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Guest of Nicholas Pisarro, Jr.
Vacations: This vacation (Permalink):

North Carolina Drive, 2014
From Friday, Apr. 11th, 2014 till Friday, Apr. 18th, 2014
Friday, Apr. 11th, 2014 — Richmond, VA
Comment by Nicholas Pisarro, Jr. on Apr. 13th, 2014, modified Thursday, May. 8th, 2014 at 11:14 AM
Our trip to Richmond, Virginia would have been uneventful if it hadn't been for two goofs by our usually reliable Carmen II GPS. It had a “senior moment” as we got off the GW Bridge and sent us on a major road in the wrong direction. After it “discovered” the error, it turned us around and onto I-95 South. In trying to route us around a little tie-up in Baltimore, it sent us on an alternate route to Richmond that cost us at least an hour. Route 301 was mostly traffic lights jammed with Friday traffic—something that Carmen II does not detect.

All was forgiven as the road finally cleared as we approached Richmond. The downtown Hilton proved very comfortable and had excellent service.

We ate dinner at Comfort, a little boutique restaurant that featured Southern comfort food. We both had great catfish and local vegetable dishes. The former was a giant breaded and fried portion. The latter had far more salt in them than we we’re used to. Once, won‘t hurt us.

The Hilton van driver regaled us with pleasant stories as he took us to and from the restaurant.
Saturday, Apr. 12th, 2014 — Richmond, VA
Comment by Nicholas Pisarro, Jr. on Apr. 16th, 2014, modified Thursday, May. 8th, 2014 at 11:17 AM
We enjoyed seeing signs of Spring everywhere—something sorely lacking back home!

We visited the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. We had lunch in the rotunda. Lunch was so slow that they “comped” our meal. But we did get entertained by a barber shop quartet that came in to sing Happy Birthday to a elderly customer. We chatted with the leader and told him about the Millers of Westport, who were competitive barbershop singers.

In the late afternoon we visited Maymont, the estate of James and Sally Dooley, overlooking the James River. The house was lavishly furnished with gilded age decor. And the grounds were a popular park used by the locals.

Dinner was at The Hard Shell. We both had Rockfish. Barbara’s with risotto, Nick’s the special on quinoa.
Sunday, Apr. 13th, 2014 — Raliegh, N.C.
Comment by Nicholas Pisarro, Jr. on Apr. 16th, 2014, modified Thursday, May. 22nd, 2014 at 3:31 PM
Early Sunday morning we decided to make use of the swimming pool because the entrance was two doors from our room. Getting there at 6 A.M, we weren’t the first ones to arrive. We opted to enjoy the hot tub, rather than the cold pool.

After checking out, we wanted to see one of the plantations located at Charles City, about half hour south of Richmond. We tried Shirley Plantation, but contrary to the guidebook, it didn't open until noon, so we went to Berkeley Plantation, birthplace of Benjamin Harrison V—a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and William Henry Harrison—9th U.S. president. The bugle call, Taps, was composed there when the general George McClellan used Berkeley for his civil war headquarters.

Hunger set in. Looking for local food, we ate at Charles City Tavern, a nearby restaurant. It turned out to be quite upscale. A Bentley convertible, upholstered with a beautiful white leather interior and with the top down, was parked in the parking lot. Trying more southern fare, we shared a plate of fried green tomatoes and a jambalaya, more than enough for two. This was our first taste of okra, which was not to Barbara's liking.

We hoped the food we be more to our liking in Raleigh.

Continuing into North Carolina, our first top was the home of Barbara's cousin Janet in Raleigh. Having arrived in time for dinner, Janet took us to her favorite Italian restaurant, Assaggio’s. Barbara and Janet had Shrimp Scampi. Nick had Shrimp Fra Diavolo. We enjoyed catching up on old times.
Monday, Apr. 14th, 2014 — Raliegh, N.C.
Comment by Nicholas Pisarro, Jr. on Apr. 16th, 2014, modified Thursday, May. 22nd, 2014 at 3:32 PM
The three of us went off to the award winning North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences to see what was new. They had a whole new building devoted to its natural sciences laboratories. The museum is considered one of the top museums in the country and is the top visited museum in the state.

Lunch was at Relish Cafe & Bar.

That evening Janet prepared “Easter” dinner at home for us. It was delicious Moroccan Lamb with couscous. Janet's friend Ann, whom we meet on our previous visit five years ago, joined us.
Tuesday, Apr. 15th, 2014 — Winston-Salem, NC
Comment by Nicholas Pisarro, Jr. on Apr. 16th, 2014, modified Thursday, May. 22nd, 2014 at 3:33 PM
The three of us had breakfast at a Bob Evans before we drove to Nick & Sandy Morganelli's in Winston-Salem.

It was fun to see the Morganellis again, after a five year absence. The eight year old twin grandsons we met then, are now thirteen. We caught up on family history over lunch of blue cheese, provolone, bread and prociutto.

Nick and Sandy raise and sell exotic birds, like parrots and macaws. After lunch our Nick shot video of their Nick feeding his baby birds his secret formula.

The Hampton Inn was too new for Carmen II, so their Nick led us there. We checked in and crashed for a while before heading out for dinner.

Nick and Sandy treated us to dinner at O'so the snappy high end restaurant in the area. Barbara had Pesto Salmon with spinach. Our Nick had the seafood special. Nick wanted to order desert, but Nick Morganelli had something else in mind. A desert he ordered in advance, was waiting for us in another restaurant. We were too full to eat so saved it for our breakfast the next morning.
Wednesday, Apr. 16th, 2014 — Washington, DC
Comment by Nicholas Pisarro, Jr. on Apr. 17th, 2014, modified Thursday, May. 22nd, 2014 at 3:33 PM
Another Arctic Blast moved in and brought us the frost we were trying to escape by leaving New England.

We remembered that last night's dessert was going to be this morning's breakfast: Limoncello-mascarpone cake. How can we describe it—lemony, creamy, light, not too sweet—fabulous!

It took much of the day to drive to D.C.

On I-95 and looking for lunch, we saw a sign for O’Banks Cafe & Grill in Ashland, VA on a Food at Exit 86A sign. Not wanting junk food for lunch, we decided to give it a try. The decor was a little seedy, but the pulled pork sandwich and spinach salad were first class!

A massive construction project on I-95 near D.C. cost us nearly an hour. Perhaps that was the reason Carmin II put us on such a big detour when we were driving down.

After checking in and crashing at the Hilton for a while, we found a restaurant row down the street from the hotel. We choose the Afghan Kabob House for a good salmon kabob w/hummus & some filling side dishes.
Thursday, Apr. 17th, 2014 — Washington, DC
Comment by Nicholas Pisarro, Jr. on Apr. 17th, 2014, modified Thursday, May. 22nd, 2014 at 3:34 PM
After figuring out the D.C. Metro, we headed into town.

The National Museum of American History was most interesting. We took the docent led tour which gave us a summary of the whole museum. Then we explored on our own for a couple of hours. The most moving exhibit was the section of the Woolworth lunch counter from the Greensboro sit-ins.

We exited onto the Washington Mall, where the weather had warmed to bearable. We circled the Washington Monument, toward the WW II memorial, then toward the Lincoln Memorial and the reflecting pool. We were moved by the Korean and Vietnam memorials. We returned via the Foggy Bottom metro station—Nick’s candidate for coolest train stop name anywhere.

Dinner, back at the local restaurant row again, was at TNR Cafe for Peking Duck and pan fried dumplings.
Friday, Apr. 18th, 2014 — Home