One of my first adult trips abroad was to London, England, when I was just 22 years old. I booked a single roundtrip ticket and had no intention of inviting anyone along- the goal was to find a three-star accommodation downtown and nestle inside a cozy coffee shop for a week, people watch and write. I saw it as my first big step toward becoming the author/ blogger/poet of my wildest dreams.
The trip date crept up quickly and I suddenly became panicked. I will never forget sitting at our Connecticut casino’s “Hard Rock Café” with my best friend of then, eleven years. “I did something stupid and I need you to book a ticket and come to London with me,” I said while nervously sipping from my souvenir hurricane glass. “No can do,” she responded. “I don’t have any time off accrued at my job yet.”
What did I do? I created a Power Point presentation for Caitlin’s new boss, explaining why I needed her to be on my flight with me. And to answer your question, she was sitting to my left as we lifted off the runway, equally as excited about Virgin Airway’s comfy socks, eye masks, and blankets.
Caitlin and I have been travelling for as long as I can remember: Our first trip was to Providence, RI when we were in the 7th grade and we’ve been crossing destinations off of our goal list ever since. She is my favorite person to see the world with, and in recent years, we haven’t had the chance to jump in the car and drive toward new adventures, near or far. Hundreds of miles now separate us and we both lead parallel lives- as wives, full-time professionals, and hosting, planning, busy women.
When Caitlin told me that she wanted to take a trip down to see me this past March, I jumped at the opportunity to do something special. My husband signed onto a work trip so I booked her a flight, soon after sending her- you guessed it- a Power Point presentation of our weekend itinerary.
In the past five years we’ve celebrated bachelorette parties, weddings, holidays, and so many other large milestones that adulthood brings. Yet its been a long time since we’ve celebrated friendship, just her and I. I wanted to pay tribute to our past, present, and future in a fun way- in my neck of the woods.
Our adventure began in Annapolis, MD since I picked her up at BWI Airport. Boatyard Bar & Grill is one of my favorite places for brunch so we stopped there for breakfast wraps and a cup of coffee. We then made our way to Main Street to walk around the downtown Annapolis area- The weather was actually beautiful for the time of year. Although I’ve strolled the strip quite a few times before, we came across some gems while lingering off of the beaten path.
- Old Fox Books & Coffeehouse– This was one of the most magical bookstores I’ve ever been to. It is situated on Maryland Avenue so a short walk from Main Street is necessary, but this two-story humble abode feels cozy and smells of the most aromatic coffees. If I made up a list that made up attributes for a perfect bookstore, lofty dreams and all, this establishment would win a trophy. They had coffee, cozy seats, a spiral staircase, haphazardly placed books, a dog, a storyteller, dressed in character, book-ish trinkets, and a backyard filled with Alice-In-Wonderland- esque details.
- Brown Eyed Girl- A unique clothing boutique with a lot of fun finds.
- Back Creek Books- One of my favorite places to steal a photo- This bookstore has a ladder to navigate through old mahogany shelves.
- 4th Street City Park Bench– Every time I leave Boatyard Bar & Grill, I leave a few lines nestled in this sacred space.
Caitlin and I walked through the United States Naval Academy Campus and settled on a dock with some cookies from Annebeth’s, shared with the ducks while dangling legs over the ledge.
We then headed back toward Virginia and got ready for our dinner plans: A meal at Succotash in National Harbor, to commemorate our college search trip to Charleston, and a Ferris Wheel ride at dark in remembrance of our London Eye, England experience. (Some Tips: “Taste of the South” is highly worth it, and check Groupon for Ferris Wheel discounts!)
One of my most valuable memories of Caitlin and I is when we went horse-back riding in Costa Rica: It is a pastime that still makes me chuckle. The company we went through was barely viable and when we pulled up to the cove area, we found our selection of horses, all tied to various palm trees. I immediately claimed this beautiful, winter-white stallion, and Caitlin walked around until she settled on a multi-colored horse- I joked that it looked like it had some pigment disease while mine embodied real fairytale charm. We mounted our horses and the tour guide led us down to the beach- Caitlin and I had never rode horses in our adult lives and were content to walk along the shore, steadily and under the careful watch of the guide. Two other couples were with us, however, and were seasoned riders, so they were more interested in trotting- then galloping into the sunset. Apparently, so was my horse. An alpha-male, I learned, my horse wanted to be the lead of the pack, the fastest… I just remember half of my excursion was spent crying out in horror and looking back at Caitlin and her horse, carelessly combing the beach while enjoying the view.
I decided for our adventure weekend then, to not only book a trail ride in nearby Linden, VA but also secure a photographer to document our memory.
It was an extraordinary day: Cyndi of Pixels By Pixley Photography helped me orchestrate this endeavor and I am so grateful that she is a equestrian as well as a photographer- I found her on Instagram while scrolling through various hashtags and saw that she regularly shot horses in the NoVa area. I therefore paid for her to meet my best friend and take photos of us at The Marriott Ranch in Hume, VA before joining us on a trail ride.
The farm was beautiful and it was so much fun playing dress up with my best friend, donning fake eyelashes and bohemian maxi’s with the intention of getting those stunning Pinterest-worthy shots of the sunlight hitting us just so, the wild grass behind us curved slightly in a balmy breeze.
Most of our photos ended up being ones of genuine laughter, because we had more #Pinterestfails than wins. Caitlin stepped in cow droppings, the biting wind left hair in my face more often than not, dresses kept getting stuck on fences and I don’t recommend climbing rock walls in heels.
We changed before we went on our ride and although photos opps were minimal, it was nice to take the time and enjoy the exquisite Northern Virginia countryside. We both rode well behaved horses- thank goodness- and the trail we ventured to changed backdrops consistently, from river crossings to wooded areas to open fields. Between every few riders were staff members- they were so nice, knowledgeable, and good with the horses. One of the younger riders even brought out her personal white stallion after the ride so that I could take pictures with him and make peace with my past. 😊
Everything that we did during our girls’ weekend is highly recommended, if you are local or visiting the DMV for the weekend, but my favorite moments are personal ones where wine glasses clinked, tears formed from laughter, and new memories were engraved on my soul.
Friendship is so easy to take for granted as an adult- so many other obligations pull us in a million different directions, command our attention. I am so fortunate, however, to have a friend that has been by my side for twenty years- why wouldn’t I want to nourish a companionship, so old and perfectly worn in? What an incredible kind of comfort I have the pleasure of claiming as my own.
The trip was so great, that we planned another one for January of 2019. New Orleans, here we come! (Anyone have any good recommendations?)
I’ve been wanting to post this for a while, not only to document my itinerary for others and my own reference, but to revel once again in the joy associated with doing something nice for someone else. The surprise and grateful response made me want to plan something all over again, for not only her but all of my other closest family members and companions.
In helping to bring out the best in others, I find that we also bring out the best in ourselves.
And what is better than that?