- briefly browsing the National Gallery where I contemplated the difference between Western and Chinese paintings; looking at a famous Rembrandt or Rubens is not a bad way to spend a coffee break.
- walking through the Georgetown University Law Center grounds and Chinatown (such as it is in Washington; Beijing doesn't really have a gweilo town, having dispensed with the foreign concessions some decades ago).
- taking the Metro from Union Station to the Pentagon Center mall (where I actually bought a copy of Mandarin Rosetta Stone software--I'm such a sucker for personable, good-looking salesmen at mall kiosks. I suppose this is a good location for Rosetta Stone, a lot of diplomats and lobbyists who might need to acquire a second language).
- dinner and drinks with a friend from China pilgrimage 2010 in the oldest Irish pub in Washington, dating all the way back to...1967. (I thought maybe Thomas Jefferson might have tossed back a shot of Jameson's there, but more likely a Kennedy.)
Leaving the Nation's Capitol in a cheap cab ride that allowed me to glimpse the Washington Monument and other familiar markers, I moved on for a long weekend in Portland, Oregon. I had a hotel reservation in a motel near my son's home, but somehow it seemed like I was supposed to stay here, a far cry from the Hyatt Capitol Hill, but still, what coincidence.
I haven't seen such retro signage and architecture since the Motel Vietnam, my one-time regular home-away-from-home in Central Florida, which has as much in common as not, with Oregon, as like and different as Washington and Beijing.
If you're open to it, you can be at home and happy no matter where you land. Especially if there are flowers, imbued as they are with memory, as well as fragrance and color. Maybe this was my Summer of Flowers (the Summer of Love long past). Here's a sampling from Beijing to Washington and Portland (not that we don't have a profusion of flowers all the time in Hawaii):
Hibiscus in Washington: