Upon my return from RVA, I evaluated what to do with my time left in our nation’s capital. A month to achieve as many goals as possible. I reflected upon what it means to be here while our relatively young country looks forward to pride month, our anniversary as a nation, and seeing our federal representatives heading home for the summer. How could I best be of service to those who allow me to be a guiding voice?

Pride month brought me round to my first MLB game – White Sox v Washington Nationals. Not only did we experience the DC gay men’s chorus give a goosebump-inducing rendition of our nation’s anthem, complete with clear as dawn octave jumping falsetto, we also smashed half smokes from the world famous Ben’s Chili’s Bowl. As the night progressed, we joined the entire park in applauding the union of Teddy & Aaron – long time fans of the game.

As a week packed full of meetings came to a head, I decided first fried chicken, then policy. I had a lovely sandwich from DC Chicken House. A peanut-oiled well-brined bite of decadence topped with homemade sauce, provolone, and coleslaw paired with a side of fresh cut fries. As I nibbled my sandwich, I heard my coworkers exclaimed their joy in regards to a long awaited win in the Supreme Court. A refreshing victory in a time of controversy.

As the week moved on, I had a great meeting with Alex Beckmann – a staffer in the office of Dan Lipinski. Not only did we get the chance to discuss our mutual successes, we got to hypothesize about a future where America could be on par with Europe by rail.  A dream of smooth passenger trains with guaranteed on time service and a safe expansion plan that valued its workers and passengers first. What would it look like for us to be on par with the services already provided in other developed nations?

The discussion of streamlining services of course brought me around to the recent victories in France. I couldn’t help but reflect upon those benefiting from the S-Bahn, SBB, and U-Bahn service expansions. What tangible goals can we hit to get on their level?

Talk of Parisian excellence had me hunting for an afternoon snack, and bless Crepes Parfait for their perfect placement and execution. An “American sized French style crepe” stuffed with Ham and Gruyere paired with a Strawberry Lemonade and arugula salad for under $15 was exactly the kick I needed to wrap up a tremendous week. I watched longingly as two gregarious men in bow ties whipped up my late lunch and bagged it all while cutting jokes, and waving pedestrians to their humble mobile creperie.

After a full night’s sleep, I was prepared to catch up with my Amtrak buddies before heading to Alexandria for lunch with an old friend. The Amtrak HQ is something to behold, touch screens, ambient lighting, sliding glass doors and surprisingly fast coffee service welcomed the RPA team as we sat down to discuss our social media strategy. The whole crew was very kind and extended to invite to a cookout for the week following. It was so delightful to be involved with this fast acting and forward thinking crew of diverse and eloquent folks.

Hopping the Blue line to the airport and the free shuttle into Alexandria had me impressed with the metro team’s response to those who questioned what service would be like as the Kings Street Station construction progressed. I was met with a number of helpful staff members ensuring everyone made it safely to the shuttle and was given clear direction on where to get off and how to get down to the waterfront via the Alexandria trolley service. Not even an hour after my meeting, I was at Vola’s Dockside Grill, sitting on the patio splitting a pound of succulent peel and eat shrimp paired with a gorgeous and affordable strawberry basil cocktail special. We even capped it off with a traditional oyster shooter.

Maybe it was the lunchtime libations or the general warm fuzzy feeling of a successful week, but we took an impromptu detour to MGM National Harbor via a $5 lyft across the bridge. With a $15 buy in on blackjack, I won my first two hands and cashed out my winnings. My friend and I meandered through the well lit decadence that is the MGM experience noting that we would plan to return for spa services and a visit to Fish by Jose Andres if we could strike it big on the tables a second time.

Overall it was a week of wins, time spent with friends and allies, and an experience to be proud of. I look forward to the big push to come before my 50 days aboard the train. I hope to leave this city better than I found it. As it has filled me up, so shall I do my part to enrich the capital as well.

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