the march cocktail hour: a pittsburgh getaway, endless hiking, and the march for our lives

Saturday, March 31: Welcome to our March cocktail hour! It’s still a bit too chilly and damp to sit on our screened porch, so we’ll stay dry and warm inside. I can offer you a Jalapeno Margarita, one of my favorite drinks since I discovered it several years ago at Lolita in Philadelphia, or a Pinot Noir or Pilsner Urquell. I know it’s still officially Lent, so for those of you so inclined, I can also offer sodas or seltzer water of various flavors. Tomorrow, April 1, we can celebrate the strange intermingling of two oddly mismatched holidays: April Fool’s Day and Easter.

Spring is here, but not without its whims.  We had snow last week, which accumulated and then vanished within two days; this week we’re under drizzle, although temperatures are inching upwards.

I hope March has been good to you so far. Have you read any good books, seen any good movies, binge-watched any television series? Have you learned anything new, taken any classes or just kept up with the news? Have you marched or otherwise participated in political protests?   Have you been planning your adventures for the year? Have you had any early spring getaways? Have you sung along with any new songs? Have you dreamed any dreams? Gone to any exotic restaurants, cooked any new dishes? Have you undertaken any new exercise routines?

We went to Pittsburgh for a three-day weekend on March 2-4.  Here, we visited the University of Pittsburgh, numerous memorials to the titans of American industry, a magnificent botanical garden and conservatory, the merging of the Monongahela and the Allegheny Rivers – forming the Ohio River at Pittsburgh’s point – and some offbeat museums.  I’ll eventually write more about our trip on my new blog:             ~ wander.essence ~

We went with our friends Karen and Michael to the Ice House Café where I had only two, I emphasize, TWO dirty martinis, and felt pretty darn loopy!

Michael, Karen, Mike and me 🙂

Not feeling so great the following day, I accompanied the American Pilgrims on the Camino for a 10-mile walk starting from Arlington National Cemetery, walking past the Martin Luther King Memorial, shown below, up the National Mall and around the back of the U.S. Capitol, and then back down the Mall again to the Lincoln Memorial.  Someone from the Philadelphia chapter read parts of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech aloud to the group in front of the Lincoln Memorial, bringing tears to our eyes. Then we walked back to Virginia.

Martin Luther King Memorial

I honestly don’t know how I’m going to walk 12 miles/day carrying 15 lbs. in a backpack, day after day, on the Camino.  I was wiped out after this walk, and I only carried 5 lb.  Granted, it was all on pavement, which is hard on the joints and feet!

On that same day, March 10, my oldest son turned 27, but we only got to talk to him by phone since he now lives in Colorado.  He just got a new job as an apprentice butcher, something he’s been wanting to do for some time.  This desire took me by surprise, as he was vegan for a long time!

On March 17, I went on a 7.5 mile hike with the Mid-Atlantic Hiking Group at the Jug Bay Wetlands Natural Area at Patuxent River Park in Maryland. It was enjoyable, despite being a cold and dreary day. Near the American Indian Village, we came to a parking area filled with horse trailers and folks trotting around on their horses.  They told our group they are a group of friends who ride their horses together regularly.

Overall, I walked 103 miles this month, more than the 68 miles I walked in February.  I’ve now put 95 miles on my Keen Targhee boots and 44 miles on my Merrill Trail Runners. I’ve pretty much decided I’ll walk in the Keens on the Camino.  I’ve also started increasing weight I carry in my backpack, alternating between 5-8 pounds twice a week.  The backpack will be the worst part about the Camino, as the walking itself doesn’t bother me, except for some right knee pain.

We saw the movie The Leisure Seeker about an older couple, played by Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland, one of whom suffers from dementia.  They take their old RV – dubbed “The Leisure Seeker” – for a road trip to Key West to visit Hemingway’s house.  It was funny and sad at the same time, but I wouldn’t say it was one of my favorite movies.

We had a snowstorm on Wednesday, March 21, with a couple of inches of accumulation, but it melted over the next couple of days.

Just after the snow melted, we went on Saturday, March 24 to the March for Our Lives, organized by the students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where 17 students were gunned down by an unhinged ex-student.

The March for Our Lives mission statement includes:

Specifically, we are working towards…

  1. Universal, comprehensive background checks
  2. Bringing the ATF into the 21st century with a digitized, searchable database
  3. Funds for the Center for Disease Control to research the gun violence epidemic in America
  4. High-capacity magazine ban
  5. Assault weapons ban

The March was exciting and the speeches by the students extraordinarily moving and inspiring.  I felt choked up the whole time I was there; I was impressed by the people, young and old and of every ethnicity, who came out in large numbers. Students gave rousing speeches, including Martin Luther King’s granddaughter, 9-year-old Yolanda Renee King, which we were there to hear.  Unfortunately, we missed the speech by Emma Gonzalez.  According to USA Today, “About 200,000 people attended the rally, according to Digital Design & Imaging Service Inc., a Virginia-based company that calculates crowd size.” Marches were held all over the country as well.

Here are some photos of the day:

After the march, Mike and I stopped in at Laredo DC Mexican Restaurant, where we enjoyed some small plates and margaritas, making our day, in effect, a March for the Margarita. 🙂

The last Monday in March, I drove down to Richmond to visit my daughter, and we enjoyed a fun dinner together at Little Nickel, a cute new restaurant with a touch of tiki in Southside Richmond.  You can get a feel for it in an article by Richmond Magazine: “Uncommon Cents at 4702 Forest Hill.”  I found the decor and the atmosphere delightful, along with my daughter’s company.

The next day, we went shopping, as we always do, and then enjoyed a delicious meal at Garnett’s on Park.

I’ve been reading away, and have finished this month:

From this collection of books, I most loved Eventide, about the fictional town of Holt, Colorado (I love Haruf’s writing and his characters), and Katherine Anne Porter’s stories, which took me back to the early 20th century: to Mexico, Texas, Kentucky and Berlin. It was also fun to read about a couple’s Camino in In Movement There is Peace, which gave me a good feel for what to expect when I walk the Camino. I have now finished 23 books out of my 45-book goal for the year.

The way we deal with our nauseating political news these days is by watching The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. In his opening monologue each night, Colbert relentlessly makes fun of our so-called President, and he is so on-target and hilarious that we can feel a bit of peace knowing that laughter might be the only thing to save us from the daily shock of it all. I love Colbert in general, and find him a fantastic comedian.  One night he sang a song, “Sleep Through the Static,” with Jack Johnson, where he revealed another charming side of himself.  I loved this!!

One more month until I leave for my Four Corners Road Trip.  You’ll be able to read about it on my new blog ~ wander.essence ~ as I prepare for and embark on the adventure.

I can’t wait to read about your March.  I hope it was a good one. 🙂

28 thoughts on “the march cocktail hour: a pittsburgh getaway, endless hiking, and the march for our lives

  1. I enjoyed the cocktail hour (even though I’m a teetotaler these days, I do still enjoy a good cocktail hour). It looks like you had a full month of March. All that mileage you walked is impressive. We had hoped to make it to the March For Our Lives, but couldn’t get there in time (we were traveling back from NE Ohio). The kids that are leading this charge are inspiring and give me hope.

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed the cocktail hour, Robin, even though you don’t drink. It’s just fun to visit. As for walking, I have to keep increasing my mileage before I embark on the pilgrimage on September 1, but I am having a hard time finding the time! It’s so time consuming to walk 6-7 miles in a day!

      The march was very inspiring, Robin. I’m glad we were able to go. It’s the first of the marches I’ve been able to attend. Happy Easter!

  2. I am impressed by your ongoing preparations for your Camino walk Cathy, and I’m sure by the time you are there, you will be able to cope with the distances and your pack. Here it is already Sunday afternoon on 1st April and I’m enjoying the first weekend of our two week school vacation after Term One of the academic year. We’re looking forward to going to the Gold Coast for the Commonwealth Games and have tickets for two events.

    1. I sure hope you’re right, Carol, about being prepared for the Camino. I still feel like I have a long way to go, and time is really an issue. It’s very time consuming to walk over 6 miles in a day! I’m so glad you’re enjoying your vacation from the school term! When is your Gold Coast trip (I know you told me before but my memory of it has vanished!)?

  3. Ooh, the jalapeño margarita sounds good! I’ll have one of those please. I particularly like your Pittsburgh gallery and the one from the march. How wonderful to be there! As always, I wish you luck in dealing with the incumbent of the White House. He threatens us all, but you have it worst.

    1. A jalapeño margarita for you, Anabel. Pittsburgh was great fun, and the march was very inspiring. I’m glad I did my part at least for one march. I need to try to make it for more. We definitely have it worse than the rest of the world. We have to live with it in our face every day!

      1. Exactly, I don’t envy you. Our lot are bad (the U.K. ones, not the Scottish ones) but at least they do a convincing imitation of proper politicians. Oh, except Boris.

  4. I think I’d like some Pinot noir, thank you. My March was uneventful, as are many of my months, spent largely complaining – about the winter that opted to wait until spring to arrive, about a president who is anything but presidential – and being charmed and given hope by a bunch of “children” who are wiser than many adults in this world. Listening to these kids – nay, young adults – gives me hope that we might have a future after all, once they are voting age. Come on, kids, clean up behind us. I’ve been reading, but nothing of consequence since my reading is largely for entertainment only. I did finish Anna Quindlen’s new book, Alternate Sides, and Lisa Genova’s new book Every Note Played, and loved both as I have everything from these authors. This month of April promises adventures so I will have more to share at the end of the month.

    1. Pinot Noir it is, Carol. I don’t know about you, but I’m happy to say goodbye to March. I know all about complaining about the weather. It’s been dreary, wet and cold, and we had snow just last week, which was not fun! And about our president, well, I can’t think of a decent thing about him. The teenagers are determined and wiser than the adults for sure. I love Anna Quindlen, so I’ll have to check out that book, and I’ve never read Lisa Genova, so I’ll go on Goodreads to look her up. Yes, you have a fun adventure coming up in a couple of weeks. I’m sure you’ll have a grand time. Have fun with Kat! 🙂

  5. I’ll join Ananbel in a jalapeño margarita please, it sounds pretty interesting. You do keep very busy Cathy and I am so impressed by the miles you are putting in each month! By the time you get to Spain you’ll be flying along at a pace. You must be getting very skinny too! You have such determination. And my favourite image: “Arms are for Hugging” – too right.

    1. You’ll love the jalapeño margarita, Jude. Thanks for your encouragement but I’m going to have to slow it down for a couple of months because walking is so time consuming! As for getting skinny, it isn’t happening. I think the walking is making me always hungry, so I’m not watching my diet. I need to get better with that. The March in DC was great; I’m glad I finally made the effort to show up. It was very moving and inspirational.

  6. As usual I have turned up late for the cocktail hour and I expect almost everyone has already left. I’d like a pinot noir please, if the bottle isn’t empty. Your preparations for the walk are very thorough, but I think that will pay off when you come to actually do it. My March was pretty hectic – we moved into our new home here and then a day or two later flew back to the UK for a whirlwind visit to lots of people, in lots of different parts of the country, including the newest member of the family, our great nephew, who was only two weeks old when we saw him. I’m hoping for a calmer April and time to get this new house in some semblance of order.

    1. It’s okay, Elaine. I’m glad you turned up even if late! Wow, you have been busy, moving into your new house and then jet-setting back across the pond for visits, especially your new great nephew. I hope you’re settling in nicely in your new house now. 💜

  7. I feel quite exhausted after reading about all your walking, marching and reading, Cathy. “Protect our kids. Arms are for hugging,” is such a wonderful sign. I really hope all the protests bear some fruit. Stephen Colbert is one of my favourite ‘Not My President’ comedians, along with Trevor Noah, who hails from South Africa. One really needs some comic relief after all the horrifying and shocking news we are bombarded with on a daily basis. I hope that one day soon, sanity will prevail and this amazing country will be back on an even keel again. I could happily join you and Mike in a Margarita. 🙂 xx

    1. March was a busy month for me, Sylvia; I slowed down a bit in April on my walking. I don’t think I could keep up that pace till the Camino in September! I loved so many signs at the March for Our Lives; the energy and enthusiasm was palpable. I’m not familiar with Trevor Noah; I’ll seek him out. On which network would I find him? We definitely need comic relief in these conflicted times. I hope every day that sanity will prevail.

      A margarita it is! Thanks for dropping by! It’s nice to see you here. Most of what I’m writing these days is on my new blog:
      I’m having fun with it. 😊

  8. I hope you will still keep having cocktail hours Cathy, if the new blog allows you the time! It is always interesting to catch up with your life and have a chat and the other blog is perhaps not the place to do that. How are the preparations going for the Camino? Got anything booked yet? And how are the family? I hope they are all settled in their various lives. No more drama I hope!

    1. Hi Jude, I just now got on my laptop where I’m still signed in to my old blogs; I never get on here anymore as I usually use my desktop which is signed in to wander.essence and it’s such a pain to sign in and out of WordPress (not really, I’m just too lazy to do it!). 🙂 Anyway, my original plan was to continue to do cocktail hours on this blog, but I haven’t had the time. Maybe I’ll get back to them at some time but it doesn’t look like it will work out this month either because I’m going to Niagara Falls at the end of the month.

      As for the Camino, I keep plodding along, but as I told Jo on my other blog, I’ve been dealing with knee pain in my right knee, the one where I had a partial knee replacement 9 years ago. They told me at the time the estimated life is 15 years, so I don’t know why it’s causing me pain now. This increased pain just started in the last week, after I walked the Manassas Battlefield, which was an uneven terrain. I hope I just twisted it or something. Anyway, I plan to call an orthopedic doctor this morning to schedule an appointment. I want to make sure there’s nothing serious or that I won’t further damage my knee while walking. If by chance it’s something serious, or I need a full knee replacement, then the Camino will certainly be out for this year. If it’s simply osteoarthritis or simply arthritis, then I’ll see if I can just walk through the pain. I just want to get a clearance from the doc before I proceed. I keep walking nonetheless, walking 5 miles on Saturday and almost 4 yesterday. Still need to increase a lot!

      I have already booked my first night in Refuge Orisson, which is the midway point on the first day, 6 miles into the walk over the Pyrenees. That booking is non-refundable, but it’s not a lot of money. I was waiting till I got back from Niagara Falls to book our plane tickets, but now I’ll wait till I talk to the doctor. Needless to say, I’ll be heartbroken if I can’t do it. Getting old is hell!

      As for the family, my youngest is still very unsettled, and is currently at home and getting ready to take off again on another misadventure. It’s a constant struggle with him. Alex is enjoying his butchery job in Denver, but last week had to put down his dear dog Freya because she got some kind of intestinal blockage and infection. The prognosis after a $3,000 surgery wasn’t good, and he’d already spent $2,000 for the diagnosis (rather, WE spent it). He’s devastated over this loss, but luckily the great people at this small family-owned butchery have become like a second family to him and are giving him good emotional support. My daughter is doing well, contemplating a career change and actively sending out resumes now. We haven’t really had any more drama, per se, but I guess we’ll never be free of worries about our children. They have chosen unconventional lives, and so we will always have unconventional challenges.

      Thanks for checking in with me here. You can feel free to ask anything on my other blog. I’ll try to be better about answering comments on this one and hopefully I’ll have time to get back to the cocktail hours. 🙂

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