I needed to kill some time before my final stop in the mid-atlantic, so I figured I’d come back to NOVA (Northern VA for those not in the know) and say my final goodbye to the area I called home for the past several years. I also got to visit once again with friends and former co-workers, scheduled and attended appointments with all my docs (so I could renew all my scrips for the next year), and lastly to visit a museum I’ve been wanting to go see. It was a great time as always, and I’m thankful for all the get-togethers.
Friends and Food
Anyone who has been following my blog for any length of time has surely noticed a pattern of my visiting with family and friends, and its association with food. Well, this trip was no different. I had the pleasure of many meals with friends/former co-workers while here in VA. Soon after my arrival, I met with a former co-worker Chris. He lives about two hours south of where I was camping, so we agreed to meet half way – which worked out to be roughly Stafford, VA. I found a Sushi restaurant there, so that’s where we met. The dinner was great, and the catching up with Chris even greater. Later in the week, I was invited to a BBQ at the home of former co-worker Howard. He, and his wife Holly were amazing hosts. The food was spectacular, and I also enjoyed finally meeting their two kids that I’ve heard so much about over the prior 8 years. Lots of other former co-workers were there as well including my former boss Mary, and former co-workers Jessica and Nilou. It was also certainly a dog-friendly event as many folks brought their dogs to play with the dogs that were already residents at the house. So, there was lots of entertainment in that area too. I also had the pleasure of a Sunday brunch with Mary and former co-worker Blanca. I picked a restaurant that was central to all, though not having ever eaten there. Turns out it was fantastic. Food was amazing, and the restaurant was nicely decorated in historical nautical theme. Lastly, no trip to NOVA would be complete without a trip to Yoko Sushi – a long time hang out of many GDIT employees. Mary, Jessica and I had a terrific dinner there. Thanks to all for your hospitality!
NRA National Firearms Museum
Fairfax, VA happens to be home to the national headquarters of the National Rifle Association (NRA). It also happens to be home of the National Firearms Museum. Though I had lived in Fairfax for 3 years, and was well aware of the museum, I never took the opportunity to go and visit. So, I put it on my agenda for this trip to go check out this museum, and boy am I glad I did. What a fabulous collection of historical weapons. There are over 3,000 firearms on display representing their nearly 700-year history. There are over 80 display cases in 15 separate galleries consuming some 15,000 sq/ft. It also features several life-sized dioramas including a nineteenth-century riflemaker’s shop, a trench on the Western Front in WWI, and a shelled-out town square in Normandy in WWII. If you are in the area, a definite must see!
There were so many amazing guns in the collection. One of particular notice was the service revolver (pictured at left – lower left) recovered from the wreckage of the World Trade Center that belonged to first responder Walter Weaver who gave up his life in the tragedy. This recovered gun was tied back to Walter via the serial number. Sadly, his remains were never recovered. Also featured was a Colt Vampire Hunter revolver (pictured left – lower right). Included in the coffin-like case was a container for holly water, a mirror and wooden stake, and sliver bullets in the shape of vampire heads. Too cool!
Another really cool gallery featured many, many guns from television and the big screen. I suspect many of the guns are props (not actually capable of firing) but were none the less featured in their respective show or movie, and actually handled by the actor. There were lots to see in this area, but some that I found particularly interesting was the .45 Magnum from Clint Eastwood’s “Dirty Harry” character, the handgun used by Eddie Murphy in “Beverly Hills Cop”, the Colt pistol used by Tom Selleck in his “Magnum P.I.” role, and an entire collection of firearms used by non other than John Wayne from his many roles. Quite a unique and extensive collection.
The museum also features a very nice collection of Tommy Guns – made famous during the 1920’s and 30’s gangster era. Finally, the last noteworthy firearm that I saw in the museum is thought to have been brought over in 1620 from England via the Mayflower, and is believed to be the oldest and original gun in the New World. It was located in a hidden crevice during a recent renovation of a home belonging to one of the original 1620 Mayflower settlers – John Alden. Pretty cool to see something that old and historical.
On A Sad Note
Less than 3 miles from my apartment where I used to live, was the fantastic mall known as Fair Oaks. I had been a frequent visitor of that mall when I lived here, if only just to get in some walking exercise. I remember always thinking that this mall, despite the plight of many other malls across the country, had always maintained a high level of vigor and vitality. There were always lots of shoppers, and there was rarely ever any vacancies in any of the spaces. Lots of carts filled in the center section aisles presenting even more of a robust and thriving venue. I went and visited the mall one rainy day to get in a bit of walking. Assuming you’ve been following the news, the Sears closing and liquidation comes as no surprise. But alas, time may have finally caught up to many other shops at Fair Oaks. During my walk, I found few shoppers and far too many storefronts vacant and covered. The only two places with any signs of life were the DMV office, and the Apple store. Otherwise, it was pretty much slim pickins. To be fair, some of the store front coverings did say “…. coming soon” along with the name of some store I’ve never heard of. So, maybe this is just a minor transition or refresh of some of the tenants. I sure hope so! But, I also did notice the once thriving Customer Service desk that once had lots of helpful folks and gift wrapping stations has permanently closed. Not a good sign!
So, I very much enjoyed my final two weeks in NOVA saying final goodbyes to many work friends. I’ll remember fondly the fun times we had working hard together, and the many times we played together. I truly hope and wish them continued success until they too can retire and enjoy their life-long dreams.
I look forward to my next two weeks at Yogi Bear campground to enjoy their spectacular Halloween themed festivities. I’ll enjoy the company of my grandson for a weekend of camping with me, and also hope others will accept my invitations to come and join the fun.
On a final note, as you can see at right, it’s starting to get cold up here! While it usually warms up to the 60’s or even 70’s during the day, the nights have been dipping low getting closer to that deadly freezing point. I’m rather thankful that I’ve only got two more weeks in this area, then I’m heading south of the boarder to warmer climate. Till then, be well and safe travels.