The Bucket List

You know, the list you have when the reality that you are leaving a post finally sinks in? For a few weeks now, we’ve been adding items to the list. Strangely–or not– the list is mostly about food!

Just this weekend, we went to our favorite Mexican greasy-spoon in Herndon, the Tortilla Factory. It’s on the Bucket List because it’s cheap and good, with excellent margaritas. They also have a really neat garden in the generic concrete mall planters out front, with lots of different kinds of chiles. Sure beats builder-grade azaleas.

In the same strip mall (because the best food is always in a strip mall) there’s a Pollo Inka with lucha libre on the big-screen TVs. Will we see that in Vienna? Doubtful. So, Bucket List! There’s a Pollo Campero too, so we better hit that at least once.

Also on the List, plenty of cheap, good Thai and Vietnamese food. NoVA is ground zero for both. There are so many pho restaurants that they give them numbers instead of names, like Pho 75. They are awesome. We  must eat at one at least once a week until we leave. I had Thai once and Vietnamese twice last week, so I’m on track.

And then there is the Indian buffet at Mayuri in Reston. Yep, in a strip mall.  And awesome.

And Five Guys. In a strip mall. Need I say more? I think not.

There are actually some nice upscale restaurants around here too, like Il Fornaio. But I am pretty sure I can get Italian food and wine in Vienna, so it doesn’t seem crucial to get it here. (And if I am looking to blow a hundred bucks on a dinner, I am sure Vienna will offer many opportunities.)

When we aren’t stuffing ourselves with cheap food, we love to hike and bike. So, on the list are several more biking trips along the W&OD Trail. And lots of walking on the Reston path system. And maybe a couple of trips out west of DC, to the beautiful farmland and horse country in Loudon and Fauquier counties and beyond. As my husband says, the great thing about this area is that there’s always a battlefield. He also wants to do a brewery or winery tour. We’ll top it off with stay in a B&B out by Winchester right before wheels-up.

Speaking of farms, another of my favorite things about living here are the farmer’s markets. We are regulars at the Reston Farmer’s market. Leave the teenager in bed, maybe walk around Lake Anne, stop for coffee and to listen to whatever band is playing (except for that one guy at the coffee shop who reminds us way too much of Phoebe from Friends…) and stock up on fresh veggies, fruits, Grace’s pastries, and some interesting Mennonite sausages etc. What a great way to spend a Saturday morning.  I’m going to miss it!

(Oops, I just went back to food, didn’t I?)

Can’t forget the thrift stores.  I love ’em. I’ve been stocking up on dressy clothes for Foreign Service events at the Unique Thrift Store in Falls Church. I may meet a president or something in a $10 thrift-shop dress. Shhh, don’t tell! 🙂

Got to hit the museums a couple more times, too. After years in DC, there are still a few we haven’t visited. My husband has the Phillips Collection on his list. And I’d like to see the Brewmaster’s Castle while we’re at it, and maybe make one more trip to the little Textile Museum in DuPont. They have an exhibit on recycling textiles right now that is right up my street!

I’d also like to see the Frederick Douglass Museum in NE DC. And today’s Kids Post had an article about the Clara Barton House in Glen Echo, MD. I don’t think I’ve ever actually been to Glen Echo. Maybe we could check out the old amusement park while we are up there.

Definitely one more trip to the zoo. I’ve given up persuading my kids to go with me, but who cares? You are never too old for animals.

And my husband wants to go up in the Washington Monument. (There’s always about a million people in line, so we haven’t bothered before.) He also wants to see Mount Vernon–we’ve been before, but it was years ago and we hear it’s all fixed up now.

Back to food: one more trip to Adams-Morgan for Ethiopian would be nice. I doubt there’s much doro wat and injera in Vienna. Maybe we can find a decent Chinese restaurant lurking in Chinatown before we go, too. The last time we went down there we had Thai, and usually we end up at an Irish pub!

I know a lot of people in the Foreign Service avoid DC like the plague. But we really like it. In nearly seven years here, we have never run out of things to do. You can’t say that about most FS posts, or even about most places in America. I’ll be slightly sorry to leave, but I’ll also be looking forward to coming back in a few years–most likely for good!




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