and Chaplin’s

This was one of my more eventful weekends that have come to pass, so I thought I’d take some time to share these memories so that I can look back and remember them fondly.

Turf Valley Hot Air Balloon Festival (Friday)

I nearly didn’t go, and honestly, I don’t think I would’ve missed out on much if I opted not to go. I had been excited about the festival because I’ve only ever seen one hot air balloon at a time at fairs and the like, and friends’ photos from the Thursday night festivities. Thursday night photos got me very excited because the sun finally came out on Thursday (that rainy weather streak just hasn’t let up much…) so the bright balloons against the blue sky and white clouds, or in the golden hour glow, were really beautiful…

Look at how perfect this day looks? Photo by Laurie, aka @dccitygirl

Well, my outing to Turf Valley wasn’t quite as successful. It took me an hour and a half to drive over, whereas it usually takes me about an hour to drive to that area. I was planning on parking at my friend’s house, as he lives about a mile away from Turf Valley Resort, but there was so much traffic in this residential neighborhood that I had to just park my car where I was and walk two miles, adding another half an hour to the amount of time I had invested in this outing…

Finally made it!

I finally was able to see the hot air balloons at about 8. (Yes, I left at 6…) The sun was starting to go down but it was still really nice to see a few balloons all at once. They didn’t have as many as Thursday evening (grumble) but I didn’t notice that so much as I noticed the massive enormous huge crowds in line for food, bathroom, and everything else. I was not about that life (perhaps it is time to abandon my dreams of being British if I can’t queue…) and I was still feeding off the adrenaline and frustration from my 2 hour journey there, so I think I wound up just skipping dinner altogether. (Oops, you should NEVER DO THIS.)

Just a massive crowd on the grass. Don’t get me started on the horde of people behind me.

Even though it got pretty chilly, I did still enjoy my time because I got to see some friends I haven’t seen in a while (since the couple’s wedding, in fact!) and the hot air balloons were really cool when they were all lit up at the same time.


But was it worth my time? Not really. Even my friends, who came in a small group, thought it was hardly worth their time, let alone someone who came out to this by their lonesome. (Cue sad violin music.)


GI Film Festival Kick-Off featuring Gary Sinise (Saturday)

Saturday started off with me helping out at a really fun Elite event, Yelp’s Secret Pajama Society at Cabinet, the Grand Hyatt Washington’s new breakfast dining option. That was a lot of fun because we got to wear our PJs and eat a lot of really delicious food that we told ourselves was balanced out by the fresh-pressed juice we watched come out of the juicer.

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Iced hot dark chocolate from Coco Sala

Annie had told me about the GI Film Festival Kick-Off that featured Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band (Gary Sinise is the actor who plays Lieutenant Dan in Forrest Gump and Mac Taylor on CSI:NY) and we both won tickets to go! As someone who has played a veteran who wasn’t thanked fairly after his service, Gary Sinise has dedicated a lot of his time to attempting to repay the men and women who have served our country and I really respect him for that.


The opening band, Stolen Silver, was pretty incredible! I was really digging all of their original songs, and they did a lovely tribute to Prince by adding “Purple Rain” to their set. Levi Britton and Dan Myers had really nice vocals, and Dan is a wiz on the violin, among the many instruments he brought out on stage.


Of course, Lt. Dan himself stepped onto stage with his bass guitar in hand, playing some really great cover songs with his amazing band.DSC00990

Gary Sinise aka Lieutenant Dan


Serenading a married man, who was a great sport about it all

DSC00999Honestly, I went into this not thinking too much of it, but I had SO MUCH FUN. Also, I got this:

My first ever celebrity selfie?!
A photo that a kind woman got of me taking my selfie

Needless to say, I’m glad I went!


Chaplin’s with Barry (Sunday)

Barry is one of my friends from summer camp that I met about 10 years ago? (Whoa.) We weren’t particularly close at camp or in the years that followed, but we somehow managed to reconnect a few years ago, likely due to the quiet but powerful friendliness of another one of our camp friends who is getting married this year!

Anyhow, Barry is in town for a work conference, so we caught up for dinner at Chaplin’s. The first time a friend told me she had ramen at a place called Chaplin’s, I was really confused. It doesn’t really… sound like a ramen restaurant? But wouldn’t you know it, Chaplin’s is a Japanese restaurant that is meant to evoke the era when silent films started making their mark in Japan and the cocktails of that era. And ramen!

Chaplin ramen
Matcha green tea parfait
Deep fried mochi with red bean paste

I had low expectations, but I was pleasantly surprised by how solid the food was. It’s definitely a fun spot to bring friends, and I was able to catch up with Barry, who I haven’t seen since my visit to New York last year.

(And of course, I came home to catch up on Game of Thrones later than usual, which I realized when I accidentally checked social media on my way back from dinner and narrowly avoided a spoiler! What a devastating episode. At one point, I shouted, “I don’t want to watch this STUPID SHOW ANYMORE”, so… pretty good episode I guess?)

And that was my weekend! Barry actually invited me to one of his conference evening events last night, but I had to stay at work a little late and figured that, with something going on every day this week besides last night, I should take it easy.

How was your weekend?

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