After being away for over four years, I went on a short trip to Farmingville, New York and Alexandria, Virginia the week I came back to America. I went to the former for a Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band concert at the Long Island Community Hospital Amphitheater and the latter to check out Old Town and a piece of Virginia I hadn’t seen before. I also managed to spend a bit of time in Manhattan where the Metropolitan Museum of Art had an exhibit with very beautiful looking pistols called “The Art of London Firearms.”
The first day of the trip was pretty busy. I landed at Long Island MacArthur Airport and a couple hours later, I was on the way to the concert. It was a pleasure to see my favorite living Beatles member in the flesh (my all-time favorite is George Harrison, but I digress) along with Toto’s Steve Lukather, Men at Work’s Colin Hay, Santana’s Gregg Rolie, Average White Band’s Hamish Stuart, David Lee Roth Band’s Gregg Bissonette, Kansas’s Warren Ham, and Mark Rivera. Some songs they played were, “Don’t Pass Me By”, “Black Magic Woman”, “Yellow Submarine”, “Who Can It Be Now?”, and “Hold the Line”. All in all, it was a very pleasant and chill concert and Mr. Starr and his crew were happy and energetic.
The next day, I went to Manhattan to check out the exhibit at the Metropolitan I mentioned while I was waiting for the night train to Washington D.C. The museum had gone through quite a few changes since the last time I went in 2005, but all-in-all, the place still felt familiar to me. The firearms they had on display in the “The Art of London Firearms” exhibit were mostly pistols that belonged to the Prince of Wales who would later be King George IV. The dueling pistols were quite beautiful and aesthetically pleasing. They were not the most elegant of pistols, but I believe they were a good blend of both practical and luxurious in design. The flintlock pistols on display were mostly designed and crafted by the likes of Durs Egg, John Manton, and Samuel Brunn. After spending some time there, I then made my way to Penn Station to catch the train down south then caught an Uber from D.C. to Alexandria.
For the third and final day of the trip, I spent time exploring the Old Town district of Alexandria. Unfortunately, it was a Monday when I went and as such, a lot of the museums were closed then. However, I was still able to see a few sites and a couple places of historical significance that were still open. My first stop was the Basilica of Saint Mary. It’s the oldest Roman Catholic Church in Virginia, having been founded in 1795. It was also the first time I stepped foot in a church for a few years so it was quite the experience for this lapsed Catholic.
After some prayer and meditation, I made my way to have lunch with my mother at Gadsby’s Tavern. The tavern was built in 1785 and also has a museum where the 1792 expansions were. The dining area of the tavern is the same as it was back in its founding and the food is also based on the food available back then. I had their Braised Hessen Beef which consisted of sweet & sour beef braised with red wine & bacon, rotkraut (red cabbage), and applesauce. To drink was a Belgian witbier (called Optimal Wit) from the local brewery Port City Brewing Company. It was a very nice and smooth beer with a slight citrus taste that paired quite well with the entree.
After lunch, we were offered a tour of the museum where we learned about what made Gadsby’s special as well as see how the facility offered its dining, entertainment, and accommodations services. Apparently, Gadsby’s had an extraordinarily big 62-ton ice well that allowed the tavern to preserve their harvests and supplies longer than the rest of the competition in the area. They even had enough to sell ice when other local companies ran out of their stock. Another note of the tavern was that some Founding Fathers such as Washington, Adams, Madison, and Jefferson were guests and even held balls there from time to time.
After these adventures, I then went to the Waterfront Park where I saw the Potomac up close and then the Episcopal Church, Christ Church. It was quite simple-looking in the inside, but it was still a wholesome, interesting experience to be in the place where George Washington and later Robert E. Lee would pray. Finally, I went to the Lyceum which would serve as a hospital for Union troops during the Civil War and would later become a museum of Alexandria history. Also nearby was the Confederate Statue which was dedicated to the fallen Confederate soldiers from Alexandria. A fun fact about the statue is that the direction it’s facing is towards the old battlefields. It was also placed at the intersection of two streets where the Confederate soldiers set out from to get to their trains. A number of the men from the 17th Virginia Infantry are honored on the statue who were mainly from Companies A, E, G, H, and I. So far the statue is still in the same place as it has been since it was dedicated in 1889, but with things nowadays, I can’t be sure how long that will last. Regardless, it was still quite a moment to see the statue and an opportunity to think about all those local boys who would go out and never make it back home from that war.
Overall, it was a pleasant albeit short vacation. I only moved back to the States just a few weeks ago, but I left these places more appreciative of how blessed and culturally rich the country is. I hope to have more time to visit Long Island. I also hope to spend more time in Alexandria especially since Mount Vernon is nearby as well as the Alexandria Black History Museum and the Carlyle Club among other places. Now that I’m firmly back in the States, I wish to explore much more of the country as a whole while I can.